In this week’s issue… Boston AM entrepreneur dies – WHYY sells NJ FM – Axe axed in Syracuse – WBEE seeks new morning team – 7 Mountains shuffles Poconos formats – Remembering WKTV’s Worden
By SCOTT FYBUSH
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BOSTON – Over the last three decades, no one owner has done more to rework the AM dial in eastern Massachusetts than Alexander Langer, who built a small empire of signals that started with an audacious proposal to move a license from southwestern NEW HAMPSHIRE into the Boston market.
Langer first appeared on the Boston radio scene in 1995, when he paid $50,000 for the license of silent WBIV (1060 Natick), a signal that had gone off the air a year earlier. Langer also paid an adjacent-channel station, WRPT (1050 Peterborough NH), to go silent, clearing the way for 1060 to get more power in Boston’s western suburbs – but a few months later, he bought the WRPT license and found a clever way to keep it alive, applying to move it down the dial to 650 and relocate it to Ashland, Massachusetts, creating a new Boston-market daytimer.
It’s a move that couldn’t happen today, in part because the FCC hasn’t had a window for such major changes in AM signals in decades, and because there’s no money to be made with a new AM, but at the time, it proved lucrative for Langer, who kept upgrading his signals and was able to sell several of them for seven-figure prices.
Langer established a base at 100 Mount Wayte Ave. in Framingham (right), the studio and two-tower transmitter site that had been used by WKOX (1200) before iHeart bought it and moved it to Newton. Over the years, the old WKOX facility became home to a variety of new formats and callsigns: 1060 launched a contemporary Christian format as “J-Light,” WJLT, a callsign and format that later appeared on 650 after 1060 went talk under the historic WMEX calls.
Later, Langer sold 1060 to Brad Bleidt, who installed a business talk format there as WBIX, then ended up in prison on fraud charges. The 1060 facility went back to Langer, who eventually resold it to Holy Family Communications, which now runs it as Catholic WQOM. In the meantime, Langer had acquired another failed AM, WSRO (1470 Marlborough), which had lost its studio/transmitter site. Moving that signal to the 1150 towers in Lexington, much closer to Boston, allowed Langer to sell 1470 to Multicultural Broadcasting, which now runs it as WAZN.
In more recent years, Langer found success by leasing the 650 signal (by then using the WSRO calls) to a Portuguese-language broadcaster, adding an FM translator in Framingham. And he rescued another dying AM, the old WMSX (1410 Brockton), moving it closer to Boston with a new city of license of Dedham and a new transmitter site in Hyde Park. As WZBR, it tried an urban format (feeding a translator in Medford), simulcast Portuguese with WSRO and another later Langer purchase, WBAS (1240) on Cape Cod, and eventually ran an automated jazz format.
Langer had suffered health issues in recent years, slimming down his station portfolio by selling the Cape Cod station to Bob Bittner and leaving him with just WSRO (650), WZBR (1410) and their translators. In 2022, WSRO adopted an automated classical format, switching to all-digital MA3 operation as a test of that platform while Langer sought buyers for his last two stations.
Sadly, Langer didn’t live to see a sale. After his death at age 65 in early March, his estate turned off WSRO and WZBR on March 5, bringing an end to almost three decades in which Langer brought new voices and new forms of community service to the region’s airwaves.
There’s been no word about any memorial services for Langer; meanwhile, we’ll keep you posted on the fate of his last two stations, which are still seeking buyers at last word.
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