Friday, March 05, 2010

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Sunday, February 28, 2010

Ed's BeBop Videos

Former KFML Nooze newsman Ed "Diamond Ed" Chatham has completely updated and revamped his video blog for easier navigation and faster loading.

( Diamond Ed from back in the day )


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Saturday, December 26, 2009

"Wildfire" - 2007

As freeform rock faded in the early 1970s, there was a hope that progressive country could carry the banner...

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Plastic People of The Universe

Every musician's dream: to be intro'd by a national poet who becomes president after a bloodless revolution they helped spawn:

Read a little bit about the Velvet Revolution:

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Sunday, October 18, 2009

Freeform BCN

"Rock of Boston reborn - Ex-DJ brings WBCN to HD and Internet radio" By Ed Symkus, Boston Herald, October 18, 2009

How do you like this playlist?

1. The Rolling Stones, “Jigsaw Puzzle”
2. The Temptations, “Ain’t too Proud to Beg”
3. She & Him, “Why Do You Let Me Stay Here?”
4. The Rascals, “Good Lovin”’
5. Coldplay, “The Scientist”
6. Bob Dylan, “Tangled up in Blue”
7. Quicksilver Messenger Service, “Fresh Air”

Internet location:

( Sam Kopper from back in the day, on WBCN-FM )

Darn good batch of music. If all of those songs existed in the late ’60s and early ’70s, they might have been heard on WBCN [website], the groundbreaking progressive rock station that went dark in August after a 41-year run. But that playlist was exactly what came over the air one day last week on ’BCN’s heir, FreeformBCN.

FreeformBCN is the brainchild of Sam Kopper, who back in the day was a disc jockey on ’BCN’s pre-Laquidara morning shift and the station’s second program director (after a brief stint by Steven Segal). FreeformBCN is currently heard at the HD radio station 100.7FM-HD3 and streamed at

FreeformBCN is automated. But Kopper, acting as a sort of one-man radio station, with programming assistance from former BCN announcer Albert O, has grand plans.

“We are bringing back the musical, the sociopolitical, the radio technique of the great days of progressive rock radio - the great days of ’BCN, ’68 through the ’70s,” he said, seated on a couch in his Hingham home.

But Kopper, 63, makes sure to point out that the station will be rooted firmly in the 21st century.

“So when I say bringing back those days, I don’t mean a nostalgia trip,” he said. “I don’t mean constantly rehashing Vietnam, or Watergate, or just the music of then. I mean bringing the consciousness, the youthful, never-grow-up spirit of that time. Musically, that means being very diverse and loving new music - being open to new music.”

Kopper hopes to go live and do away with the robotic, automated business before the end of the year. He intends to bring back disc jockeys who have something more to say than where Eric Clapton had dinner in town last night. Kopper already has ’BCN veterans, including Albert O, Lisa Traxler and Debbie Ullman, eager to sit at the microphone. And he’s got plans to get folks such as Laquidara, Norm Weiner, Tami Heidi and Kathryn Lauren to do shifts that will, through the magic of modern technology, sound live.

Fans of left-leaning politics will be happy to know that Danny Schechter, “the News Dissector,” has already started contributing commentary.

Kopper, who found a career producing live concert broadcasts, was trying to pitch the freeform idea in the early ’90s when he realized that rock radio had given up on playing new music. So he came up with a new format that used classic rock as a foundation and presented it in a seamless mix with new music.

“I took it around to people, including people at CBS, but nobody would listen,” he said. “When Triple-A Radio (adult album alternative) came around, I thought my idea was stolen. But then I realized they weren’t getting it. It didn’t have enough oomph to it. It wasn’t really eclectic. It didn’t cook. It didn’t have any attitude. It was too nice.”

Two years ago, Kopper got together with former WBCN [website] general sales manager Tim Montgomery and they knocked on CBS’ door again.

“We went in to see Mark Hannon, the marketing manager in Boston, and he got the idea,” Kopper said. “We got the go-ahead to begin building FreeformBCN.”

The station premiered on HD last February and started streaming Sept. 11. But can it succeed?

“Getting to a 24/7 staff is all about money, and money is all about drawing a lot of listeners,” Kopper said. “The Catch-22 is, I don’t think we can draw a lot of listeners and excitement without having at least 40 hours a week of live programming. We’ll likely start with a few hours per day, perhaps longer periods on weekend nights. As popularity and demand go up and CBS sees some monetizing happen, then we’ll expand hours.”

Kopper puts the station’s target demo at listeners aged 40-65, but strongly believes plenty of 20- and 30-somethings will like what’s being played.

“I always call my sons, Jake and K.C., who are 25 and 30, and ask what they’re listening to,” he said. “K.C. has eclectic, avant-garde tastes. He’s into Brian Eno. Jake likes everything from hip-hop to Coldplay and Grizzly Bear. Albert (O.) was at ’BCN from 1980 to 2003, and has got much more knowledge of that period than I do. Where we’re both coming from musically totally merges.

“Boston was and is the largest student population in the world,” he added. “People who went to school here from 1968 through the late ’80s and were affected by WBCN are now not only just all over the United States, they’re all over the world. And the Internet allows us to reconnect with them.”

But it won’t only be the pioneering ’BCN jocks making those connections.

“I want to combine us with some of the best, young, just-out-of-college radio jocks,” Kopper said. “It was in ’68, and always will be, crucial to what this is about - that we have fresh, young energy in this. We need their musical input, and we need their attitudes and young concerns.

“So it’ll be the old revolutionary masters and young radio warriors inspiring each other, using the best of the past and constantly renewing it. That is central to the resurrection of ’BCN’s greatest days, of bringing it’s spiritual attitudes and soul into the 21st century.”

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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Free Form BCN

Boston freeform radio station WBCN still lives! Now available on the Internet:

Free Form BCN - The Revolution Returns

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Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Legacy of WBCN

WBCN and "The American Revolution"

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Jim Santella

[ From: "Legendary radio career framed at WBFO," By Jim Bisco, UB Reporter, August 5, 2009 ]

“No one ever taught me how to do real radio, so I felt real comfortable with my nose touching the microphone.” -- Jim Santella, DJ, WBFO 88.7 FM

To listeners who only know him for his work over the past decade, Jim Santella is the voice of the blues on WBFO 88.7 FM every weekend, working the mojo of Muddy, Buddy, B.B., Koko and everybody who’s anybody on the blues scene nationally and locally.

But to those with deeper listening roots, Santella was the voice of underground radio, introducing listeners to now classic rock bands, and before that the voice of jazz when WBFO was in its fledgling years.

He also has been a voice of reason, one of the most natural and knowledgeable disc jockeys who ever made his way across the FM dial. “No one ever taught me how to do real radio,” he says of his intimate style, “so I felt real comfortable with my nose touching the microphone.”

Santella was always fascinated by radio and, as many other youngsters did in the post-war era, built a crystal radio set. When he was 13, he talked his way into appearing on a Saturday morning teenage disc jockey radio show hosted by Bernie Sandler on WEBR. That was his introduction to the airwaves.

After acing high school, Santella entered UB in 1956 as a psychology major. When that became a struggle in his sophomore year, he left to gig around town as a jazz drummer. Then, Uncle Sam came calling with draft notice in hand. After the service, Santella returned to UB, this time as a music major—later, he would also try a stint as a theater major. His roommate, Joel DiBartolo, a bassist who later would secure a 20-year gig with the band on “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson,” introduced Santella to his cousin, Greg Perla, who was doing a jazz show on WBFO. The meeting led to Santella beginning his radio career in 1965 with his own jazz show.

“Anything I know about radio, I got to work out at WBFO,” he says with a nod to the constant presence the station and the university have played in his career. “That was the time where the groundwork of (station manager) Bill Siemering and public radio was being set up. Public radio was developed at WBFO.”

Santella’s jazz show came after a program on quantum physics and a show on Appalachian music—block programming, he recalls, that wasn’t exactly designed to keep an audience from one hour to the next. Then toward the end of 1967, what came to be known as the underground began to rise up at WBFO.

“We went off the air at 11:30, so they decided they would extend the hours. They wanted to get a bunch of people who were willing to do a show of anything they wanted to, any kind of music, from 11:30 until they got tired. If they felt like doing an hour show, fine, then put the sign-off in and close down the transmitter. It was free-form. It was going to be called ‘Extensions,’” he recounts. “At the time, I was the jazz disc jockey. I knew about rock ‘n roll, I liked it, but I really didn’t know much about it. That’s when I first started learning about rock ‘n roll.”

Turns out he was a fast study. It was the beginning of album rock with cuts and whole sides being played from artists like Cream, Jimi Hendrix, and Jefferson Airplane, along with anything and everything that suited the DJ’s fancy. And as for nouveau rocker Santella, it was a blend of fancies to match his eclectic interests.

“The fun part, I thought, was to put together arcane kinds of connections,” he recalls. “For instance, I would play something from the first Cream album, follow it with Mozart’s Eine kleine Nachtmusik, and then some folk music. It was that kind of free-form radio.”

In 1968, WYSL-FM 103.3 (now called the Edge) decided to adopt the new progressive underground format and recruit college students as disc jockeys. Santella got the job and began his commercial radio career on Jan. 9, 1969

“Everyone suddenly discovered all this music,” he recalls. “We played Elton John when Elton John was dangerous to play. It was the time of Frank Zappa, the Who, Genesis at the beginning that gave those bands the opportunity to be heard. There was no such thing as what you couldn’t play. We didn’t know anything about radio. We weren’t really disc jockeys. We were college kids who were hippies. It was my choice—so much so that I thought it was my right to play what I wanted to. Since (station management) didn’t pay much attention, you knew how to get away with playing what you thought was best.”

Actually, it wasn’t all his choice. Santella says that being on campus everyday—he also held a full-time job as stack supervisor in UB’s Lockwood Library for 11 years—he came to know what college students wanted to hear because they told him. “It was an exciting and significant time on campus. I had never been as tapped into my audience as at that time.”

The station made Santella’s reputation as a knowing purveyor of great new sounds and a wry commentator on the fiery political scene. It all came to a screeching halt four years later when Santella reputedly became the first and only disc jockey to quit while on the air.

“I remember waking up that morning and listening to the radio station and it didn’t sound like my radio station. The music was different. I called the jock on the air and asked what happened. He said they came in and reduced the library. We had about 10,000 albums and they removed all but about 500. The management wanted to get rid of the people on the air because we were thought to be not professional,” he remembers.

The die was cast for Santella who was determined to make a statement against the new restrictive format by walking off at the beginning of his 9 p.m.-1 a.m. show that night. “The date for me was significant—April 24, 1972—which just happened to be my birthday. I said (management) has the right to do what they want because it’s their station, but I also have the right to express myself. And I knew what I was going to play when I walked off the air—a Jefferson Airplane song called “Lather” (“Lather was 30 years old today, they took away all of his toys…”).

Word on the street was that Santella would never work in Buffalo radio again. He had his library job to fall back on and a month later returned to the air on WBFO with a rock ‘n roll show. Contrary to any anticipated burned bridges, however, over the next 25 years he proceeded to travel up and down the local FM dial, from 97 to 98.5 to, yes, 103.3 again, to 104, to 107.7—with a couple of AM gigs along the way—returning to 88.7 in 1997, where he has held blues court since.

Santella feels he has come full circle in his long radio career. A product of Buffalo’s East Side, he grew up in an environment steeped in rhythm-and-blues and gospel, and recalls appearances on the South Campus with such legendary blues figures as John Lee Hooker and Howlin’ Wolf, interviews with B.B. King, and his contributions to advancing the blues community here.

In the meantime, Santella finally earned degrees at UB after, as he says, accumulating credit hours (more than 300 over 32 years) like they were going out of style. His interest in film and video—scripting and shooting—earned him an undergraduate degree in English and a master’s in media studies.

Santella lives with his wife, Mary Lou, in a comfortable home near the North Campus. Although he says he has yet to use his degrees, he continues to employ his own master’s in communication—words and music—that he has earned over a lifetime of broadcasting to generations of Western New Yorkers.

Legendary radio career framed at WBFO - UB Reporter

Thursday, July 02, 2009

KMET Returns

[ From: "KMET returns to the air – sort of. The defunct station will be recalled in specials on KLOS and KSWD," by GARY LYCAN, OC REGISTER, July 1, 2009 ]

KMET/94.7 FM was the soundtrack of Southern California when it came to underground progressive rock in the late '60s, '70s and '80s. 'The Mighty Met' was free-form radio with dominant on-air personalities and it rocked in the local ratings.

KSWD/100.3 FM is devoting a day to KMET on July 10. This weekend, however, KMET memories will be heard when rock KLOS/95.5 FM plays three days of 'Legends' holiday programming starting on Friday.

Is it a KMET salute weekend? Yes and no. KLOS is calling it 'Legends,' but former KMET personalities are stopping by to share memories and four on the current KLOS staff were at KMET – Cynthia Fox, Jim Ladd, Bob Coburn and Denise Westwood. 'The best way to re-create a magical time is to bring in the magicians,' said KLOS Program Director Bob Buchmann. 'Luckily, many of them already work for KLOS,' he said.

Frazer Smith, ex-KMET, will guest host for Mark and Brian on Friday starting at 6 a.m. At midday Friday, KMET vet Cynthia Fox will be joined by former KMET personality Paraquat Kelley."

"Legends" programming on KLOS will continue through Sunday. Making a rare appearance will be FM rock radio pioneer Raechel Donahue.

"We're the only station to stay true to rock for 40 non-stop years. We're pumped," said Buchmann.

A full day of KMET memories and airchecks – including Dr. Demento – will be July 10 on 100.3 FM. Many fans can still recall the KMET jingle – "A Little Bit of Heaven, Ninety-Four Point Seven – KMET – Tweedle-Dee." Its farewell song on Feb. 14, 1987 was from The Beatles "The End" – "and in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make."

KMET was replaced KTWV ("The Wave") with a smooth jazz format that continues today.