The Eastern Massachusetts Radio Timeline: the 1950s
Numerous scandals rocked the broadcasting industry in the late
1950s, many of which had more to do with perceptions of
broadcasters' candor with the audience than with violations of
any statute. A particular concern in the radio business, as the
radio networks and house orchestras of the big-band era became
less important and more and more stations played records for a
substantial fraction of their programming, was “payola” —
the practice of stations, program producers, or disk jockeys
accepting payments from record companies in exchange for
promotion of the records being played, without
informing the audience that they were listening to an
advertisement. (This was and is permitted if commercial
sponsorship is disclosed.) Often, DJs would take payments
secretly, without even telling their employers that they were
doing so. On December 3, 1959, the FCC issues a notice
requiring all stations to report whether their employees or
independent contractors had received such undisclosed payments
in the previous year.
- Mar. 3
- WLYN (1360) sold to Theodore Feinstein.
- Apr. 27
- WBMS (1090) changes format from classical to popular music.
- May 25
- WBMS-FM (104.1) appears in the Daily Boston
Globe radio listings for the last time. It's not known
if the station was still on the air at this time or if
the Globe was just late in updating its FM
- Oct. 8
- WORL (950) is purchased by Pilgrim, moves transmitter to
- WBMS becomes WHEE.
- June 10
- WCAP, Lowell, started on 980 kHz.
- WGBH(FM) started on 89.7 MHz
- Dec. 22
- WCOP is sold to a partnership of T.B. Baker, Jr.,
A.G. Beaman, and Roy V. Whisnand.
- Mar. 10
- WBZ begins 24-hour programming.
- May 14
- WHEE (1090) returns to old WBMS callsign.
- Aug. 20
- WBMS moves studios from 35 Court St. to the Hotel Shelton,
91 Bay State Road, in Kenmore Square.
- June 17
- WNAC purchases WLAW, moves to 680; 1260 becomes WVDA.
WNAC keeps its previous FM service on 98.5, in preference to
WLAW-FM's 93.7; WLAW-FM's license is returned to the FCC.
- Sep. 27
- WTAO-TV, Cambridge, started on channel 56.
- Oct. 14
- WHOB, Gardner, becomes WGAW.
- July 8
- WCOP sold to Boston Post.
- Aug. 3
- WBMS (1090 Boston) moves studios to the Somerset Hotel, 400
- Aug. 31
- Hurricane Carol knocks down the WBZ-TV tower, behind the
studios on Soldiers Field Road.
- May 2
- WGBH-TV starts on channel 2.
- WTAO-TV goes dark.
- May 3
- Boston Post folds, sells WCOP to Plough.
- Oct. 1
- WMRC started on 1490 kHz.
- May 8
- Friendly Group files to sell WBMS (1090 Boston) to Bartell
Broadcasters. (Granted June 13.)
- June 25
- The Richmonds purchase WMEX from Poté brothers.
- WMEX goes Top-40.
- Sept. 5
- Bartell's purchase of WBMS is consummated; the station
- Nov. 26
- WHDH-TV started on channel 5.
- Dec. 2
- WVDA becomes WEZE.
- Oct. 22
- Bartell files to sell WILD (1090 Boston) to Nelson
B. Noble. (Granted Nov. 19.) Noble hires air talent away from
other Boston stations and launches a new “non-top forty” format
on December 15.