Radio Free Boston: The Rise and Fall of WBCN

Radio Free Boston: The Rise and Fall of WBCN


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Blaring the Cream anthem “I Feel Free,” WBCN went on the air in March 1968 as an experiment in free-form rock on the fledgling FM radio band. It broadcast its final song, Pink Floyd’s “Shine On You Crazy Diamond,” in August 2009. In between, WBCN became the musical, cultural, and political voice of the young people of Boston and New England, sustaining a vibrant local music scene that launched such artists as the J. Geils Band, Aerosmith, James Taylor, Boston, the Cars, and the Dropkick Murphys, as well as paving the way for Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty, U2, and many others. Along the way, WBCN both pioneered and defined progressive rock radio, the dominant format for a generation of listeners. Brilliantly told by Carter Alan—and featuring the voices of station insiders and the artists they loved—Radio Free Boston is the story of a city; of artistic freedom, of music and politics and identity; and of the cultural, technological, and financial forces that killed rock radio.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781555537296
Publisher: University Press of New England
Publication date: 09/03/2013
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 225,644
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Currently a DJ and music director at WZLX in Boston, CARTER ALAN was a DJ at WBCN for nineteen years. He is the author of U2, Outside Is America, and Life on the Road.

Table of Contents

Foreword by Steven Tyler • Preface • Thanks • The American Revolution • A Radio Commune • I Read the News Today • Movin’ on Up • Camelot • The Battle Joined • Power to the People • “The Reallllll WBCN, Boston!” • I (Don’t) Want My MTV • Number 1 Rock ’n’ Roll Connection • Camelot Redux • From Boylston Street to Wall Street • Nelson, Howard, and “The Love Shack” • Any Given Sunday, Any Given Weekday • A Bad-Boy Business • Shine on You Crazy Diamond •Afterword • Bibliography • Index

What People are Saying About This

Gregg Allman

“WBCN welcomed us in those early days; so much so, that Boston became a home away from home for the Allman Brothers Band and for me. ’BCN was truly one of the greatest of American radio stations. I miss those guys.”


“WBCN—four letters that made a big difference to our U and our 2. . . . Without them taking risks on new music, I’m not sure the U2 story would have been the same.”

Joe Perry

“To a kid growing up in the suburbs of Boston, WBCN was on the front line of the culture war, with Peter Wolf, Maxanne Sartori, J.J. Jackson, and all the rest bringing us the music that would be the soundtrack to our cause.”

Stephen Davis

“I hereby certify that Carter Alan’s cast of hippies, freaks, madmen, admen, music fans, leftists, visionaries, new wavers, New Agers, grunge dudes, bluesmen, and especially rock stars and the girls that love them is worthy of a sprawling novel that now doesn’t have to be written because Carter Alan expertly brings it all to life in Radio Free Boston.”

Customer Reviews