By Sean Barnacoat, WBZ-TV Promotions Manager
As each year comes to a close and the promise of a new year approaches, it’s always a good point to reflect on the passage of time. With so much change in the media landscape and the way people consume news, it got us thinking about our legacy as New England’s first TV station, and how we’ve been here to document all that change.
The world is constantly changing around us, but for New Englanders, WBZ-TV has been a constant since 1948. Our commitment to serving this community will never change.
Our new promo focusing on that legacy starts with the original WBZ-TV test pattern. This was the very first image to ever appear on the station! It first appeared on-air at 10am on June 9, 1948, and it remained on the screen for hours. Later that day, several prominent local figures took to the screen, including legendary Mayor James Michael Curley, to deliver their well wishes for this new endeavor called television. The first newscast was delivered later that night at 6:15pm by Arch McDonald. At the time, there were only 2,000 television sets in the area to receive us!
The footage appearing in the promo spans every decade that WBZ-TV has been on the air.
The black-and-white images are from the late 1940s and 1950s, including news broadcasts during Hurricane Carol. We have Rex Trailer, who hosted the kids show Boomtown, a WBZ mainstay in the 1960s, which ran from 1956 to 1974. There’s a shot of Jack Williams with his first co-anchor, Tony Pepper, in the late 1970s, and of course shots of Jack and Liz from the 80s and 90s.
We have a clip of Bob Lobel’s legendary 1992 Sports Final interview with Bobby Orr, Ted Williams, and Larry Bird. What New Englander wouldn’t recognize Lobel’s famous catchphrase, “why can’t we get players like that?!” We couldn’t resist juxtaposing it with their images – as well as Tom Brady’s – to show that despite our penchant for self-pity, we New England sports fans have been incredibly lucky over the years.
We also have a shot of Bob Lobel dressed as Rudolph, seen with longtime host of Community Auditions Dave Maynard. Bob faithfully donned that costume every year for the WBZ Children’s Hospital Telethon in the 80s and 90s.
We have Gail Harris and Chris Marrou, who launched Live on 4 in the late 1970s. This was the first “lighter” early evening news program to mix lifestyle and entertainment topics with the day’s news. It was a pioneering program in its time.
Of course no WBZ legacy piece would be complete without the legendary Shelby Scott. She was the first woman to anchor a newscast on WBZ. Later in her career she became known for her storm chasing. Each year when the snow starts falling, people still send us messages about Shelby.
We have Arts & Entertainment reporter Joyce Kulhawik from the early 1980s; We have Barry Nolan and Sarah Edwards, longtime hosts of the pioneering Evening Magazine. The footage of them holding balloons is from the station’s 35th anniversary party in 1983. The man spotted behind the news camera, that’s WBZ photographer Danny Marotta.
The promo wraps up with the iconic 1980s and 1990s anchor team of Bob, Liz, Jack, and Bruce. We loved that shot of them throwing their papers in the air. It is from 1983 and captured the spirit of that anchor team: people who took their responsibility seriously, but never took themselves too seriously. Appropriately that team reveals to the faces of WBZ today, Lisa Hughes and David Wade, carrying on in the best of WBZ traditions.
Familiar Faces from WBZ past:
Liz Walker/Jack Williams
Rex Trailer – from Boomtown!
Barry Nolan/ Sarah Edwards
Unfortunately, we couldn’t fit everyone we wanted to in just 60 seconds. So many incredible people have been part of our team over the years.