David Silver on Bud Collins, Julia Child, Fred Barzyk, and more

By David Silver

silverI always looked forward to hanging with Bud Collins. He genuinely liked our show, “What’s Happening Mr. Silver?” and told me so. Bud’s passion, his camaraderie, his warmth and wit were irresistible to me, and I was ecstatic that he enjoyed what we were doing.

Obviously, I savored spending any time with him. One day he called me and told me that his guest in the upcoming taping was Muhammed Ali. This in itself was exciting to me, and everybody else. But the cream in the coffee for me was that Bud asked me if I’d like to meet the amazing champion. After the taping, I went on to the studio floor and Bud introduced me to Ali. I distinctly remember the size of the legend’s hand, when we shook hands. It utterly enveloped mine and yet somehow expressed goodwill to me in its firmness and enthusiasm.

We talked for about twenty minutes, and it was quite clear to me how much respect and liking Ali had for Bud. Who didn’t, truthfully? Bud’s effervescent energy is unique and very pleasing to be around.

Another example for me of the great “casting” taste of the station was the bright crew of TV personalities, from Bud to Julia Child, all having enough brio and TV feel to change the quality of how to be on television.

Julia often did her show in Studio B when we were doing “What’s Happening Mr. Silver?” in Studio A. One of my fondest (and most delicious) memories is of eating leftovers from her show along with our two studio crews.

Question: What could be more wonderful than that? The answer: Well, it’s having dinner cooked by her at the Child house and eating with Julia and Paul, her gentle, witty, knowledgeable husband, not only dining on the obviously supremely tasty food, but hearing from the two of them a series of juicy, hysterical anecdotes about their learning curve on French cooking early in their marriage.

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.

Conspiracy/televisual anarchy without anger or agenda. That was basically the underlying urge in the work we did on “What’s Happening Mr. Silver?” way back in 1967 and 1968. Fred Barzyk’s vision was never static, never ideological, never even self-consciously artistic. He consistently utilized and manifested his muscular mischievous side as a way of creating TV. This irreverence was effortlessly coupled with a remarkably liberated intellectual and visceral vision of what TV could be.

Everyone working on our show thoroughly enjoyed production meetings, shoots, and post. Fred fused a little Ernie Kovacs into a Boston-imaged Fellini-esque caricature and then threw in the already ongoing madcap everyday gestalt of the later sixties and voila – you had television without the usual and sometimes tedious cadences of both spoken word and visual presentation.

I remember with glee the repeated trick of shooting the live show on a Thursday night, usually with me more or less alone in the studio, while multiple film chains, often controlled by the brilliant mind of David Atwood, sort of spluttered into the ongoing show, be that an interview or a monologue or a purely visual piece of madness.

The mix of absurdist stock footage and locally-captured 16mm weirdness never allowed the show, or the staff, to settle. So I never knew what was about to happen, which made for an attack on the clichés of broadcast television. It didn’t always work, but it pushed the media envelope, when almost all the other envelopes were being relentlessly pushed by the wild spirit of those days – in politics, music, civil rights, protest, movies, fashion, culture, design, etc.

Fred and Olivia Tappan and David Atwood et. al. dropped the conventional wisdom plan of attack, as it were, and came up with a very potent, if eccentric, TV display of total spontaneity, in a sixties zeitgeist, and did it trusting all the participants to be somehow revolutionary and, simply put, different.

The two 16mm cameramen on our show were Peter Hoving and Boyd Estus. How magically fortuitous was that? It was a constant source of humor and skill, in entirely different ways, from both of them. It simply made their film inserts in the show an art form all unto itself.

I was always magnetized during filming (occasionally in obscenely early morning hours) because of the wonderfully lethal mix of Fred’s endless creativity and their usually spontaneous expansion upon that. And I was amazed that we always had access to these two highly dexterous professionals working a couple of times a week usually on a myriad of remote films for us.

They had completely different personalities and attitudes towards the art of Arriflex/Éclair/Aaton shooting: Boyd, the consummately calm camera operator, quietly taking in every detail of a scene (whether it was a head shop in Cambridge or a political be-in on the Common) while, in marked contrast, Peter Hoving hovering intensely over all he surveyed, guiding his lens rapidly to the expected shots that we basically needed for any given show, and also to the unexpected and explosive.

These days, all is video it seems, but I maintain that the texture and visual resonance of 16mm film added a very special feel to the show we did, where the audience was triggered by the film segments to sense yet another dimension to the Barzykian vision. But even more than that, I have to say, the sheer fun of working with these two totally WGBH-level-of-excellence operators was a once-in-a-career gift to me as well as a consistent delight for our viewers.

Thalassa Cruso was my English pal and compatriot at WGBH. Her gardening show “Making Things Grow” was almost a sister show of Julia’s. Thalassa was equally idiosyncratic, yet, just like Mrs. Child, was a clear and no-BS articulator/teacher.

WGBH presented three women-hosted TV series in just a few years, with three groundbreaking female TV hosts. Thalassa’s show along with “The French Chef” and, just a bit later, Maggie Lettvin’s “Maggie and the Beautiful Machine” put WGBH-TV years ahead of the Food Channel and workout videos.

Thalassa could be quite pugnacious, always audacious and horticulturally very sagacious! Maggie was married to the late, lamented MIT scion, Jerome Lettvin (also a terrific guest on “What’s Happening Mr. Silver?”) Her verve and brio and knowledge was a joy to watch and she was and is a joy to be around.

We once did a “What’s Happening Mr. Silver?” show when we invited soldiers (who were still in uniform and had been in Vietnam) to a Studio A party where the other invitees were draft resisters and antiwar activists.

Fred had the studio decorated with military objects – guns, swords, footlockers, medals, and I was frankly kind of anxious that when these two diametrically opposing groups came together, a mini-war might ensue!

Well, we lubricated everyone with beer and spirits and before long, a remarkable confluence occurred, rather easily. Everyone started talking together, and there was a completely counter-intuitive thing happening. Everyone got along famously. There were disagreements obviously, given the roles of the men in the studio, but there was almost no anger.

I wafted around chatting ad lib with everyone, and I remember vividly the good vibes generated and a subtle truth emerging quietly. Civility prevailed, cordiality grew and even though there was the crucial element of the demon alcohol in the mix, it was a truly lovely evening.

Unfortunately, this show was wiped. Two-inch high band videotape was very expensive and it didn’t even seem weird at the tine that this show amongst quite a few others from the series had to go bye-bye. After all, NBC wiped many tapes of Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show, so who am I to complain?

Bud Collins, 86, tennis authority, broadcaster

Excerpts from the Boston Globe

1964 Collins WGBHIn the early 1960s, after joining the Globe as a tennis writer, Bud Collins took a giant leap into the future of sports journalism when he stepped in front of a TV camera to offer commentary. As he expanded the reach of columnists, he called himself a “scribbler and a babbler,” and the words that emerged were as colorful and memorable as the custom-tailored pants he wore while covering more than a half-century of tennis championships.

In newspaper columns and as a TV commentator, Mr. Collins provided the sport with its most authoritative voice, and he also wrote a tennis encyclopedia and a history of the game. He was 86 when he died Friday in his Brookline home…

Considered the first sports print journalist to establish a regular second home on TV, Mr. Collins began offering tennis commentary for Boston’s WGBH-TV from the Longwood Cricket Club in Chestnut Hill not long after he became a Globe columnist in 1963…

“He broke the barrier, the notion that you could be a newspaper guy and they would want you on TV,” said Globe sports columnist Dan Shaughnessy…

Mr. Collins’s first Globe byline appeared on Dec. 22, 1963, with a dateline of Adelaide, Australia, where he covered the Davis Cup. “This is another world,” he began, “where Christmas comes in the Summertime, the Davis Cup matches come the day after Christmas, and both events have achieved such spectacular acceptance that they are regarded almost as seriously as beer drinking.”…

Having begun his tennis run in an era when players were far more accessible, Mr. Collins was on a first-name basis with the sport’s luminaries. After losing a Wimbledon match to Martina Navratilova, Chris Evert walked off the court to find Mr. Collins waiting, microphone in hand, on live television. “Nice pants, Bud,” Evert quipped…

While visiting Vietnam with the US Davis Cup team in 1969, he wrote about US combat soldiers and flew with Marines who fired rockets at enemy bunkers from a jet that “quivered abruptly as the fireballs left the belly pod. ‘Cu-wump! Cu-wump! Cu-wump!’ ” At one point in the trip, Mr. Collins also dined on terrier stew. “I felt like a traitor to Lassie, Rin Tin Tin, and Old Dog Tray,” he wrote…

Born in Lima, Ohio, Arthur Worth Collins Jr. grew up in Berea, a suburb west of Cleveland. In 1999, he reminisced in the Globe about winning a third-grade spelling contest in 1938. As a prize, he and his mother rode in a Pullman sleeper railroad car to Buffalo, where a limousine spirited them to a swanky hotel to see Niagara Falls. “As the Depression raged, it seemed all the more unimaginably plush,” he wrote…

He stayed in Berea to graduate with a bachelor’s degree from Baldwin-Wallace College, and after a stint in the Army, he drove to Boston, undaunted by a rejection letter from Boston University’s graduate program. BU admitted him, and he also worked part-time at the Boston Herald. No one wanted to cover tennis, and an editor sent him to cover the state women’s championships at Longwood. “ ‘Now, don’t question me. You’re new on this and you just have to do what I tell you to do,’ but I was secretly thrilled,” Mr. Collins recalled his editor saying, in a video interview on a BU website…

“Of course he was this country’s foremost authority on professional tennis — that much is indisputable,” said Timothy Leland, a former managing editor and assistant to the publisher who joined the Globe as a reporter in 1963, at the same time as Mr. Collins. “He was a walking encyclopedia of tennis history.

“But that’s not really what Bud was all about. He was a sweet, kind, gentle man. To know him was to love him. There wasn’t an egotistical bone in his body. He was just a wonderful human being.”…

A memorial service will be announced for Mr. Collins, who in addition to his wife, daughter, and Rob Lacy leaves his stepchildren with his second wife, Betsy Bartelt and Kristin Hunt of Colorado, Sharon McMillan of New York City, and Gretchen West of Ohio; his stepchildren with his wife, Danielle Klaussen of Cambridge and Karl Klaussen of Brookline; and 11 grandchildren.

 

Conrad “Connie” White, 80, Stage Manager, Colleague, Friend

Excerpts from the Boston Globe

conrad_white_1-9645-croppedAs the first African-American student admitted to the Cambridge School of Weston (MA), Virginia native Conrad White lived in two worlds.

A popular student at the private boarding school, he started the first campus radio station and was elected president of the class of 1954. “He was sort of the center of our class,” said his classmate and longtime friend Joan Walther.

Back home in Hampton, Va., however, Mr. White lived under Jim Crow laws and segregated public schools. When friends from boarding school gave him a ride home for winter break, they had to plot their trip carefully as an integrated group riding through the South.

“Once they got past a certain area, they couldn’t stop,” Walther recalled. The students made sure they had plenty of gas and plenty of food in their big old car, a former hearse nicknamed “Mehitable,” a Hebrew variant word for “God rejoices.”

At the 2000 WGBH Reunion with John MacKnight
At the 2000 WGBH Reunion with John McKnight

Mr. White, who often credited his experience at the Cambridge School as the foundation for his confidence and multimedia skills, worked at WGBH on popular public TV shows including Julia Child’s “The French Chef” and spent 27 years at Harvard University, where he retired from the Media Production Center.

A former longtime Cambridge resident, Mr. White died Nov. 9 in Miriam Hospital in Providence following a heart attack. He was 80 and lived in Providence….

Mr. White was in the studio audience for a WGBH show called “Folk Music USA” when he inquired about volunteer opportunities at the station and wound up with a new career. “I walked up to someone I knew who worked there, explained my background in television, and asked if they took volunteers,” he told Harvard Community Resource. “It was one of those ‘and the rest is history’ kind of jobs.”

He worked for WGBH for 15 years, holding various positions in production for shows including “Crockett’s Victory Garden,” “Say Brother,” and “The 10 O’Clock News.”

At the 2015 WGBH Reunion
At the 2015 WGBH Reunion, with Nancy Schuetz

 

After “The French Chef” ended, Mr. White gave a piece of Julia Child’s cutting board to his longtime friend Lou Greenstein, a culinary consultant and chef who appeared on the Boston television show “Good Day” for many years.

Mr. White and Greenstein first became acquainted as young men on the docks at Community Boating in Boston, where Mr. White was a longtime member.

“He was wonderful with people. He was a gentleman, as everybody should be a gentleman,” Greenstein said. He recalled that Mr. White was a favorite guest at the Greenstein family’s Thanksgiving table for several decades. Mr. White always brought deviled eggs to the party.

Sailing was one of Mr. White’s passions. He enjoyed skippering and sailing on what are known as Shields class boats in Newport, R.I., which he initially visited for the folk and jazz festivals…

“I wish I had 90 more years to do all the things I still want to do,” he said in the 1997 interview.

AAPB Makes Historical Public Media Content Available to the Public

From the American Archive of Public Broadcasting — 10/27/2015

In conjunction with UNESCO World Day for Audiovisual Heritage, WGBH and the Library of Congress are pleased to announce the launch of the American Archive of Public Broadcasting (AAPB) Online Reading Room.

Screen Shot 2015-11-29 at 12.31.53 PMWith contributions from more than 100 public media organizations across the country, programs that for decades have gathered dust on shelves are now available to stream on the AAPB website. This rich collection of programs dating from the 1940s to the 2010s will help tell the stories of local communities throughout the nation in the last half of the 20th century and first decade of the 21st.

Initially launched in April 2015 with 2.5 million inventory records, the AAPB website has added nearly 7,000 audiovisual streaming files of historical content from public media stations across the country.  The Library of Congress, WGBH Boston and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting have embarked on an unprecedented initiative to preserve historical public television and radio programs of the past 70 years. This extraordinary material includes national and local news and public affairs programs, local history productions that document the heritage of our varied regions and communities, and programs dealing with education, environmental issues, music, art, literature, dance, poetry, religion and even filmmaking on a local level. The project ensures that this valuable source of American social, cultural and political history and creativity will be saved and made accessible for current and future generations.

Nearly 40,000 hours comprising 68,000 digital files of historic public broadcasting content have been preserved. On the website, nearly 7,000 of these American public radio and television programs dating back to the 1940s are now accessible to the public. These audio and video materials, contributed by more than 100 public broadcasting organizations across the country, are an exciting new resource to uncover ways that common concerns over the past half century have played out on the local scene. Users are encouraged to check back often as AAPB staff continue to add more content to the website. The entire collection of 40,000 hours is available for research on location at WGBH and the Library of Congress.

“The collective archives of public media contain an unparalleled audio and video record of the second half of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st,” said WGBH Vice Chairman Henry Becton. “These treasures of our times aren’t available elsewhere and it’s essential that we preserve them and make them available as widely as possible.”

The Spirit of the Spirit: A WGBH remembrance

This entry is part 12 of 12 in the series The Don Hallock Collection

By Don Hallock — 8/8/2015

In 2000 I was hired by Montana Public Television to direct a PBS production of the Montana Summer Symphony. It was a sizable piece (outdoors, 13 cameras, and seven regional symphony orchestras – yes 7, in Montana!).

DH - CUThe Montana program manager/producer and I hit it off from the get-go. I had directed nothing for 24 years previously, and it had been a whole 37 years since leaving ‘GBH. I was immediately forthcoming about that, but probably because they’d had good experiences with David Atwood the previous two years, added to the superlative reputation of WGBH, the Montana PM was game to collaborate with this broadcasting antique.

The folks in Montana and I (in Hawaii) worked on the production plans for two or three months by phone, Internet and email. Luckily the scheduling worked out so that I could hire Bill Frances as TD. (I tried to get Chas Norton for lighting as well but, unfortunately, the timing was wrong.) Still, as I expected, Bill was superb, and the Montana people were hugely impressed by his easy way and mastery of the production.

On site, the Montana PBS staff, it turned out, were very professional, capable, immensely cooperative, cordial and wonderfully easy to work with. There was a warm atmosphere of smooth camaraderie among their staff. Working with these folks felt in some subliminal way like ‘coming home.’ And eventually I came to understand that the whole experience was wonderfully, and touchingly for me, reminiscent of my years at ‘GBH.

But here’s the thing: The day after I arrived in Bozeman, several of the local staff and I met for lunch, and got to know each other in person. We spoke about our plans, our histories in broadcasting, and our philosophies. I reminisced on the family atmosphere I remembered at ‘GBH, and how much I valued that. In response, the Montana people remarked on having earlier attended an NAB convention, specifically noting that, in contrast to most of the other Public Broadcasting groups, the ‘GBH people seemed remarkably amiable, close-knit, and mutually supportive.

———

Once upon a moment of magic (during the ‘Golden Age of Television’ – 1957) there was a lower middle class kid with only a high school education, and a burning passion for the medium, who was taken on at ‘GBH as a scenic carpenter, soon brought into the studio as cameraman and, eventually, promoted to producer/director (for all of which he’s still hugely grateful). There were organizational restrictions in place at the station which should have made that trajectory formally impossible. But bending those rules in favor of who people actually were, and in respect of each individual’s intrinsic value, was actually the unspoken rule of the house.

People, and the talents they brought to the workplace, were always ‘coin of the realm.’

I don’t remember anyone really worrying about losing their job; ability and team effort seemed the most important measures of a person’s worth.

During my time at the station many folks came and went but, by way of testimonial, many stayed for very, very long times. And, though my memory may be faulty, I can recall, during that period at least, only one person who ever earned dismissal.

Certainly there were some frictions – all organizations suffer at least a few of those. There were also, however, times of wonderful fun, impressive loyalties, abundant kindnesses, and very genuine friendships. Internecine politics — while not entirely absent — never seemed to compromise commitment to the greater endeavor. That commitment was a quality within, and between, the people who worked there. It was palpable inside the station and, I believe, made itself felt through ‘GBH’s output, not only outside in the Boston community, but at distances which could only be imagined.

Being part of Educational Television was an education in itself; we were daily rubbing elbows with the finest the world’s cultures had to offer. And I believe we all knew, at one level or another, that we were involved in something noble and admirable. It was that spirit which undergirded the beginnings of ‘Educational Television,’ and with time would build the enormous force for good that is now Public Broadcasting. The philosophy which grounded the functioning of the station was omnipresent. A whole litany of words would be needed to describe what the station stood for: integrity, insight, intelligence, ingenuity, honesty, sensitivity, inventiveness, professionalism, scholarship, idealism, co-cooperativeness, community, creativity, perseverance and team spirit …. just for starters. Of course we didn’t always make it to the tops of those mountains.

Financially, technically and practically the obstacles were often daunting. But pride in overcoming was frequent, and shortfalls were not due to a lack of desire or commitment. These qualities were embodied, day to day, by the people who were WGBH.

Apparently, they still are.

In the early days, one of our Boston University interns coined the phrase, “We don’t say much, but we don’t offend anyone.” If that was ever true, much certainly has changed. A glance at the line-up of the station’s output (particularly in the realm of documentary) shows a great deal of grown-up risk-taking. The maturing of WGBH is something to be proud of, and it must be observed that, if one is proud to be (or have been) part of WGBH, it is automatically true that one is also proud of everyone else who has given their talents to make the station what it is.

Past, present, future, WGBH is us …. all of us. The continuity of the alumni web site and the recurring alumni reunions attest to this fact.

So, pardon me for gushing (just a bit more), but there has always been something magical about the ‘GBH cachet, growing I believe from the station’s spoken, unspoken, and lived, philosophy, and from those who have striven to express it. The WGBH logo inspires, immediately, well deserved respect, not only throughout the industry, but among audiences worldwide.

———

The kid I referenced earlier is now almost 80. He’s run through quite a few personal and professional incarnations since his 6 years tenure at ‘GBH, but each of those eras have been informed and influenced by what he learned there — not only about broadcasting, but about the spirit at the heart of intelligent living.

He’s invariably moved when, during its station breaks, our local PBS station here in Honolulu intones its two slogans, “It’s not just TV. It’s a relationship,” and “Home is here.”

Seven thousand video tapes transferred to digital

From WGBH Archives — July 2014

On March 11, 2013, WGBH Media Library and Archives’ Archives Manager Keith Luf and Digital Archives Manager Michael Muraszko loaded 7,010 tapes from the WGBH vault onto 12 palettes, which were then shipped via an 18-wheeler to be digitized at Crawford Media Services in Atlanta, Georgia for the American Archive of Public Broadcasting.

Only a few months later would the WGBH MLA in collaboration with the Library of Congress be selected as the permanent home for the American Archive collection, an initiative to identify, preserve, and make accessible as much as possible the historic record of public media in America.

wgbhaapb-tapes

WGBH’s tapes were stored in 306 archives boxes, totaling 459 linear feet (longer than 1 1/2 football fields!) and comprising more than 6,400 hours of content. In many cases, the archives staff knew only the program title of the tapes — they often knew nothing about the recorded participants.

The content dated back as early as March of 1947 and was as recent as 2005. The MLA sent material on 15 different video and audio tape formats, the majority of which had exceeded the manufacturer’s intended lifespan. MLA’s Keith Luf compared the situation to a child’s 18 year old cat, which everyone knew wouldn’t — and couldn’t — be around much longer.

In June of 2014, WGBH’s 6,400 hundred hours of content was returned. In addition to the original 7,010 tapes, the content was delivered as digital files on a second copy — on 17 LTO-6 tapes…. stored in one box!

wgbhaapb-lto

And with the digitized material came a new ease of accessibility — the MLA staff have been able to easily watch or listen to the digital files and discover content they never knew had been sitting in the vault for all these years.

Among the new discoveries includes a 1967 10-minute monologue by American historian and activist Howard Zinn on the social unrest of the times; a recorded speech given by JFK in either 1962 or 1963 at the Armory in Boston; and a 1975 video recording of a cello class taught by Harvard professor Mstislav Rostropovich, who during the recording asked a graduate student in his class “What kind of a name is Yo-Yo?”

As additional funding has become available, the MLA has recently coordinated with Crawford on the digitization of 800 more hours of 3/4″ videotapes and 1/4″ audiotapes, which will be shipped out next week.  Who knows what we’ll find next!?

Paul Noble Remembers: Eleanor Roosevelt

By Paul Noble

In the fall of 1959, Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt began her series of monthly discussion programs for National Educational Television. It was called “Prospects of Mankind,” and was a production of WGBH-TV for National Educational Television.

eleanor-jfk
From Eleanor vs JFK: The Back Story. From WGBH.

It was made possible because Mrs. Roosevelt’s longtime friend Henry Morgenthau III was able to secure funding from the Ford Foundation for a monthly seminar to be conducted by Mrs. Roosevelt at Brandeis University in Waltham. The monthly programs were produced on Sunday afternoons at Slosberg Music Center on the Brandeis campus (with occasional forays to New York, Washington, London and Paris).

During the first year, the programs were directed by David M. Davis. They were executive produced by Henry Morgenthau, and the two co-producers were Paul Noble and Diana Tead Michaelis. Virginia Kassel and Beatrice Braude rounded out the production team. In the second year, Paul Noble was the director; in the third year, the director was Gene S. Nichols.

The programs were recorded and distributed on videotape.

Most of the programs dealt with political issues. Guests included Governor Nelson Rockefeller of New York, Governor Luis Munoz Marin of Puerto Rico, Dr. Ralph Bunche of the United Nations, economist Barbara Ward, playwright Santha Rama Rau, Richard Crossman, M.P., Chicago educator R. Sargent Shriver, Sen. Hubert Humphrey, Indian ambassador Krishna Menon, Tanzanian president Julius Nyrere, Uganda president Tom Mboya, Gen. James Gavin and Voice Of America chief, Edward R. Murrow.

Eleanor_Roosevelt,_Sargent_Shriver,_and_Hubert_Humphrey_on_Prospects_of_Mankind_-_NARA_-_196501
Eleanor Roosevelt, Sargent Shriver, and Hubert Humphrey on Prospects of Mankind from Wikimedia Commons.

Mrs. Roosevelt always was partnered with a journalist or specialist on each program, such as Erwin Canham or Saville Davis of the Christian Science Monitor, Dr. Henry Kissinger from Harvard University, Dr. Jerome Weisner from MIT, and others.

Untold stories about the series:

  • In her later years,Mrs. Roosevelt suffered from a loss of hearing. She also tired easily under the hot lights. To remedy that, our engineering department fitted her with an earpiece giving her program audio. If she seemed to be losing attention, we boosted the sound going into the headset.
  • One day in Manhattan, while crossing the street, she stepped between two parked cars on Eighth Street in Greenwich Village, and a car backed into her, knocking her down. She said to the stunned driver “I’m fine! Just keep going!” “After all,” she said, “I was the one at fault and I didn’t want to get him into trouble.” She limped to her destination, gave her scheduled speech, then went home (to the house she shared with her doctor and his wife), and was then taken for X-rays. She suffered a sprain, but it meant we had to move the following Sunday’s show to WNEW-TV in New York.
  • The only time I ever had a fight with a Nobel Prize winner was with Dr. Ralph Bunche, then Under Secretary-General of the United Nations. He refused to wear a “TV Blue” shirt, which I offered him. “I am not a clown!” he shouted.
  • When Mrs. Roosevelt decided to take a fall holiday in the Dolomites in Europe in September 1960, this interfered with her scheduled tapings in Boston. Henry reached out to his old friend Leonard Miall in London, then Head of Talks at the BBC. Within a few days, arrangements were made to tape two shows in London, which would not only be part of “Prospects of Mankind” but which would air on the BBC. We headed to London on August 8 to prepare for the early September tapings. We were assigned a director for the programs who later became one of the longest-lasting BBC directors, a Welshman named Huw Weldon, whose program “Monitor” was a precursor or model for America’s “60 Minutes.”
  • One of the key guests was the 88-year-old Lord Bertrand Russell, socialist, atheist, mathematician, and philosopher. I introduced him to Mrs. R. “Madam, I admire your energy!” he said. “What about you, sir?” she responded.After a lunch with a great deal of wit and teasing remarks, Lord Russell asked me if his parent had to sign the standard release form where it said “parent’s signature.” I said, “Yes, where does your parent live?” He responded “That is a question that can only be answered by theologians.”
  • In 1939, a young reporter for the Boston Globe attended an “off-the-record” press briefing in a Boston hotel with the then-Ambassador to the Court of St. James, the Honorable Joseph P. Kennedy. The Ambassador said that under no circumstances should the U. S. get involved in the war against the Nazis, a war which was then imminent and threatening to Great Britain as well as the rest of the continent.Louis Lyons ignored the “off-the-record” request, printed the story, and it made headlines nationwide. The next morning, Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt read the paper, stormed into Franklin’s bedroom and said “Franklin, fire that man!”Twenty-one years later, Sunday, January 3, 1960, Senator John F. Kennedy was one of Mrs. Roosevelt’s guests on the campus of Brandeis University for her monthly “Prospects of Mankind” program. It was the day JFK announced his decision to run for President. Henry Morgenthau persuaded his friend “Jack” to appear on the show. After the taping, there was an impromptu press conference for JFK on the set. Who asked the first question? You guessed it, Louis Lyons!Did JFK know that Louis had done his father in? We’ll never know.And how did JFK later convince Mrs. Roosevelt to support his candidacy? Was it because she traded that support for his agreement to start the Peace Corps ? Historians will have to answer that question.
  • When Senator Kennedy arrived at Slosberg Music Center to record Mrs. Roosevelt’s program, he was wearing a J. Press shirt, initialed JFK.  I asked him if he wouldn’t mind exchanging it temporarily for a TV Blue shirt.  He agreed, and I gave him one from our supply, size 16 1/2 neck, 35 sleeve.Later that week, I had his shirt laundered, and I returned it to him at the Senate Office Building.  He kept the WGBH shirt.Years later, I still regret not keeping his shirt as a memento or to wear on special occasions.

 

Don Quayle, 84, NPR’s first president

From Current — 4/23/2015

Don Quayle, NPR’s first president, dies at 84

Don QuayleDon Quayle, who got NPR off the ground as its first president in 1970, died April 17 of complications from brain surgery at a hospital in Silver Spring, Md., according to the Washington Post. He was 84.

Quayle kick-started NPR at a time when television was the innovative medium of the day, not radio. At the time, the presidency of NPR was a job “nobody particularly wanted,” said Jack Mitchell, Quayle’s first hire at NPR and a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Quayle’s vision for NPR was to provide “excellence and diversity to noncommercial radio,” he said in a 1971 Billboard article.

He did that, in part, Mitchell said, by acting as the “adult figure” at the network, hiring a “highly creative group of young people” that would shape the direction of NPR and go on to create All Things Considered under his tenure, which lasted until 1973.

“He had no great vision of what the programming should be . . . became a highly creative and fluid organization,” Mitchell said. “In the beginning, it could have been almost anything. He didn’t dictate anything. He allowed people to try things.”

“He provided the structure within which we could work effectively,” said Bill Siemering, who worked under Quayle as NPR’s first programming director, in an email. “He was patient during the first rocky months of starting All Things Considered and his trust that it would get better was invaluable.”

“He got going,” Mitchell said. “And given the very weak state of educational radio [at the time], just getting it going was amazing.”

NPR was “very fortunate that we had him as the first president,” Mitchell said.

Before getting tapped to lead NPR, Quayle worked for CPB not long after it was established by the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967. Before that, he helped establish what would later become Utah Public Radio as a student at Utah State University in Logan. He then went on to be a program manager at WOSU in Columbus, Ohio, and station manager at WGBH in Boston, according to the Herald Journal. Before working at NPR, he also worked at the Eastern Educational Network.

After leaving NPR in 1973, he rejoined CPB as a senior vice present and went on to become vice president for administration at WETA in Arlington, Va., before retiring in 1989, according to the Post.

Mitchell described Quayle as “quite thoughtful and very warm.” “I always said, if you ever have a flat tire on the Pennsylvania Turnpike at night in the rain, give him a call,” he said. “He’ll come fix it.”

Quayle is preceded in death by his wife Yvonne Rich, the Post said, and is survived by five children: Sharla Hellie, Debra Quayle, Karen Hall, Kathleen Specht and Bryce Quayle; a sister; 13 grandchildren; and 10 great-grandchildren.

From Susan Stamberg/NPR — 4/17/2015

The first president of National Public Radio has died. Don Quayle was 84 years old. He had a long career in public broadcasting — both television and radio. NPR’s Susan Stamberg reflects on his impact.

Don Quayle gave me my first radio job. It was the early ’60s and he was head of the Educational Radio Network — the precursor of NPR — a skinny little network of 12 East Coast stations that developed a daily drive-time news show. He hired me to help produce it. When this national network arose, he was an obvious choice to run it.

Don was principled, decent and astute. In the euphoric tumult of our first years, he navigated the choppy seas of building a public radio system. He knew NPR had to serve you, our listeners, above the competing needs of stations, boards and funders.

Putting the network’s first program, All Things Considered, on the air in 1971, he presided over a dedicated and scrappy staff, and always said his job was to build a structure in which creative people could flourish.

Today’s NPR goes far beyond the structure that Don worked to establish from 1970 to 1973. It’s now grown to 900-plus member stations — a giant leap from the original handful. And All Things Considered is the first of many programs NPR now produces. But the systems and sensibility he put in place (and yes, even some of the people) continue to flourish, thanks to his initial guidance.

Five years ago, Utah State University, his alma mater, presented Don with an honorary doctorate of humane letters for his “significant contributions” to public broadcasting. He was as thrilled about that as he was when he first saw the snazzy new Washington, D.C., headquarters in which we now work.

He was warm and kind in his enthusiasms. At the heart of them, in addition to his family, was his belief in the work you hear, here, every day.

Sam Newbury, 69, Producer for Fred Rogers

From Ralph Schuetz

Sam Newbury grew up in Concord MA.  He graduated from Swarthmore, went to Carnegie Mellon for a short time, and then came back (home) to Boston.  Working on the crew at WGBH might well have been his first job … as it was mine after three years in the Navy.  In any event, it would have been for only a very short period —1969-1970 or 1971 — before he left to work as a cameraman at KERA on Jim Lehrer’s news program there.

My favorite Google find is a video clip of Sam which is part of an oral history of Fred Rogers.

http://exhibit.fredrogerscenter.org/groundbreaking-work/videos/view/963/

He made a great contribution to public broadcasting. 

From Current.org

Fred-and-Sam-Newbury2-420x287Samuel Chamberlin Newbury, who served as director of productions for Fred Rogers Co. for nearly three decades, died May 22 at his home in Pittsburgh of cancer. He was 69.

Newbury is best remembered as the producer of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood and as right-hand man of the show’s creator and namesake, Fred Rogers. He worked for Rogers’ production company Family Communications, Inc. (now known as Fred Rogers Co.) for 28 years from 1986 until his retirement in 2012.

“He was incredibly smart, very creative, and Fred really liked to work with him because he was always prepared,” said Bill Isler, c.e.o. of Fred Rogers Co. “He and Fred had a great relationship for years.”

Newbury got his start working as a cameraman for Newsroom with Jim Lehrer at KERA in Dallas. In 1974 he left Dallas for a position at WQED in Pittsburgh, where he worked until leaving in 1981 to produce Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.

From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Sam-Newbury-in-2012

During a nearly three-decade production career at the right hand of the late Fred Rogers, Samuel Chamberlin Newbury found that teaching children intersected with his passion for social causes more often than not.

“He cared so deeply for children and about children. I think it was his core concern for social justice that led him to care about anyone who is underserved,” said Cathy Droz, director of special projects for the Fred Rogers Co.

A life dedicated to progressivism, community service and children’s laughter ended Thursday when Mr. Newbury, 69, died at his Point Breeze home of cancer. The native of Concord, Mass., found his way to Pittsburgh after kicking off his television career in the early 1970s as a cameraman for “NewsHour” host Jim Lehrer at KERA in Dallas. He started his career with WQED in 1974 as a cameraman who worked briefly with filmmaker Robert Young before becoming a producer at “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” in 1981.

Joe Seamans, a WTAE cameraman and fellow New Englander turned Pittsburgh resident, said Mr. Newbury’s quiet humor and laid-back mannerisms will be greatly missed.

“Sometimes it seemed like he was from another time in the sense that he was plainspoken and simple. He didn’t always say a lot, but what he said, he meant,” he said.

By 1986, Mr. Newbury was tapped as director of production for Family Communications, now called the Fred Rogers Co. In the expanded role, Mr. Newbury used his position to create professional programs designed to help children and families cope with illness, prejudice anger and other social ills. He retired from the company two years ago.

The efforts weren’t unnoticed by Rogers who, according to WQED president and CEO Bill Isler, considered Mr. Newbury an integral part of the company’s growth. WQED rewarded his years of service in 2012 with its VITA award.

“Fred Rogers always thought that Sam was one of the smartest and most creative people he ever worked with,” Mr. Isler said.

The internal programs weren’t Mr. Newbury’s only attempts to merge his career with his personal passions. He was responsible for a television special designed to help children resist biases and prejudices against people from different backgrounds and a program to help support parents of children with cancer.

The carefully organized workshops and specials reflected how Mr. Newbury operated in all aspects of work, Mrs. Droz said.

“He was the most dedicated, thoughtful, deliberate person I ever worked with,” she said. “Sometimes I’m a bit impulsive and quick to jump to conclusions, but Sam was the complete opposite of that.”

Mr. Newbury’s social obligations extended to his work with the Interfaith Dialogue, a conversation among Muslims, Jews and Christians in the East End, his membership with the Chatham Baroque Society and his affinity for ceramics. Beyond work and community service, Mr. Newbury enjoyed sharing his craft work with his wife, Jan, and watching football with his 19-year old son, David.