[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

WBZ-TV and the Bradford

Well, as I said I would, I called Gordon Swan, who is not only the last
living member of the WGI airstaff but who was the first PD of WBZ-TV.  He's
93 now, and an incredible resource.  He said that the answer to whether
WBZ-TV ever broadcast from the Bradford was 'yes and no'.

The new building was in fact delayed in its completion, and the equipment
was sent to the Bradford ("They had to ship it somewhere-- I mean, we had
ordered all of this equipment and it was coming on a truck, and the new
building wasn't ready", Gordon told me), and since WBZ Radio had lots of
space, the equipment was put in a spare studio, which was set aside to use
for TV broadcasts if the move was going to be delayed even longer than
originally expected.  Trouble is, Gordon recalls, once the equipment
arrived, nobody was quite sure how to use it. So, they decided since the new
location wasn't finished yet, they might as well do some practising.  They
ran a few test broadcasts-- test patterns at first, and then a few of the
folks who were going to be on-air got to stand in front of the camera and
get accustomed to it (very different from doing a radio show). The testing
was very sporadic, during the months of April and May as he recalls. There
was nothing he would call 'a regularly scheduled broadcast'-- in fact, the
soon-to-be TV staff made some rather amusing mistakes, and people who didn't
know the room was now a TV studio walked in in the midst of whatever was
going out over the air.  But by the time June rolled around, everyone felt
more prepared to follow a schedule of daily broadcasts.

Regarding the story someone wrote about the rabbi, it was quite a tragedy--
Westinghouse had hired a minister, a priest, and a rabbi to bless the new
enterprise.  Suddenly, in the midst of giving the invocation, the Rabbi
keeled over-- heart attack, if I recall.  His name was Rabbi Joshua Loth
Liebmann, and he had been very respected in Boston media-- he had done lots
of radio and had written several self-help books in the 1940s... nobody
expected any such thing to occur, as he had seemed very healthy -- it was
quite a shock to everyone.  (Do you recall much later-- in the late 1960s, I
think-- when the guy who owned the Rodale Press, that company which owns
Prevention magazine and assorted health food and vitamin lines, keeled over
in the midst of a talk show?  He had always published editorials in his
magazine saying that due to his healthy diet, he would live into his 90s...
I believe he was only about 50 when he suddenly stopped in mid-sentence
right on national TV and dropped dead... ah the wonders of live TV...)       

And I believe it was Arch MacDonald, rest his soul, who did the first WBZ-TV
newscast-- they were only on in the evening at first...