Holly Harris will spin her blues on 'BOS
Holly Harris is an ambassador for the blues in Boston, whether she's listening to music at a blues club, emceeing a blues festival or spinning blues tunes on the radio.
Starting this weekend, Harris has a new home at WBOS-FM (92.9), where she'll host Blues on Sunday at 10 p.m. For the past decade, Harris has mostly found a nitch on noncommercial radio, hosting a Sunday morning show on WMFO-FM (91.5) and subbing for Mai Cramer on WGBH-FM (89.7). Last year she signed with WCGY-FM, doing "Rockin' Blues" on Sunday night.
Harris, from upstate New York, said she's not that musical herself, although she's been surrounded by it. Her father has a doctorate of music from Columbia University, and his father was Al Jolson's No. 1 trumpeter.
Her jolt for the blues came when she was 16 and heard B. B. King. "It just hit me as the most beautiful music I'd ever heard," Harris recalls.
She ended up in Boston at Suffolk University in the early '70s, and listened to all the radio shows in town. WMFO's Sunday Morning Blues caught her ear, and when host Nate Thayer asked her to fill in when he left to travel, she gladly did. It's been her show since 1982, and she plans to keep doing it.
Harris, a school counselor during the week, was content with the three-hour show on Sunday (11 a.m.-2 p.m.), but when WCGY-FM (95.3) approached her last spring about doing a blues show on the rock station, Harris was receptive.
"I thought a commercial station would be a great forum, and it is," she said. "I think the blues is finally coming into some respect it always deserved."
Harris' latest gig will be hosting a show that has been on WBOS for a year and a half. Up to now it has had rotating hosts, Bill Smith and David O'Leary, both of whom have full-time jobs at the station.
She said she probably won't make the show as rock-based and consistently uptempo as the one at WCGY, and will play a variety of tempos. She also wants to take listener requests.
"I'm really big on local features, too, and want to spotlight one local group every week," Harris said.
No stranger to the Boston blues scene, Harris frequently emcees shows at clubs, and served as a consultant for the new House of Blues. Harris and Rick Russell founded the Blues Society in 1988.
Harris is a fan of Cramer's show on WGBH on Friday and Saturday nights, but is encouraged that commercial stations are starting to take the nod. WBCN-FM (104.1) now has a Sunday morning blues show.
Steve Becker, the program director at WCGY, said he intends to continue with the program and is already on the lookout for a new host.
The radio ratings that came out yesterday reflect the fall period, when listeners supposedly are back to their regular schedules and listening habits. The numbers, on which ad rates are based, are the equivalent of TV's "sweeps." The bosses at WMJX-FM must be grinning broadly over their first-place ranking for all Greater Boston listeners, age 25 to 54. 'MJX, which has been sprinkling the TV airwaves with advertising, vaulted from fourth-place in the last ratings book; it bumped WODS-FM down to No. 2. Next were WBCN-FM, WXKS-FM and WBOS-FM, which zoomed up from 10th to 5th place for its best book ever. (It, like 'MJX, has been heavy into TV advertising, and has revamped its playlist.) Next were WBMX-FM, WBZ, WSSH-FM, WZLX-FM, WCDJ-FM tied with WZOU-FM, WRKO-FM and WVBF-FM. Then, WEEI, WCRB-FM, WHDH, WILD tied with WFNX-FM, WCGY-FM, WOKQ-FM and WAAF-FM.
On the all-encompassing group of listeners age 12 and older, WBZ jumped into first place with 7.4 percent of the audience -- perhaps the election gave the all-news station a boost. Next in line were WXKS-FM (7 percent of the audience), WRKO (5.5), WMJX-FM and WBCN-FM tied at 5.3, WODS-FM (4.7), WZOU-FM (4.5), WSSH-FM (4.2), WBOS-FM and WHDH (3.8). After that were WZLX-FM (3.6), WBMX-FM (3.5), WCDJ-FM (2.5), WCRB-FM and WVBF-FM (2.4), WAAF-FM (2.3), WEEI (2.1), WPLM-FM (2), WFNX-FM (1.9) and WILD (1.8). Finally were WXKS, WCGY-FM, WOKQ-FM, WCAV-FM, WCTK-FM, WLYT-FM and WMEX. Spinning the dial
Comedian and actor Roger Kabler, of the NBC sitcom "Rhythm & Blues," will take his TV role seriously when he takes over the WILD (1090) airwaves this morning from 8 to 9 a.m. Kabler plays "Bobby Soul," a hip-talking DJ at an all-black radio station in Detroit . . . Dave Palmater invites folkie Rosalie Sorrels to perform live today at noon on WUMB-FM (91.9).