If you had a pulse, listened to radio, and lived anywhere near Boston in the ’60s through the early ’80s you were a fan of Bruce Bradley (“Juicy Brucie”), on 1030, WBZ-AM.
Bradley was born in 1933 in Rochester, NY. As a youth he suffered from stuttering, so he taught himself to control the childhood fluency disorder by talking into a tape recorder. By seventeen he got his start in radio in upstate New York. His formal education was at Fordham University, where he graduated pre-law. However, as he could not afford to go to law school he returned to the airwaves, becoming the drive-time personality at WROW and later WTEN-TV in Albany.
In 1960 at 27, Bradley arrived in Boston to join WBZ-AM, just 8 years after ‘BZ began broadcasting full-time, 24-hours. At the time the station’s format was “Middle of the Road,” yet on Bradley’s addition, it switched to “Top 40,” The Boss Sound of Boston.” There his smooth, smart, quick-witted delivery became a major feature of the legendary Boston “radioscape.”
Living in Boston and its environs was not a prerequisite to hearing the powerhouse station. Since 1933, WBZ was among the 60 select number of stations nationwide, to be awarded 50,000 watts of coverage by the FCC. Bradley’s legions of fans heard him as far west as Chicago.
Said to have emotionally responded to the music he played equally as that of his audience (he didn’t play music he didn’t like), Bradley eschewed the term “Rock and Roll,” preferring instead to refer to it as “Pop Music.”
It was at WBZ, that Bradley had perhaps the most success of his career as the evening disc jockey (8:00 – 11:30 P.M.), where he established the “Daily top-10 Countdown” and became the much-loved personality, “Juicy Brucie.”
During the summer months Bradley’s show aired from the “WBZ Sundeck Studio,” a trailer equipped to remote broadcast from Paragon Park amusement park. There fans of all ages could watch him play the music he preferred, turning his knowledge of music lore into streetside entertainment.
In a February 1966, Harvard Crimson article, written by Linda J. Greenhouse, Bradley referred to “a disc jockey’s role was to be a successful member of the community you serve.” As far as the music he played, he admitted “it required intuition sharpened by practice.”
Greenhouse wrote, “When I marveled at his completely transformed on-the-air personality” (so different from that of his normal self), he said a little defensively, “It beats working.”
At one point in her article, “Bradley recalled with a slightly pained laugh that in June of 1963, the music committee ‘threw “She Loves You” in the waste basket’— missing the chance to get on the Beatles’ bandwagon five months before they revolutionized rock ‘n’ roll in America.”
In 1967, Bradley moved from late evening to afternoon-drive, then left WBZ in 1968. After a stint at WCU in Philadelphia, Bradley returned to WBZ in 1978 to do the same time slot. By this time the station had transitioned to an Adult Contemporary format. He remained at WBZ until 1981.
Bradley was the morning man at the Adult Contemporary station, WYNY-FM, in New York City from 1981 to 1983. Where, due to a format change, he was moved to weekends. He left the station in 1985 for KMOX in St Louis.
Bruce Bradley died in June of 2013, in Lake St. Louis of unknown causes (later thought to be emphysema). According to St. Louis Historian Frank Absher, interviewed at KMOX: “there are a number of people, a small handful if you will, who are so deeply remembered as personalities on the radio. It was fitting he was on KMOX because it was such a powerhouse in the 80s. Few people knew he’d been on the Boston airwaves. He was a real person with a quick mind and a wonderful wit; just a funny, funny man.”
In 2013 Bruce Bradley was inducted into the Massachusetts Broadcasting Hall of Fame.
(by Lesley Palmiter – March 2022)
Published on March 1, 2022