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Danny Schechter dissects WBCN's demise


 

As I note in a piece that'll be online later today, there are a few different theories about what killed WBCN, including the station's shift to alternative rock in the early 90s; the generally tepid state of rock today; and general corporate mismanagement.

If you're familiar with Danny Schechter's work, it'll come as no surprise that he favors the latter explanation. Here's what Schechter--WBCN's "News Dissector" during the station's countercultural heyday--had to say when I emailed him yesterday.

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Actually I have been invited by former 'BCN DJ Sam Kopper to contribute to a new digital Free form 104 'BCN HD online substation which is not streaming yet, and, now, who knows if it will. I have done some commentaries which have been mixed in to the music format.

It is cheap programming which also has the distinction of being creative and cool which is probably why it has yet to be fully embraced. Maybe we will be surprised. Not that many HD receivers have been sold yet but it was like that when 'BCN erupted  from the bowels of the old Concert Network introducing an FM alternative to the all the hits all the time AM audience. It took a while but it caught on.

I was actually in the "new" station in the basement at the old channel 38 building a week or two ago, How low the mighty have fallen (from the top of the Pru)! I felt a bit like a ghost from another planet in the midst of my own personal transition from the 60s to 60.

From the early days of our brutal firings and then (successful) strike provoked by Hemisphere's Broadcasting's takeover and then the CBS merger led by Mel Karmazin, 'BCN has been characterized by a community be dammed testosterone driven programming riddled with sexism and contempt for listeners.

The station's legacy and importance--the reason it built a national reputation and worldwide respect--was deliberately buried by the need to meet quarterly revenue projections and serve its corporate masters by competing with commercial drek while  forced to become commercial drek.

The jockocracy took over long ago with all the Patriot worship (not the real patriots struggling for a just America, of course, but the Team struggling for Superbowl rings and big payouts). As salaries and bonuses went up, quality went down. The news was downgraded and just about disappeared; public service was derided. What was allowed to happen to Boston  Radio happened nationally.

What went around came around. Its all part of the implosion of media in our time.

Did it make the network stronger or richer? No way. CBS lost BILLIONS and dishonors the memory of those that put it on the map, the people we respect like like Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite et. al.

I hope the local management there--and there are some good executives who understand all this but are 'just following orders'---will follow up and encourage the new HD free form concept. If they do, they will rebuild an audience and regenerate the excitement the station lost with predictable formulas, hypocrisy, and Rock of Boston mush.

The irony: it only costs about $200 a week to offer the stream. Why not do it?

'BCN is Dead. 'Long Live 'BCN.

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