[act-ma] 5/06 the-untold-story-of-bostons-wbcn

Charlie Welch cwelch at tecschange.org
Thu May 6 08:03:14 PDT 2021

*By Daphne Northrop*

When most of us think about activism in the 1960s and 70s, the city that 
most likely comes to mind is San Francisco—the home of the Summer of 
Love, anti-war protests and consciousness-raising.

A new film from Bill Lichtenstein /WBCN and The American Revolution/ 
reveals that Boston was as influential a driver of the music and 
countercultural scene, antiwar activism, civil rights struggles and the 
emerging women’s and LGBTQ+ liberation movements.

“The Summer of Love burned out in San Francisco, and it moved to 
Boston,” said Lichtenstein. “It became politicized because of the 
draft—largely because we had 84 colleges and 240,000 college students 

Nicknamed “The American Revolution,” WBCN (104.1 FM) debuted in 1968 as 
the city’s first FM station to play rock music. While AM stations were 
blasting top-40 pop, WBCN disc jockeys were introducing listeners to Led 
Zeppelin, BB King and Joe Cocker, recalled Lichtenstein, who started 
working at the station when he was 14.

WBCN also featured news, parody and comedy and premiered /The Lavender 
Hour/ to cover the burgeoning gay pride movement.

Making the film posed a huge challenge, says Lichtenstein.

“There were no archives. So, we started asking people if they had any 
material that they could share. It was collaborative, participant 
filmmaking.” The film showcases thousands of items—photos, radio 
recordings, video and assorted memorabilia. Lichtenstein also has 
produced a book and is developing an educational program that will focus 
on the role that media can play in promoting social change.

Gems include Bruce Springsteen’s first radio interview, Jerry Garcia 
performing in the station, a photo of John Lennon and Yoko Ono, who came 
by for an interview. The items are being held in an archive at 
University of Massachusetts Amherst.

“It was a new kind of radio station,” said Lichtenstein. The station’s 
“listener line” allowed audience members to call in for just about 
anything—to ask questions, report a missing dog or cat or seek out a 
ride to a protest.

”WBCN was radio not as performance, but relationship.”

/WBCN and The American Revolution/ airs May 6 at 9pm on GBH 2.
The documentary//airs May 6 at 9pm on WGBH 2.

Pictures and trailer at


Other showings


            WBCN and the American Revolution

      o Thursday, May 6, 09:00 pm on GBH 2
      o Friday, May 7, 04:00 am on GBH 2
      o Friday, May 7, 12:00 pm on GBH 44
      o Saturday, May 8, 01:00 am on GBH 2
      o Saturday, May 8, 04:00 am on GBH 2
      o Saturday, May 8, 08:00 pm on GBH 44

More information about the Act-MA mailing list