WBOS (92.9 MHz, "Alt 92.9") is a commercial FM radio station licensed to Brookline, Massachusetts and broadcasting to the Greater Boston media market. The station airs an alternative rock radio format, using the branding "Alt 92.9". WBOS is owned and operated by Greater Media, which is based in Braintree. Its studios are located in the Dorchester neighborhood of Boston and its transmitter is on the top of the Prudential Tower in Boston's Back Bay.
The early years
WBOS-FM signed-on in February of 1960, simulcasting most of the programming of its sister station 1600 WBOS (now WUNR). Most of the AM station's programming was beautiful music, but when the AM side began to broadcast ethnic programming, the FM side continued to broadcast beautiful music, which was branded on both AM and FM as "Boston's Music Theatre". In 1975, WBOS-FM changed to a hodgepodge format which did not gain much of an audience.
In 1978, Boston radio personality Ron Robin, disappointed that the airtime for his weekly disco music show on WVBF had been cut back, left WVBF and began doing a four-hour Sunday-night disco show for WBOS. Initially, Robin bought the airtime and sold commercials for the show.
The success of that show led to WBOS hiring Robin, and a rapid expansion of the disco programming, first to seven nights a week from 8 p.m. to midnight (April 1978), and then to 24/7 in September 1978. For a brief time in late 1978 and early 1979, WBOS was one of Boston's most popular radio stations. But when WXKS-FM came on the scene with a highly promoted disco format, including big promotions and hiring away some WBOS jocks, WBOS' ratings suffered.
WRKO midday legend J.J. Wright (most recently at WODS) was one of the original disco DJ's for WBOS when the station went round-the-clock disco in 1978. Longtime producer Jack King (formerly of WBIM-FM, WVBF, and WBZ) created, wrote and engineered most of the station's disco specials at the time. King was there at the beginning of the station's format change to disco and worked closely with Robin to 'keep the beat going' into the late 1970s and early 1980s. When WBOS changed to AOR/Adult Contemporary, the duo went to WBZ Radio for a long, successful stint there.
Adult Contemporary/AOR and Country formats
In January 1980, the station flipped to an adult contemporary music format which was a little less "adult" and a little more "contemporary", but that format would only run for two years. In January 1982, WBOS flipped to a short-lived attempt at an album rock format, programmed for some of that time by legendary Boston rock personalities Jerry Goodwin and Maxanne Satori.
But the rock format didn't make any inroads against established rockers 104.1 WBCN, 94.5 WCOZ and 107.3 WAAF, not to mention the fast-rising WLYN-FM. On July 14, 1983, WBOS' format was abruptly changed to country music, and was moderately successful for several years; it was the only FM country station in the Boston market at the time.
Program Director and morning personality Dean James, along with General Sales Manager Dave DiGregorio, worked diligently to bring Country to the mainstream. Many local jocks are still working the Boston market. The country format would remain for the next six years.
Adult Album Alternative format
On April 27, 1989, at 3 PM, WBOS dropped country and adopted a "triple-A" format, initially with a bit more of an eclectic focus than most triple-A stations at the time, incorporating classic rock, soul, R&B, and singer-songwriter cuts into their playlists, along with new releases. Eventually, the station gravitated more toward current material and new releases. At that time, when CDs were just starting to be used in radio, WBOS promoted itself as the first all-compact disc radio station, eliminating vinyl, and very sparingly using carts for some songs. Unusually, the vinyl themed retro show "The Lost 45s" with Barry Scott aired on Sunday nights after leaving rival 100.7 WZLX.
In April 2005, WBOS made changes to play more music and decrease the amount of talk. The station's morning show, hosted by Bill Abbate and Kristin Lessard, was abruptly cancelled to make way for the jockless "All Music Mornings". "It's putting the station somewhat back to where it started in terms of its ideals. Listener perception is that radio plays too many commercials and that DJs can be boring and irrelevant," said Buzz Knight, operations manager for WBOS. Knight said that WBOS will be "the cool station for people over 30."
In September 2007, George Knight began hosting morning drive on the station, but that would be short lived. That same month, Greater Media registered domains that showed that the station was possibly flipping to Sports talk as 92.9 The Ticket, complete with a logo and a slogan, "Boston's Only FM Sports Station". The station was rumored to flip on October 1 of that year, but never materialized. WBMX (now WBZ-FM) and WMKK (now WEEI-FM) eventually flipped to the format over the next five years. Little did anyone know a bigger change was coming to WBOS.
Alternative Rock format
On February 1, 2008, the station saw its biggest change since flipping to AAA in 1989, as the format changed to alternative rock and the station rebranded as "Radio 92-9". While George Knight continued to host his popular "Sunday Morning Over Easy" program, and music director Dana Marshall was promoted to Program Director, the rest of the station's airstaff was let go. Since WBCN's demise in 2010, WBOS has adopted a mainstream rock direction, but continues to report on Mediabase and Nielsen BDS on the alternative panel. This was due to the addition of Def Leppard on the playlist, and the move left WFNX once again as Boston's only pure alternative rock station. However, in 2011/2012, the station reverted to playing mostly alternative tracks, while playing some classic hard rock tracks (but at a very minimal amount), usually from artists/bands such as Led Zeppelin, Van Halen, Aerosmith, AC/DC, Metallica, Pink Floyd, Billy Idol, and Guns 'n' Roses. By July 2012, WBOS became Boston's only alternative rock station following the closure of WFNX.
On July 13, 2016, WBOS rebranded as "Alt 92.9".
WBOS was originally owned by Boston businessman Herbert Hoffman. In the 1980s, he sold it to Sconnix, which later sold it to Ackerley Media in 1988. The station was sold to Granum Communications in 1992, which merged with Infinity Broadcasting in 1996. In 1997, the station was traded to Greater Media, which has owned it ever since.
WBOS's alternative rock format is projected to reach a younger, more dynamic male-skewing audience in their 20s and 30s. The reach of the station's previous AAA format skewed towards females in their 30s and 40s.
WBOS is actively broadcasting using the iBiquity HD Radio digital broadcasting system, and had an HD secondary channel called called "The Coffee House", which launched in early 2006. This format consisted of "the acoustic, unplugged side of triple A" by using the "station’s archive of live and in-studio performances", and emphasized "singer-songwriters, folk music and unplugged versions of songs by core WBOS artists."
The "Coffee House" format would later be replaced with Radio You Boston, featuring content programmed by college-aged residents of the Boston area. This has since re-branded as Local 92.9, and features local music artists from the Boston area.
- J. J. Wright
- Ron Robin
- Jack King
- Neal Robert
- Charles Laquidara
- Barry Scott of The Lost 45s
- Dick Pleasants
- Maria Morgan
- Carolyn Morrell
- Liz Solar
- Bill Smith
- Cliff Nash
- Kevin Malvey
- Bill Abbate
- Kristin Lessard
- Amy Brooks
- Melissa Gaudette
- Gerrie Burke
- John Laurenti
- Eduardo Nash
- Joanne Doody
- PD-George Taylor Morris
- Robin Young
- Julie Devereaux
- Dave DiGregorio
- Keith Murray
- David O'Leary
- Dominic Lewis
- PD-Chris Hermann
- PD-Shirley Moldanado
- PD-Jim Herron
- Matt Phipps
- George Knight
- Bob Bayne
- Kevin Collins
- WBOS was also the callsign of a shortwave station operated by Westinghouse's WBZ affiliate during the 1940s. (The 92.9 frequency now occupied by WBOS was one of the early frequencies used by WBZ's FM station in the 1950s.)
- Arnie Ginsburg was the nighttime host on WBOS (AM), one of Boston's first rock-and-roll DJ's. However, by the time the FM station signed on, his show had moved to WMEX.
- Charles Laquidara hosted a show from Maui entitled WBOS Backspin during the Spring of 2006. The show aired commercial-free on weekdays, from 9–10 a.m., live.
- Studio 7 is the recording area where common heard artists on the station record and play some of their songs live. Since 1992, John Mellencamp, Sarah McLachlan, John Mayer, Lionel Richie, Barenaked Ladies, Alanis Morissette, and others have performed here while on tour in a major venue in Boston (e.g. Boston Garden, Tweeter Center, etc.).
- Given the station's February 2008 format adjustment, it is not yet known whether WBOS will continue with their "Studio 7" broadcasts.
- Mellencamp's Jack and Diane live version has been recorded at Studio 7.