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Radio Free Boston: The Rise and Fall of WBCN Paperback – September 3, 2013


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Northeastern (September 3, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1555537294
  • ISBN-13: 978-1555537296
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.1 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #230,642 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“From the first note of Cream’s “I Feel Free” carried by the FM signal at 104.1 in 1968 to the final note of Pink Floyd’s “Shine on You Crazy Diamond” bringing the story to a close in 2009, Alan traces the station’s wild ride from its roots as a foundering classical music operation (WBCN stood for Boston Concert Network and employed a young Ron Della Chiesa), to its evolution into a free-form, counterculture outpost, and finally to a tightly controlled, corporate enterprise with two of its most popular, and controversial, shows emanating out of New York City. . . . The fairy tale of WBCN may not have had a happy ending, but Alan tells it with the kind of flair that does its original free-form spirit proud.”—Boston Globe

“Incredibly well researched, deeply interviewed, and as close to being ‘down the middle’ as is possible for a writer who was involved in much of the action.”—Arts Fuse

“Carter Alan remembers the first song he played on WBCN, “I’ve Had Enough” by The Who, from “Quadrophenia.” The former ’BCN DJ and current midday man and music director at WZLX remembers much more in his recently released and thoroughly engrossing chronicle, Radio Free Boston: The Rise and Fall of WBCN.”—Boston Globe

“Alan’s book traces WBCN’s unassuming birth from the ashes of a classical music station in 1968, through its heyday as the ‘Rock of Boston’ in the ‘70s and ‘80s, to its demise in 2009, when, Alan writes, the station was ‘drained of its blood in the consolidated radio industry of the new century.’ To recount the story, Alan interviewed most every personality involved and willing to speak on the record.”—Boston Globe

Review

“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.” (Bono)

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Great read filled with great memories.
styxnstones
I recommend the read for anyone interested in radio or who grew up in the Boston area in the 70's and 80's listening to BCN.
Robert J. Lopreste
IF you spent any time in Boston during the days when the real BCN was around, this is just a wonderful book.
Jonathan Gawne

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By soxgirl62 on September 8, 2013
Format: Paperback
I looked forward to the release of this book with great anticipation as I was an avid WBCN listener during my high school and college years in the late 70's and early to mid '80s. From 1982-1984 I was a student at Lesley College in Cambridge, and that is when I was most "involved" with WBCN.

But whether you were a BCN listener or not, if you are interested in the early days of underground FM radio and the conception of album oriented rock, you will LOVE reading this book! I knew that Carter Allen would not disappoint me with his "biography" of the greatest rock radio station in history, ....but this book actually exceeded my already high expectations!

Carter masterfully takes us through the earliest "visions" of Ray Riepen, the first owner of WBCN as a rock radio station back in 1968, to the selection of this unknown group of crazy geniuses with the same vision to spin the records, through the changes as WBCN began to outgrow its audience, to its downfall in 2009.

WBCN was a powerful force among the youth of Boston from its inception in 1968. BCN was not only a radio station that played all the coolest, most upcoming music anywhere, but it was the voice and soul of the young people of Boston! They cared about everything we cared about, and they were not afraid to say it! They knew the BEST new music, they promoted it, we listened to it, and it became huge! BCN taught us to hate top 40 programming! They taught us to listen to and promote the newest local bands. To listen to the BEST cuts on the albums, and not just the 45's that were being played on WRKO!

Carter Allen shows that being a DJ on one of the best radio stations in history is not his only talent!
Read more ›
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Jonathan Gawne on October 3, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
If notice a misspelling in here, it is because Amazon seems to think certain real names are dirty words and will not post it. Seriously.

IF you spent any time in Boston during the days when the real BCN was around, this is just a wonderful book. It brought back many memories, filled in behind the scenes details, and is just plain great. A MUST for anyone, anywhere with an interest in the history of radio.

I looked at one bumper sticker in the book and memories came flashing back to me. I could hear the number for the listener line being given out on air. I could vividly recall a few games of mishegas, and the time I was driving to boston and a without warning a friend of mine was punked on air by Charles (or Richard Hurtz). Even band names that have vanished into the aether (anyone remember Private Lighting?) being back memories of songs long forgotten. I'm still proud to say met Duane Glassck twice (once driving into Cambridge just to see him make a quick stop on a tour of Boston).

If you ever listened to the station, you know the names, the bands, the stories, and that it really WAS The 'Rock of Boston!' Thanks Carter Allen for this book, (and that Lacindora guy, Capt Ken, Matty, Marcarrento, Oedipus, and everyone that made the book worth writing, and reading.

Anyone who thinks that Howard Stern was the king of radio-let alone all media- never spent a day with 'BCN on. BUY HIS BOOK! Nuff Said!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By BG on September 25, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Spent my college years listening to BCN at the height of its popularity. This book brought back all the memories and filled in all the gaps from before/after my time in Boston. What a tremendous story of BCN's innovative history, it's rapid rise and sad fall. Carter Alan does a great job introducing the off and on air personalities that built BCN, and provides really interesting insight into the radio industry dynamics that led to the station's ultimate demise. Clearly this book will have more appeal to people from the Boston area, but if you are interested in either radio or rock & roll in general, it's worth the time investment. And if you read and like this, check out Richard Neer's similar account of WNEW-FM in New York, The Rise and Fall of Rock Radio. Another 5-star effort.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By RSH on January 29, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I lived in Boston starting in early 1969. WBCN was unlike any other radio station. It served as a community touchstone. Moreover, 'BCN introduced many of us to eclectic music which then became part of our lives.

Sadly, to survive, the station became more like what it began in contrast to.

I managed to return to Boston for a few days after moving away for many years. Yes, there was a familiar position on the dial and the called letters were WBCN. The magic was gone though. From the late 60's to being in our late 60's, obviously many aspects of life have changed. I can never thank WBCN of 1969-73 era enough. Maybe I'm simply nostalgic.

Carter crafted a superb insight into the magic -even when the show became manufactured schtick- his writing helps us to understand why. A worthy addition to the library of anyone who lived in Boston during the era of WBCN.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Dan Boucher on December 22, 2013
Format: Paperback
I loved learning about how so many bands developed through the Boston music scene. Way more than I ever would have thought. This DJ is actually a really great author too. I used to listen to all the BCN djs back in the day. Always thought Carter was awesome. Now I know he's a great writer as well. Highly recommneded for all music fans.
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