Maxanne Sartori

It’s about the music, of course. Nobody would have listened otherwise. When Maxanne publishes her memoirs we will know more about that. She was the one who recognized and sponsored creativity in the Boston bands of that pre-climate-change era, and gave them air time. See here and here. She taught me how to spell “segue”. She introduced me to Sanae and the Root One, Macrobiotic places where we could sit down with the other brown ricers and I could enjoy one cigarette after my meal. She made a certain amount of money (She and the other line announcers made $160 a week. Charles got $200. I made $120) and knew how to spend it.

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Maxanne Sartori, WBCN, 1971 Copyright (c) 1971, 2009 William J. Spurlin

Periodically there were crises in which Charles was in danger of being fired. During one of these we all drove to his apartment in Cambridge to have a council. By this time I had a car I and left the studio before Max and took my ancient 3-cylinder Saab down Marlborough Street and Mass. Ave. to Harvard Square. When I got to Charles’s place Max was already there. “How did you get here so fast”? “I took the Massachusetts Turnpike for twenty-five cents”, was the slightly disdainful reply.

Max was a very striking, handsome woman. See her on stage with Thundertrain: the zoom at 5:12 into the video. I will post some of my original images of her, too, when I have gotten around to censoring them. For some reason, probably because I accepted that she was my intellectual superior in most ways, and in spite of what appeared to be the opportunity, I did not follow my natural inclinations in her direction, a tendency that I have followed into a world of hurt and joy so often, especially in those days. In other words, I admired her, and respected her. I am very glad that she became my friend.

A woman on the radio was a New Phenomenon in 1971. The idea that a woman could control that stream of power was enough to shake my male-centric, woman-in-the-kitchen prejudices, and reinforced the very power of the medium itself. In the late 1950’s I had been a frequent listener to Radio Moscow’s English service on shortwave, and I had the same reaction to Lidia Petrova and the other female announcers, who greatly enhanced Radio Moscow’s credibility and appeal, which were already very high in those days after the 20th Congress of the CPSU (the so-called Khrushchev “Thaw”). So, subtly, Communist propaganda, happening to be largely true, penetrated the soul of a teenage suburban 1950’s American.

Later in 1971 other women joined the on-air staff: Debbie Ullman, Dinah Vaprin and Marsha Steinberg. Each had their specialties and strengths, but none had the authority or the calm, warm, friendly and highly knowledgable on-air presence and musicality of Max.

3 comments

  1. Bill, Debbie was on air at BCN before Maxanne. Debbie was selling ads and did NOT want to be FT on air. As PD, when I was looking for a great woman Rock DJ, I asked a dear Syracuse U friend (she’s still a friend) who was living in Seattle if she had heard any great woman DJs out there. She had, and told me about Maxanne. I contacted Max. She sent a tape. We flew her to Boston, hired her and the rest is… Debbie took the morning show after I dropped it. Dinah took it post-Debbie. Debbie is still a dear friend. I just saw Maxanne at the beginning of December, for the first time in 30+ years!

    1. Maxanne and I go way back, as I founded AAA station WRNX at 100.9fm in Amherst/Springfield, Mass. in 1990. I lost track of her when she moved to Florida to help her ailing parents. Is there any way I can get back in touch?

      1. Sadly Maxanne passed from my view many years ago and I cannot give any direction except to recommend the usual Internet stalking tools, e. g., pipl.com.

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