With: Boston’s RadioBDC Production Director/Afternoon Host, Adam 12
I grew up north of Boston in a home that was filled with music. My parents had a killer record collection, and when they weren’t spinning the Beatles, Kinks, Stones and others, they had the radio on. And it was almost always WBCN. I was lucky enough to attend a high school with really solid theatre and music programs, and I took advantage of that: acting in plays and playing jazz trombone. The latter of those two interests helped me net scholarships to both Berklee College of Music and Northeastern University. As an undergrad at Northeastern, I found WRBB and everything all started coming together: radio combined my passion for music and being on stage.
Boston to Albuquerque to Boston:
I took advantage of Northeastern’s cooperative education program to nab an internship at WFNX, the station I’d fallen in love with during high school and continued my love affair with as I entered college. This was in the mid-90’s, and FNX was at the forefront of alternative radio nationwide. The music mix was eclectic and the Music Director, Laurie Gail, treated me like a peer. I had a voice in the music meetings and even some programming responsibilities. That was the culture then: they gave you a shot and, if you proved yourself, you were rewarded. I made it on the air on Christmas Eve of 1997 and worked part-time on-air until 2000, when I landed my first full-time gig as Music Director and Afternoon Host at KTEG in Albuquerque. At the time, Clear Channel was expanding their practice of voice-tracking, so eventually I moved to mornings on KTEG and voice-tracked afternoon shows on KTCL in Denver and KCPX in Salt Lake City.
Hosting three radio shows every day (and a simulcasted new music program on the weekends) was like radio boot camp: it whipped me into shape and put me into position to be able to audition for and land the midday slot at WBCN. I was the last DJ to be hired by the legendary Oedipus, and I held down mid-days from 2003 until the bitter end in 2009. After a quick stop with the great folks at WBMX, I ended up back at WFNX from 2010 until their bitter end in 2012. Are you sensing a theme here? Lisa DeSisto, the General Manager at Boston.com did, so she hired a half-dozen of us ex-FNXers to create a streaming-only, live-hosted alternative radio station. We dubbed it RadioBDC and I’ve been the Production Director and Afternoon Host there for the last five years.
The Evolution of Online Streaming:
I bought into the vision of taking the personalities, music, and events presence of an established alternative radio station and applying it to a web-only, streaming platform. One of the things I learned from the demise of WBCN and WFNX is that many of the people who are passionate about new music and artists were turning away from terrestrial radio and getting their fix online. So if that’s where the audience is hanging out, meet them there. And that audience was ready and waiting for us, which was the first key to our success. The six of us who were hired to launch RadioBDC had both the rapport of years working together and the knowledge of what works in Boston. And the team at Boston.com when we first started out, understood what we were trying to do and gave us the tools to build it and the support to get it out into the market. We’ve seen a tremendous amount of change over the last five years, but the fact remains that RadioBDC is succeeding. And there’s still so much potential.
The Unique Boston Music Scene:
Boston has always done a fine job honoring its musical heritage while continuing to look ahead. Tradition is celebrated, but we’re not stuck in the past. And the local acts coming out of Boston lately — Speedy Ortiz, Palehound, and the late Krill all bring to mind local bands I played on college radio 20 years ago, but with their own unique sound.
Favorite Interviews I’ve Done:
Bob McGrath from Sesame Street. He was one of the first people I ever interviewed, back when I was still in college. I called him at home and he’d just sat down to dinner, but was nice enough to take my call and chat with me. I called Bob Pollard of Guided By Voices at home once, too. He’s an all-time favorite of mine. I asked him questions while he smoked cigarettes and drank coffee on his back porch. Recently, I had a nice, long chat with Hall of Fame pitcher and former Red Sox ace Pedro Martinez. He was as entertaining and authentic as you’d expect.
Favorite Radio “Moments’:
WBCN had a summer festival show called the River Rave. Oedipus had a practice of pairing up the DJ’s to interview the bands backstage throughout the festival. The Donnas were late for their scheduled interview, and AFI showed up early for theirs, so my DJ partner and I decided to squeeze in AFI before The Donnas arrived. Problem was, as soon as we sat down and got AFI mic’d up, The Donnas turned up! Thinking quickly, I invited The Donnas to sit down with us and asked the bands to interview each other. They were totally into it, and they even started interviewing me and my partner. It made for a great bit of radio.
I’ve always struggled with artist interviews. If only I had The Donnas on hand to bail me out on a regular basis! It’s challenging to craft a compelling piece of content out of a 10–15 minute conversation with a person you’ve just met. And nowadays, any and all bits of weird information on your subject have been unearthed and shared online by their legions of fans long before you get a chance to sit down with them. So I try to take different, unconventional approaches now, hoping I can make my interviews entertaining. At this year’s Boston Calling Music Festival, I ate Oreos with Mac DeMarco. When we posted the interview to YouTube, his fans beat me up pretty badly, haranguing me for not talking about his brilliant new album. C’mon. That’s been covered 100 different ways already. Just watch Mac and me chill and eat Oreos and enjoy the moment.
Advice to Those Looking to Start in Radio:
Learn how do do everything. Be a DJ, book events, set up events, host events, break down events, learn the sales side, program, produce. The more you can do, the more likely you’ll be able to find work and keep yourself employed in the ever-changing industry of radio.
Top 5 Favorite Artists:
The first five off the dome are: DJ Shadow, Robert Pollard, Walter Schreifels, J.J. Johnson, and Mogwai
~ Adam 12
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In collaboration with/produced by Jeff Gorra