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Boston still has "radio personality"

By Eric H.

If you read the Boston radio chat room messages, you'd think the radio consultants "ruining" our radio stations were part of the Manson family. Curses to them for their evil plot to ruin Boston radio, the nay sayers spout!

Sure, the spontaneity might be gone with tighter playlists, very specific formats and a sound that is identical to stations in other cities, but look more carefully and you'll find some great quality announcers on very good stations -- or, at least, making the best of a format that could be better.

We must remember that radio is a microcosm of our society. If radio has become too predictable and standardized, take a look at the rest of the world -- around the corner you'll see one hour photos labs, drive through fast food chains, and strip malls.

So, when we come upon that special person, place or thing, it makes it all that more special. With that in mind, let's take a look at the top Boston area announcers who have risen above a generic medium. They are the Hall of Famers, those broadcasters who are the top of their profession and who carry the spirit of the great older generation of radio professionals who put Boston on the map as a great radio town -- Jess Cain, Dave Maynard, Larry Justice, Norm Nathan and of course, the great late David Brudnoy, to name a few.

There are a few current personalities that might have been hall of famers a few years back, but have been left off the list due to lack of recent"hall of fame" performance. Please keep checking the list, however -- it is sure to change!

It must be noted that radio is such a subjective medium -- one man's station or personality is another man's poison. With that said, we bring you what we feel are the best radio personalities that natives and visitors should find appealing (with some personalities from perimeter stations included, as they can be heard in the Boston area):

 

Morning

Loren and Wally --WROR-FM, 105.7, Boston, Mass. -- Loren (Owens) and Wally (Brine, son of the late, legendary Providence, R.I. radio/tv personality Salty Brine) have been around more than 20 years and know radio like the back of their hands. Fortunately, they don't take that for granted and bring us all the silly jokes, bad puns and great comic timing you'll ever need. Remember when radio used to make you laugh? Loren and Wally do that and save us from a radio nation of jokes without punchlines and high school losers taking their frustrations to the airwaves. Sidekick Tom Doyle brings a real zany edge to the show with his song parodies and one heck of a Tom Brokaw imitation. Hank Morse brings traffic reporting to the next level with a personality-filled voice and sharp sense of humor, and Sue Cope is a great news reader.

Mike Morin -- WZID-FM, 95.7, Manchester, N.H. -- The funniest man on radio. A quick wit, great jokes and puns, down to earth personality and terrific repoire with his callers, Morin is a big-time personality in a medium market. A great, logical successor to the very popular and wonderful Charlie O'Brien, who left WZID-FM for Los Angeles. Once got susupended at another radio station for telling his audience the tall ships were coming to Lowell, Mass. -- an inland city. People came all the way to Connecticut to see the alleged Lowell event!

Matt Siegel (Matty in the Morning), WXKS-FM, KISS 108, Medford/Everett, Mass. -- Blessed with a fine command of the English language and a quick wit, Matt Siegel could be a fine radio talk show host, but has chosen for many years to stay at KISS 108 showcasing his considerable talents on a contemporary hits station (and a former "disco" station). He's upbeat, up-to-date on current events and has terrific interviewing skills, noteworthy on a music station that plays Madonna and Britney Spears.

Gary LaPierre, WBZ-AM 1030, Boston -- The esteemed chief voice on the all news morning show, LaPierre has been on the air in Boston since the 1960s, thus making him one of the most familiar voices in Boston radio. That voice -- seasoned and resonant -- is a delight to listen to. He also has an attitude, which can be heard on his "LaPierre on the Loose" segements -- he sounds like a more well-rounded Bill O'Reilly, with his conservative/common sense observations.

Laura Carlo, WCRB-FM 102.5 ,Waltham, Mass. -- Carlo doesn't sound like your stuffy, pause-for-five-minutes-in- between- words classical radio personality. She sounds more like a "lite rock" personality, with an upbeat delivery, but never too terse. She is a broadcasting pro, having been on WCRB-FM for many years. Her personality, alone, has recruited radio listeners who might not have tuned into WCRB-FM in the first place.

Dale Dorman, WODS-FM Oldies 103.3, Boston --Not the out-of-control wacky radio DJ he was during his heydey on legendary top 40 rocker WRKO in the 1960s and 70s, Dorman is now a consumate professional, intuitive in his presentation and affable, as always. He has a nice repoire with the talented June Knight (newscaster) and still has plenty of energy, some leftover silliness from the 60s and a lovably nasal, distinctive voice. He came to Oldies 103.3 after an illustrious 20-plus years at KISS-108. He was also the voice-over at the end of Gilligan's Island and other high quality shows many years ago at Channel 56 Boston! He is an inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and is, by, all accounts, a truly nice guy according to those on the inside.

Scott Allen Miller, WRKO AM 680, Boston -- Miller is for the most part, a fair and balanced talk show host with a deeply developed thought process and a slight chip-on-the-shoulder atttitude. The new rigid morning format somewhat impedes his vast talents, but Miller stands out on this landmark talk radio station.

Mike Addams, WMJX FM 106.7, Magic 106.7, Boston -- Addams, since his glory days at top-40 WRKO AM 680 in the 1970s, has always been a natural with his livewire voice and engaging personality. Still sounding youthful, the "Exciting Mike Addams" is part of an airstaff that brings life to a longstanding light rock format. Kudos to Magic 106.7 for hiring great radio personalities and extra kudos to Addams for choosing to be a radio personality as a career choice -- he is a household name in the Boston area to those who regularly listen to radio.

Greg Hill, WAAF FM 107.3 Worcester, Mass. -- Hill has done so much for charity that even if he was terrible as a radio personality, he would still be admired. The reality is Hill has worked hard the past 15 years to turn himself into a great radio personality on this hard-rock station. With a hint of "shock jock" in him and a wiseguy personality, Hill's "wink-wink" delivery makes him comes off as loveable rather than obnoxious; the twinkle in his voice is infectious. The combination of being a solid radio jock and helping those in need have made Hill a local legend of sorts in many circles.

 

Mid-morning/early afternoon

Paula Street, WODS FM, Oldies 103.3 -- Bright, cheerful and flawless in her presentation, Paula Street is a Boston radio institution. She is consistent, professional and knowledgeable of the Oldies format, which she has been doing on this great radio station since the late 1980s. Longevity counts in this profession, indeed, and Paula is to be commended for that and her sunny personality.

Dale Arnold and Michael Holley, WEEI, sportsradio 850 Boston -- The veteran broadcaster Arnold and superb sports writer Holley mesh well, both knowledgeable, professional and full of interest statistics. The conversation is lively without being disrespectful to each other and their callers (when compared to the loud morning and afternoon shows on WEEI, that is). Holley is new to full-time sports radio, but has grown by leaps and bounds in just a few months (he succeeded the great Bob Neumeier). His writing skills have no doubt translated well to the microphone. Arnold is a steady force, hard-working, articulate and with great radio timbre in his voice.

Nancy Quill, WMJX FM 106.7, Magic 106.7 Boston -- For women interested in entering the broadcasting profession, the best lesson plan would be to listen to Nancy Quill on a daily basis. Easy-going, humorous and conversing as if she was in your living room, Quill, like Magic 106.7 morning man Mike Addams, is a natural at her profession. Intuitive thoughtful and blessed with a great voice, she may be the most solid woman radio personality in Boston.

 

Afternoon

Bob Stuart, WXRV FM, 92.5, Haverhill, Mass.--A former journeyman has found a home at this alternative rocker. Stuart always seemed to be filling in for somebody 20 years back, but now has established himself with his distinctively warm, personal voice and a surprisingly knowledgeable alternative music base. He's come a long way from half heartedly announcing Barry Manilow songs. Now he sounds thrilled to announce Robyn Hitchcock, Weezer and Tori Amos songs. We certainly are, as the station's fresh format and great personalities like Stuart make radio worthwhile again.

Steve Kelly, WKLB, 99.5, Boston -- Sure, it might be annoying to hear pop music creeping into country songs, but Steve Kelly is a real throwback. He has an announcer's voice -- as opposed to bad voices with an attitude (Nick Carter, the former WBCN source of irritation) -- gets goofy and has a great repoire with the traffic announcers. He might have been average amidst the highly talented pool of the 1960s and 1970s, but today he sounds better than most. It really does feel good to hear a fine voice and announcer with great instincts -- knowing when to break, talk over songs, and tell a joke or two.

Sean Casey: WPLM, 99.1, Plymouth, Mass -- Another legend from the 1970s (at the old WHDH), Casey has brought his deep, classic announcer's voice to a station that isn't afraid to play Sammy Davis, Jr., Tom Jones, Herb Alpert and Bertie Higgins ("Key Largo"). With DJ joke book in hand and a nice easy going personality, Casey brings announcing to an artistic and technical level -- he could probably do this in his sleep.

Glenn Ordway (The Big O), WEEI AM Sports Radio 850 Boston -- He's loud, obnoxious, belittling and quite often annoying, but make no mistake about it, Glenn Ordway is one of the best sports radio personalities in the nation. Easily one of the top interviewers of any format, Ordway is incredibly perceptive and cuts to the chase like no one else. He also has a gift of making those around him sound better, sort of like the Larry Bird of radio.

Robby Bridges, WCTK-FM 98.1 New Bedford/Providence -- Although young, Bridges is a throwback to top 40 DJs from the 60s and 70s. He has a livewire voice that comes jumping out of the airwaves and his enthusiasm confirms his love for the profession. His top 40 leanings actually help the country format, by bringing in new listeners who wouldn't normally listen to country music (much like Laura Carlo does at classical music station WCRB-FM, Waltham).

Howie Carr, WRKO AM 680, Boston --Almost didn't make it due to a slip in energy, consistency and too many lightweight topic segments. Still, Carr is one of a kind, a Boston wiseguy who knows local politics better than anyone on the Boston airwaves. He also had some recently hilarious moments during Sen. John Kerry's (D-Mass.) run for president (saying he doesn't like what Kerry stands for is an understatement). We'd like to see more of his political observations and less of the lowbrow stuff.

Dan Justin, WMJX FM 106.7, Magic 106.7 Boston -- The man with the happy voice has found a long-term home at Magic 106.7 FM. Hard work at several radio stations throughout the years has paid off for Justin as he honed his craft and really started to come into his own in the late 1990s. He now works at one of the most respected radio stations in the country. Justin is a delight to listen to, and really seems to enjoy his work.

Chuck Nowlin, WZLX 100.7 FM, Boston -- Nowlin has a working-class, regular guy-type personality. Nowlin's relationship with his audience is terrific -- here's a radio personality who really seems genuine. A staple at the classic rock WZLX, Nowlin is the right man for the afternoon drive, keeping things alive and flowing well for the drive home. Humorous, glib and self-effacing, he's has great appeal -- you feel like you know someone just like him.

 

Evening

Patrick Callahan, WODS FM, Oldies 103.3, Boston -- Callahan brings a fresh edge to a landmark radio station. With great diction, pleasing timbre and a walking encyclopedia of musical knowledge, Callahan counts down some very popular oldies while not being afraid to play a few more obscure ones. He has the potential to go national, as there is something "extra" in his voice and presentation -- hard to pinpoint exactly what, but the special sound is definitely there.

Recently arrived Mike Adams, WEEI AM Sports Radio 850 Boston -- It was a shame that former nighttime host Ted Sarandis left WEEI under, reportedly, unhappy circumstances, but Mike Adams carries on the great nighttime radio tradition at this station, albeit from a slightly different and somewhat twisted perspective. Sort of a cross between a wacky top 40 disc jockey and an entertainer out of the Robin Williams college of comedy, Adams is loud, witty, outspoken and sometimes obnoxious, but those traits have little to do with the loud, obnoxious, outspoken and sometimes witty format of WEEI. Unlike some of the other staff, Adams is good-natured, listens to his callers, is respectful to his colleagues, and acknowledges all points of view. He is not mean-spirited -- the opposite of the morning show crew. Like the Monkees, he's "too busy singing to put anybody down."

Still, Adams fits in with the format by maintaining the energy, passion for sports, and an instantly identifiable personality -- like all other WEEI talk show hosts. He also has a gifted way of playing with the English language which results in great puns, jokes and other moments of inspired insanity. With all the cookie cutter, assembly line radio out there, it's nice to hear someone not afraid to be himself and not fit in the "mold."

It should be noted that Adams never quite fit the mold, having been employed as a car salesman at a metro Boston car dealership while also working at WEEI. He was also the guy who replaced Howard Stern on WCCC-FM Hartford, Conn., when the king of shock radio found slightly more success in New York City. Adams also had an Emmy award-winning sports show on New England Cable News in the 1990s, complete with snoring sound effects on his "Sports Snooze" segments (rugby, field hockey, lacrosse results, etc.), footage of wild animals running in the background (from seemingly floor to ceiling) while reporting Red Sox scores, having his mouth full of food when talking sports, and mugging for the camera better than Oliver Hardy, Benny Hill and George Costanza combined. It's too bad the media could not have found a full-time spot for him since then, but WEEI has taken the chance and is to be commended for going "against the wind."

We believe Adams will be great on WEEI. We hope he creates a long-time presence listeners can build a relationship with -- much like Sarandis did, but in a very different way.

Recently departed Ted Sarandis, WEEI AM Sports Radio 850, Boston -- Studied, serious and very smart, Sarandis is a man of principal sticking to a previous generation's way of conducting a sports radio show -- much like the legendary Guy Manilla, of WBZ-AM, back in the 1960s and 70s. This is a considerable challenge, given WEEI's juvenile sports format. Sarandis is as much a sports expert as Stephen Ambrose was a great historian, and that depth of knowledge comes out of the radio in almost three dimensional fashion every night. He doesn't have a great sense of humor on-air and if you disagree with him on the radio, watch out -- he can get unpleasant and sarcastic, but most of the time it's justified. He asks a lot of his callers, and for the most part they hold up their end of the bargain with a high level of quality conversation. It should be noted that Sarandis is a strong supporter of the local community, including our brave men and women serving in the U.S. military -- an indication of his big heart and high ethics.

Editor's note: We wish Ted the best. He is a person who I have personally known to be an individual of decency, honesty, passion, intelligence and authenticity. What happened at WEEI is up to speculation, but, in my opinion, he clearly stood out from the crass offerings on a station fortunate to have a good signal and broadcast Red Sox games; otherwise WEEI might just be another radio station with ratings challenges. Ted can stand tall, knowing he did a great job at WEEI and stuck to his morals and by not selling out. He will land on his feet, as most talented, decent people do. Best wishes, Teddy, and thanks for all the great years of "Ted Nation."

Paul Sullivan, WBZ AM 1030 Boston -- A newspaper columnist by trade (Lowell Sun), Paul Sullivan made the transition nicely several years ago to talk radio with his Boston-accented wit and command of local, national and international news. Recently, he moved from his late night shift to early to mid evenings to replace the late David Brudnoy (the epitome of a radio hall of famer). Sullivan, who is recovering from a brain tumor, appears to be in good health in his new time slot -- a true bonus for radio listeners from 38 states listening to this chock-full-of-personality radio talk show host.

David Allan Boucher, WMJX FM "Magic 106.7" Boston --The king of mellow for many years at Magic 106.7, David Allen Boucher could probably calm down "Extreme Homes" host Ty Pennington with just a half hour of listening to this local, legendary soft rock show. Boucher has a deep, soothing voice that never tires, ironic in the fact that it will make you tire. But that is why he has been a staple at Magic 106.7 for three decades -- he can cast a sandman spell on the most uptight corporate yuppies needing to unwind. He has a distinctive, methodical style and can introduce a Roberta Flack or Peabro Bryson song than probably anyone in the country.

Art Spencer, WWLI "Lite 105.1", Providence--Very much like David Allan Boucher, except with a more pedestrian voice and better interaction with his audience. Spencer is smooth, genuine and seems to really enjoy his job. He is a staple in a market that has seen many changes through the years.

 

Overnights

J.J. Wright, WODS FM,Oldies 103.3 --His superb baritone voice and enthusiasm and knowledge of music makes him a local legend. Many years ago, Wright was part of the memorable top 40 format at WRKO-AM (now a talk station). The jingles, the dramatic phrases, wacky contests and catchy music made radio fun. After a successful stint for many years at KISS 108 (contemporary hits), Wright formerly commanded the afternoon shift at Oldies 103.3 and now takes on the overnight position playing the best of the 1960s and 1970s. It's a tour de force of music, with a great announcer to match.

 

Great gift ideas from the Sharper Image!

 

Wurlitzer Jukebox

 

Bose Wave Radio 

 

Robotic Lawnmower 

 

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