|Branding||WILD AM 1090|
|First air date||November 24, 1946|
(simulcast of China Radio International)
|Power||4,800 watts daytime
1,900 watts critical hours
|Callsign meaning||WILD about Boston|
|Former callsigns||WBMS (1946–1951)
|Affiliations||China Radio International|
(Radio One of Boston Licenses, LLC)
|Website||WILD webpage within G&E Studio|
WILD is a radio station licensed to Boston, Massachusetts. It broadcasts on 1090 kHz and airs programming from China Radio International under a lease agreement. Prior to the flip to Chinese programming, the station had a legacy of serving Boston's African-American community as a R&B outlet (and its subgenres) from 1967 to 2011. The transmitter for WILD is in Medford.
WILD first went on the air in 1946 as WBMS, with a classical-music format. Eventually, the station went to a "popular music" format, briefly adopted the call letters WHEE, then went back to being WBMS. By the end of the fifties, the call letters were changed to WILD under then owner Bartell, who tried a personality DJ and music format. In 1966, Leonard Walk purchased the station.
The station's power output was originally 1,000 watts, but was increased to 5,000 watts in 1978.
However, the station's history is best known for a long-lasting urban contemporary format which began in 1967 (after several years in which Italian-language programming and rhythm and blues programs for the black community shared the station's schedule). WILD became the respected voice of Boston's black community for many years. In 1973, Sheridan Broadcasting bought the station; in August 1980, locally-based Nash Communications, owned and operated by Kendall Nash, bought WILD. When Nash died in 1999, his wife, Bernadine, took the helm of the station's operations.
WILD first saw competition when WZOU flipped to a Rhythmic Contemporary Hits format as WJMN ("Jam'n 94.5") in 1993. However, it was not until 1999, when African American-owned Radio One entered the market with WBOT, that WILD saw real competition for Boston's African American population.
In May 2000, Radio One took control of WILD through a local marketing agreement, which became an outright purchase later that year. After purchasing the station, Radio One slowly evolved WILD from a rather mainstream Urban Adult Contemporary format to a format that focused more on classic soul music. In addition, the syndicated Tom Joyner morning show was added to the lineup, with the former morning host ("Coach" Willie Maye) relegated to giving local updates on the show.
In 2005, Radio One brought about the biggest changes to the station in many years. The 1090 signal was plagued with some problems. While the signal covered the Boston area (including areas of the city with large African American populations), the station was forced to sign-off every night as a result of former clear channel station WBAL in Baltimore. In addition, the strong Arbitron ratings of WILD had warranted a better and more-powerful frequency. However, Radio One had come up with a solution.
On October 20, 2005, Radio One moved the Urban Adult Contemporary format to the dial position of WBOT. The move replaced "Hot 97.7" for most of the day, but the former mainstream urban format remained from 4:00 p.m. until 10:00 p.m. WBOT subsequently picked up the call letters of WILD-FM.
The move cleared the 1090 frequency for a new format, so when WILD signed on at sunrise on October 20, it was reborn as a new urban contemporary gospel formatted station, "Praise 1090", based on the success of WPZE-FM in Atlanta and WPPZ in Philadelphia.
The "Praise 1090" format was short-lived. On January 30, 2006, the 1090 frequency changed formats again. WILD became the Boston affiliate for the company's African American-targeted news/talk network, featuring Michael Eric Dyson and 2 Live Stews. Other talent that were heard on WILD during this period included "The Truthfighters Show" with Warren Ballentine, and "Keeping It Real" with The Reverend Al Sharpton. A local morning program was also added, featuring Jimmy Myers, taking the longtime Boston radio host out of his retirement. The station retained the Black gospel format for weekend programming. The Tom Joyner Morning Show returned to WILD from 6:00am (Sunrise) to 10:00am eastern during this tenure. While other affiliates of the network adopted the slogan, "The People's Station", WILD was unable to do so, as that was the slogan of WILD-FM. Instead, WILD used "Where Information is Power", the slogan of Radio One's longtime urban news/talk station WOL in Washington, D.C..
On August 21, 2006, radio industry website All Access reported that Entercom bought WILD-FM and changed the format (after a "stunt") to rock (a simulcast of WAAF 107.3), a move designed to improve WAAF's signal in Boston area. WILD-FM flipped to the simulcast at 5:30 p.m. on August 22. The sale of WILD-FM meant that the Tom Joyner morning show would return to AM 1090, and WILD would revert to contemporary inspirational and gospel music , ending the news/talk format. The news/talk format subsequently returned that December. In the summer of 2008, the station flipped to a various/brokered format on the weekdays and Classic Soul and Gospel on weekends. From December 2008 to May 31, 2011, WILD was the Boston affiliate for Radio One's African American-targeted news/talk network, once again featuring hosts Ballentine and Sharpton. The station website became defunct during this time period.
On June 1, 2011, the station began running programming produced by China Radio International (mostly in English) under a lease agreement between Radio One and China Radio International. As a result, all news/talk, Classic Soul and Gospel programming that was heard on WILD was silenced, ending the station's long legacy of serving Boston's African-American community.
The "Wild" branding
The WILD callsign has been grandfathered years before Clear Channel trademarked The "Wild" branding (used on Rhythmic formatted Hip Hop stations) sometime in the 1990s or early 2000s. The WILD callsign on 1090 meant "Wild about Boston".
- Halper, Donna; Wollman, Garrett. "The Eastern Massachusetts Radio Timeline: the 1940s". The Archives @ BostonRadio.org. Retrieved December 28, 2011.
- WILD, WBOT: A partnership with a beat, Boston Globe, May 18, 2000
- Joyner brings activism, music to WILD, Boston Globe, August 24, 2000
- Bernadine Nash's 'WILD' ride, Boston Globe, November 16, 2000
- A 'WILD' change of format, Boston Globe, October 20, 2005
- WILD to air new African-American talk radio network, Boston Globe, October 29, 2005
- Entercom to buy Boston's WILD-FM for $30 million, Boston Globe, August 22, 2006
- Fans say WILD format should not be silenced, Boston Globe, October 10, 2006
- Simon, Clea (2006-12-15). "WBZ's new morning anchor says the job is 'a homecoming'". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 2007-10-08.
- Chinese state radio takes to local airwaves, Boston Globe, July 1, 2011
- "Beyond Beijing: WILD Becomes CRI's window on the world", Boston Radio Watch, Wednesday, June 1, 2011
- "Radio One to Sell Off Boston's Last Black Radio Station WILD 1090 AM", Urban Radio Nation, June 1, 2011