June 1, 2011

Radio One to Sell Off Boston's Last Black Radio Station WILD 1090 AM

Wasn't Cathy Hughes Suppose to be Saving Black Radio?

WILD AM has been around for more than 40 years as a station serving the Black community in Boston even though in all those years, it only broadcasts its signal during the daytime hours due to FCC regulations. Posters on the website Radio-Info stated that on Sunday, WILD announcer Larry Higgonbottom said it would be his last day on the air at the station, due to the fact that Radio One was selling the station.

In addition, Syndication One, Radio One's syndication company, announced “The Warren Ballentine Show” and “Keeping It Real With Al Sharpton” would no longer be heard as of today, June 1. WILD was also home to "The Tom Joyner Morning Show." The station will now offer brokered programming and programs from China Radio International to the Boston community. Final sale of the station has not been announced. A movement to keep Ballentine and Sharpton on the air as was done in Atlanta, has been posted on the WILD's facebook page.

Boston's lone voice in the area of African American programming is "Touch 106.1." It is an internet streamed station located at touchfm.org. It also broadcast with only 100 watts as a low-powered FM station, WTCH-LP, which is about 3 miles.

The city has been without a major terrestrial urban FM station for a number years when Radio One sold off 97.7 FM (once known as WBOT) in 2006. At the time of the sale, 97.7 FM was Classic Soul/Urban AC station WILD-FM, building upon the heritage call letters of WILD-AM.

Even though it was an AM station, WILD didn't see it's first saw competition until 94.5 WZOU flipped to a Rhythmic Contemporary Hits format as WJMN ("Jam'n 94.5") in 1993. But, it wasn't until 1999, when Radio One entered the marketplace with Hip Hop station Hot 97.7 WBOT, that WILD saw real competition for Boston's African American population. Radio One eventually acquired WILD-AM and made it a gospel station "Praise 1090" and changed the format from Hip Hop to Urban AC on 97.7 as WILD-FM. Gospel didn't pan out well for Radio One and it went back to R&B music and then talk on the AM side.

In a side note: WILD, as many AM stations in the country must do, ends their broadcast day at sunset to make way for 50,000 watt AM stations. In their case they had to make way for WBAL 1090 in Baltimore. It all goes back to 1928. The government issued a system where stations were classified as local, regional, or clear channel stations. The FCC's intent behind licensing 50,000 watt clear channel stations was to provide reliable radio service to the thousands of Americans who lived in rural areas of the United States at the time. Of course it's not necessary today, but it still continues as most AM stations must power down at night as well. For years many Major League Baseball teams struck deals with those 50,000 watt stations so that their games would be heard by baseball fans throughout the country at night. However, is it a coincidence that many of those powerhouse AM stations that still exist today feature conservative talk show hosts like Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity? Just asking.
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