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WBCN Radio celebrates 45 years, now in digital form

Posted by Emily Wright  March 15, 2013 02:12 PM

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From a neon green school bus named the Gypsy Dancer, parked outside the CBS studio in Brighton, the WBCN crew broadcast live for the station's 45th anniversary (March 15) with interviews featuring past DJs, familiar Boston faces, and music fans alike.

Who was part of the celebration? Well, Charles Laquidara for one. The Boston-area radio legend called in from Maui to talk about the old days, when he broadcast from the WBCN studio originally on Newbury Street. According to the interview, Laquidara started at the station nicknamed "The Rock of Boston" in late 1968 or early 1969.

The radio station first hit the Boston-area airwaves in 1968. Its first song: "I Feel Free" by Cream.

Laquidara was with the station from the early years, and retired in 2000. Less than a decade later, after 41 years on the radio with the call letters WBCN 104.1, the station shut down in 2009. It now broadcasts digitally in HD at WBCN.com under the name "WBCN Free Form Rock."

The term "free form" is a tribute to the ideals of early radio, when the DJs had the liberty to play deep tracks and music from a range of genres. Kopper further defined the term when he talked to The New York Times in 2012:

The free form WBCN “is not a nostalgia trip,” Mr. Kopper insisted, but a revival of the old techniques that radio has lost in recent years, when D.J.’s took listeners on a musical tour.

The station returned on May 1, 2012, with Sam Kopper behind the mic, a longtime DJ who left WBCN in 1991 to sell swimming pools, according to the New York Times. Kopper resurrected the station last year with backing from Cohasset native Mark Hannon, the senior vice president of CBS Radio Boston.

Other notable guests included Fred Taylor who ran Paul's Mall & the Jazz Workshop in Boston for 15 years (from 1963-1978) and later produced concerts for Boston Symphony Hall and the Boston Garden.

The radio station is the subject of the documentary "The American Revolution," which is currently in production. Take a look at the trailer below.

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Contributors

Sarah Rodman is a staff music critic for the Boston Globe.

James Reed is a staff music critic for the Boston Globe.

Jonathan Perry is the Globe's Scene & Heard columnist, covering local music.

Michael Brodeur is the assistant arts editor for the Boston Globe, covering pop music, TV, and nightlife.

Julian Benbow is a staff writer at the Boston Globe, covering sports and music.

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Rachel Raczka is a producer for Lifestyle and Arts & Entertainment at Boston.com.

Emily Wright is an Arts & Entertainment producer at Boston.com.

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