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If you were listening to WBCN in the late-70’s, then the presence of Matt Siegel at the legendary ‘underground-radio’ station would not be a surprise to you; for most others, though, that fact is a revelation. For it is not Siegel’s brief, yet important, stint at ‘BCN that most listeners recognize the witty announcer from, but his decades-long ownership of the morning-drive show at crosstown KISS 108 during which he cemented a permanent place in Boston radio history.
Originally from New York City, Siegel honed his skills at KWFM-FM, a small free-form station in Tucson in the 70’s. The DJ snagged a job in L.A. voicing commercials for record labels, but when that opportunity and his money played out, Siegel came to Boston where he lucked into ‘BCN’s morning show slot left vacant when Charles Laquidara took an extended sabbatical. The job paid $18,000 a year and Siegel assumed the position in mid-1977, but not for long. By ’78 Laquidara had returned and Siegel ended up in the midday slot.
The pair soon developed a winning comedic combination during Laquidara’s goofy show-closing segment entitled ‘Mishegas,’ which brought a listener on the air to compete for prizes amidst a flurry of jokes, skits, characters and mayhem. Siegel relished each day’s opportunity to have fun with the morning jock. “I was the dry one, Charles was the straight guy; we would riff back and forth and I would just take shots at him. I learned a lot about styling back then, taking that pause before you told the punch line. That was the beginning of me actually finding my radio voice.” Siegel worked the comedy angle and gained confidence on his own show which also launched the tradition of WBCN’s famous lunch song spoofs.
As 1980 arrived though, the midday announcer left WBCN to follow an opportunity with ‘News Dissector’ Danny Schechter, becoming the producer and on-air talent, respectively, of a live overnight television show in Boston called Five All Night/Live at Night. After a profanity-filled gaff from a guest cancelled the program later that year, Siegel returned to the morning radio waves at WXKS-FM (KISS 108), winning the radio industry’s highest honor, the Marconi Award in 2001 and 2009.
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(by Carter Alan)
Carter Alan is a former WBCN DJ now heard on WZLX-FM in Boston. He is the author of Radio Free Boston: The Rise and Fall of WBCN (University Press of New England, 2013), available at http://www.upne.com/1555537296.html as well as from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.