What a long, strange, headbanging trip it’s been …
Following in the sad footsteps of WBCN and WFNX, Boston rock mainstay WAAF is flipping to Christian programming Saturday after decades of breaking bands in the Bay State and providing a terrestrial radio hard rock platform for 50-plus years.
“It was a big part of my life and I’m really sad to see it go away. It’s sad for Boston,” said Anthony “Spaz” Parziale, a producer for Greg Hill’s show for 15 years. “WAAF meant everything to me.”
Parziale interviewed bands such as Aerosmith, Limp Bizkit and Papa Roach and watched as the group Extreme got back together to play live in the studio. He was a jokester and recalled asking then-Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney if he’d ever been to a strip club.
But most of all, he said he was glad to help others.
“The amount of charity work we did on WAAF was probably the most memorable thing. I mean, millions of dollars,” said Parziale, who left the station in 2015.
Former WAAF (107.3) general manager Bruce Mittman said the station was breaking new rock music that no other stations in the country were playing during his decade at the helm from 1990 to 2000.
“That was the most fun you could have legally,” said Mittman, now president of marketing agency Mittcom.
Mittman recalled the station’s fierce battle with rock rival WBCN and getting his hands on Aerosmith’s new record in the middle of the night so WAAF could have it first.
“It was a rock war, probably not seen anywhere else in the country,” Mittman told me.
The likes of Sammy Hagar and Ozzy Osbourne walked through WAAF’s doors, as well as sports figures and celebrities, Mittman recalled.
“There wasn’t a rock star that didn’t come through the station or play live in the station,” Mittman said. “It was just a happening place.”
Mittman said he worked with talented and passionate people who wanted to win the “rock wars,” including morning host Hill, who moved to sister sports station WEEI last year; DJs John Osterlind, Liz Wilde and “Rocko,” who helped Godsmack get their start after playing one of their albums, as well as former program directors Ron Valeri and Dave Douglas.
Mittman helped launch the radio careers of Gregg Hughes and Anthony Cumia, better known as Opie and Anthony, in 1995 after his 10-year-old son listened to their tapes and insisted his father hire them.
Three years later, Opie and Anthony got the ax after fraudulently telling listeners Mayor Thomas Menino was killed in a car crash as an April Fools’ Day prank.
Radio station giant Entercom announced this week it sold WAAF for $10.75 million to the Educational Media Foundation.
“It’s an era gone by,” Mittman said. “I’m sure it will be missed but remembered.”