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In early 1969, after a year in which the counter-culture sounds emanating from the radio tower at 104.1 FM had sparked and indeed thrived, WBCN settled into its second headquarters on Stuart Street in Boston. During that formative year, John Brodey had listened to ‘BCN with great interest during his frequent visits home from the University of Wisconsin. “I knew a girl who had gone out with Steven [Segal] for a while and I said, ‘If you can just give me an introduction, I’ll take it from there.’ Soon I was interning for Steven, weaseling my way in. I had to put away his records, get him stuff and drive him home because he had a car, but didn’t drive. We started talking, and soon it was: ‘Oh, you know something about music, man.’ It was a nice relationship and…I lasted!”
Brodey would eventually become a full-time jock and the station’s Music Director, not a small chore considering how important music was to WBCN’s presentation. In ’73 it was Brodey who first fell in love with reggae after vacationing in Jamaica. The style had captivated England in the previous few years, but still hadn’t made much of an impression in America. His fellow DJs agreed, and their passion led to serious airtime for reggae and importing the 1972 Jamaican film The Harder They Come, starring Jimmy Cliff, to the Orson Welles Cinema in Cambridge where it played in the theater for seven years straight!
In ‘BCN mythology, Brodey once played a twelve-minute Ginger Baker drum solo on Sunday morning and was, rather famously, reamed out on the phone by station founder Ray Riepen for sacrilegious misuse of the airwaves (Charles Laquidara defended his pal by playing every drum solo he could find during the next shift). Brodey was on air when BCN’s union shop took the vote to strike in the wake of massive staff firings in February 1979. He put Laquidara on the air to read the union statement, then walked out the door to join his fellows on the picket line. After the three-week action resulted in a victory for the union, Brodey, who had been planning to leave already, ended his ten-year run at ‘BCN, exiting for many successful years in the record industry.
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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.