Tuesday, March 20, 2007

WPRO-AM History (1960's - Present)

Throughout most of the 1960’s Providence listeners had their choice of two great top-40 AM radio stations, Capital-Cities owned WPRO (630) and WICE (1290). WPRO, which had been broadcasting since the early 1930's under different formats, became a top-40 powerhouse during this decade. The one constant the station had was morning man Walter "Salty" Brine, who had been working the shift since 1942. Other personalities as the decade began included Jack Spector (1959-1960), Dave Sennett (pre-1960-1963), and Gerry Forrest. Later in the year, the lineup consisted of the following: Salty Brine 6a-10a, Dave Sennett 10a-230p, Paul James 230p-7, Bill Quinn (1960-1961) 7-12mid and Howie Holland 12mid-6a. This group was billed as "Five Swinging Gentlemen". The station identified itself by liners such as "Channel 63" and "Color Radio". By 1962, Joel A. Spivak (late 1960-1964) handled middays, followed by Sennett, Bill Ward at night and Bob Cusack overnights. In 1963, Rex Miller joined the station for afternoons, followed by Robin Scott. Headed into 1964, Spivak still followed Brine in late mornings. Joe Thomas pulled a double afternoon/evening shift, Robin Scott handled late afternoon drive, and Ed Horne worked overnights. Also heard were John Sterling and Bill Mac. By the middle of 1964, Charlie Jefferds was following Brine in late mornings. Lod Carleton and Bud Roberts (aka Bob Dearborn) worked the afternoon shifts, and Joe Thomas was down to one shift as the nighttime host. Music Director Pat Patterson handled afternoons for a while in the fall and Jim Raynor also worked some afternoon shifts at this time. Dave MacFee was PD and Ed Brown headed up the news department. In 1965, Al Gates was now the afternoon host and Vik Armen handled the graveyard shift.

As the latter part of the decade advanced, WPRO, “The Station that Reaches the Beaches”, remained as the number one station in the market, while WICE would later venture into other formats. By 1966, although his popular Salty’s Shack television show was nearing the end of its long run, 24-year morning man Salty Brine’s popularity and legacy was continuing to grow and just kept on growing through his final show in 1993 and even to this day after his death in 2004. Although many voices passed through "Pro-Country" over the years, the station always had personalities that perfectly complimented the format and were instantly recognizable while they were on the air. Other personalities on the station in 1966-1967 included Charlie Jefferds (middays), Vik Armen (afternoons), Joe Thomas (nights) and Bud Williams (overnights). Weekenders included Howie Holland, Jack Burns and Neil Scott. Another personality that would join the station around this time was Andy Jackson, also known as The Big Ange. By 1969, Jackson would be ruling the Providence nighttime airwaves on late nights with his extremely popular show, and Dick Jones handled overnights during this time. The other four shifts remained about the same through summer, 1969. Joe Thomas then replaced Jefferds as the midday host, with Jackson moving up to 6pm-10pm. There was a Sunday night countdown show in 1969 in which I heard two future Providence radio legends for the first time. Jimmy Gray handled the show in the late summer of 1969, and would soon take over the overnight shift from 2am-6am. Another newcomer to the station heard on the countdown show around the same time was Davy Jones. Jones would resurface in Providence radio as David Jones at WPRO-FM in 1984 and after a stint in Boston, returned in 1986 and would spend most of the next 27 years as a morning host of WSNE and then WWLI. At WPRO, Jones handled the 10pm-2am shift in late 1969. Following the countdown on Sunday nights was the “Chariot Wheels” show with David Parker featuring gospel “that’s good for your soul”. Amazingly, this show would be a Sunday night fixture for over twenty years.

Programmed by Al Herskovitz, the station had many other elements that stood out at this time besides the music and great personalities. Newscasts were a big part of the WPRO sound at this time. “WPRO Pulsebeat News” would be heard at the top of every hour and “WPRO Instant News”, a shorter version, would be heard on the half-hour. Booming and authorative voices, such as Tom Black in the morning and “the dean of R.I. newscasters”, Bud Toevs, in the afternoon made it impossible (at least for me) not to follow the newscasts. Other newsmen of the late 60’s and early 70’s included George Norton, Barry Parker, Bill Northrup, Bill Rossi and Ted Maynard. The listener with the best news tip of the week would win $6.30. The station was also the home of Providence College basketball (with Chris Clark, often simulcast on WPRO/WPRI-TV Channel 12) until moving to WJAR in 1970. Jingles were laced throughout the presentation with the “Radio Now “ jingle package, including “Pro Radio 63 is WPRO, we turn you on”. The multi-voiced commercial and promo spots were another element of the station as well as contests galore, including “Spin It & Win It”. Also, when a jock wanted to add a little extra punctuation to a word or phrase he was saying, he could turn on some heavy reverb, such as the “Big Ange PROOO SHOOW”.

In 1970, after a stint in late-nights, Jones replaced Armen, who was involved in a night club controversy that made the news, in the late afternoon shift. Armen was later cleared of any charges and moved on to great success in the broadcasting and music industries in his native homeland of Canada (See the Edmonton Broadcasters Club website). Shortly after, the lineup was adjusted to the following: Salty Brine 6-10, Joe Thomas 10-1, Jimmy Gray 1-4, Davy Jones 4-8, Andy Jackson 8-12 and Len Daniels 12-6. Warren Potash was now the station's general manager (hired in June, 1970). By late 1971, Thomas was replaced in middays by Jack Casey. In 1972, a WPRO “solid gold” record album cover showed the following lineup: Salty Brine 6-10, Jack Casey 10-1, Jimmy Gray 1-4, Davy Jones 4-8, Andy Jackson 8-12 and Dusty Brooks 12-6. Jay Clark, who would later program WABC in New York during its conversion from music to talk, became PD in January 1972 and remained for several years. Clark was heard as the voice of many station promos, as was production director Austin "Jake" Paquin, a fixture at the station for 35 years until 1990. Mike Fitzgerald took over the 10-1 midday slot during 1972(until moving to WMOD-FM Washington in early 1973). Ski reports were handled by Roxy, and later Bill Hoffman.

By 1972, the station was using the WKBW jingle package. This package was mainly sung by a deep male voice and featured a music bed that sounded a little like the music of Blood Sweat & Tears. The station was still going strong as the top-40 leader in 1973, although WGNG, consulted by John Rook, changed to a top-40 format during this year and would make a run at WPRO over the next couple of years, but could not dethrone the champion. The WPRO early summer 1973 lineup included Salty Brine 6-10, Jimmy Gray 10-2, Davy Jones 2-6, Andy Jackson 6-10, Gary Berkowitz 10-2 and Jim Henchey 2-6. Henchey was heard in June filling in for the vacationing Gray from 10a-3p. Joe Arruda and Bob Grossi handled weekends at this time. Perry Snead was heard on weekend newscasts. As the summer heated up in late July, Jones had left the station and was soon to be replaced in the afternoon-drive slot by WHYN Springfield, MA morning man Larry “Ice Cold” Kruger. Scott Robbins joined for weekends. At the end of the year, the station aired its own “WPRO Top 100 of 73” countdown with “Tie A Yellow Ribbon” by Tony Orlando & Dawn taking the top spot.

More changes were in the air as 1974 would come and pass by. The Big Ange would take his night show to WJAR in a move that received plenty of local media attention. Gary Berkowitz moved to 7pm-midnight. By May of 1974, sister station WPRO-FM had switched from beautiful music to a top-40 format, with Berkowitz taking over as its PD. It was about at this time that WPRO-AM began its long transition in moving away from a top-40/rock sound into the adult contemporary format that it would be known for in the late 70’s and 80’s. Bruce Diamond (aka Jack Diamond) took over Berkowitz' 7-12 slot. Holland Cooke joined WPRO during the early part of the summer of 1974 as a weekend host and would soon fill the 7-12 pm shift by the fall of that year. Also joining WPRO was “Brother Bill” Goodman, who would work Saturday and Sunday nights and fill in for almost everyone over the next five or six years. Dave Fallon was now a part of the news team. A new jingle package (WFIL Philly Story) was now being aired. The station also moved from downtown Providence at 24 Mason St. to its current home on the Wampanoag Trail in East Providence. On the evening of October 31, 1974, WPRO aired a local and masterfully produced version of Orson Welles'"War of the Worlds", featuring the WPRO news team, that had many listeners believing that meteorites were falling and martains had invaded the Ocean State.

In 1975, the lineup included Salty Brine (mornings), Jimmy Gray (middays), Larry Kruger (afternoon drive), “Heavy Duty” Holland Cooke (nights), and “The Cherub”, Ed Cherubino (overnights). Cherubino’s all-night show included a good amount of listener calls. News was still a big part of the station as in addition to Toevs and Parker, news people included Mark Haines and Barbara Hamilton. These two were among many WPRO news reporters who would later become successful television news anchors/reporters (others included Magee Hickey and Pamela Watts). Aviva Freudmann, now a journalist in Germany, was also a news reporter at this time. Weekenders beside Goodman, included Peter Knight, Bob Oliver and Mark Simone (the same guy who brought back the music every Saturday night on WABC, New York on an oldies/interview show until moving to WOR for a late-morning talk show in 2013). Live traffic reports from ALA and Rescue 9 road call (in later years from the AAA Traffic Network and CVS Samaritan) were now broadcast in morning and afternoon drive.

One morning in early 1976, WPRO listeners were introduced to a voice that would become a fixture on local radio for 30 years, as Salty Brine was “locked” out of the studio and Gary DeGraide was left to do the show that morning. DeGraide would then move into the late afternoon shift. The new lineup that would remain intact for the next three years was as follows: Salty Brine 5:30-9, Larry Kruger 9-12, Jimmy Gray 12-4, Gary DeGraide 4-7, Holland Cooke 7-12, and Ed Cherubino 12-6. This lineup change coincided with a great new PAMS 46 jingle package called “Just for You”. Holland Cooke has an excellent section in his website that explains how this package came about and other cool tidbits about the station in the mid-to-late 70’s. Another voice that would become very familiar, especially to New England sports fans, appeared at this time as Mike Gorman reported on sports during the morning and afternoon shows. Toevs had moved to morning news by this time and his camaraderie in the morning with Salty would delight listeners for the next fourteen years. He would team with Frank Daly over the next few years. In the summer of 1976, the station was a major presence at the Tall Ships festivities in Newport with traffic and a great deal of other information to help visitors.

In 1977, the station was still on the path to AC, although songs such as “Barracuda”, “Do You Feel Like I Do” and “Stairway to Heaven” could still be heard, mainly on nights and weekends. If I can remember correctly, Cooke would play Stairway to Heaven just about every night on his show. During this year, Gorman became somewhat of a sidekick on Salty’s morning show instead of just reading the sports. In the fall of 1977, the station honored their morning man, often known as "Captain" Salty Brine, on his 35-year anniversary with the station by renaming their building to the “Brine Broadcasting Center”. It was rededicated twenty years later. By the end of the year, Kruger would now be Salty’s sidekick (from 7-9), while remaining on his 9-noon shift. New weekenders included “The Weekend (also Part-Time) Guy”, Bill Lally and Kenny Cole. Dick Rakovan was WPRO's GM at this time.

The "Great Blizzard of '78" on February 6, 1978 paralyzed the Ocean State for several days. As always, WPRO could be counted on to provide full coverage as many staffers (including Brine, Gray, Cooke, etc.) were "stranded" in the building and kept listeners informed around-the-clock. The station handed out "I Survived with 63 WPRO" bumper stickers as the state recovered from this storm. The hot contest during the first half of 1978 was the “Free For All” contest with over $25,000 given away in cash and prizes. Prizes included a Sylvania "Instant Replay" home video tape system. The above-mentioned songs from 1977 were no longer heard on WPRO in 1978. One of the few rock-leaning hits played that year was “Love Is Like Oxygen”, which was heard for a few weeks on Cooke’s show in the summertime. Countdown shows were still heard on WPRO in 1978. American Top 40 with Casey Kasem appeared on Sundays for the entire year. Also, the station was still running the “Pro Music Survey” show with Holland Cooke counting down the top 25 songs every Friday Night. Neither show would make it to 1979 with AT40 moving to WPRO-FM. Listeners were collecting “Pro-dough” dollars during on-air contests and at specified locations to win prizes, including a 1979 Chevy Chevette, in the summer and fall of 1978. Former WJAR-TV newsman Franz Laubert was now anchoring the afternoon newscasts along with Barry Parker. On the overnight shift, national news was provided at the top of the hour by UPI radio, mainly from Craig Smith. Weather reports were (and still are) being supplied by “Accu-Weather” meteorologists, including Elliot Abrams, Dr. Joel Myers, Joe Sobel and Joe Bastardi. The station began running URI Rams basketball in late 1978 with Mike Gorman and Frank Daly calling the action. Joining the part-time ranks in 1978 was Al DeStefano. News reporters now heard included Mike Wolfe, Kathy O’Brien and Karen Roberts.

As 1979 began, Big John Bina moved upstairs from PRO-FM to take over the evening shift, while all of the other shifts were adjusted. The new lineup as of January 2, 1979 was as follows: Salty Brine and Larry Kruger 6-10 (Larry was solo from 9-10), Jimmy Gray 10-2, Gary DeGraide 2-6, John Bina 6-10, Holland Cooke 10-2, Ed Cherubino 2-6. The hot contest at this time was once again, the “Free For All” contest. Despite the adult-leaning musical direction of the station, in the spring of 1979, with disco music at its peak, Cooke’s night show was basically turned “all-disco”. This would continue through most of the summer. The station played quite a few of the disco-flavored pop hits through this time, and even played “I Was Made For Loving You” by Kiss frequently at night. Mike Wade was heard doing fill-in shifts and Polly Reynolds was heard on newscasts around this time. In July, 1979, long time midday host Jimmy Gray moved downstairs to become WPRO-FM’s morning man. Ed Cherubino received a well-deserved promotion to take over Gray’s shift. As the fall approached, the disco music was gone and the station now appeared to be a full-fledged AC outlet. A new approach to overnights was tried at this time. In what may have been a somewhat of a precursor to voicetracking, the Charlie and Harrigan show made its debut. Pre-taped bits were dropped in while a jock ran the control board. The show eventually made it to 7-9pm as the new decade rolled in with Holland Cooke running the controls. Cooke then would then take over the airshift from 9-12. Greg Reynolds worked overnights at this time. Mark Wayne was heard doing some fill-in shifts just before summer. Bill Lally departed to New York City in June to write comedy and other material for Mark Simone. On July 10, 1980, a story by Bob Angell and Ty Davis in the NewPaper announced that Holland Cooke would be leaving the night shift to program a station in New Hampshire (WKBR). Sure enough, it was announced on the Salty Brine show and on Cooke’s show that evening and the next few nights featured many goodbye calls from listeners and current and former WPRO personalities. At the end of his final show on July 25, 1980, he played the first song he had played at WPRO in 1974, “Hello, Goodbye”, along with his old “And in the end the love you take..." (from Beatles - The End).” show closing, and promised he would be back someday to program a Providence station (promise fulfilled as he would return to the area as WSNE PD just a couple of years later and today is a highly successful news/talk radio consultant based out of Block Island). Cooke did some promotional appearances in the next week before he left to give away some “Hot Tickets”, which was WPRO’s promotion at the time. At about the same time Cooke left, PD Dave McNamee resigned and Gary Berkowitz was hired to oversee WPRO-FM and AM while still programming WROR in Boston. The next week, with Charlie and Harrigan removed from the schedule by Berkowitz and Reynolds now working 7 to midnight, there was a bit of a different sound as the WFIL jingles were briefly brought back and uptempo hits such as “Take Your Time (Do It Right)”, “Funkytown”, “Stomp” and “It’s Still Rock & Roll To Me” were added to the rotation. A new Saturday night oldies show with Jim Knight (aka Jim Raposa) was also added. Former WPRO traffic reporter (Stan the Traffic Man) and music director Stanley Bomes took on overnights, but soon left the station after being heard on WHJJ. Woody "The Woodman" Flo came in and did nights for a couple of months with Reynolds back on overnights. Joanie Pfeiffer (later morning co-host on WMYS with Pete Braley) was a new weekender during this time period. Anne Gabianelli and Rick O'Brien were heard on newscasts. Jim Knight then took his oldies show to WHJJ and Berkowitz himself took over the show on WPRO and the shows butted heads on Saturday nights for a few months. News director Frank Daly left for WTOP Washington DC to join former WPRO PD Dave McNamee. A radio “dating” call-in show would debut on Thursday nights beginning on October 2nd as Dick Syatt hosted “Hotline”. In November, 1980, David Simpson took over the night show. Songs such as “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” and even “Another One Bites The Dust” and Whip It” were heard on his show, along with the typical AC hits the station was playing. Also heard on the station at this time were Tom Cuddy, John Monk, and WPRO-FM's Giovanni, who did some fill-in shifts. A contest called “Hi-Lo”, where listeners would try to guess how much was in the jackpot with the announcer telling them if it was too high or too low, was now a regular feature on the station and would resurface at various times over the next few years.

On February 14, 1981, Simpson said his "I'm David Simpson and we're Over and Out" show closing for the last time on WPRO and became the afternoon drive-time host on WPRO-FM. He would continue in this role for well over a decade. A couple of new voices joined the regular lineup at this time as Rod West from JB105 took over 6-10pm and assistant PD Tom Cuddy worked from 10-2am. The Woodman was still hanging in on the 2-5:30am shift, leading in to Salty Brine. A new jingle package, “Pro Radio”, debuted also, and the rock-leaning songs were dropped.

By 1982, a growing number of AM stations around the country, including WRKO and WABC, had switched from music to talk. WPRO –AM began to head down that track by adding an all-night syndicated talk show featuring Larry King, In 1983, new personalities included former WICE and WMEX, Boston jock King Arthur Knight and John “Coach” Colletto, who did a one-hour music show following West from 11pm-12mid and then produced the talk show overnight. Late in 1983, Gary DeGraide moved to mornings at WPJB and was replaced in afternoons by Knight. In 1984, Beverly Horne shared morning news duties with Toevs and would continue in this role over the next several years. Listeners were calling in to win cash during the Hi-Lo "Phase 2" contest in the spring of 1984. Colletto had become the sports reporter on the Salty & Larry show and often filled in as co-host when one of them was out.

By 1985, under PD Tom Cuddy, the station was moving more into the direction of talk as Steve Kass handled a local talk show four nights a week from 8-12 and syndicated talk shows continued on overnights. With Brine and Kruger’s morning show playing very little music, the only shows regularly playing music during the week were Ed Cherubino’s midday show featuring “Out to Lunch with the Best of the Golden Oldies”, and King Arthur Knight’s afternoon show. There was also music played on weekends, including shows hosted by Alan K. and Vic Edwards. Jim Parisi and David Weiss were additions to the news staff. Weiss was also heard hosting the Hotline show. The station only played one current song an hour when it did play music. Starting with the 1986 season, the station became the local radio affiliate of the Boston Red Sox. In the summer of 1986, former 790 WEAN morning man Charlie Warren was heard doing fill-in shifts.

By 1987, more talk was in the air as Steve Kass worked the 9am–noon shift and Cherubino moved to early afternoons with his still all-music show. The Larry King Show returned on May 11, 1987 to run on weeknights beginning at 11pm. Naomi DiClemente was heard on weekend newscasts around this time. WPRO-FM's Neil Sullivan filled in on weekend air shifts. Vic Edwards was now hosting "The Original Saturday Night All-Request Oldies Show". In October, Charlie Jefferds returned after an 18-year absence to take over for Kass with a show that was primarily talk with lots of guests. This programming continued in 1988 with David Spencer (aka Dave Stewart from PRO-FM), Mark Ambrose, Phil Galise and Vic Edwards doing some weekend and fill-in music shifts. Spencer often hosted "Nighttime Trivia" contests on his shifts. Bruce Newberry was also a weekend and fill-in host. Weekends were often referred to as "The Million Dollar Weekends". Other programs included the "Hotline" call-in dating show hosted now by Dave Scott, Paul Harvey's "The Rest of the Story", which aired three times a day, and the Larry King show, still running each weeknight beginning at 11pm. In August of 1988, it looked like WPRO’s days as a music station were about to come to an end as WHJJ PD Ron St. Pierre was hired as PD of WPRO. St. Pierre had successfully transitioned WHJJ from music to talk and was about to do the same here. The station actually seemed to play some more current AC hits when they did play music after St.Pierre’s arrival, but as expected, the music was finally about to disappear for good.

In February 1989, it was announced that the dean of R.I. talk show hosts, Sherm Strickhouser had signed a contract to join WPRO once his WHJJ contract expired. Finally, the day the music died was March 20, 1989 as WPRO officially became an all-talk station with mostly the same lineup: Salty & Larry (6-9), Charlie Jefferds (9-12), and Ed Cherubino with a talk show (12:30-3). New to the station was Geoff Charles, whose zany and off-the-wall show aired from 3-6. The lineup was rounded out a couple of weeks later as the popular Chuck Wilson On Sports show took over from 6-8. Charles made front-page news in June when he broadcasted his show while standing under the big Blue Bug on I-95 along with a belly dancer and a girl in a bikini. There just happened to be a couple of accidents on the interstate that day. Strickhouser made his debut in August, 1989, moving Jefferds to afternoons and Cherubino to nights. Additions to the news department in the late 80's included Donna DePetro (originally as Donna J.), Gregg Perry, Fran Liro (sp?) and Jeff Derderian.

By April 1990, "Spy-in-the-sky" traffic reporter Tony DiBiasio had his own talk show, replacing Charles in the afternoon. According to Ron St. Pierre, during an "Ask the Manager" segment, the change was ratings driven and the numbers showed that Rhode Islanders wanted more mainstream talk radio. Charles briefly handled nights (he was pre-empted often by Red Sox baseball) until his contract ended a few weeks later. Cherubino came off the air and became production director. In May, Strickhouser tragically suffered a stroke. Although he made several appearances on the show with his eventual replacement, Mary Ann Sorrentino, Sherm would never return to a full-time shift before his untimely death in 1992. After a long run in the morning with Salty Brine, Bud Toevs was moved to the late morning and early afternoon newscasts. Milt Fullerton replaced Toevs in the early morning. St. Pierre was now general manager, replacing Mitch Dolan. In September, 1990, Jefferds was replaced on the 12-3pm time slot by the syndicated Rush Limbaugh show, where it ran for 17 years. It had been running on weekends (taped) before then. Also in 1990, the Galilee State Beach was officially renamed Salty Brine State Beach.

As 1991 rolled in, DiBiasio no longer held the afternoon shift (he remained as the WPRO traffic reporter through 1992). Milt Fullerton and Sara Wye would host an interview show called "Newsline" in that timeslot. Chris Camp replaced Wye in October, 1991 and the show was reduced to 3-5pm with Chuck Wilson picking up an extra hour. In early 1992, former Lt. governor Tom DiLuglio would take over from 3-5. He would soon be joined by John Hackett. Dave Kane was a weekend host at this time. Although the station was referred to as "Southern New England's News and Information Leader", news department cuts left the station with four full-time reporters (Camp, Fullerton, Horne and Perry).

On April 28, 1993, as the station was being sold to Tele-Media Corp., Salty Brine finally stepped down after an incredible 51-year run in the mornings at WPRO. Until his passing in November of 2004, he would be heard from time-to-time announcing school closings with his legendary “No School Foster-Glocester” announcement and seen in the Cardi’s Furniture commercials (Nobody beats Cardi’s...Nobody). Kruger and Colletto were left to hold the fort in the morning drive spot under new PD Artie Tefft. Tom DiLuglio and John Hackett still held the drive time spot with Rudy Cheeks replacing DiLuglio a few weeks later. Bruce Newberry would eventually take over the shift before the end of the summer of 1993. Chuck Wilson no longer handled the sports show after April, 1993. He had been working weekends at ESPN Radio and joined them full-time in 1994. News Director Chris Camp also left the station, in October 1993. He was replaced by Rory O'Neill. As 1994 began, newsman Gregg Perry departed to WHJJ.

Larry Kruger would be out of the station after 22 years of service in August of 1995. "Coach" John Colletto and Laurie Johnson were the new morning team. In April 1996, a simulcast of WRKO Boston's Howie Carr show replaced Newberry's show in the afternoon. Scott Cordischi and Frank Carpano hosted WPRO Sportsbeat from 6-8pm.

In the fall of 1997, Steve Kass returned to WPRO as morning host. Colletto (sports) and Johnson (news with Milt Fullerton) remained on the show. Some changes in 1998 saw Mary Ann Sorrentino's eight-year run in late mornings end as her contract expired in July. She would be replaced by Myrna Lamb. Soon taking over the drive-time shift was ex-WHJY morning host Carolyn Fox. She would leave WPRO and head over to 103.7 WWRX within a year. Her replacement in November, 1999 was Dan Yorke, from Springfield, MA, who occupied the shift for over 10 years. Bill Haberman became morning news anchor and remains in that position today.

WPRO received some publicity in 2000, as Survivor winner Richard Hatch filled in for Steve Kass for a week. As 2001 rolled in, Myrna Lamb was gone from her 9-11:45a show and Kass would take on a double shift for the next several months. Finally, in July, then operations manager Ron St. Pierre took over mornings on the WPRO Morning News show and Kass remained on late mornings. In the early years of the decade, the station received stiff competition in the ratings from crosstown newstalk rival WHJJ and their strong late morning and afternoon combination of John DePetro and Arlene Violet. In September of 2002, WPRO made big news again by bringing in former Providence mayor and WHJJ afternoon host Buddy Cianci as a co-host with Kass until his prison sentence late in the year.

In May 2003, veteran programmer David Berstein was hired as PD of WPRO and sister station WKSO. In July of 2004, John DePetro left WHJJ for WRKO in Boston and WHJJ began running shows from the Air America network. WPRO was now running strong in the Providence talk radio battle

The regular lineup from morning to afternoon drive remained intact until September 2005, when Steve Kass left to take a job with the governor's office. Shortly after, Bernstein was out as PD. His replacement, initially on an interim basis, was former WSAR PD Paul Giammarco. The station's popular primary weekend and fill-in host, Matt Allen filled in on the late morning shift until March, 2006 when Dave Barber from Flint, Michigan was brought in. Barber would be replaced in February, 2007 by native Rhode Islander and former WHJJ and WRKO talk host, John DePetro. On August 16, 2007, it was announced that Buddy Cianci would be joining WPRO's talk-radio lineup beginning on September 20th. The new weekday lineup as announced on September 6th was as follows: Bill Haberman with WPRO’s First News (5am-6am), John DePetro with the WPRO Morning News show (6am-10am), Buddy Cianci (with Ron St. Pierre) (10am – 2pm), Dan Yorke (2pm-6pm) and Matt Allen (6pm-7pm). The Rush Limbaugh Show was dropped after 17 years in WPRO's noon-3pm timeslot and was picked up by WHJJ.

On March 11, 2008, WPRO began simulcasting its programming on sister station WEAN-FM (99.7). The Matt Allen show was expanded to three hours (6pm-9pm). The lineup remained intact until March 15, 2010 when Buddy Cianci and Dan Yorke flipped shifts with Yorke moving to 10am-2pm and Cianci to 2pm-6pm.

On February 22. 2011, WPRO announced that the new WPRO Morning News team of Tara Granahan and former WLNE-TV news anchor/reporter Andrew Gobiel would debut on March 7th from 6am-9am, with John DePetro moving back to 9am-12pm. Dan Yorke moved to 12pm-3pm, Buddy Cianci (with Ron St. Pierre) to 3pm-6pm and Matt Allen continues to host evenings from 6pm-9pm. Under PD Craig Schwalb, hired in July 2012, the lineup remained intact headed into 2013. That was until the announcement naming Channel 10 newsman and WPRO weekend host Gene Valicenti as the new WPRO morning show host beginning January 7, 2013. In addition, Tara Granahan was promoted to assistant PD and then joined the Buddy Cianci show in February.

On January 3, 2014, PD Craig Schalb had left the station to take the PD job at WABC, New York and was replaced by WABC operations manager and former long time WPRO-FM personality and music director Tony Mascaro. Later that year on his June 25th radio show, Buddy Cianci announced his candidacy for mayor of Providence. The station announced that as of June 26th, Tara Granahan would take over the 3pm-6pm afternoon drive slot as Cianci ran for the third time for mayor of Providence. Cianci returned to his show one day following the election on November 5, 2014. On January 28, 2016, Buddy Cianci passed away at the age of 74 after being admitted to the hospital with severe stomach pains the previous night while taping his weekly television program, ABC6 News On the Record. Tara Granahan filled in on Cianci's shift for the next three months. Beginning on May 2, 2016, the lineup was adjusted as follows: Gene Valicenti with the WPRO Morning News show (6am-9am), John DePetro (9am-12noon), Matt Allen (12noon – 3pm), Dan Yorke (3pm-6pm) and Tara Granahan (6pm-9pm). In December 2016, John DePetro announced that he was leaving the station. He would resurface one month later at WADK, Newport. On April 7, 2017, WPRO announced the return of local sports talk to the airwaves with the Gresh Show (Andy Gresh) taking over the early evening shift. The new lineup as of April 17, 2017 was as follows: Gene Valicenti with the WPRO Morning News show (6am-9am), Tara Granahan (9am-12noon), Matt Allen (12noon – 3pm), Dan Yorke (3pm-6pm) and The Gresh Show (6pm-9pm).

Sunday, March 18, 2007

WPRO-FM History

WPRO-FM (92.3) made the switch from an automated beautiful music format to Top 40 on April 29, 1974 at 3pm with Gary Berkowitz moving from WPRO-AM to become PD. Jay Clark was promoted to operations manager of both WPRO-AM and WPRO-FM. As the only Providence Top 40 station on FM, WPRO-FM capitalized on the fact that their hits were played in stereo and focused on teenage listeners in the early days. Various trade publications listed the original lineup as follows: Salty Brine (WPRO-AM simulcast) 5:30a-8a, Bill Collins 8a-11a, Tony Silvia 11a-3p, Bruce Diamond (aka Jack Diamond)3p-7p, Gary Berkowitz 7p-12mid, and Ed Cherubino (possibly also a WPRO simulcast)12mid-5:30a. By late summer and into the fall of 1974, the lineup of “Rock 92” evolved into the following: WPRO-AM simulcast of Salty Brine 5:30a-8a, Gary Berkowitz 8a-12n, Chuck Bennett 12n-4p, Robert J. Boogie (Bob Cummings aka The Boogie Man- often impersonated Wolfman Jack)4p-8p, Mighty Mike Osborne 8p-12mid, with automated programming using carousel cart machines overnights. Big John Bina handled weekends. A young programming assistant joined the station around this time and filled-in on the air when a DJ could not make his show. He has been heard on the station ever since as Giovanni. The station was heavily into promotions and gave away prizes virtually every hour in its early years. 1974 promotions included the "Fall Football Cheer Weekend", "Christmas In September" and "The Rolling Stones Weekend".

In 1975, WPRO-FM billed itself as “The Superock” and added jingles and reverb. Song intros would begin with the phrase of “FM, WPRO-FM”. Listeners were winning concert tickets, dinner tickets, movie passes and more with "The Great Radio Rebate". Other promotions in 1975 included "The 92 Days of Summer", "The Fall Rock Rip-Off", "A Sweathog Weekend" and "A KISS Weekend". On August 1, 1975, WPJB debuted its top-40 format as JB105 and the two stations would battle it out for top-40 supremacy in Providence for the next seven years. At about this time, the Salty Brine WPRO-AM morning simulcast was dropped and the lineup headed into the fall of 1975 consisted of: Gary Berkowitz (Berkowitz In The Morning) (6am-9am), Chuck Bennett (9am-2pm), The Boogie Man (2pm-6pm), Mighty Mike Osborne (6pm-10pm), Big John Bina (10pm-2am) and Giovanni (2am-6am). Weekenders included Brother Bob and John Kosian. The station added Pams “Energy One” jingles near the end of 1975 and combined with the reverb, gave the station an awesome sound. New jingles included the hour ID (FM is, WPRO-FM Providence) and the Boogie Man jingle (Hey now, let’s boogie, let’s boogie, let’s Boogie Man…). Speaking of the Boogie Man, he was also production director, and his booming voice was heard on many of the local spots and station promos. Also, Mighty Mike Osborne was involved with the station’s School Scope program. By December, the station was now being identified as “FM92 WPRO-FM” to further distinquish it from WPRO-AM. Christmas promotions included "The 12 Days of Christmas" giveaways and "Trim A Tree For Dystrophy" from the Wampanoug Mall. Hank Threscher was the personality doing the call-ins from the mall to John Kosian at the station on the snowy night of Saturday, December 20th. The year ended with the airing of the "Opus 75" countdown (as it would for the rest of the decade). Captain & Tennille had the number one song of the year.

The Superock promotions continued in 1976 with the Superock card giving listeners the chance to win many prizes after hearing their card numbers (or a portion of the number) read on the air. In the "Superock Super Summer of 76", callers knowing "the phrase that pays" (FM 92 WPRO-FM is my favorite radio station) won albums and other prizes. In June, the station sponsored one of their biggest promotions of the year, "The Elton John Sign Contest", in which listeners who submitted both the biggest and most artistic signs that read 'Elton John Loves 92 PRO-FM' won two tickets to his concert at Schaefer Stadium on the day of America's Bicentennial, July 4, 1976. The lineup remained intact during the year and into 1977 with the exception of Gary Berkowitz and Chuck Bennett flip-flopping their morning-midday shifts in the fall of 1976. New Part-timers heard were Terry O’Brien (aka future WPRO-AM and WHJJ talk host Bruce Newbury) and future WBCN personality Tracy Roach.

As 1977 progressed, the station moniker was changed to “92 PRO-FM” (continues to this day). Howard Hoffman, former nighttime host at WPIX in New York, arrived to take over the 6pm-10pm shift for the summer of 1977 and brought nighttime radio energy and excitement to a new level. Other changes in 1977 saw Big John Bina move to mornings and Terry O’Brien take over late nights. The lineup also included PD Gary Berkowitz (middays), The Boogie Man (afternoons) and Giovanni (overnights). The “Where Do You PRO-FM” contest began in the fall of 1977 with listeners winning $25 for calling the station after hearing their taped voices played on the radio. A slogan heard often in the fall of 1977 was "PRO-FM, your money and music station".

Early into 1978, drive-time jock The Boogie Man had headed slightly west to WTIC-FM Hartford. 1978 also saw the arrival of 20 year-old radio phenom Don Geronimo from WXLO, New York for the 10am-3pm shift. Gary Berkowitz moved to 3pm-6pm and Giovanni moved up to the 10pm-2am shift, although Alan Edwards also handled the shift later in the year. Weekend/swing shift personalities included David Allan (aka David Allan Boucher), Gerry Moon Audette, and a teenager named Tony Bristol. Jack Diamond was also heard on weekends in the fall. The station began airing new jingles from Jam Productions in 1978, similar to those heard on legendary stations WABC, WLS and WKBW. Many of these jingles would become synonymous with PRO-FM over the next several years. PRO-FM also began billing itself as “Southern New England’s Most Listened to FM Station” and also "New England's Best Rock". The "Where do you PRO-FM" contest returned in the fall with a new twist. Listeners had to guess the "mystery superstar" to win even more cash and prizes in addition to automatically winning $10.92. 1978 ended on a bit of a bleak note for the station as the popular Howard Hoffman left for KAUM, Houston and then WABC, New York.

Many more changes were to come in 1979. In early January, Big John Bina moved upstairs in the Salty Brine Broadcast Center to become nighttime jock at WPRO-AM. He was replaced in morning drive by Alan Edwards. In February, Tyler, from WSHE, Ft.Lauderdale (earlier on WCOL, Columbus, OH), came in to replace Hoffman on the 6pm-10pm shift. Don Geronimo's final airshift on PRO-FM took place on March 30, 1979. He was to be replaced a few weeks later in May by "Big" Jim Roberts from WKBO, Harrisburg, PA. Giovanni moved back to 10am-2pm and Tony Bristol took over the overnight shift, although there was a great deal of shifting around due to all of the staff changes. Giovanni filled in just about everywhere in 1979. Fill-in personalities such as Al DeStefano (sometimes going by “Scott Desmond”) and Mitch Crane were also heard at times. The long-running “Cash Call” promotion began in early 1979. Households were called at random and needed to know the amount in the jackpot that hour. The Cash Call amount always ended with "92 cents". The station was now calling itself "Musicradio 92 PRO-FM". There was a new, but short-lived Sunday Night Disco program, hosted by “Dr. Disco”. The syndicated Wolfman Jack "Graffiti Gold" oldies show was added to Saturday nights and American Top 40 with Casey Kasem was added to Sunday mornings. On Memorial Day weekend, the station counted down the PRO-FM "Memorial Day 500" with Gary Berkowitz playing "Always and Forever" by Heatwave as the number one song during a live broadcast at the new remote studios on the midway at Rocky Point Park in Warwick on May 28, 1979. Speaking of Rocky Point, Tyler broadcasted his show live every Friday night there for several weeks. As summer heated up, the station was looking for a morning drive host and found their man right in the same building as the popular longtime WPRO-AM midday host Jimmy Gray began his very successful 12-year run of waking up Providence listeners on July 30, 1979 (He did a "warmup" 10pm-2am shift on July 25th). News updates were provided twice an hour on Gray's show by WPRO-AM newsman Mike Wolfe (and many others through the years). The lineup was now as follows: Jimmy Gray (530am-10am), Jim Roberts (10am-3pm), Gary Berkowitz (3pm-6pm) Tyler (6pm-10pm), Giovanni (10pm-1am), Tony Bristol (1am-530am) and "The Moon" on weekends. Mike DiSano reported traffic from the PRO-FM "Traffic Eye" and Mitch Crane was cruising Southern New England in the PRO-FM "Prize Patrol", often looking for vehicles with PRO-FM Burger Chef bumper stickers in the "Lucky License Game". A couple of months later, the only PD the station ever had, Gary Berkowitz, left to program WROR in Boston. He was not replaced for several weeks, leaving the station lineup as: Jimmy Gray (530am-10am), Jim Roberts (10am-3pm), Tyler (3pm-7pm), Giovanni (7pm-12mid) and Tony Bristol (12mid-530am). In November, a new PD finally arrived. His name was Jack O’Brien. Starting November 19, 1979, O’Brien also took over afternoon drive, moving Tyler back to nights and Giovanni back to late nights. The night before his first show, O'Brien was "arrested" and did his show the next day live from the Warwick Police Department. The arrest was staged to raise contributions to benefit Meeting Street School. Roberts left to join Berkowitz at WROR at about this time and was replaced in middays by Tony Bristol. One of the first promotions under O'Brien was the "Diamond Girl" contest co-sponsored with Van Scoy Diamond Mine. The station was often billing itself on the top of the hour as "PRO-FM, voted America's radio station of the year" as the result of winning an award from a trade magazine. During the last week of December, five promo spots aired, featuring brief clips of the six years (77-78 were combined) of the station's existence. At the end of each promo, O'Brien proclaimed that "As you can hear, it was the best then and can only get better, the only station you'll ever need in the 80's is 92 PRO-FM".

In 1980, the station was moving slightly into more of an adult direction and refrained from playing some dance records. Most noteworthy was the number-one smash “Funkytown”. The station was also taking chances by giving heavy airplay to unproven records such as "New Romance (It's A Mystery)", "Atomic" and "On The Rebound". Other songs they were very early on became huge hits, including "Misunderstanding" by Genesis. PRO-FM also played "What I Like About You" by the Romantics, which was not a huge hit at the time (#49), but would years later become one of the more popular songs from the 80's. As summer approached, the station, now billing itself frequently as "Southern New England's PRO-FM", added News & Information segments on the weekend hosted by Debbie Ruggiero. The station mascot at local appearances was the "PRO-FM Panther". After the station was soundly beaten in the spring books by competitor JB105, Gary Berkowitz was re-hired in July as consultant/OM for WPRO-FM and AM. Berkowitz instantly added “Funkytown”, tightened the rotation and steered the station back on the top-40 track, although as with many top-40’s at this time, it lacked the high energy sound and reverb that it had displayed during the mid to late 70’s. The station then began its climb to regain its position as the number one top-40 station in Providence. The station often referred to itself at this time as the "Remarkable PRO-FM", a phrase sometimes mocked by JB105 personalities on the air. On Labor Day weekend, PRO-FM counted down the top 500 songs of all-time from Rocky Point during the during the "Labor Day 500". "Rock Around The Clock" was the number one song. Listeners were winning cash in the fall of 1980 with the The "PRO-FM Secret Song" contest. Also that fall, the "Double Cash Call" was introduced as Cash Call winnings were doubled in certain hours. Part-time personalities in 1980 included Mike Dimambro, Vinny “Jim” Raposa. and Cooper. Jack O’Brien remained as the drive-time host until the following January. He was replaced by WPRO-AM nighttime host David Simpson, who began his 11-year run on the shift on February 16, 1981. Jim Halfyard took over the graveyard shift. Part-timers now heard included Rick Davis, Tony Mascaro and The Woodman (Woody Flo). The weekday lineup remained intact for the remainder of the year for the station again being billed as "Musicradio 92 PRO-FM". A Friday night request show hosted by Tyler (6-10) and Giovanni (10-12) began in February of 1981. On Memorial Day weekend, PRO-FM counted down the top 500 songs of all-time during the "Memorial Day 500". "Rock Around The Clock" was the number one song (again) as calculated by the Billboard magazine chart department. PRO-FM's resurgence under Berkowitz was evident in the spring 1981 ratings book as it lived up to its "remarkable" billing by topping all stations in the Providence market with a 10+ share. The station benefitted from increased visibility at this time through billboard ads and television commercials, including the "remarkable mouth" spots. In the fall of 1981, license plates of vehicles spotted with a PRO-FM/Coca-Cola bumper sticker were announced over the air, giving listeners a chance to win cash and prizes.

In January of 1982, Tyler left to rejoin PD Jack O’Brien at 92.9 WBOS (The Rock Boss)in Boston, although he remained with the station with a Sunday afternoon shift for the next two years. He was replaced by the returning Big John Bina. Tom Cuddy from WPRO-AM appeared on the air on weekends around this time and would also become involved in station management, eventually becoming PD in August 1982 after Gary Berkowitz had returned to WROR. The slogans at this time included “Here’s Another Three (or Four or Five) Great Songs In A Row” and “There’s always a better song on PRO-FM”. Traffic reports were provided by Joe Fusco, Don Camp and Dick Meader from the AAA Traffic Network/CVS Samaritan Van. John Scanlon had also been heard on traffic. With JB-105 moving to an adult contemporary format in late 1982, PRO-FM was now the lone top-40 station in Providence.

In early 1983, Giovanni left his 10am-1pm slot to become production director (he provided the many voices heard on the Jimmy Gray show, including Rhoda Blabbitt, Randy Cooney and Dandy Dan) and was replaced by weekender Tony “TM in the PM” Mascaro, who had joined the station late in 1980. Mascaro was a fixture on the station until 1997. The lineup was now as follows: Jimmy Gray (5:30am-10am), Tony Bristol (10am-2pm), David Simpson (2pm-6pm), Big John Bina (6pm-10pm), Tony Mascaro (10pm-1am) and Smilin’ Jim Halfyard (1am-530am). Rhode Islanders like familiarity in their radio and television personalities and they certainly got it with this group. This lineup would remain intact for an incredible eight years (until the arrival of Magic Marc Anthony for nights in January, 1991)! Weekenders included Joe Cortese and Nance Grimes (aka Ravenna Maceli). The station often referred to itself at this time as "Hit Musicradio 92 PRO-FM". PRO-FM was also known as "Southern New England's Movie Premiere station" in 1983. The station gave away 13,000 movie tickets that year to movies such as Return of the Jedi, Flashdance, and Terms of Endearment. This was according to a promo spot voiced by PD Tom Cuddy that aired at the end of the year. Cuddy promised more of the same for 1984. PRO-FM also began to promote that it played “10 songs in a row every hour”. This would continue for most of the remainder of the decade. The song played after the top of the hour jingle (actually at about five minutes before the hour) was always one of the ten songs being played in heavy rotation at the time. The station did not "burn out" their top hits very quickly as only three "heavy rotation" songs would be played each hour.

Beginning in 1984, in addition to the “Top 9 at 9” countdowns heard each evening with Big John, Tony Mascaro counted down the hits with the “Top 30 Hitlist” on Friday Nights. The station also began distributing a printed copy of its music survey at local record stores and would do so for the next ten years. This was unusual at this time, because most stations had or were beginning to phase out music surveys. The survey consisted of the Top 35 songs, new adds, and several “extras”, sometimes as many as fifteen. In the spring of 1984, the station gave away two Fisher Video Cassette recorders to listeners who had mailed in cards or letters listing their favorite video shown on WPRI-TV's "Video Tracks" show on Friday nights. The show was hosted by PRO-FM's Tony Bristol. In the fall of that year, listeners were keeping track of songs that were recently played to win up to $100 in PRO-FM's Record Recall contest. The station received some competition in 1984 and into 1985 from WPJB, which moved back to an adult-leaning top-40, and from WERI (RI104) with its four songs in a row without talk and personalities including Red Decker, Jonathan Monk, Ulysses, Tyler and Johnny B. PRO-FM part-timers, in addition to Grimes included Dave Stewart, Brian Chase, former JB-105 mainstay Brad Pierce and David Jones. Jones, who was the afternoon host at WPRO-AM in the early 70’s, moved to WZOU in Boston and then on to WSNE in 1986, where he was co-host of the popular “Jones & Joan” show for the next 16 ½ years. He later worked morning drive at sister station WWLI from 2006 to 2013. Chris Camp handled news duties on the Jimmy Gray show at this time. In the fall of 1985, listeners had a chance to see their favorite artist or group perform anywhere in the world during the "Concert Fantasy" promotion. Speaking of concerts, PRO-FM promoted many concerts at the Providence Civic Center and throughout the area and were (and still are) known as "Your Concert Connection". Another slogan heard often at this time was "The Hottest Hits, 92 PRO-FM". Tony Mascaro counted down the "Top 85 of 1985" to end the year with Madonna's "Crazy For You" coming in at number one.

In the fall of 1986, on "Compact Disc Thurdays". listeners could win the "latest and greatest in music technology", a compact disc player, if they were the 92nd caller when a song was announced as being played from a compact disc. New weekenders in 1986 included Bob Smead and Neil Sullivan. Dionne Warwick's "That's What Friends Are For" was PRO-FM's number one song for the year.

In the early months of 1987, "Bon Jovi Thursdays" took over the spotlight as tickets were given away each Thursday for over two months to the sold out Bon Jovi concerts on May 1-2 at the Civic Center. On Saturday, June 20, 1987, PRO-FM hosted its 13th birthday party at the Warwick Musical Theatre, featuring Expose and an appearance as the master of ceremonies by singer Laura Branigan, who also stopped by the PRO-FM studios for an interview with David Simpson that afternoon. To celebrate the occasion, the station brought back their jingles from the 70's and played them throughout the weekend along with a few hits from 1974. In the fall of 1987, the PRO-FM School Spirit contest was held to award a free concert by The Jets to the school that had the most entries sent in. Central Falls Junior/Senior High School was the winning school. During the holiday season of 1987, the "12 Days of Christmas" contest was again in full force and the request lines were lighting up for a song called "Dear Mr. Jesus" by Power Source (with 6 year-old Sharon Batts providing the "vocal"). The song dealt with child abuse. As the year ended, Bon Jovi's "Living On A Prayer" took home PRO-FM's song of the year honors for 1987.

Part-timers Bob Smead and Neil Sullivan would be gone by 1988, but "Vicious" Vic Michaels, formerly of JB105 and RI104 came aboard and would handle weekends (often Sunday nights) and fill-in shifts for the next ten years. Mighty Mike Osborne returned to PRO-FM in early 1988 as the new Program Director, replacing Tom Cuddy, who moved to the ABC Radio Network in New York as VP of Entertainment. Bonus Cash Calls made on Thursdays in 1988 were worth $10,000. The station also gave away Michael Jackson's glove in 1988. Once again, on New Year's Eve, Tony Mascaro counted down the top hits of the year (Top 88 of 1988)with Michael Jackson's "Man In The Mirror" holding down the top spot.

During the first half of 1989, PRO-FM seemed to be giving away everything but the kitchen sink. In May, the hourly jackpot of the weekday Cash Call contest reached over $5,000 at times. The PRO-FM Gold Card gave listeners a chance to spend $11,000 in a six-hour shopping spree. The "Watch, Listen and Win with A Current Affair" contest (shared with other stations) totalled over $92,000 in cash and prizes. On "Double Your Wage Thurdays", listeners that faxed or mailed their weekly pay stub could have it doubled if they called the station after hearing their name announced. The "Straight to School" contest gave the winning school (Pilgrim High) a concert with recording artist Glenn Medeiros. Trips to Myrtle Beach, SC (co-sponsored with Cox Cable) and Southern California (Campbell's Mmm-Mmm Good contest) were also given away. Hit music cassettes were given away in on-air contests, sometimes as many as four an hour, along with movie passes and circus tickets. The station was still playing "ten hits in a row" every hour. PRO-FM personalities broadcasted live at promotional events in the "PRO-FM Boom Box". Ali Knight joined PRO-FM for weekends, replacing Nance Grimes. Former WSNE personality Patti Harrison was heard on traffic reports for the AAA Traffic Network. The PRO-FM 15th birthday celebration was held on June 10, 1989 at the Warwick Musical Theatre with scheduled performers Eddie Money, Martika, Deon Estus, Sa-Fire, Dino and Boys Club.

In July 1989, Paul “Boom” Cannon from Buffalo was hired as the new PD. As predicted in the radio column in Billboard magazine, Cannon tightened the playlist and shortened it to about 2-3 “extras”, besides the top 35 hits. In addition to giving away cash (or sometimes referred to as "Pro-Dough") with the Cash Call contest, other promotions during the "92 Days Of Summer" included concert tickets and backstage passes given away to several shows at the Warwick Musical Theatre, and the PRO-FM Rock n' Roll Celebrity Auction to benefit "Save The Bay". Helping out local charities were games played by The PRO-FM Bloopers softball team and a charity concert for Meeting Street School featuring Expose. T.J. Napp (aka Tony Banks) joined for weekends before the end of 1989, replacing Dave Stewart. who moved to WPLJ, New York.

In 1990, the station was playing a lot of rhythmic hits as they were targeting the female audience. Songs hung around in the rotation a little longer than usual, most notably Phil Collins’ Something Happened On The Way To Heaven, which was played in heavy rotation long after it had left the charts. This is common practice today, but was unusual in 1990. Also notable was that a low-charting hit by Maxi Priest (Just A Little Bit Longer) received a ton of airplay while a number one song from Nelson (Love & Affection) hardly got any. The booming voice that was heard on most of the station liners and promos in 1990 and also for the next few years was provided by national voice-over talent Mitch Craig. Mighty Mike Osbourne was heard doing some fill-in shifts in 1990. The catch-phrase being used on-air and in promotions was “The station you listen to most, 92 PRO-FM”. On the weekly music surveys, the "10Hits In A Row" slogan under the station logo was changed to "The Most Music". The above-mentioned Phil Collins song came in at number three on Tony Mascaro's year-end countdown show, followed by Janet Jackson's "Escapade" at number two and Madonna's "Vogue" at number one.

The station in 1991 saw the first weekday lineup change in eight years. “Magic” Marc Anthony arrived in January and brought a new level of energy to the night show. Bina moved to late nights and Mascaro moved to overnights replacing Halfyard, who was let go. Toddzilla was a new voice heard on weekends. Another major change took place in August as Rocky Allen from WPLJ in New York took over the morning drive slot with his “Rocky Allen Showgram”. Allen’s unpredictable and outrageous style would soon return PRO-FM to the top of the morning ratings. The lineup was now as follows: Rocky Allen (530am-9am), Jimmy Gray (9am-12noon), Tony Bristol (12noon-3pm), David Simpson (3pm-6pm), Magic Marc Anthony (6pm-10pm), Big John Bina (10pm-2am) and Tony “TM in the AM?” Mascaro (2am-530am). Geoff Webster was now heard on the weekends, with Giovanni doing some fill-ins.

As 1992, sometimes referred to on the station as the "Year of 92", rolled in, Magic Marc Anthony had moved on and was replaced in the 6pm-10pm shift by T.J. Napp (Napp at Nite). 15-year station vet Bina was also gone and Simpson was moved out of afternoons. In February, listeners were faxing in or mailing in a copy of their latest utility bill to possibly have it paid by the station in the "PRO-FM Pays The Bills" contest. During the summer of 1992, at least for a time, the lineup was as follows: Rocky Allen (530am-10am), Jimmy Gray (10pm-2pm), Tony Bristol (2pm-6pm), T.J. Napp (6pm-10pm), David Simpson (10pm-1am), and Tony Mascaro (1am-530am). Patti Harrison was a weekend host at this time. In the fall of 1992, the all new "phrase that pays" was "92PRO-FM, with a Better Variety of Today's Best Music". Knowing that phrase earned listeners up to $5,000 in cash. The station was also promoting that it played two long continous music sweeps every hour. In November 1992, David Simpson moved up to middays, replacing Jimmy Gray. Also, Tony Mascaro would reclaim his 10pm to 1am shift and Toddzilla took over the graveyard shift. Patty Smyth's "Sometimes Love Just Ain't Enough" was the number one song of the year on PRO-FM's "Top 92 of 92" countdown.

1993 got off to a “rocky” start as Rocky Allen (along with his sidekick Blain Ensley) returned to WPLJ. He would not be missed for long, however, as Mike Butts soon took over mornings and began a successful six-year run. Also in 1993, the station was purchased by Tele-Media Corp. Several employees decided to leave the station at that time, including Tony Bristol, who eventually would become PD of WKCI (KC101) and Toddzilla. David Simpson took over as PD and returned to the afternoon shift. Giovanni returned to the airwaves on a regular basis for the first time in ten years, replacing Simpson on the midday shift. New weekenders included Al "On The Scene" Levine, Tanya Cruise, Joe Limardi and Ted Edwards. The station moniker was "Today's Best Music".

By 1995, in a trend shared by many other CHR stations nationally, the station had been moving slightly into an “alternative” direction. The lineup was now as follows: Mike Butts (mornings), Giovanni (middays), PD David Simpson (afternoon drive), Brian B. Wilde (replaced T.J. Napp for nights in February 1995) , Tony Mascaro (late nights) and Davey Morris (overnights). Chris Tyler joined for fill-ins/weekends. In October 1995, Chris Shebel (on-air name Chris Hamilton) from WDJX-FM, Louisville was hired as PD and afternoon host, replacing David Simpson. As Gary Berkowitz did 15 years earlier, Shebel would steer the station back to the “middle”, with both dance and pop/rock songs sharing the spotlight.

In August of 1996, Brian B. Wilde left the station to take on weather duties at a Springfield, MA television station. Many more changes would be on the horizon in 1997. After 14 years on late nights or overnights, music director Tony Mascaro finally saw daylight in January as he moved to the 2-5pm shift. Hamilton moved to 5-7 and Davey Morris was filling in on the 7-midnight shift until a new night host was hired. This finally took place in March as Danny Wright, from WBLI, Long Island moved into the night slot. In April, Tony Mascaro left for the MD position at WPLJ New York. Morris was named interim MD and filled in on the 2-5pm shift. Just a few weeks later, in late May, Morris became permanent MD and came off the air. Rob Hayes from WKCI, New Haven took over afternoon drive and Hamilton moved to early afternoons. The summer 1997 lineup was now as follows: Mike and Lisa Butts (530am-10am), Giovanni (10am-1pm), Chris Hamilton (Chris Shebel) (1pm-3pm), Rob Hayes (3pm-7pm), Danny Wright (7pm-12mid) and the station’s first full-time female DJ, Tanya Cruise (12mid-530am). Vic Michaels, Rob Tyler and Shawn Stewart were heard on the weekends. The station had a successful ratings book as it came in first in the market for 12 and over listeners in the spring ratings book released in July. Also in July, the station was acquired from Tele-Media by Citadel Communications, along with WPRO-AM, WWLI and WLKW. Phil Urso became GM of the cluster (Andrea Scott would later become GM in April, 1998). Finally, in November 1997, the “little fella" (as Jimmy Gray nicknamed him) came home as Tony Bristol returned to PRO-FM as the new PD, replacing Shebel, who had moved on to WVTY, Pittsburgh. Bristol would become PRO-FM's longest tenured PD, remaining in the position (as well as having many other duties) all the way through December of 2012. John Stephens was heard on the weekends in 1998.

As the new millennium approached for the station playing “Today’s Hit Music”, 25-year station vet Giovanni was named the new morning-drive host replacing Mike Butts in April, 1999. Kim Zandy, from WNCI in Columbus, OH was named morning co-host. Davey Morris temporarily took over middays. Other personalities at this time included PD Tony Bristol (afternoons), Rob Tyler (nights) and Tanya Cruise (overnights). By July 1999, the station had finalized its weekday lineup: Giovanni and Kim (w/producer Will Gilbert and Andy "The Freak") (5:30am-10am), Tanya Cruise (10am-1am), Tony Bristol (1pm-3pm), Davey Morris (3pm-7pm) and Shannon (7pm-midnight), replacing Rob Tyler. who moved to Boston's Star 93.7 . Mike Castano was the weekend and fill-in host. Live DJ's on overnights were replaced by a new automation system (Enco). Ken Jackson and Jen Goldberg were part-timers heard later in the year. By that time, Castano had moved on to a Citadel station in Portland, ME. Ron Medeiros was added to the weekend staff in August, 2000.

With the exception of Cruise picking up the 9am-10am hour, the lineup would remain intact until July, 2001. At that time, Shannon headed for MD/middays at WXLO, Worcester. She was replaced by future WCTK and WEBE Westport, CT drive-time host Robbie Bridges. By 2002, Bristol would relinquish his airshift to concentrate on his programming duties for the Citadel Providence FM stations. This would leave the lineup as: Giovanni and Kim (5:30-9), Tanya Cruise (9am-2pm), music director and APD Davey Morris (2pm-7pm), and Robbie Bridges (7pm-12mid).

The first three shifts would remain unchanged through April, 2007. The night shift would undergo many changes throughout the decade. Other personalities that held the shift over the next few years included: Nazzy (voicetracked-2002), Ron Medeiros (2002-2004) and Ashley Taylor (2005 as fill-in). Notable among part-timers was "Mighty Mike" Osborne, the station's original night host and former PD, who did fill-in shifts at various times during the first half of the decade.

In October 2005, the station once again found a high-energy night host (6pm-12mid) as Kerry Collins arrived from WKCI in New Haven. Taylor moved to overnights and Jay Buff was the primary weekend and fill-in host.

The first half of 2007 saw some shifting of air personalities between the Citadel Providence FM stations. In March, it was announced that Kerry Collins was being promoted to morning-drive at sister station WWKX (Hot 106). This left the station again looking for a replacement for nights. Jay Buff and Austin were frequent fill-ins on the shift until it was filled. In April, Hot 106's Jessica moved into PRO-FM's 9am-2pm shift, replacing Tanya Cruise, who took over middays at another sister station, WWLI (Lite Rock 105).

In July 2008, a replacement for Kerry Collins was finally found. It was none other than Kerry Collins himself, returning to nights on PRO-FM after a run of over a year in morning drive at Hot 106. Collins would handle nights until January, 2009, when he was replaced by The Ralphie Radio Show. The weekday lineup remained intact into 2012, other than Jay Buff joining the morning show as producer in April, 2011. As of September 16th of that year, the station was now owned by Cumulus Media after a merger with Citadel. In February of 2013, Davey Morris was named the new PD of WPRO-FM. The lineup was as follows: Giovanni and Kim (5:30am-9am), Jessica (9am-2pm), PD Davey Morris (2pm-6pm), and The Ralphie Show (6pm-10pm).

Friday, March 16, 2007

WPJB (JB 105) History

On August 1, 1975, WPJB, owned by the Providence Journal Co., switched from classical to top 40 as JB105. The original moniker was “JB105 has Big Hits”. The switch was advertised in the Providence Journal for about a week before it actually happened. JB105 immediately became the chief rival of WPRO-FM, which had switched to top-40 under PD Gary Berkowitz in April of 1974. This battle helped to give Providence listeners some great radio over the next few years. JB105 used an early variation of Mike Joseph’s “Hot Hits” format as only current hits were played and a jingle (the ”JB105 shouts”) led into every song. The station also billed itself as “The Big Banger”. The early lineup was as follows: Bill Silver with Mike Waite as the newsman (5am-9am), Dale Shaw (9am-12noon), Mickey Ashworth (12noon-3pm), Todd Chase (3pm-7pm), Robb Stewart (7pm-12min) and Rod West (12mid-5am). The JB105 Big Hit list (Top 50 hits) appeared weekly in local record stores and beginning in December 1975, in the Providence Journal, where it would be featured for the next seven years. Some of the hottest of the "big hits" on JB105 in its early months included "Get Down Tonight" and "That's The Way I Like It" by K.C. and The Sunshine Band, "Miracles" by Jefferson Starship, "Feelings" by Morris Albert, "Fox On The Run" by Sweet, and "Let's Live Together" by the The Road Apples (from Boston), which topped the chart for two weeks in December despite only charting at #35 nationally.

The station lineup would remain intact for well over the next year. Promotions included the Cash Bash contest, in which thousands of dollars were given away to several listeners, the Lucky License number contest, JB105 bumper stickers (win $100 if spotted), and the JB105 Bangin' Wagon, which patrolled the beaches in the summer of 1976. Also that year, listeners could call Robb Stewart at night and have their teacher or whoever they would like "eaten" by "Fred The People Eating Venus Flytrap". The top song of 1976 was Rod Stewart's "Tonight's The Night", which spent seven weeks at number one in the fall on the JB105 top 50 chart.

By 1977, changes were beginning to take place. DJ's could finally talk over song intros and the station no longer played all current hits. Brad Pierce came in from crosstown WGNG to take over late mornings while Mike Waite added the early afternoon shift (noon-to 3) to his news duties. Although just about all of the major national hits made the JB105 chart, there was one notable exception, namely "I'm Your Boogie Man" by K.C. & The Sunshine Band. Interestingly enough, WPRO-FM's afternoon jock at the time was named "The Boogie Man". In the fall of 1977, the Cash Bash was still going strong and listeners were calling in to "Beat the Gong" to win more cash. Debbie Boone's "You Light Up My Life" topped the JB 105 chart for a record eight weeks in the fall of 1977.

In the summer of 1978, Waite moved to evenings. His high energy show, including the “world renowned Waite’s Complaints” had Rhode Islanders both rocking and laughing for the next three years. With polka music playing in the background, youngsters would call in with a complaint about their love life, parents, school or the music only to receive a smart answer or a hangup from Waite. The most famous complaint was the caller who would always tell Waite that "You don't play no disco". He was usually met with a "Disco This" and of course, a loud hangup. Waite would also find the wackiest caller he could and put him or her on the air to help him welcome in the nighttime at 8:00. Also in the summer of 1978, the JB Booty Buggy was cruising Southern New England with prize giveaways. The JB105 playlist was "shortened" from 50 songs to 40. In the fall, contests included "The Great Grocery Giveaway" and a "Hi-Lo" contest that gave callers a chance to win up to $100. By late 1978, the lineup was as follows: Bill Silver and Al Norman (6am-10am), Brad Pierce (10am-2pm), Todd Chase (2pm-6pm), Mike Waite (6pm-10pm), Robb Stewart (10pm-2am) and Rod West (2am-6am). The station sound was bolstered by heavy compression and reverb at this time. "Stayin' Alive" by the Bee Gees spent nine weeks at number one, including the week after the Great Blizzard of '78 when the playlist was frozen.

Heading into 1979, the disco craze was in full swing and JB105 capitalized on it as disco hits were scattered all over their charts. Early that year, Robb Stewart left for WFBL in Syracuse and was replaced by "Late Night" Rick Everett. As "Super Summer '79" heated up, JB105, which once played jingles into every song, had dropped them entirely. The reverb had been toned down by this time and the weekly chart was again reduced, this time to 35 songs. The lineup was altered a bit heading into the fall of 1979 as Todd Chase relinquished his airshift to concentrate on his PD duties. Rod West finally saw daylight as he moved to middays, with Brad Pierce taking over afternoons and “Young” Johnny Dowd (aka JayBeau Jones) replacing West on overnights. Debbie (no last name used) was a weekend/fill-in host. Pierce began his popular “Big 35 Countdown” show every Thursday at this time (Note: In 1988, Brad Pierce was selected to audition for the opportunity to replace Casey Kasem as host of American Top 40). The station now billed itself as “Music Power, JB105”. Listeners were calling in to win cash with "Home Heating Hi-Lo" and "WAM" (Walking Around Money). The jocks were a close-knit group and would jokingly poke fun at each other on the air. One example was the "feud" between Bill & Al and Mike Waite over the Flying Lizard's record called "Money", which Waite refused to play. He then "broke" the record over the air and mailed out the pieces to listeners who had requested a "piece of the Lizards". Also, Everett would always "complain" when Waite would get him on the air a minute or more late after 10:00, which was most nights. In another example of how close this group was, all seven members of the weekday air staff from late-1979-early 1980 reunited over 35 years later at the 2016 R.I. Radio Hall of Fame banquet, coming in from all over the country as JB105 received the legacy station award. As 1979 ended, pop and rock tunes once again dominated the charts as the disco craze was quickly fading away. This was evident both on the Big 35 countdown and on Waite's "People's Choice" countdown each Sunday in which he took votes from 9-11am and played back the top 20 highest voted songs at noon.

As the new decade began, the station seemed to be on a roll as teen listenership was rising. WPRO-FM, while remaining top-40, began to focus more on adults under new PD Jack O’Brien. Early in the year, a volume 2 of Waite's Complaints was added at 9:20 each evening. in addition to the 7:20 edition. In March of 1980, television commercials were advertising a compilation album by country legend Slim Whitman. These commercials were claiming that Whitman had outsold The Beatles and Elvis. This caught Mike Waite’s attention and Slim became a main focus of his show for the next three months. Waite ordered the album and began playing cuts on his show (adding animal and barnyard sound effects to the music). Listeners ate it up, despite the fact that Slim’s music was about as far from Top-40 as could possibly be. Callers started yodeling like Slim on Waite’s show and Slim Whitman fan clubs started popping up in schools all over the state. Even rival WPRO-FM jumped on the Slim bandwagon briefly. JB105 went so far as to sponsor a Slim Whitman concert featuring Slim himself on May 18,1980 at the Ocean State Performing Arts Center. In non-Slim related promotions, a character called "Chicken Man" sponsored by McDonald's to plug their McChicken sandwich appeared on commercial spots called "The Adventures of Chicken Man" and even made live appearances on JB105 events from April until October. Also in April, listeners were calling to win up to $100 in the "Green Machine" contest. By June of 1980, Slim was a dead issue, but the station was still going strong, billing itself as “The Rock of the 80’s”. On the evening of July 10th, after the spring ratings were released, which were JB105's highest ever, Waite stated during his show that “Boy, did we kick their (WPRO-FM) butts”. Waite was so popular at this time that WPRI-TV (Channel 12) aired a short feature on him as the first of their “Night People” segments on the 11:00 news. Waite also broadcasted the daily business reports on sister station WEAN and was JB105's music director. As the fall of 1980 had arrived, there was a new "Bill" on the Bill & Al show as Bill Kelly from WOKY, Milwaukee replaced Bill Silver, who a few weeks earlier had left for WHDH in Boston. Dave Fallon was now handling news on the Bill & Al show. The remainder of the weekday lineup remained unchanged throughout the year. Another Bill, Bill Davis joined the station for weekends. In October and November, listeners were flooding the phone lines to play "JB Football" to win up to $1oo. As the year ended, however, PRO-FM was quickly regaining momentum with the return of Gary Berkowitz. JB105 closed out the year on 12/31 with a live broadcast by Waite and then Everett from United Skates of America in East Providence playing the top 50 songs of the year. Pink Floyd's "Another Brick in The Wall", number one for six weeks in the spring, took home the top spot.

The first quarter of 1981 saw a number of changes at JB105. The station started to lean a bit toward the rock side and even instituted “Album Rock Sundays” for a short time. This included mini-concerts, triple plays and commercial free hours. The most requested song on the station at this time was the novelty record “Eugene” by Crazy Joe and The Variable Speed Band, featuring the unforgettable lyrics of "I'm a cool dude in a loose mood". The song never hit the Billboard Hot 100 (it bubbled under the 100), but hit number one at JB105. On February 8, 1981, Rod West said goodbye after 5 1/2 years and headed to nights at WPRO-AM. He was replaced in middays by Rick Everett. Johnny Dowd moved to Everett's late night shift, while Doc Holiday came in from WTIC in Hartford for overnights. John Monk was a new part-timer. Later that month the station suffered a major blow as the popular morning team of Bill & Al did their farewell show on February 28, 1981. The final show included goodbye calls from listeners and radio/television personalities including George Colajezzi and Magee Hickey from WLNE-TV Channel 6. Bill & Al headed for WGBS-AM in Miami (they changed the show name to Kelly & Kline and worked together on various stations for over 20 years). Mike Waite was moved up to fill their slot in the mornings. Dr. Grady Brock, formerly of WCFL, Chicago and WGNG, replaced Waite at night. The station just didn’t have the same feel after these moves as Brock could not fill the incredible shoes of Waite at night, and even Waite just didn’t quite sound the same in the morning without his yelling, screaming and the tastefully obnoxious behavior that made him famous at night. (Note: From 1993 to 2010, Michael Waite went on to become one of the most popular morning show hosts in the country, as well as VP of Operations at adult contemporary 99.5 WJBR-FM in Delaware). One of Waite's morning bits included Ask the Manager segments with "station manager Juan Tontomato" (Waite in a somewhat disguised voice). This was essentially the morning version of Waite's Complaints. Listeners were now calling in for a 50-50 chance to win $50 by correctly selecting one of two answers of an obscure music question or by picking the right jock in "Jock In The Box'". Dr. Brock was gone after three months and was eventually replaced by “Smokin’” Willie B. Goode (aka Gnarly Charlie) from KC101, New Haven CT in August. Mickey O (aka Mike Olsen) joined the station for fill-ins and weekends in July. The JB Booty Buggy was again cruising Southern New England beaches with Cosmic Jeff handing out prizes. In the summer of 1981, broadcasting from its new studios, the station continued its rock lean, billing itself as “New England’s Best Rock”. For the first time in many months, a Billboard Top 10 hit (“A Woman Needs Love” by Ray Parker Jr.) was not added to the JB105 chart. Rock-leaning songs that flopped on the Billboard charts, such as “Sign Of A Gypsy Queen” by April Wine, “Tom Sawyer” by Rush, and “Pay You Back With Interest” by Gary O were huge hits on JB105. Urban-leaning hits, such as “Double-Dutch Bus” and “Ai No Corrida” were not played. There were some personnel changes as Jeff Baker from WVBF in Boston joined Mike Waite for mornings starting August 31, 1981 to form the Mike and Jeff show. Baker impersonated celebrities as one of his main bits. Also, Johnny Dowd and Rick Everett flipped shifts. In September of 1981, WHJY became the first album rock station in Providence. Suddenly, a different sound began to emerge on JB105. A jingle package was used for the first time in two years and the “Best Rock” moniker was dropped for “Southern New England’s Best Music”. Top 40/Urban hits such as “Super Freak” and “She’s a Bad Mama Jama” were again being added and were top 10 hits on the station. Still though, there was a sense that the station was not the top 40 mainstay it once was as they were later than ever to add songs, and the songs were taking longer to leave the charts. The order of songs on the JB105 music survey seemed to be the same every week as songs rarely jumped over each other until they hit the top 10. Also, hits such as “Oh No” and “Theme From Hill Street Blues” were never added. In the fall of 1981, households listed in the phone book were called at random in the "Celebrity Sweepstakes" contest. If the person being called was listening and knew the celebrity of the hour, they would be rewarded with a cash prize of $1,050. Once again, the year ended with a live broadcast of the top 50 songs of the year at United Skates of America. Goode and Everett handled the duties with "Endless Love" by Diana Ross and Lionel Richie coming in at number one.

As 1982 began, the chart had more of an adult flavor to it as rock-leaning hits such as “Spirits In The Material World” and “Working For The Weekend” were passed over in favor of yawners such as “Sea Of Love” by Del Shannon and “Daddy’s Home” by Cliff Richard. The station billed itself as “Southern New England’s Exciting FM”, but with the possible exception of Willie B.’s night show and his nightly "Hot Tracks" countdown, did not sound anything like that. Not a whole lot changed into the summer, although the station did add most of the current hits, with the exception of “Let It Whip”. By late August, Goode had moved on and the lineup was adjusted as follows: Mike and Jeff (5:30 - 10:00), Johnny Dowd (10:00 - 2:30), Brad Pierce (2:30 - 7:00), Doc Holiday (7:00 - 12mid), Rick Everett (12mid - 5:30am). Vic Michaels and Mark Ambrose joined the station for weekends, with Michaels remaining there until June 1985. In September 1982, PD Todd Chase headed to Kansas City to program KBEQ after seven years at JB105. Listeners were heading to Burger King to pick up their "trip tickets" for a chance to win a vacation. As the fall approached, it was even more obvious that something was up. Several rock-leaning songs that were on the music survey were not played on the station during the week, and they were even skipped over with no mention on the now Sunday night countdown show. Something seemed wrong with the station’s compression and processing as songs just didn’t sound right coming out of jingles. The top-of-the-hour slogan was changed to "JB105, the FM station with more variety in the music". Finally, on November 26, 1982, the top 35 music survey failed to appear in the Weekend section of the Providence Journal ("Up Where We Belong" was JB105's last number one song), and the station was now playing a majority of adult oldies and a few current adult hits, while still going by the JB105 name. I was told by one of the DJ’s that the change to an AC station was made because the station could not make money selling ads for kid’s products such as acne medicine. Mike Waite left the station in November to join former rival Gary Berkowitz at WROR in Boston. Dave Scott was another part-timer as the year ended.

In 1983, the station continued its adult lean, still as JB105, playing only two current songs an hour, but it was obvious that an image change was needed to complete the transition. The lineup consisted of Jeff Baker (6am-10am), Johnny Dowd (10am-230pm), Brad Pierce (230pm-700pm), Jon (Formerly Doc) Holiday (7pm-12mid), and Rick Everett (12mid-6am). By the summer of 1983, Tom Hunter had become station PD. Hunter tightened things up at the station and gave it a better sound. I know for a fact that he didn’t allow visitors in the studio because I was personally kicked out of the station by Mr. Hunter while visiting. Hunter changed the moniker of the station to “105 WPJB” and added a new jingle package. A couple of more currents were added per hour and the station seemed refreshed and was a decent sounding AC station. Gregg Daniels, who would later become a fixture in Boston radio, joined for weekends, along with George Allan. In late 1983, the station scored a major coup as longtime WPRO-AM personality Gary DeGraide became the new morning host. Len Mailloux handled news duties. Also heard on the morning show were: John Flanders (weather), Walt Perkins (sports) and Tony DiBiaso (traffic).

There were no changes in the lineup or in the station sound until August of 1984. Suddenly, the station, while using the same presentation and jingles, began calling itself the “All New, All Hit 105 WPJB” and again started to play most of the current hits, except for some harder-rocking songs. One of the station promos proclaimed that this was “hit music for adults”. Dowd and Holiday’s shifts were switched, although Dowd promptly took the train up to Boston in early September to work at WHTT. Rick Everett then moved into the night slot. Kathy Doran (sp?) and Neil Sullivan joined for weekends. Promos and sweepers were voiced by Charlie Van Dyke. Brad Pierce once again hosted a countdown show as "The Hometown Countdown" aired each Friday from 4p-6p featuring the top 25 songs of the week. Listeners were putting "105 WPJB" bumper stickers on their vehicles in the fall of 1984 for a chance to win a cash prize of $105 if their license plate was announced over the air. The station had a strong Fall 1984 ratings book, finishing second with Women 25-54.

The “all hit” music continued into 1985. Changes began to abound in the new year. The station, along with WEAN, was purchased by Eastern Broadcasting in March, which laid off several staffers including PD Tom Hunter. Tyler, formerly of WPRO-FM and several other stations, took over the afternoon shift. As of April, the WPJB name was being phased out and the station was simply calling itself the " All-Hit 105 FM". The morning newsperson at that time was Katie O’Malley. O’Malley was actually Joan Edwardsen, who shortly after, became the morning newsperson and then co-host at crosstown WSNE, lasting until late in 2006. Weather forecasts were provided by meteorologist Dr. Mel. "Getaway Escape" vacations were given away in the spring of 1985.

A format change back to a full-blown CHR station was in the works at this time under new OM Chris Gable and new PD Don Hallett. However, the station decided to go in a different direction after sales projections showed that CHR would not work. On June 13, 1985, listeners were treated to a continuously repeated recording pronouncing that “WPJB is dead!”. This was followed by the continuous playing of Debbie Boone's "You Light Up My Life", along with "Taps". The next morning, Gary DeGraide introduced the new WWLI “Lite 105”. Lite 105 played a unique blend of light adult contemporary music with little talk. There was virtually no current music in the original format. The only on-air holdovers from WPJB to the new format were DeGraide in the morning and Tyler on the “Nite Lite” show from 6pm to midnight. OM Chris Gable followed DeGraide in middays and PD Don Hallett did afternoons. E.G. Williamson (overnights) and Peter Doblin (weekends) were other personalities that I can remember on Lite at this time. Normally a high energy top-40 personality, Tyler, (going by “Terry Tyler” for the first time in this area; he had used his first name early in his career in Ohio) seemed out of place in this format and was gone within a few months. DeGraide, meanwhile remained the morning host, bringing a familiar and friendly voice to WWLI listeners (until the end of 2005). In 1989, Eastern Broadcasting was acquired by Tele-Media Broadcasting. In an ironic twist, with Tele-Media's acquisition of former rival WPRO-FM in 1993, both stations were now owned by the same company. A few months before then, a familar voice had joined Lite 105 as Charlie Jefferds took over the afternoon drive shift that he held until January, 2009. Another voice from the early-mid 90's with a long run on the station until November, 2011 was NiteLite host Art Spencer.

In July 1997, WPRO AM/FM and WWLI were acquired by Citadel Communications and today operate under the same roof at the Brine Broadcast Center in East Providence owned by Cumulus Media. The station became a full-fledged AC outlet in the 90's under PD Tom Holt, who programmed the station through late 2002. In 2001, the station moniker was changed to "Lite Rock 105", along with a brightening up of the overall sound of the station. Gary DeGraide's replacement on the morning show in December, 2005 was longtime WSNE morning co-host David Jones. As of January 2009, the weekday lineup consisted of: Jones & Heather (6a-10a), Tanya Cruise (10a-3p), OM/PD Tony Bristol (3p-7p) and Art Spencer with NiteLite (7p-12mid). In August 2011, the station welcomed in native Rhode islander Amy Pontes as its new midday host. In February 2013, WJBR Wilmington, DE PD Brian Demay was hired as the new PD and afternoon host replacing Tony Bristol. As the station was in its all-Christmas mode in late 2013, David Jones left the building and was replaced in December by WXLO, Worcester morning co-host Stephen Donovan. The lineup as of January 2014 was as follows: Heather and Steve (5:30a-10a),Amy Pontes (10a-3p) and Brian Demay (3pm-7pm). In February 2014, the syndicated John Tesh radio show was added for nights from 7p-12mid. Brian Demay moved to sister station WRRM in Cincinnati in May, 2016. He was replaced in afternoons by former WPRO-AM PD Paul Giammarco in July 2016 as PD by Emily Boldon, who was also heard on weekends, along with Patrick Austin and Tony Mascaro.