The history of WBZ is a long, storied one reaching back to the beginnings of commercial broadcasting. Legend has it that WBZ was the second radio station officially licenced specifically for broadcasting in the United States, a statistic which has been challenged over the years. Radio historian Donna Halper maintains that WGI Medford Hillside (a suburb of Boston) was the first, followed by KDKA Pittsburgh. Whatever its true origins and whether or not WBZ was first, probably doesn’t mean much in the context of the station’s Top 40 radio format years.
WBZ in the early and mid-1960s was a mass-appeal station, first in the golden age of radio (pop in the respect that it ran the popular programs and music of the day, having been a part of the NBC ‘Red’ network in the 40s), and later, as Boston’s second top 40 station, lasting until 1966. The first? WCOP in 1959!
WBZ, during the 1960s, had an all-star cast of personalities. Carl DeSuze had the morning show. Carl at one point had a TV show on WBZ-TV 4, but nothing as popular as afternoon man Dave Maynard. Maynard’s “Community Auditions” ruled Channel 4 for two decades!. Then, there was “Juicy” Bruce Bradley. Bradley worked in Baltimore and some station in North Carolina and he was one of WBZ’s most popular personalities. But none were as memorable or lovable as Dick Summer. Summer ruled the nighttime airwaves in Boston and all up and down the eastern seaboard until the station shifted to nighttime talk in the late 60s.
Dick Summer’s ‘Nightlife’ show was a mix of music and mystique, as you’ll hear in this aircheck. There were, of course, the top hits of the day with a generous dose of ‘oldies’ from the 50s and earlier in the 60s decade, but Summer adds in some strange radio dramas and talks about men from Mars… the stuff that certainly would fit “Coast to Coast AM with George Noory” ((C) Premiere Radio Networks).
There are very few WBZ jingles, although check out the “wonderful weather” jingle… WBZ never aired the kind of PAMS or Anita Kerr jingles made so popular on other top 40 stations like WABC and KHJ… this is the pre-Drake sound (Drake’s influence would be heard at the end of the decade in Boston, at WRKO), Also, there are very few commercials, but one frequent Public Service Announcement for Systic Fibrosis. This show, at least on this tape, is very much just Dick Summer and a stack of records. It’s a very unique, one-of-a-kind aircheck from a radio station that held on to the number one position for nearly 3 decades!