BOSTON (CBS) — From our first broadcast in 1948, to the stories we cover today, WBZ-TV has been an important part of New England. It has been 70 years of making history.
New England’s first TV station went on the air on June 9, 1948, with a test pattern for much of the day, capping it off with our first newscast anchored by Arch MacDonald. Other newsmen, and they were all men, followed, like Arthur Amadon and Lindy Miller. “To be live on camera,” says Amadon. “Was scary, that’s what it was,” Miller adds, finishing the sentence.
As people bought TVs and viewership grew we came to know WBZ news people as reliable friends; Jack Chase, Don Kent, and Shelby Scott were a daily presence in New England homes.
During the turbulent 60s, with Vietnam War protests and African Americans demanding their civil rights, there was a change in front of the camera. Sara Ann Shaw, Walt Sanders, and Charlie Austin were among the first black journalists on Boston television. “I think what happened as the riots happened around the country, news management teams looked up and discovered that they needed people who looked like the people out in the street to send out and try and get the story,” says Sara Ann Shaw.
Women finally started to be represented as well. WBZ-TV created the first female anchor team when Gail Harris joined Shelby Scott on First Four News.
The quintessential anchorman, Tom Ellis got behind the Channel 4 news desk and was soon joined by Tony Pepper on the Ellis-Pepper Bandwagon. Jack Williams entered the picture when Ellis left for New York. Liz Walker was paired with Jack as the first African American weekday anchor in Boston. Add in sports reporting with Bob Lobel, arts and entertainment with Joyce Kulhawik and Bruce Schwoegler’s weather and you had the dream time for news, personality, and warmth.
WBZ has always been a leader in local programming like “Evening Magazine.” Award-winning documentaries examined important local issues like the pollution of Boston Harbor and overdevelopment on the Cape. “People Are Talking” had a serious side but could always have some light-hearted fun, catapulting Tom Bergeron to a national audience. Public service campaigns like “For Kids’ Sake” and “Time To Care” encouraged people to learn and volunteer. Made for TV movies starring June Alyson, Jean Stapleton, Ben Vereen and Richard Kiley were seen across the country but produced right here.
Fast forward to today: our values and community commitment are stronger than ever. Channel 4 is the first place to turn to for the most important news stories, every day. for sports reporting that goes beyond the trophies and New England weather in all its frustrating glory. We’re the place to be for the thrill of the Boston Marathon, the generosity and spirit of the Pan-Mass Challenge and as the Patriots station, for one of a kind access to New England’s championship team. For 70 years WBZ-TV has been here for you. Here’s to the next chapter!