By Paula Ebben

BOSTON (CBS) – On September 19, 1921, WBZ Radio was the first commercially licensed station to broadcast live in the U.S. The first program was live from the Big E in Springfield.

In the early days, WBZ transmitted from Springfield with programming that included live theater, a farm hour and even sewing lessons.

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In the 1930s WBZ migrated east, setting up its studios in a Boston hotel. In 1932, WBZ made headlines when a lion brought into the studio for a promotion lunged through a glass wall, injuring seven people.

Annette Funicello visits WBZ Radio and talks with Bruce Bradley. (Courtesy photo)

In the 1940s, parent company Westinghouse built the Allston studios to house both WBZ-TV and WBZ Radio. Then came a stream of legendary voices like Arch McDonald, Carl DeSuze and Dave Maynard.

During the mid-century, WBZ played mostly music, but for decades, there was always a break for news with Gary Lapierre and Gil Santos on Sports.

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A WBZ Radio DJ card from the mid-1960s. (Courtesy photo)

In 1991, came Operation Desert Storm, and WBZ began transitioning to all news. Lapierre and Santos became part of the morning routine for countless New Englanders, including long-time WBZ reporter Carl Stevens.

“I learned how to do radio by listening to WBZ and Gary Lapierre every morning,” Carl recalled. “When he talked, I talked, and that’s how I learned to do radio.”

Gil Santos, Gary Lapierre and Dave Maynard in the WBZ Radio studio. (Courtesy photo)

Stevens calls working alongside the two legends one of the great joys of his life. “Being in the same room with Gary Lapierre and Gil Santos and that rare combination of extreme talent and extreme joy, [then] you throw into the mix the likes of Dave Maynard and Tommy Bergeron and, my gosh, we had a wonderful, wonderful time.”

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President Biden sent along a letter of well wishes to the station saying in part, “The freedom of the press has always been vital to the function of our democracy, and stations like WBZ NewsRadio have pioneered a path forward for tother news networks to expand their reach to listeners across our Nation. Congratulations on your centennial anniversary.”

Paula Ebben