By SCOTT FYBUSH
There’s been an awful lot of change in the last few years at Clear Channel’s Boston cluster. One of the smallest major-market clusters in that giant broadcast group, the Boston stations have been busy undergoing a studio move, an AM upgrade (and multiple format changes), and most recently the addition of a third FM signal, the former WFNX (101.7 Lynn, now WHBA “the Harbor.”)
Our snapshot of Clear Channel Boston comes from a summer 2010 visit, the first chance we’d had to see the stations since the 2007 move that brought the cluster together under one roof for the first time. Until 2007, WXKS-FM (Kiss 108) and its AM sister stations on 1200 and 1430 had been operating from the longtime WXKS studios at the AM 1430 transmitter site on Revere Beach Parkway in Medford, while WJMN (Jam’n 94.5) was something of a nomad, operating from two locations on Bear Hill Road in Waltham before relocating to an office park on Cabot Road in Medford, just around the corner from Kiss, which is where Clear Channel ended up consolidating its operations.
The new location lacks the visibility of the old Kiss 108 space, which had prominent signage right next to the T’s Wellington station and right alongside a busy highway – but it does provide more room for the cluster in a newer building with more parking, not to mention windows for the studios. The WJMN studio is the first one on our tour, and if you look closely at the window to the jock’s left, you can see it’s been covered over, since there wasn’t much that Jam’n would be doing to interact with the station in the next studio beyond that window. WXKS (1200 Newton) had just recently launched at that point as “Rush Radio,” and would later become “Talk 1200” before flipping to comedy in 2012. (I suspect, but don’t know for sure, that this studio has been repurposed for “The Harbor.”)
Kiss 108 is around the corner in another spacious studio with plenty of room for its big “Matty in the Morning” show.
There’s a traffic operation based here that feeds not only Clear Channel’s own stations but outside clients as well, and it has a room of its own down the hall with several cubicles for its on-air talent.
And of course there’s a substantial rack room at the center of the complex, a design that’s become all but standard for Clear Channel studio builds in recent years.
Around the corner at 99 Revere Beach Parkway, the old WXKS studios still sat empty and silent, awaiting a sale to a new buyer that has still yet to happen. The transmitters for WKOX (1430 Everett) had moved outside the building into a new prefabricated structure on the side – and 1430 now has company here: Radio One’s WILD (1090 Boston) began diplexing on the 1430 site when it lost its own site, a mile away, to development.
Today, 1430 is doing Spanish AC as “Mia 1430,” running 5 kW days/1 kW nights from that pair of BE transmitters on the right, while WILD leases time to China Radio International on its 4.8 kW day/1.9 kW critical-hours signal from a Harris transmitter on the left side of the row of racks inside that prefab building.
And we’ll close this installment with one more bit of Clear Channel from our 2010 visit: we’ve already shown you the FM 128 master antenna site in Newton in a previous Tower Site segment, but we’ll bring these pictures back now to show you the WJMN main and auxiliary transmitters there.
Thanks to Clear Channel’s John Mullaney for the tours!
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Next week: Providence, 2010