RAYNHAM – A native of Raynham, Nancy Quill has always wanted to pursue a career in music.
An aspiring singer-songwriter, Quill began performing music with her high school band at an early age and was a big fan of The Beatles and the 1970s California sound growing up in Raynham and as a student at Bridgewater-Raynham Regional High School. Later, as a student at UMass Lowell, she studied music and was a performer.
“I loved classic rock, really loved it,” said Quill, “I loved Californian rock – Jackson Browne, Fleetwood Mac and Joni Mitchell – and of course I grew up listening to the Beatles.” I played piano and sang and went to music school at the University of Lowell.
“Music was really what I was about. Music has always been a part of my life.”
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How she came to radio
Music, it seemed, was her calling. But radio was the family business.
The late Joe Quill, her father, was part owner of WRLM in Taunton. Today the former WRLM is WSNE, 93.3 on the local dial, and is owned by iHeartMedia, Inc. But WRLM was where young Nancy Quill had her first exposure to a radio studio and the musical sounds of the time.
And Joe Quill, being a radio guy, always reminded Nancy that the radio booth was a good option, albeit a big change of perspective, for someone wanting a career in the music business.
And it was a familiar environment.
“I always wanted to be a musician. I wanted to be a singer-songwriter, but my dad used to say, “You know, you really should get your radio license,” because he knew I could do it. I’ve been on the air on WRLM a few times. I used to do commercials for my dad and then when I went to college I worked at the college radio station,” she said.
“He kept saying, ‘Get your radio license,’ and one day when I was at the college radio station, I was like, you know, I really enjoy radio. I really like being in the air. I like what I do. I think radio turned out to be what I really wanted to do, and that’s really how it evolved.”
It was a good call.
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On to the Hall of Fame
After 38 years on the job, the former WMJX Magic 106.7 DJ will be inducted into the Massachusetts Broadcasters Hall of Fame in September, where he will join nine local on-air personalities including Sean McDonough, longtime play-by-play announcer at the Boston Red Sox, and Eric Jackson, who has been considered the “Dean of Boston Jazz Radio” and host of many Boston-area radio programs over the years.
Quill spent 38 years spinning “continuous soft rock” for Magic 106.7, starting her career there as a late-night DJ and then committing to a long lunch break.
Quill has been called “the most-listened-to woman in the city of Boston,” a claim based on her nearly four decades at WMJX, one of Boston’s top-rated stations. WMJX was third behind only WROR and WBZ in the latest Nielsen 10-ten list for Boston Radio; Quill spent years as a consistent number one in her 10am-3pm time slot.
“I’m still amazed at that,” Quill said. “But I think a large part of that is because we were such a successful radio station and played just the right music. We had a lot of listeners and I was lucky enough to have a lot of people listening in my time slot at that time of the day, so I’m really lucky to be part of a very successful radio station.”
Magic 106.7 is known in Boston and throughout the area for playing hits on the lighter side of music genres, just the thing to help listeners unwind amid the midday bustle.
“That’s what we called ourselves ‘Continuous Soft Rock,’ and we kind of evolved over time,” Quill said. “Of course, soft rock in the early 80’s is very different from the smoother music of today – it’s actually a bit more intense.
How the radio business has changed
“Now you can hear Def Leopard on a soft rock radio station, and we never played Def Leopard or anything like that back in the 80’s when Magic started, so it had to evolve over time. That’s radio, and I think Magic’s success has been in keeping up with the changing tastes of audiences. Demographics would change and we would change with them, and so would our music.”
WMJX hit the local airwaves in 1982 and Quill, then 22, was among the first personalities on the air, along with David Allan Bouchard, who announced his retirement plans earlier this year.
When Quill got hired, she figured the job would last a few years and then she’d go somewhere else…to another station, maybe another city. But like Bouchard, she managed to maintain her place and become one of Boston’s most well-known radio voices.
“You never know because in this business it’s difficult to maintain employment in one place and I’ve been lucky, as has my colleague David Allan Boucher who has just retired. We started at the same time, we were hired in December 1981. We were the same age and at the same point in our careers and we got hired on the same day.”
Instead, Quill stayed with Magic for 38 years. She retired in 2020. Today she is busy with voiceover work and runs a small recording studio at home.
“It’s been a great run and a great experience, and I don’t think a lot of people in this business can say they’ve been with a radio station that long,” she said.
In sharp contrast to many modern radio DJs, who are sometimes the main attraction and can take up as much or more airtime than the music, Quill said the goal in their early days was to keep it short and keep the hits rolling keep. Over the years, her on-air persona grew and developed a bit, but she says it’s always been about the music and the listeners, not the DJ.
“People have to decide whether I succeeded or not, but I always wanted to be myself and my father always said ‘be yourself’, but to be kind and warm and not to badmouth me, but to make it through the listener,” she said.
“What does the listener feel or think that day? What are your thoughts? I wanted to get inside the listeners’ heads in a way, because I wanted them to feel like they’re the ones that matter, not me. I play the music, but it’s for the listener.
“I think people feel like they know you, so they always want to come back. They’re a familiar voice and if you get it right when you reach out to them, they want to be a part of your day aside from the music. You know there’s a familiar, kind, warm and caring voice to get you through the day.”
Boston’s media market is one of the biggest and best in the country, says Quill, and she’s grateful to have worked in a busy, always interesting market and to work close to home and where she was born.
“I think it’s one of the best markets in the country, there’s no doubt about that, especially back in the 80’s and 90’s. I think even in the 70’s we just had great radio personalities. We’re still one of the top 10 markets in the country and I loved being in Boston. I just love being a part of the Boston culture.”
Quill and his family lived in Sharon for many years while working for WMJX. Today she lives at Lakewood Ranch near Sarasota. She looks forward to attending the Hall of Fame induction ceremonies in September.
The Hall of Fame induction ceremony is scheduled for September 22 at the Boston Quincy Marriot Hotel.
“It’s pretty humbling, I have to say. I’m really honored and looking forward to the launch. It’s really overwhelming,” Quill said.
“When you’re on the air and you’re doing it, you don’t think about it. You just think that’s what you do and you love doing what you do. And then years go by and you realize that you have made a career and been so successful in it. It’s nice to know someone recognizes that and I’m really, really proud.”
No doubt Joe Quill would be delighted.
“He would be terribly proud if he were here now and I’m sure he would attend the ceremony.”
Taunton Daily Gazette Editor Jon Haglof can be reached at jhaglöf@tauntongazette.com. Support local journalism by purchasing a digital or print subscription to the Taunton Daily Gazette today.