WWBB (B101) History

At 12 noon on December 26,1989, easy listening WLKW at 101.5 was transformed into oldies WWBB. This was not a very popular move with fans of WLKW and its long-time personalities Norm Jagolinzer and Tony Rizzini, although the format would later move to 790 AM (the former WEAN) for a time. The first GM of WWBB was Scott Backerman, working for Mike Swartz and with consultant Pete Salant, who personally dubbed the entire music library onto cart. The PD was former WSNE morning man and WHJJ talk host John Morgan. Morgan would serve the longest tenure to date as the station’s PD. The studios were located at 1445 Wampanoag Trail East Providence, almost literally across the street from the Brine Broadcasting Center.

The station was known as B101.5 for its first day or so of operation until the decision came to re-cut the jingles and sweepers to "B101". The slogan was All Oldies, B101. The launch was followed with a memorable TV ad campaign spotlighting the "sing along songs" of the format and this was a secondary positioner for many years that followed. The first jingle package was a hodge podge of Q-Cuts and cuts from Positron. There was also use of TM Century jingles for a time in the early days but JAM jingles were heard on the station for its first dozen years. Kris Erik Stevens was the VO announcer and was replaced after a couple of years by Jeff Davis, who voiced the station for more than a decade. The first weekday lineup included Dick McDonough, coming in from Kansas City, in morning drive (with WLKW holdover Carol Salisbury on news and Mike Sheridan on traffic), Norm Thibeault (the first jock heard on the air playing its first song "Rock Around the Clock" by Bill Haley) middays, PD John Morgan doing afternoons, Daria Bruno and Vinnie Lewis split the nightshift and WLKW holdover Dave DiLorenzo on overnights. Within two or three weeks of the launch Cruisin Bruce Palmer was full time overnights 1-5:30am replacing DiLorenzo, where he remained for the first few months of the year, moving to nights by the fall of 1990. At that time, McDonough left the station and Paul Perry joined from WVBF in Boston to replace him with Daria Bruno moving to AM drive as co-host. The line-up was now: Paul and Daria (5:30-9am), Daria (solo) (9-11am), Norm Thibeault (11a-3p), John Morgan (3-6pm), Bruce Palmer (6-10pm), Vinnie Lewis (10p-2am) and about this time is when Roger Letendre was hired for 2-5:30am. Weekenders included Rick Lyle, Steve Valentine, Mark Ambrose, Kenny Kool, Silvio Van Chenzo and the debut of All Request Saturday Night early in 1991, a staple of the station for 13 years. Palmer also debuted Rockin Around the Christmas Bee and the New Years Eve 101 Countdown, which both continued until 2004.

In late 1991, Daria Bruno gave up her solo airshift. This moved Norm Thibeault to 9a-1pm and John Morgan to 1-4pm. It was at this point Bruce Palmer moved to 4-8pm and after some guest hosts, WFHN New Bedford's Randy Saxx was hosting 8pm-11pm with Vinnie Lewis moving to 11pm-2am for a brief time before leaving. Randy Saxx’s shift was then extended to 8p-12mid and Roger Letendre from 12a-5:30am.

In the summer of 1993, Robb Pirraglia (aka Robby Bridges) started as a programming and production assistant. In the fall of 1993, former WBRU rock jock Melissa Culross was hired for late mornings. The lineup was as follows: Paul Perry and Dario Bruno (5:30-9am), Melissa Culross (9a-12n), Norm Thibeault (12n-3pm), Bruce Palmer (3-7pm where he remained the rest of his tenure), Randy Saxx (7pm-12m)and Roger Letendre (12m-530a). John Morgan came off the air but remained as PD and weekday fill-in. By this time former WPRO-FM night host Big John Bina joined for weekends. Weekend overnights were handled by Bobby Michaels and Sunday evenings by Kristin Lessard, who returned years later as morning co-host. Also, Matt Chase was GM with George Sasson consulting and the station was owned at this time by Radio Equity Partners. Norm Thibeault left B101 in October of 1994. He was replaced by Dr. Don Spencer, who swapped shifts with Melissa Culross.

The next big change came when WWBB was bought by then small Texas-based Clear Channel Radio in December of 1995. A move to a new facility (former home of WWLI-Lite 105) at 75 Oxford Street on Providence's south end took place with new sister-station, classic rock WWRX and Morgan assuming the role of OM for both stations. New to weekends at this time was long-time WPRO-AM host Larry Kruger. Big John Bina moved to 12-3pm in early 1997 and line up was intact for a time. A tradition that lasted a few years, Cruise-a-palooza was a massive oldies concert festival and classic car show held at the Warwick Musical Theatre and later at Quonset Point, first in May of 1998. John Morgan left for CBS' Oldies 103 in Boston in August of 1998. Paul Perry and AM show producer Michele Hughes followed in November, leaving Daria Bruno and new co-host Tiffany Hill, formerly of cross-town WCTK and WWKX, in morning-drive. New to the PD chair was Al Brock. Scott Murphy was now working overnights. Other new weekenders included Chris Eagan and syndicated faire "American Gold" and "The Oldies Countdown". Daria and Tiffany made major local news when they pulled a January 1999 prank telling listeners if Christmas trees were not taken down they'd be fined by the city of Providence. The fall 1998 ratings showed the station tied for 1st 12+ one of its best returns ever. By the fall of 1999, new OM Bill Westin had arrived along with new GM Jim Corwin. In October 1999. Daria, Tiffany and Rockin' Joe (who had joined from PRO-FM) were replaced in the morning by the syndicated Imus In The Morning show, which had been running on sister station WWRX. With local newscasts by Mike Montecalvo. Imus aired from its inception until til 10 and Don Spencer was limited to 10a-12pm and remained production director. By December, Al Brock had left and Westin took over day to day programming of both B101 and WWRX. Also heard weekends at this time besides Valentine and Lyle, were long time metro traffic anchor Rob Mullen, Ali Delisle and Ray Anthony.

A major shakeup in September of 2000 left the weekday lineup as follows: Don Imus (5:30-10am), Big John Bina (10am-3pm), Bruce Palmer (3pm-7pm), Scott Murphy (7pm-12m),and Jed Barton (12m-5:30am). Within the year Westin had left and the new PD was Bill Hess. WWRX was sold to the FNX Network, who flipped it to alternative and Clear Channel aquired CapStar, making the new Providence cluster WWBB, WSNE, WHJY and WHJJ. WHJJ would not move to Oxford Street, however, for a couple of years. As the year ended, the Imus show (w/local anchor Montecalvo) moved to sister station WHJJ. In the interim, Big John Bina worked the mornings and MD Tom St. John filled in for Bina. By March of 2001, Hess brought Tiffany Hill back and hired Tom Campbell for mornings (the TC & Tiffany show), In April, St. John was back on the air, replacing Scott Murphy for nights. The lineup would for the most part remain intact over the next couple of years. (Thanks to Robby Bridges for contributing much of the above information on B101.)

In March, 2003, the station moniker was changed to "B101, "Big Hits of the Sixties and Seventies" and then shortened to "Big Hits, B101". Perhaps the biggest shakeup of all occured in October of 2004 as B101's two longest tenured weekday personalities, Big John Bina and Crusin' Bruce Palmer were both let go. The new voice to be heard in middays was that of Ed McMann, formerly of Boston's Kiss 108. Amy Hagan replaced Palmer on afternoon drive. Hagan would remain in that slot until late 2007. The remaining shifts on the station now often referring to itself as "B1 With The Music" were expanded between T.C. & Friends (5:30am-12n), Ed McMann (12n-6p) and Tom St.John (6p-12m).

Early in 2008, Mark Ambrose returned to weekends after a long absence, replacing Steve Valentine, who retired after almost 18 years with the station. In July 2008, Tom St. John left B101 for a position with Greater Media, although he would still be heard at times as a fill-in. A few weeks later, Valerie Scott took over afternoon drive, moving the morning show (now known as TC & Kristin) back to 5:30a-10a and Ed McMann to 10a-2p. In May 2009, the voices heard following the morning show were now as follows: Marc "The Cope" Coppola (10a-3p), Lisa Berigan (replaced in 2014 by PD Bill George)(3p-7p) and the syndicated Tom Kent show (replaced in 2011 by Marty Thompson). In May 2017, Tom Campbell (T.C.) left the station and the T.C. and Kristin show became just the Kristin show. 


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