As the latter part of the decade advanced, WPRO, “The Station that Reaches the Beaches”, remained as the number one station in the market, while WICE would later venture into other formats. By 1966, although his popular Salty’s Shack television show was nearing the end of its long run, 24-year morning man Salty Brine’s popularity and legacy was continuing to grow and just kept on growing through his final show in 1993 and even to this day after his death in 2004. Although many voices passed through "Pro-Country" over the years, the station always had personalities that perfectly complimented the format and were instantly recognizable while they were on the air. Other personalities on the station in 1966-1967 included Charlie Jefferds (middays), Vik Armen (afternoons), Joe Thomas (nights) and Bud Williams (overnights). Weekenders included Howie Holland, Jack Burns and Neil Scott. Another personality that would join the station around this time was Andy Jackson, also known as The Big Ange. By 1969, Jackson would be ruling the Providence nighttime airwaves on late nights with his extremely popular show, and Dick Jones handled overnights for a time. The other four shifts remained about the same through summer, 1969. Programmed by Al Herskovitz, the station had many other elements that stood out at this time besides the music and great personalities. Newscasts were a big part of the WPRO sound at this time. “WPRO Pulsebeat News” would be heard at the top of every hour and “WPRO Instant News”, a shorter version, would be heard on the half-hour. Booming and authorative voices, such as Tom Black in the morning and “the dean of R.I. newscasters”, Bud Toevs, in the afternoon made it impossible (at least for me) not to follow the newscasts. Other newsmen of the late 60’s and early 70’s included George Norton, Barry Parker, Bill Northrup, and Ted Maynard. The station was also the home of Providence College basketball (with Chris Clark, often simulcast on WPRO/WPRI-TV Channel 12) until moving to WJAR in 1970. Jingles were laced throughout the presentation with the “Radio Now “ jingle package, including “Pro Radio 63 is WPRO, we turn you on”. The multi-voiced commercial and promo spots were another element of the station as well as contests galore, including “Spin It & Win It”. Also, when a jock wanted to add a little extra punctuation to a word or phrase he was saying, he could turn on some heavy reverb, such as the “Big Ange PROOO SHOOW”. There was a Sunday night countdown show in 1969 in which I heard two future Providence radio legends for the first time. Jimmy Gray handled the show in the summer of 1969, and would soon replace Jefferds as the midday host. Gray was replaced on Sunday nights by none other than Davy Jones, who, of course, today is WWLI’s David Jones. Following the countdown on Sunday nights was the “Chariot Wheels” show with David Parker featuring gospel “that’s good for your soul”. Amazingly, this show would be a Sunday night fixture for over twenty years.
In 1970, Jones replaced Armen, who I believe was involved in some type of controversy that made the news, but I can’t remember for sure, in the late afternoon shift. Armen moved on to great success in the broadcasting and music industries in his native homeland of Canada (See the Edmonton Broadcasters Club website). Thomas would also leave the station around this time. By late 1971, a WPRO “solid gold” record album cover showed the following lineup: Salty Brine 6-10, Jack Casey 10-1. Jimmy Gray 1-4. Davy Jones 4-8, Andy Jackson 8-12 and Dusty Brooks 12-6. Jay Clark, who would later program WABC in New York during its conversion from music to talk, was the PD and remained for several years. Ski reports were handled by Roxy, and later Bill Hoffman.
By 1972, the station was using the WKBW jingle package. This package was mainly sung by a deep male voice and featured a music bed that sounded a little like the music of Blood Sweat & Tears. The station was still going strong as the top-40 leader in 1973, although WGNG, consulted by John Rook, changed to a top-40 format during this year and would make a run at WPRO over the next couple of years, but could not dethrone the champion. The WPRO early summer 1973 lineup included Salty Brine 6-10, Jimmy Gray 10-3. Davy Jones 3- 7, Andy Jackson 7-12, and Jim Henchy 12-6. Gary Berkowitz (also as Gary Daniels) handled weekends and fill-ins at this time. Perry Snead was heard on weekend newscasts. As the summer heated up in late July, Jones had left the station and was soon to be replaced by Larry “Ice Cold” Kruger. At the end of the year, the station aired its own “WPRO Top 100 of 73” countdown with “Tie A Yellow Ribbon” by Tony Orlando & Dawn taking the top spot.
More changes were in the air as 1974 would come and pass by. The Big Ange would take his night show to WJAR in a move that received plenty of local media attention. Sister station WPRO-FM switched from beautiful music to a top-40 format. It was about at this time that WPRO-AM began its long transition in moving away from a top-40/rock sound into the adult contemporary format that it would be known for in the late 70’s and 80’s. Holland Cooke joined WPRO during 1974 as a weekend host and would soon fill the 7-12 pm shift. Also joining WPRO was “Brother Bill” Goodman, who would work Saturday and Sunday nights and fill in for almost everyone over the next five or six years. Dave Fallon was now a part of the news team. A new jingle package (WFIL Philly Story) was now being aired. The station also moved from downtown Providence at 24 Mason St. to its current home on the Wampanoag Trail in East Providence.
In 1975, the lineup included Salty Brine (mornings), Jimmy Gray (middays), Larry Kruger (afternoon drive), “Heavy Duty” Holland Cooke (nights), and “The Cherub”, Ed Cherubino (overnights). Cherubino’s all-night show included a good amount of listener calls. News was still a big part of the station as in addition to Toevs and Parker, news people included Mark Haines and Barbara Hamilton. These two were among many WPRO news reporters who would later become successful television news anchors/reporters (others included Magee Hickey and Pamela Watts). Weekenders beside Goodman, included Peter Knight and Mark Simone (the same guy who now brings back the music every Saturday night on WABC, New York). Live traffic reports from ALA and Rescue 9 road call (in later years from the AAA Traffic Network and CVS Samaritan) were now broadcast in morning and afternoon drive.
One morning in early 1976, WPRO listeners were introduced to a voice that would become a fixture on local radio for 30 years, as Salty Brine was “locked” out of the studio and Gary DeGraide was left to do the show that morning. DeGraide would then move into the late afternoon shift. The new lineup that would remain intact for the next three years was as follows: Salty Brine 5:30-9, Larry Kruger 9-12, Jimmy Gray 12-4, Gary DeGraide 4-7, Holland Cooke 7-12, and Ed Cherubino 12-6. This lineup change coincided with a great new PAMS 46 jingle package called “Just for You”. Another voice that would become very familiar, especially to New England sports fans, appeared at this time as Mike Gorman reported on sports during the morning and afternoon shows. Toevs had moved to morning news by this time and his camaraderie in the morning with Salty would delight listeners for the next fourteen years. He would team with Frank Daly over the next few years. In the summer of 1976, the station was a major presence at the Tall Ships festivities in Newport with traffic and a great deal of other information to help visitors.
In 1977, the station was still on the path to AC, although songs such as “Barracuda”, “Do You Feel Like I Do” and “Stairway to Heaven” could still be heard, mainly on nights and weekends. If I can remember correctly, Cooke would play Stairway to Heaven just about every night on his show. During this year, Gorman became somewhat of a sidekick on Salty’s morning show instead of just reading the sports. In the fall of 1977, the station honored their morning man, often known as "Captain" Salty Brine, on his 35-year anniversary with the station by renaming their building to the “Brine Broadcasting Center”. It was rededicated twenty years later. By the end of the year, Kruger would now be Salty’s sidekick (from 7-9), while remaining on his 9-noon shift. New weekenders included “The Weekend (also Part-Time) Guy”, Bill Lally and Kenny Cole.
The "Great Blizzard of '78" on February 6, 1978 paralyzed the Ocean State for several days. As always, WPRO could be counted on to provide full coverage as many staffers (including Brine, Gray, Cooke, etc.) were "stranded" in the building and kept listeners informed around-the-clock. The station handed out "I Survived with 63 WPRO" bumper stickers as the state recovered from this storm. The hot contest during the first half of 1978 was the “Free For All” contest with over $25,000 given away in cash and prizes. The above-mentioned songs from 1977 were no longer heard on WPRO in 1978. One of the few rock-leaning hits played that year was “Love Is Like Oxygen”, which was heard for a few weeks on Cooke’s show in the summertime. Countdown shows were still heard on WPRO in 1978. American Top 40 with Casey Kasem appeared on Sundays for the entire year. Also, the station was still running the “Pro Music Survey” show with Holland Cooke counting down the top 25 songs every Friday Night. Neither show would make it to 1979 with AT40 moving to WPRO-FM. Listeners were collecting “Pro-dough” dollars during on-air contests and at specified locations to win prizes in the summer and fall of 1978. Former WJAR-TV newsman Franz Laubert was now anchoring the afternoon newscasts along with Barry Parker. Weather reports were being supplied by “Accu-Weather” meteorologists, including Elliot Abrams, Dr. Joel Myers and Joe Bestardi. The station began running URI Rams basketball in late 1978 with Mike Gorman and Frank Daly calling the action. Joining the part-time ranks in 1978 was Al DeStefano. News reporters now heard included Mike Wolfe, Kathy O’Brien and Karen Roberts.
As 1979 began, Big John Bina moved upstairs from PRO-FM to take over the evening shift, while all of the other shifts were adjusted. The new lineup as of January 2, 1979 was as follows: Salty Brine and Larry Kruger 6-10 (Larry was solo from 9-10), Jimmy Gray 10-2, Gary DeGraide 2-6, John Bina 6-10, Holland Cooke 10-2, Ed Cherubino 2-6. The hot contest at this time was once again, the “Free For All” contest. Despite the adult-leaning musical direction of the station, in the spring of 1979, with disco music at its peak, Cooke’s night show was basically turned “all-disco”. This would continue through most of the summer. The station played quite a few of the disco-flavored pop hits through this time, and even played “I Was Made For Loving You” by Kiss frequently at night. Mike Wade was heard doing fill-in shifts and Polly Reynolds was heard on newscasts around this time. In July, 1979, long time midday host Jimmy Gray moved downstairs to become WPRO-FM’s morning man. Ed Cherubino received a well-deserved promotion to take over Gray’s shift. As the fall approached, the disco music was gone and the station now appeared to be a full-fledged AC outlet. A new approach to overnights was tried at this time. In what may have been a somewhat of a precursor to voicetracking, the Charlie and Harrigan show made its debut. Pre-taped bits were dropped in while a jock ran the control board. The show eventually made it to 7-9pm as the new decade rolled in with Holland Cooke running the controls. Cooke then would then take over the airshift from 9-12. Greg Reynolds worked overnights at this time. Mark Wayne was heard doing some fill-in shifts just before summer. Bill Lally departed to New York City in June to write comedy and other material for Mark Simone. On July 10, 1980, a story by Bob Angell and Ty Davis in the NewPaper announced that Holland Cooke would be leaving the night shift to program a station in New Hampshire (WKBR). Sure enough, it was announced on the Salty Brine show and on Cooke’s show that evening. At the end of his final show on July 25, 1980, he played the first song he had played at WPRO in 1974, “Hello, Goodbye”, along with his old “And in the end the love you take..." (from Beatles - The End).” show closing, and promised he would be back someday to program a Providence station (promise fulfilled as he would return to the area as WSNE PD just a couple of years later and today is a news/talk radio consultant based out of Block Island). At about the same time Cooke left, PD Dave McNamee resigned and Gary Berkowitz was hired to oversee WPRO-FM and AM while still programming WROR in Boston. The next week, with Charlie and Harrigan removed from the schedule by Berkowitz and Reynolds now working 7 to midnight, there was a bit of a different sound as the WFIL jingles were briefly brought back and uptempo hits such as “Take Your Time (Do It Right)”, “Funkytown”, “Stomp” and “It’s Still Rock & Roll To Me” were added to the rotation. A new Saturday night oldies show with Jim Knight (aka Jim Raposa) was also added. Former WPRO traffic reporter and music director Stanley Bomes (Stan the Traffic Man) took on overnights, but soon left the station after being heard on WHJJ. Woody "The Woodman" Flo came in and did nights for a couple of months with Reynolds back on overnights. Joanie Pfeiffer (later morning co-host on WMYS with Pete Braley) was a new weekender during this time period. Ann Gabbianelli and Rick O'Brien were heard on newscasts. Jim Knight then took his oldies show to WHJJ and Berkowitz himself took over the show on WPRO and the shows butted heads on Saturday nights for a few months. News director Frank Daly left for WTOP Washington DC to join former WPRO PD Dave McNamee. A radio “dating” call-in show would debut on Thursday nights beginning on October 2nd as Dick Syatt hosted “Hotline”. In November, 1980, David Simpson took over the night show. Songs such as “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” and even “Another One Bites The Dust” and Whip It” were heard on his show, along with the typical AC hits the station was playing. Also heard on the station at this time were Tom Cuddy, John Monk, and WPRO-FM's Giovanni, who did some fill-in shifts. A contest called “Hi-Lo”, where listeners would try to guess how much was in the jackpot with the announcer telling them if it was too high or too low, was now a regular feature on the station and would resurface at various times over the next few years.
On February 14, 1981, Simpson said his "I'm David Simpson and we're Over and Out" show closing for the last time on WPRO and became the afternoon drive-time host on WPRO-FM. He would continue in this role for well over a decade. A couple of new voices joined the regular lineup at this time as Rod West from JB105 took over 6-10pm and assistant PD Tom Cuddy worked from 10-2am. The Woodman was still hanging in on the 2-5:30am shift, leading in to Salty Brine. A new jingle package, “Pro Radio”, debuted also, and the rock-leaning songs were dropped.
By 1982, a growing number of AM stations around the country, including WRKO and WABC, had switched from music to talk. WPRO –AM began to head down that track by adding an all-night syndicated talk show featuring Larry King, In 1983, new personalities included former WICE and WMEX, Boston jock King Arthur Knight and John “Coach” Colletto, who did a one-hour music show following West from 11pm-12mid and then produced the talk show overnight. Late in 1983, Gary DeGraide moved to mornings at WPJB and was replaced in afternoons by Knight. In 1984, Beverly Horne shared morning news duties with Toevs and would continue in this role over the next several years. Listeners were calling in to win cash during the Hi-Lo "Phase 2" contest in the spring of 1984. Colletto had become the sports reporter on the Salty & Larry show and often filled in as co-host when one of them was out.
By 1985, under PD Tom Cuddy, the station was moving more into the direction of talk as Steve Kass handled a local talk show four nights a week from 8-12 and syndicated talk shows continued on overnights. With Brine and Kruger’s morning show playing very little music, the only shows regularly playing music during the week were Ed Cherubino’s midday show featuring “Out to Lunch with the Best of the Golden Oldies” and King Arthur Knight’s afternoon show. There was also music played on weekends, including the Alan K. show. The station only played one current song an hour when it did play music. Starting with the 1986 season, the station became the local radio affiliate of the Boston Red Sox. In the summer of 1986, former 790 WEAN morning man Charlie Warren was heard doing fill-in shifts.
By 1987, more talk was in the air as Steve Kass worked the 9am –noon shift and Cherubino moved to early afternoons with his still all-music show. The Larry King Show returned on May 11, 1987 to run on weeknights beginning at 11pm. Naomi DiClemente was heard on weekend newscasts around this time. WPRO-FM's Neil Sullivan filled in on weekend air shifts. Vic Edwards was now hosting "The Original Saturday Night All-Request Oldies Show". In October, Charlie Jefferds returned after an 18-year absence to take over for Kass with a show that was primarily talk with lots of guests. This programming continued in 1988 with David Spencer (aka Dave Stewart from PRO-FM), Mark Ambrose and Vic Edwards doing some weekend and fill-in music shifts. Spencer often hosted "Nighttime Trivia" contests on his shifts. Bruce Newberry was also a weekend and fill-in host. Other programs included the "Hotline" call-in dating show hosted now by Dave Scott, Paul Harvey's "The Rest of the Story", which aired three times a day, and the Larry King show, still running each weeknight beginning at 11pm. In August of 1988, it looked like WPRO’s days as a music station were about to come to an end as WHJJ PD Ron St. Pierre was hired as PD of WPRO. St. Pierre had successfully transitioned WHJJ from music to talk and was about to do the same here. The station actually seemed to play some more current AC hits when they did play music after St.Pierre’s arrival, but as expected, the music was finally about to disappear for good.
In February 1989, it was announced that the dean of R.I. talk show hosts, Sherm Strickhouser had signed a contract to join WPRO once his WHJJ contract expired. Finally, the day the music died was March 20, 1989 as WPRO officially became an all-talk station with mostly the same lineup: Salty & Larry (6-9), Charlie Jefferds (9-12), and Ed Cherubino with a talk show (12:30-3). New to the station was Geoff Charles, whose zany and off-the-wall show aired from 3-6. The lineup was rounded out a couple of weeks later as the popular Chuck Wilson On Sports show took over from 6-8. Charles made front-page news in June when he broadcasted his show while standing under the big Blue Bug on I-95 along with a belly dancer and a girl in a bikini. There just happened to be a couple of accidents on the interstate that day. Strickhouser made his debut in August, 1989, moving Jefferds to afternoons and Cherubino to nights. Additions to the news department in the late 80's included Donna DePetro, Gregg Perry, Fran Liro (sp?) and Jeff Derderian.
By April 1990, "Spy-in-the-sky" traffic reporter Tony DiBiasio had his own talk show, replacing Charles in the afternoon. According to Ron St. Pierre, during an "Ask the Manager" segment, the change was ratings driven and the numbers showed that Rhode Islanders wanted more mainstream talk radio. Charles briefly handled nights (he was pre-empted often by Red Sox baseball) until his contract ended a few weeks later. Cherubino came off the air and became production director. In May, Strickhouser tragically suffered a stroke. Although he made several appearances on the show with his eventual replacement, Mary Ann Sorrentino, Sherm would never return to a full-time shift before his untimely death in 1992. After a long run in the morning with Salty Brine, Bud Toevs was moved to the late morning and early afternoon newscasts. Milt Fullerton replaced Toevs in the early morning. St. Pierre was now general manager, replacing Mitch Dolan. In September, 1990, Jefferds was replaced on the 12-3pm time slot by the syndicated Rush Limbaugh show, where it ran for 17 years. It had been running on weekends (taped) before then. Also in 1990, the Galilee State Beach was officially renamed Salty Brine State Beach.
As 1991 rolled in, DiBiasio no longer held the afternoon shift (he remained as the WPRO traffic reporter through 1992). Milt Fullerton and Sara Wye would host an interview show called "Newsline" in that timeslot. Chris Camp replaced Wye in October, 1991 and the show was reduced to 3-5pm with Chuck Wilson picking up an extra hour. In early 1992, former Lt. governor Tom DiLuglio would take over from 3-5. He would soon be joined by John Hackett. Dave Kane was a weekend host at this time. Although the station was referred to as "Southern New England's News and Information Leader", news department cuts left the station with four full-time reporters (Camp, Fullerton, Horne and Perry).
In 1993, as the station was sold to Tele-Media Corp., Salty Brine finally stepped down on April 28, 1993 after an incredible 51-year run in the mornings at WPRO. Until his passing in November of 2004, he would be heard from time-to-time announcing school closings with his legendary “No School Foster-Glocester” announcement and seen in the Cardi’s Furniture commercials (Nobody beats Cardi’s...Nobody). Kruger and Colletto were left to hold the fort in the morning drive spot. Tom DiLuglio and John Hackett still held the drive time spot with Rudy Cheeks replacing DiLuglio a few weeks later. Bruce Newberry would eventually take over the shift before the end of the summer of 1993. Chuck Wilson no longer handled the sports show after April, 1993. He had been working weekends at ESPN Radio and joined them full-time in 1994. News Director Chris Camp also left the station, in October 1993. He was replaced by Rory O'Neill. As 1994 began, newsman Gregg Perry departed to WHJJ.
Larry Kruger would be out of the station after 22 years of service in August of 1995. "Coach" John Colletto and Laurie Johnson were the new morning team. In April 1996, a simulcast of WRKO Boston's Howie Carr show replaced Newberry's show in the afternoon. Scott Cordischi and Frank Carpano hosted WPRO Sportsbeat from 6-8pm.
In the fall of 1997, Steve Kass returned to WPRO as morning host. Colletto (sports) and Johnson (news with Milt Fullerton) remained on the show. Some changes in 1998 saw Mary Ann Sorrentino's eight-year run in late mornings end as her contract expired in July. She would be replaced by Myrna Lamb. Soon taking over the drive-time shift was ex-WHJY morning host Carolyn Fox. She would leave WPRO and head over to 103.7 WWRX within a year. Her replacement in November, 1999 was Dan Yorke, from Springfield, MA, who still occupies the shift today. Bill Haberman became morning news anchor and also remains in that position today.
WPRO received some publicity in 2000, as Survivor winner Richard Hatch filled in for Steve Kass for a week. As 2001 rolled in, Myrna Lamb was gone from her 9-11:45a show and Kass would take on a double shift for the next several months. Finally, in July, then operations manager Ron St. Pierre took over mornings on the WPRO Morning News show and Kass remained on late mornings. In September of 2002, WPRO made big news again by bringing in former Providence mayor and afternoon host Buddy Cianci as a co-host with Kass for about one year.
The regular lineup from morning to afternoon drive remained intact until September 2005, when Steve Kass left to take a job with the governor's office. Shortly after, Bernstein was out as PD. His replacement, former WSAR PD and WNRI owner Paul Giammarco who cut his teeth under legendary Rhode Island talk master Jack Comley. Giammarco immediately began to work toward bringing a more contemporary news talk sound to WPRO.
On August 16, 2007, Giammarco announced that Buddy Cianci would be joining WPRO's talk-radio lineup beginning on September 20th. The new weekday lineup as announced on September 6th is as follows: Bill Haberman with WPRO’s First News (5am-6am), John DePetro with the WPRO Morning News show (6am-10am), Buddy Cianci (with Ron St. Pierre) (10am – 2pm), Dan Yorke (2pm-6pm) and Matt Allen (6pm-7pm).
To make room for the Cianci show, Rush Limbaugh was dropped after 17 years in WPRO's noon-3pm timeslot. On March 11, 2008, Giammarco was able to bring the first commercial FM talk station to Rhode Island as WPRO began simulcasting its programming on sister station WEAN-FM (99.7). As part of this milestone move the Matt Allen show was expanded to 9pm.