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In 1968, Joe Rogers, a Tufts student spinning records at WTBS-FM, the non-commercial radio station at M.I.T., met entrepreneur Ray Riepen, who filled Rogers’ head with tales of moving the world with a free-form FM underground station. When that pipe dream actually unfolded, Joe Rogers became the first jock at the new WBCN. Certainly not a professional like Alan Freed or Arnie Ginsburg, Rogers had no desire to be some fast-talking AM radio jive-ass. The scruffy DJ didn’t care much about his voice or style, just like he didn’t care so much about how he dressed. Rogers preferred to speak on the radio through his music, blending the many artists and styles plucked from his treasured record collection and embracing outsiders like the Mothers of Invention, the Fugs and his beloved Holy Modal Rounders.
The DJ worked on the air as “Mississippi Harold Wilson” for two years before leaving WBCN, appropriately changing his radio name to “Mississippi Brian Wilson” for a two year stint in west coast radio at KPPC-FM and KMET, but his experiences with radio management were so unsatisfying that he came back to WBCN two years later. Of course, there was another name change, to “Mississippi Fats.”
In 1977 Rogers signed off to pursue a dream he had fostered – starting his own restaurant, and ‘Mississippi’s Soup and Salad Sandwich Shop’ opened in Kenmore Square. “It was a lot of fun,” the new restaurateur enthused. “We had real and imaginary sandwiches – peanut butter to caviar. You could get a ‘Gerald Ford’ sandwich: cream of mushroom soup on white bread.” There was also a sandwich named the ‘Charles Laquidara. “We had a total of two customers who ever ordered the ‘Gerald Ford;’ but the ‘Charles Laquidara’ ended up being much more popular than the President!”
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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.