My radio career has been an interesting journey, full of many experiences for the past 36 years, but the moment I knew it was my destiny is as clear to me now as it was the day it happened. I moved to Massachusetts in the early 1970's and for the 4 years that I lived there, the soundtrack of my daily life was provided by WBCN in Boston. It was different radio than I had grown up with in Great Falls, Montana. On BCN, I heard album tracks, not just Top 40 singles, played in 3-5 song sets by deejays who obviously loved and respected the music, and who sounded like real people, sounded like me, and who spoke not only about the music but about what was going on in our community and in the world.
One Saturday afternoon WBCN promoted a free concert by a local band on the Esplanade, the park along the Charles River in Boston. I was there with my boyfriend along with what seemed like thousands of others who had heard about it on the radio, all of us on blankets with our picnics. Before the band played, the BCN staff came out on stage and one of them walked up to the mic and said simply, “Hello! I'm Maxanne Sartori and I work at WBCN”. With that simple statement, the entire crowd broke into a long, loud cheer and at that very moment, a bright light bulb flashed in my head like God's own neon. I knew what my life's path was to be: I was going to work in radio!
My first radio job came in 1978, after I had returned to my hometown in Montana. My career has since taken me from Great Falls, Montana to Eugene, Oregon to San Francisco, and to Seattle. In 1991, my mother's terminal illness brought me back to Montana, where I've been ever since. Although I've had a few radio jobs and have enjoyed doing shows as a volunteer for a couple of pretty decent community/ college stations, I've had to take other types of jobs in order to survive in my beautiful state where the average income is still $17,500 per year. I've been a caregiver, a house cleaner, a personal assistant (remind me to tell you about my time with Roger Daltrey), driven a senior citizens' van, done freelance commercial voice and production work, worked in film production as a locations director, script supervisor, craft services and a production assistant, spent a year being the weekday morning weather anchor on the local CBS TV affiliate, organized estate sales; I even spent a year and a half doing intuitive readings for customers at my local independent bookstore! I've had some amazing experiences, learned a lot about life, death, politics, aging, filmmaking and everything in between, but my belief in the power of radio done right, and the desire to do it again has never left my heart.
Over the years radio in general has changed; much of the human element has been removed to allow for bigger corporate profits. The beauty of tuning in to hear real live deejays picking and putting together great sets of music, taking requests and being a trusted friend on the air is all but gone. When I was laid off at my last radio job due to “corporate budget cuts” here in Missoula on December 31, 2007, I was surprised. I had helped launch the station, was afternoon drive personality and music director, had the best ratings in town, and had been there 2 & ½ years. In spite of the surprise and disappointment, I still wasn't ready to give up my dream that good radio could happen again.
I joined Facebook in 2008 and while sleuthing around it in 2009, I found WBCN's page. I discovered that BCN's original program director from the late 60's, Sam Kopper was programming an internet/ HD station - Free Form WBCN, through CBS Boston. While listening to the stream of a great mix of songs I'd heard in the 70's along with the tunes I'd played myself in the 70's, 80's, 90's and 2000's, I felt the glowing embers of my internal radio passion start to grow into a flame. After Sam's first live show, I reached out to him and shared my story. We later spoke on the phone and he encouraged me to build a home studio with the idea that he might be eventually be able to hire me to do live shows like he was doing. While I was excited by the possibility, I was barely getting by on my unemployment benefits and limited part time income so it was a remote dream. Still, I kept the vision alive.
A couple of years later and completely out of the blue, a friend asked me, “What would you do if you had the money to do it? What is your unfulfilled dream?”. Without hesitation, I told her I would build a home studio, do commercial voice work and be prepared to do live internet radio from my home. She made me a very generous offer for a loan to do just that, one that I wouldn't have to pay back for 2 years, so of course I accepted it.
Sam is now finally able to offer me a position to join him and the small team CBS Boston has gathered to keep a WBCN presence on the internet and HD radio, doing shows live from my home in Missoula, Montana! I'm beyond thrilled, however there is one more roadblock to overcome before this dream opportunity can be fulfilled. I still need two pieces of equipment and the software required to stream live shows from my home in Missoula, Montana, back to Free Form BCN.
I have never stopped believing in the power of radio to unite people through creative sets of great music and heartfelt commentary respectfully delivered by live deejays. From a decade in San Francisco to all parts of Montana, I have had great success doing just that! Now I can ONLY do it again in this new, exciting form, with YOUR assistance. If you will help me raise $3,500, I will be able to purchase the equipment I still need to get on the air/ stream, hire a tech person to install everything, and pay the fee this fundraising site charges. I will still have to repay the loan for the equipment I've already bought at a little later date, but for now what's most important is that I get back to where I belong - on the radio! Your contribution will allow me to do just that: deliver uplifting, interactive, live free-form music radio for everyone, no matter where they live. I would love to do shows for YOU on Free Form BCN, and see your comments and requests on the WBCN Facebook page! For whatever you can contribute to this end, I am deeply grateful and appreciative.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart!
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