David Atwood got hired at WGBH-TV in 1965, for 80 bucks a week. He worked his way up from hanging lights in the studio to directing thousands of hours of groundbreaking TV over a four decade career.
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.
- 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.
As a 23 year old on-camera TV neophyte, watching Julia’s completely honest and wonderfully natural television presentations, actually helped me in my own slightly panicky weekly approach to hosting a television show.
Ambrosino had already begun assembling “the one group of guys who could pull off such a last-minute live broadcast: producer Russ Morash, director David Atwood, along with (crew) Al Potter and Greg Harney.”
"A Circle of Lights" featured Doc Watson, who passed on this week, and Pete Seeger. Rik Hauser produced and David Atwood directed.
From Bill Francis: David Atwood on camera, David Silver in the foreground. What else can you tell us about this image?
NSJ watching David Atwood at the Nagra Frank Lane, camera. NSJ,
David Atwood, director (Click to enlarge) Dick Holden, camera (click to enlarge) Rehearsal (Click to enlarge)