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In March 1968, a week after his first show on the fledgling WBCN, Peter Wolf ran into Jim Parry, a Princeton graduate and self-professed “unregenerate folkie,” who had journeyed to the folk music Mecca of Harvard Square. Parry remembered, “He said, ‘I’m doing this show at this new station, but I’ve never engineered before and I have no idea how to do that.’ I said, ’Oh, gee, I did that when I was in school.” So, as simply as that, Parry joined the cast of characters on Wolf’s show, manning the controls, pushing buttons and cueing up records. At the end of each night, as dawn closed in, Wolf would launch into a closing rap in which he thanked his cohorts including “Jim Parry – looking so merry!”
In May, when WBCN went 24/7 with free-form rock replacing all classical music programming, Tommy Hadges, Al Perry and Jim Parry all received their own weekly shows; by April ‘69, the graveyard shift from 2am to 5am was handled by cleanup man Jim Parry. Along with being one of the first full-timers, he also, rather famously, gave Danny Schechter the title that would identify him for his entire radio career. When Parry couldn’t read Schechter’s infamous scrawl, he told the newsman he could read it himself on the air. Parry gave the nervous Schechter an impromptu windup for his first radio moment: “Danny Schechter – the news detector…the news inspector…the NEWS DISSECTOR!!’
After the famous WBCN strike was resolved in 1979, an inevitable trimming of the staff ensued with Parry, the one DJ left who could trace his genealogy back to the first nights of “The American Revolution,” unexpectedly drawing a pink slip. “I was not pleased with the end,” he explained sourly. “They fired a couple of people in each department; but, it was really changing…a lot. The guys that came in knew how to run radio stations and it became very different.”
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(by Carter Alan)
Carter Alan is a former WBCN DJ now heard on WZLX-FM in Boston. He is the author of Radio Free Boston: The Rise and Fall of WBCN (University Press of New England, 2013), available here as well as from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.