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Mark Parenteau became synonymous with afternoon radio during his nearly two-decade run at WBCN. Introduced to the medium at an early age in Worcester by his mother, who was part of an afternoon talk show on WAAB, Parenteau hosted record hops and wound up on Top 40 WORC-AM, where, as a fifteen-year old, he became known as Scotty Wainwright. Three years later he worked at WLLH in Lowell before moving to Detroit for gigs at WKNR and WABX. “But,” he said, “I always wanted to be at ‘BCN…the great station.”
In 1975, after WCOZ had begun taking on WBCN for dominance in the local rock radio arena, Mark Parenteau returned home and worked for the competition. But, after a couple years, he had grown to hate the place: “WCOZ had a corporate mindset, tight play list…I had to sneak records in.” The DJ met secretly with ‘BCN’s managers, cut a deal and moved to his new home in 1978. During his 19-year reign, Parenteau interviewed most major rock stars, pioneered live remote broadcasting techniques and became “The Honorary Dean of Boston Comedy” as he gave shots to dozens of comedians on his show. But, by the mid-90’s, the veteran found himself embattled by the hard-rocking WAAF and its acerbic afternoon team of Opie and Anthony. The ‘BCN jock slipped in the ratings war and soon became vulnerable to corporate bean-counters.
In November ’97, the soon-to-be-unemployed Parenteau honored a promise to appear at a high-profile awards ceremony in Boston. He used his podium time to, as the Boston Globe reported, “get some barbs in, noting that, ‘I feel like I have shaken baby syndrome,’ and that the CBS ‘Welcome Home’ slogan should be ‘Welcome Homeless.’”
“It was just the right line at the right time,” Parenteau chuckled. “It really embarrassed CBS. I was quickly excommunicated and not allowed to do a farewell, show.” Parenteau went on to successful stints at Q104 in New York and XM Radio. The famed radio personality passed away in June of 2016.
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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.