By Sean Barnacoat, WBZ-TV Promotions Director
BOSTON (CBS) – Normally, December is a good time to look back and reflect on the events of the past year. But this year, as WBZ prepares for a major milestone, we wanted to look back on the events of the past 70 years.
2018 will mark WBZ-TV’s 70th anniversary. WBZ-TV was New England’s first television station. We first signed on the air on June 9, 1948. Over the next six months, we will be celebrating this milestone with more than a few walks down memory lane.
To kick things off, we wanted to highlight some of the most memorable people, places, events, and moments from the 70 years of Boston news that WBZ has been privileged to document.
Obviously, it is impossible to capture 70 years of history in a single 60-second ad. So the video above is just a start. Stay tuned to us on TV, Facebook, Twitter, and here on CBSBoston.com over the next few months, as we revisit some of the most memorable, and most important, moments of the last 70 years in Boston. Now let’s break down that promo, shot by shot.
THE FIRST 10 SECONDS
The black-and-white footage at the beginning of the promo is from WBZ’s earliest days on the air, in the late 1940s and 1950s.
You will recognize Red Sox great Ted Williams and footage of Fenway Park. WBZ was the first station to broadcast Red Sox games to New Englanders, pioneering television sports coverage in the region. WBZ carried Red Sox games from 1948 through 1957, with Curt Gowdy (“the voice of baseball in Boston”) behind the mic.
At :04 you see a clip of then-Senator John F. Kennedy from a rally he held in the old Boston Garden during his 1960 presidential campaign.
At :05 you see residents protesting urban renewal, which displaced many people from their homes. In 1956, WBZ released a groundbreaking documentary about urban decay. “City in a Shadow” shocked Bostonians and revealed the substandard state of housing in the city. After all the years, the issue of housing and affordability is still front and center in Boston.
At :06 there is a clip of longtime Boston Pops conductor Arthur Fiedler with WBZ anchor Arch McDonald. McDonald was WBZ’s first news anchor, signing on the air in 1948. He did a series of “First Person Profiles” that took New Englanders into the homes of notable Bostonians.
That is followed by a brief clip of Senator Ted Kennedy from the campaign trail, and an image of Concord, NH schoolteacher Christa McAuliffe training for the space shuttle Challenger mission.
At :07 you see the Dover station and the old elevated MBTA Orange Line, which closed in 1987.
At :08 there is a shot of a Boston Marathon finish from the 1970s.
The man toasting a glass at :09 is from inside famed Back Bay bar Daisy Buchanan’s. It was taken on the first night of the Blizzard of ‘78. Boston workers were stuck in the city and could not commute home, so they raised a glass and drank the night away.
The next shot at :09 is Bernard Law, from his elevation to Cardinal in 1985. WBZ traveled to the Vatican to cover the ceremony.
10 SECONDS TO 20 SECONDS
The guitarists in Copley Square were people busking during the aftermath of the Blizzard of ’78. Streets were still mostly impassable, but people in the city began to wander out.
The protest shot at :10 was from 1979. Marchers in Roxbury were protesting racial inequality in the city, during Pope John Paul II’s visit to Boston.
At :11 you see Governor Michael Dukakis in the red sweater that he made famous in TV appearances during the Blizzard of ‘78. That is followed by footage from the hard-hit South and North Shores. The dancing bartender was also from inside Daisy Buchanan’s during the storm. (Anybody know him?)
At :15 there is a clip from a Bruins game at the Boston Garden in 1983. We think it perfectly captures the passion and spirit of Boston sports fans.
:16 brings you Stoneham native Nancy Kerrigan skating on the ice at a local rink. This footage was taken before the 1994 Olympic Games, which were marred by the attack on her knee.
Also at :16, Governor Bill Weld dives headfirst into the Charles River to prove it was safe for swimming. Known for our “dirty water” for decades, the governor wanted to make a loud statement that things had changed.
:17 in, you see Governor Bill Weld and Senator John Kerry meeting for a beer at McGann’s Pub in downtown Boston. After their spirited and hard-fought senate race in 1996, this was a memorable show of unity and camaraderie, and a show of bipartisanship that so often seems to be missing from our politics today.
Also at :17 is an image of gay and lesbian advocates who fought for years to march in South Boston’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
That is followed by Governor Deval Patrick, who became the commonwealth’s first African American elected governor, in 2006.
20 SECONDS TO 30 SECONDS
21 seconds into the video you see a shot of jubilant Red Sox fans. They are welcoming home the champs after the 2004 World Series victory.
At :22 is a clip of Ben Affleck and Matt Damon early in their career. This shot was taken from an interview they did with longtime Arts reporter Joyce Kulhawik.
The shot of the MBTA conductor at :22 is from the final train to ever run on the MBTA’s elevated orange line in 1987.
That is followed at :23 by a clip of Meb Keflezighi in 2014, becoming the first American man to win the Boston Marathon since 1983.
At :24 is a clip from “Swan Boat”, Boston’s first live morning TV program, which aired throughout the 1950s. It was a first of its kind program, bringing viewers a mix of news, entertainment, talk, and celebrity interviews.
We had to include that shot of Jack Williams and Liz Walker at :26, WBZ’s iconic and beloved anchor team of the 1980s and 1990s. That leads into images of WBZ’s anchor teams today.
30 SECONDS TO 40 SECONDS
That voice you hear AT :32 saying “You’re looking at our fair city of Boston,” is legendary WBZ morning anchorman Jack Chase. He hosted WBZ’s morning news from the 1950s until the early 1980s.
At :35, that of course is Celtics legend Larry Bird. The image is from WBZ’s “Banner Years” special in 1995, in which the city officially retired the old Boston Garden.
At :36, yes, that’s Shelby Scott covering the Tall Ships visit to Boston in 1980. We still get inquiries about Shelby’s whereabouts every time it snows.
Next up, at :37, is Pete Frates performing the Ice Bucket Challenge at Fenway Park. In an 8-week period in the summer of 2014, Frates helped inspire $115 Million in donations to fight ALS.
At :38 you see footage from some of the very first legal same-sex marriages, after the Massachusetts SJC’s landmark ruling in 2004. The ruling paved the way for marriage equality nationwide.
Tom Brady holds up his Wheaties box at :39, after the Patriots’ improbable Super Bowl win in 2002.
40 SECONDS TO 50 SECONDS
Brady is followed by Big Papi, David Ortiz, hoisting the World Series trophy inside the Red Sox locker room in 2004. Of course we had to include a shot of Pedro Martinez celebrating!
At :43 Marathon bombing survivor Jeff Bauman and Carlos Arredondo triumphantly make their way onto the field at Fenway Park.
At :44 you see an image from Boston’s Women’s March in January 2017. City officials estimated that 175,000 people joined the demonstration, held the day after President Donald Trump took office.
We switch gears to celebration, with a shot from the Rolling Duck Boat Rally celebrating the Patriots third Super Bowl win, in 2005.
At :47 is an image of Patriots fans in the old Foxboro stadium ahead of Super Bowl XXXI in 1997. New England countered the “Cheese Heads” of Green Bay with our own “Chowdah Hedz” hats.
At :48 you see Mayor Menino offering his long-sought endorsement to Elizabeth Warren in her run for senate in 2012.
Also at :48, Governor Mitt Romney takes down the “Reverse Curve” sign that every Boston driver will remember along Storrow Drive. Red Sox fans had changed the sign to read “Reverse the Curse”. You’ll notice that just after the 2004 World Series victory, someone added a “d” to the word “Reverse.”
50 SECONDS TO 60 SECONDS
We wanted to end the promo with an image of our news team today: all of our news anchors, weather team, sports team, and specialist reporters.
The faces have changed over the years, but WBZ-TV’s mission has always stayed the same. We’re still here for you, as we have been for 70 years, to help inform, understand, share your stories, and celebrate everything Boston.