Faithful listeners bid farewell to WILD-FM
Left out in the cold by the recent sale of 97.7 WILD-FM, Coach Willie Maye still hasn’t had time to write a resume.
Since Radio One Inc. sold the station for $30 million in August, Maye has been too busy organizing an event to give the station a proper sendoff. That celebration occurred on Columbus Day when several hundred people gathered at Boston City Hall to rock and shout and say goodbye.
Former WILD-AM morning talk show host Jimmy Myers was one of them.
“This is a little bump in the road,” Myers said. “We will smooth out soon enough. Just remember what we do in life will echo in eternity.”
People were on their feet, dancing and singing to the tune of classic soul, hip-hop and smooth R&B. They also enjoyed performances from musical artists like the Midnight Crew, Might Mystic and Andre Ward.
It was not only a moment to commemorate the 65 years of service to the community, said Maye, but a call for people to step up, contact the FCC and take action if they truly want a voice in this city again.
“To have your own people disenfranchising our voices is really tragic. If this is the future of radio, then our community has to step up,” he said. “It’s beyond the sale of the radio station now. I understand that business is business, which is great, but Radio One could have sold the station to another black company, allowing us to keep the format and our voice.”
There was no money to put this event up on his own, so Maye went about writing letters to business clients, Mayor Thomas M. Menino and other sponsors who were willing to help finance the event.
“[WILD] gave the community a message on a daily basis.” said Menino. “We must continue to make sure we have a message out there that it is about community and the future.”
Like many of his fellow co-workers, former WILD employee Joe Johnson is still waiting for his severance pay from Radio One. He feels the company really did a disservice to Boston and their employees.
Johnson said corporations owning radio stations along with FCC regulations will allow a number of corporations to own up the airwaves and as a result, “you won’t be able to hear the local voices. All you are going to hear is syndicated radio like Tom Joyner and Russ Parr. If these guys are always on the air, there will be no local input.”
But there’s hope, said financial analyst Evita Esteves of Dorchester. She says that there is interest from the community and the general public.
“A new station is possible if the community can get together,” said Esteves. “Elected officials and local figures wouldn’t make the effort to be here today if our voice was not an issue of concern.”
William Paschal of Roxbury, an insurance professional, was one of several listeners who turned on their radios to dead airwaves. Since then he listens to the AM station whenever he can, even though it is primarily gospel music.
“I grew up on WILD from a baby on up. It was always on in my home,” said Paschal. But he believes that another WILD-like station is inevitable. “It is important and necessary for us to have a voice for our community and somewhere along the line, it will pop-up.”
As for Maye, his initial plans are to stay in Boston and take it from there.
“I don’t think my job is done here and I’m ready for the next challenge,” said Maye. “We’re going to make this happen because everything happens for the best. When a door closes, another one opens.”