Oedipus


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Multi-award-winning, longtime WBCN program director Oedipus indirectly got into the radio business through right time-right place situations in Israel and at Tufts Dental School. The Cleveland native grew up listening to Motown and Top-40 radio, and though very young, managed to see Little Stevie Wonder play at Leo’s Casino in Cleveland. Years later, while living on a kibbutz in Israel, a friend mentioned that Boston was his type of town. Upon his return to the States, Oedipus, then 21, moved to Boston with a knapsack and a guitar. A temp job at Tufts involved answering phones during the receptionist’s lunchbreak, but he did it with such dramatic flair, coworkers suggested he should be in radio. A roommate who volunteered at WBCN told Oedipus that Charles Laquidara was looking for a writer, and Oedipus talked his way into the volunteer position. He also started doing weekly news reports about Boston music clubs, for the station, and stumbled onto the beginnings of the punk rock scene. This music wasn’t yet being played on radio here, but Oedipus landed a volunteer slot at MIT’s WTBS (now WMBR) that became the first punk rock show in the country. He started with “Nuit Blanche,” and later did “The Demi-Monde,” which caught the eye of WBCN program director Tommy Hadges, who noticed that Oedipus, on a little 10-watt station, was actually getting ratings. He hired him as a part-time announcer at WBCN. That led to a fulltime position, and soon after, Oedipus created “Nocturnal Emissions” (taken from a line in Lawrence Durrell’s novel “The Alexandria Quartet”). The Sunday night show began as punk rock and new wave, eventually included Boston rock music, and then split into two shows: “Nocturnal Emissions” and “Boston Emissions.”

Big changes came with Oedipus being named program director at a time when WBCN was being crushed in the ratings by WCOZ. His plan was to add structure to the station’s freeform format. It worked; WCOZ went out of business. And WBCN kept changing with the times. Album-Oriented Rock switched to Alternative Rock. And Oedipus kept adding new titles to his resume. He was named Vice President for Programming for WBCN. He was later boosted to Vice President of Alternative Programming for Infinity Broadcasting (now CBS Radio), which involved 16 alternative and rock stations. When he left CBS, Oedipus followed through on a decades-long fascination with Thailand, and enrolled at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, where he met his wife. They now split their time between a Boston suburb and Bangkok.

But Oedipus is still very much involved in radio. On his Website, The Oedipus Project, he plays both new indie music and favorites from his personal music library. He also does a weekly two-hour new music show on Radio BDC, the Boston Globe Internet station. On top of that there’s The Oedipus Foundation which, in his words, is “my foundation for artistic offense, environmental defense, and life longevity.”

(by Ed Symkus)

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