WBZ News Radio Turns 90

By Jared Bowen

Sept. 19, 2011

Watch the segment that aired Sept. 19 on 'GBH's Greater Boston. (Click for larger view)

BOSTON — With constant changes and closings, nearly any media milestone these days is something to be celebrated. A 90th anniversary though, which is what WBZ News Radio is celebrating this week, is something altogether different.

When WBZ NewsRadio first started broadcasting 90 years ago today, prohibition was in effect, the Boston Braves were the hometown team and the studio was a hotel. Peter Casey, Director of News and Programming at WBZ Newsradio, feels very good about the station's longevity.

"It's older than all the television stations, older than all the radio stations, the blogs, the websites, the cable, everything else. It's basically, The Globe was first and then we're second. That's a pretty good record of longevity," Casey said.

The station, which first broadcast out of Springfield, Massachusetts, has evolved over the years. It has always focused on news, like when it aired the 1925 inauguration of President Calvin Coolidge. But it has also broadcast writing instruction, college courses and even sewing lessons among its many incarnations.

WBZ News Radio offices. (via Greater Boston)

"When I was a kid growing up in this area, this was a rock and roll station. It really transitioned right through the 1980s and became a news radio station essentially back with the first Gulf War. When that happened, it seemed to be, like, why are we playing music, let's just do news," said Casey.

There aren't a lot of audio clips hanging around because when WBZ started broadcasting most things couldn't be recorded. Which is why in 1932 when they needed a lion's roar they brought in the real thing. And it didn't end well, Casey recalled.

"They brought the lion into the studio to kind of record on cue and something spooked the lion in the studio and it just ran amok and went through the window," Casey said.

Equally mythic are the WBZ talk personalities that became institutions in their own right. People like Dave Maynard and the late David Brudnoy.

"I call 'BZ a 'destination station,'" said Casey. "People come here 'cause they like the station, they like the rep it has, and they want to make a career and life in this area. They don't use it as they do a bunch of other media outlets — as a springboard to someplace else."

As 90 years on the air demonstrates, there's no "someplace else" WBZ, or their uber-loyal audience, wants to be.



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