David Atwood: Getting started at WGBH

From David Atwood

Needing a job fresh out of college in the fall of 1965 I made an alphabetical list of Boston’s TV stations. The first was WBZ. I set out from Woburn, found WBZ and went in looking for work. They said they might start me in the mail room. I was devastated. I had four years of TV production experience at two commercial stations, one educational station, and one closed circuit facility in Maine.

I wanted to go home and sulk but next on the list was WGBH which was close by on Western Avenue, Allston. The operator in the lobby asked me to wait then Al Potter appeared. We interviewed in his office near the studio and he must have given me a tour. They had, as I remember, ten black and white cameras distributed among the three studios and mobile unit. In Maine TV I had never seen more than two studio cameras in one station. Impressive and scary. Read more...

David Atwood

  • Years at WGBH: 1965 – 1980 (then as a contractor until 2005)
  • Position(s): Camera, Producer/Director, Editor, Video Artist.
  • Pine Tree Productions – www.pinetreeproductions.com
  • Interview at Powdercast with Joel Olicker from Powerhouse Productions

I was hired in the fall of 1965.  I was out of college, about to get married, and needed a job.  My history and government degree wasn’t going to do it.  But I had four years experience in commercial TV in Maine plus experience with educational TV at The University of Maine.  My first stop was WBZ TV.  They suggested I could start in the mail room. Dejected I drove to WGBH close by.  I was interviewed and asked if I could start work in a couple days.  (They were desperate for people as many had left that summer I learned later.)  I was hired as a lighting director as I could name three important lights on the talent, something I’d read in a book not long before the interview.  (In Maine we never named the lights, we just hung them and pointed them.) But the only thing I ever lit was that year’s staff Christmas party:  red and green.

After a while on the crew defying death 18 feet in the air on a manual crank lift hanging monstrous lights on the grid, they discovered I could run a camera, something I had done a lot of in Maine. From then until 1967 I was mostly a cameraman, trying to hold up a rich tradition of very fine camera work at WGBH.  I learned dolly moves (cameras had wheels then) I never knew existed,  I could move a shot through the air dollying sidewards, lifting up or down smoothly. Read more...