Recollections of a WGBH-FM Volunteer (1951-52)

Russ ButlerFrom Russ Butler

A small announcement in The Boston Globe caught my attention.

It was 1951, and I was a 17-year old junior in a Boston high school and fascinated with radio broadcasting. The one column-inch notice read that a new FM radio station would begin broadcasting from studios in Symphony Hall. Next day, I road the streetcar from Jamaica Plain to the Symphony MTA station, then to the Stage Entrance, up to the second floor to find WGBH.

The room was all open, it was originally a rehearsal room with hard wood floors, donated space to start the radio station. Some desks and filing cabinets were here and there but no enclosed offices. Only two or three people were in sight, one of them was the late Hartford Gunn who greeted me sitting from behind his desk in the open space. He was cordial, I told him that I wanted to do something to learn about radio at the new station and he asked if I’d like to volunteer to help after school. I replied with an immediate Yes, thank you! I was ready to do anything for WGBH.

In the last year, I had been on a quest to visit all of the Boston area radio studios to see where the programs came from and how the deejays did their shows. My tour took me to see everyone on the air: Norm Prescott at WORL, Bob Clayton at WHDH, Billy Dale at WTAO and dozens of others at these stations and at WVDA, WMEX, WNAC, WCOP, WJDA, WVOM, WCRB, including Carl Moore’s live variety show Beantown Varieties at WEEI and the legendary Bob and Ray live Matinees at WHDH.

I wanted to do something to learn about radio at the new station and he asked if I’d like to volunteer to help after school. I replied with an immediate Yes, thank you!

Like many kids with a passion and a hobby, I built a phono-oscillator transmitter in my bedroom a year earlier to start my own AM station playing 78rpm records after school to my Jamaica Plain neighborhood on Centre Street. And now, to actually be with a new FM station from the ground up was a dream come true! I was on my way to actually be in radio!

Hartford Gunn took me back to the newly built studios with that fresh, plaster and paint smell, double slanted glass windows, sound proof panels on the walls and a control room with indirect spotlights on the equipment console with blinking lights creating a mystical, electronic visual when you entered the broadcast center. Behind the control board was Bill Busiek, the Chief (the first and perhaps the only) Engineer who was setting up for the broadcast day from five to eleven o clock in the evening. He was moving the dials and knobs like he was playing his instrument (and he was).

Bill Busiek, the Chief (the first and perhaps the only) Engineer was moving the dials and knobs like he was playing his instrument (and he was).

There was a small announce studio where Bill Cavness was going to do his daily, Reading Aloud program with a producer settling in the control room to give him his cue. How great and innovative is that? Someone actually reading a book, chapter by chapter on the radio (this was before there were audio books and audio broadcasts read for the blind on FM sub channels). WGBH-FM would be different.

I befriended Bill Busiek to learn from him more about audio engineering. He identified what G-B-H stood for, and that’s where he installed the FM transmitter donated by Edwin Armstrong, the inventor of FM Radio. Bill found clever ways to suspend inconspicuous microphones in Symphony Hall for BSO broadcasts in that perfect audio venue. As well, he hung a mic in the art gallery for intermission, ambient noise of the audience mingling and enjoying conversations so that the listeners at home actually could feel like they were attending the concert in person. Innovative programming and all before digital stereo audio!

Across from Bill Busiek’s console was the large studio with boom mics, a grand piano for live performances and an announcer, Alden Stevens, who would begin the broadcast day with a sign on. Alden was the only staff announcer, the late William Pierce was the BSO concert announcer from the little observation booth above the stage. His announce booth window is still there on the stage-left wall. The first broadcast in 1951 was a complete, live BSO evening concert, then sign off. No commercials, just wonderful music in FM!

When I met the late Larry Creshkoff, Hartford introduced me as the new volunteer who needed an assignment and he put me to work delivering the microphone to the studios of WHRB for the news broadcasts with Louis M. Lyons. After a technical orientation of what to do from Bill, I rode the MTA bus across the Charles River on the Mass Ave. bridge to Harvard Square.

The Harvard radio station then was carrier-current AM, broadcasting only to the dorm students with impressive studios in a Harvard building basement. Every wall at WHRB was in various shades of green paint (isn’t it Harvard Crimson?), but they had the necessary equipment for me to plug in the mic and run the board for Louis Lyons And The News to be broadcast by a telephone line to the Symphony Hall studio and Bill Busiek’s control room.

Two minutes before airtime, Mr. Lyons arrives with a long trail of yellow paper from the AP news wire machine behind him. “Well, here’s the news! ”

Everything was ready for Mr. Lyons (I found out later he was Curator of The Neiman Fellowship for Journalism at Harvard). I established line contact with WGBH control. The clock on the wall indicated just three minutes to airtime, no Louis Lyons. Two minutes before airtime, Mr. Lyons arrives with a long trail of yellow paper from the AP news wire machine behind him. He takes off his fedora hat (a la Walter Winchell’s image in photos), rips and sorts the news stories, 30-seconds to go, Alden Stevens introduces the show down the line, Louis sits at the mic, takes my cue to begin, a little rustling paper noise and he starts, Well, here’s the news!

Fifteen minutes of a rapid delivery style (a la Winchell) and Mr. Lyons is finished reading, abruptly ending with Well, that’s the news! Without giving me a cue, he quickly rises from the table screeching the chair, rustles the paper on the air, I turn off the mic, and he s out the studio door down the hall. No thank you, no Good Night but, well, that’s Louis Lyons. I learned a lot from him doing a remote broadcast.

When I arrived at Symphony Hall to volunteer after school, there was always some filing, or cleaning up, organizing, or taking messages somewhere, go-for things to do that made me feel special with this young organization. If I had a few free minutes, I d go into the Symphony Hall side balcony to observe Charles Munch conducting rehearsals of the BSO. Occasionally, RCA Victor would have a recording session of the famous orchestra with their large, state of the art technical and transcription equipment installation on the second floor lounge. They would often use the WGBH mics that Bill Busiek suspended from the ceiling to capture perfect fidelity.

My WGBH-FM volunteering ended with my 1952 high school graduation. I had a great Summer job opportunity at WDEV Radio Vermont in Waterbury which began my 40+ year career in broadcasting. When I enlisted into the Army Security Agency after that, I stopped to see Hartford Gunn before I left to tell him and he offered that I could always return for possible work at WGBH. A nice thank you gesture, I thought.

After the Army Security Agency years, which also included some Armed Forces Radio work, I attended Northwestern University School of Speech (radio was still my infatuation) and did shows on WNUR, then a ten-watt FM student station. I was an NBC Page and Tour Guide on the NBC 19th floor of The Merchandise Mart in Chicago; I interned at WTTW-TV Chicago Public Television; did on-air commercial work at WEAW and WNMP in Evanston, later at WEBH-FM in The Edgewater Beach Hotel fishbowl studio in their hotel lobby and then joined an investor group to start WFMQ 107.5FM in Chicago.

My WGBH-FM introduction to public broadcasting prepared me for 12 years at Vermont Public Radio in the 1970s and four years at Vermont Public Television (ETV) as Director of Development, Fundraising, and Auction Producer as well as an on-air / on-camera program host.

In Vermont, I was offered a position with The Knight Quality Stations of Boston to develop tourism promotion and manage sales marketing initiatives while living in Montreal for six years. Relocating to Newport, Rhode Island, later to Los Angeles still in the media for several years retiring in 1992. Now at age 76, we live in The Pacific Northwest.

It s been (and still is) a terrific ride being with this theater of the mind business. Online, terrestrial, analog or digital — the signals still reach my emotional core and the melodies linger on!

My enthusiasm for radio continues with an Internet radio program, SONGBOOK AMERICA at www.bostonpete.com/russ with music from my personal collection of American standards, jazz and legendary songbook composers and performers that I record in my home studio (Bill Busiek would be proud!). Listeners email me worldwide and when they read my bio on my web page, a few have identified hearing the original WGBH-FM in Boston.

It’s been (and still is) a terrific ride being with this theater of the mind business called radio! Online, terrestrial, analog or digital — the signals still reach my emotional core and the melodies linger on!

I’d enjoy hearing from you if you feel the same. Thanks.

We’re in the “understanding business”

Vice President for Branding and Visual Design Chris Pullman retired in October 2008, after 35 years of skillfully defining and shaping the visual persona of WGBH across an expanding array of media platforms.

The chance invitation to work here at WGBH placed me in an environment that was a perfect fit for my temperament and aspirations as a professional and as just a plain person. Once here, I recognized, gradually, why it felt so right as a place to work and associate. I’d like to take this opportunity to share:

10 lessons I learned (or at least had confirmed) at WGBH

1. Work on things that matter

If you possibly can, use you skills and your time to make a difference.

Long before I came here I had developed a preference for non-profit projects. In my free lance work and in my years at the office of George Nelson, the projects that interested me most were the ones for non-profit, pro-social clients.

By the time the opportunity to work here, I had already made the decision that I wanted to work someplace that made a positive difference for people, and that affected a lot of people, not some boutique studio doing design for other designers.

Frankly, when the phone rang and it was Ivan Chermayeff saying that there was an opportunity to work at a TV station in Boston, my first reaction was “definitely not.” This was because my teachers and mentors at Yale had made it clear that the only way to squander a good education faster than going into advertising, was to go into television.

But I was vaguely curious to see what a TV studio was like, so after a while Esther and I decided to just go up and scope the place out. After about 20 minutes with the then General Manager, Michael Rice, it became clear to me that what WGBH was up to was very different from what television in general was up to. So I said “yes,” and have found myself for the past 35 years in the ideal environment to do the kind of work I had hoped to do.

In this first lesson I may be preaching to the choir, since here we all are. But I think it is particularly pertinent for the younger people at ‘GBH for whom this may be a first way-station on a longer professional journey. Given all the ways you could use your skills and your valuable time, pick something that serves the greater good.

2. Work with people you like and respect

Birds of a feather flock together. That is a natural thing. Most of the people here are here (or certainly stay here) because of our mission. Certainly, my long tenure has been largely because of the people in this room, who together and individually have shared with me such personal and heart-warming recollections of our time together.

Since April, when I first announced my intentions to leave WGBH, the private expression of these feelings has been so gratifying, both personally and professionally, that I recently suggested to Jon and Henry that maybe we should institute the policy of encouraging individuals to make periodic “mock retirement” announcements, with the goal of releasing more regularly the flow of kind remarks for the nourishment of the individual, since we are otherwise so reticent to praise or encourage others in our busy, self centered daily lives.

Which leads me to:

3. Be nice

And be positive. And be respectful of the work of others. Strive to understand each others professional contributions and then respect them (as you would want them to respect you) with your actions and your comments. Remember: we are all applying our own particular skills towards a shared objective.

4. Have high standards

High standards are something that has set this place apart. Even in hard times, it is important to keep hold of this core distinction

Don’t settle for “whatever.” The corrosive Dilbert mind-set is depressing and demeaning. Don’t give it a foothold here. I prefer the “see you and raise you one” escalation of good ideas, even crazy ideas.

High standards is something that has set this place apart. Even in hard times, it is important to keep hold of this core distinction, whatever it costs.

5. Have a sense of humor

Humor is the grease of communications. Wit not only engages your head, it engages the other guy’s. Be serious, but don’t take yourself too seriously. As an institution, don’t loose sight of the potential to use sly humor to make connections and put people at their ease.

6. Design is not the narrow application of formal skills, it is a way of thinking

I knew this before I came here, but my time here has reinforced this idea.

My position, first established in 1973, and unusually high up in the org chart, allowed me (and I should say: expected me) to attend to all aspects of the way this organization expressed itself.

My job, and that of scores of designers I have worked with in my area, has been to help define and then express through our work, a consistent, honest and engaging persona for WGBH. (Today’s name for this, by the way, is branding, but it is a process as old as the profession.)

This role has led me into a weird soup of assignments, many of which you have seen here today:

  • wacko projects like the 2-mobile and the Julia Child pre-stained dish towel
  • important projects like a capital campaign case statement or the first proposal for the American Experience
  • inspiring projects like the informational graphics for Vietnam: a Television History or four different title sequences over the years for Masterpiece, and
  • gnarly projects like how to help frame the long-term strategic goals for this company

Each of these projects was a puzzle to figure out within the constraints of budgets and timelines, and with respect for the unique context of that particular problem. Whether it was how to draw a dog with low self-esteem or how to convince a company to underwrite a project, all of it was design to me.

Ultimately this led to the biggest project of all: the design and construction of this new building. It was an honor and an incredible 5-year high to work on this project. It threw me into intense relationships: with our architects, who understood our mission and our culture and came up with a building that works for us; with our trustees, whose guidance and enthusiasm was so helpful; and with my partner-in-crime, Dave Norton, whose contribution to this project on so many levels has earned my greatest respect. This was the project that for the first time gave us an opportunity to apply the same high standards we insist on for our programming to the physical environment in which we all work and in which we welcome the public.

The practice of design — dare I call it “intelligent design”?? — has helped WGBH achieve a distinction among broadcasters and public media publishers. It is my hope that he next person to hold this responsi- bility for the foundation will have as much fun and have as expansive a mandate as I have had.

7. Variety is the spice of life

When I came here in the early 70’ s the trend was toward monolithic design programs governed by a thick and sacred style manual.

As I got to understand the business, this strategy seemed to me to make no sense for WGBH. With programming as diverse as The French Chef, NOVA and ZOOM, no one mode of visual expression could logically suite this range of content. It occurred to me that in fact variety itself can be a kind of consistency.

But when the visual expressions of a company are always and rightfully different, you have to have some other constant that binds the work together, something that lets individual expressions be different, but makes them recognizable as a family of related materials. The goal in this game is to strive for the smallest number of constants and the largest number of variables. And you have to turn to non-visual sources of consistency.

So, soon after I got here, I proposed to Doug and the rest of the designers that we adopt a set of non-visual criteria to define “good design.” Without resorting to the normal formal jargon, if you and your client could answer “yes” to the following questions then it probably is a good piece of design.

  • is it clear? (can I understand what it is, can I read it, can I sense it’s purpose)
  • is it accessible? (does it engage me, does it invite me in, is it easy and intuitive to use)
  • is it appropriate? (to its budget, to the amount of time available to make it, to the language style and level of the audience, to the medium, to the objectives of the project, and to the family of materials it will join, etc.)

“Of the highest quality” does not mean expensive. It means thoughtful and well-executed in its genre.

A final measure, and perhaps the key measure in a business where variety is the norm, is quality. “Of the highest quality” does not mean expensive. It means thoughtful and well-executed in its genre. If all these things are present in a project, then it is likely to be successful, from a design point of view, and otherwise.

8. Institutions have a character, just like people do

In fact it is impossible to NOT have an institutional character or image. It is the sum total of a person’s experience of our staff, our physical plant, our programming and services, our communications — everything we say and do. Every person out there experiences a different assortment of these expressions, but they average out to define our institutional character or persona.

This character cannot be contrived. If it is contrived it will only fool people for a little while. Like a person you know who says he is one thing but whose daily behavior suggests another.

But a person’s character inevitably shifts as they mature. The same thing happens to companies like ours. Over the years I have observed that our own institutional character has shifted as our own self-image has shifted.

  • In the 70’s: we identified ourselves as a local public broadcasting stationAnd we acted locally. We were know by our channel brand: Channel 2. We had two mascots: the digit, which Chermayeff and Geismar had proposed could be treated anthropomorphically, a device we delighted in taking to extremes (the 2-mobile being the most ridiculous variant); and our zany, self-deprecating President, David O. Ives. These devices, plus our size, and our self-image as an upstart local broadcaster willing to make a lot out of a little, encouraged a kind of smart-alecky attitude in our local persona.
  • In the 80’s: we identified ourselves as a national producerBy the early 80’s WGBH had grown out of its local-centric persona, having established its lineup of key national strands, producing “1/3 of all prime time on PBS,” a percentage that remains constant to today. Now the focus shifted our national, institutional, WGBH identity. Staff increased dramatically and we became more of a big business.
  • In the 90’s: we identified ourselves as an educational publisherAt the end of the 80’s and into the 90’s the media options began to proliferate. We were major publishers of program related books. We had a catalog and product division. The whole place became computerized. We began to dabble in new media, publishing video-discs and CD’s and producing content for new on-line services like Prodigy. In the early 90’s as “new media” opportunities emerged we created the Interactive Department, and then came the World Wide Web. In the 90’s we began to see ourselves as a “content company,” down-playing the “broadcaster” moniker and focusing on our role nationally and internationally as a high quality educational publisher.
  • In the 2000’s: we identify ourselves as a major public media producer and distributorWe began to do “deals” with the cable companies and produce programming for other channels. We established a Commercial Policies subcommittee of our board. We built a new and more sophisticated headquarters that could welcome the public.As we became the most reliable and most prolific producer for public television, we first struggled with PBS over policy and ownership issues and then, finally, found ourselves in a role of “most trusted supplier” and the key innovator (and partner) in issues like cable carriage, rights and aftermarket sales, that would affect all of pubic media. In this environment, we became more “business-like” and saw our need to be a major driver of public media policy in the future. We recognized that as technology and user behavior changed, we were now both a producer and a distributor in all media.

Each of these shifts in self-perception, required a slight shift in expression for our work, ideally without changing the underlying DNA of the place. We are now approaching the end of this decade. What will our self-perception be in 2010? How will we express it? How can we respond to these natural and gradual shifts while still maintaining our core character, a character that people, both locally and nationally, know and respect (and willingly support)?

9. We’re all in the “understanding business”

No matter what we call ourselves, what we all do here is ultimately about helping people understand the world and their own life.

This term was first coined by the architect Richard Saul Wurman to define the design profession but it strikes me that, no matter what we call ourselves, what we all do here is ultimately about helping people understand the world and their own life.

This is the idea that our mission statement (now part of our building so it will be harder to change!) reflects, and is at the heart of our institutional character. And it is what has attracted me to this work all this time.

10. You are what you eat

We are all the result of a lifetime of experiences, some good, some not so good. My 32 years of experiences before I came here prepared me to be useful to a place like this. My 35 years here have enriched me and allowed me to grow in ways I never would have imagined. Now I’m going to see how that diet has prepared me for my next life. I will miss you all.

Bye.

Video Tour of 125 Western Avenue (2006)

This entry is part 4 of 22 in the series The Fred Barzyk Collection

Six WGBH Alumni — Fred Barzyk, Michael Ambrosino, Olivia Tappan, Bruce Bordett, and David Atwood — tour the studios and offices at 125 Western Avenue, WGBH’s primary home from 1964 to 2007. Recorded in June 2006.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Henry Becton: The great sense of possibility

This entry is part 5 of 7 in the series The Henry Becton Collection

Henry BectonAt a December 4, 2007 meeting of WGBH staff, longtime President Henry Becton ceremoniously passed the baton to Jon Abbott, who stepped in to the presidency in October after serving as Executive Vice President and COO. According to Cynthia Broner, their remarks met with a prolonged standing ovation for Henry’s nearly 38 years at WGBH. Henry remains at WGBH part time as Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees as well as senior editorial advisor.

Introduction by Jon Abbott

The accolades for Henry Becton have been pouring in from all quarters since October, when I had the honor of succeeding him as WGBH president. And this morning we want to add to those.

For 37 years at WGBH — 24 as president — Henry has been a creative and visionary force for all of us, and for the larger public broadcasting system … and indeed all of broadcasting.

For 37 years at WGBH — 24 as president — Henry has been a creative and visionary force for all of us, and for the larger public broadcasting system … and indeed all of broadcasting. He led WGBH to national prominence as a production powerhouse, technological innovator, and media-access pioneer — all the while keeping a steady eye on WGBH’s local identity, editorial integrity, and strength of purpose.

The good news is that Henry’s not going away. In fact, he’s just moving down the hall a little bit. We’ll continue to benefit from his wisdom as Vice Chair of our Board of Trustees, alongside David Mugar and Howard Jacobson and working with Board Chair Amos Hostetter. He is continuing on, as well, as senior editorial advisor to WGBH.

But we want to thank Henry this morning, and salute him. I know that in addition to his broad accomplishments and leadership, Henry has played a positive, encouraging role for many of us in our professional lives. Please join me in recognizing Henry and thanking him for all he has done for WGBH and the work we each do.

Remarks from Henry Becton

Thanks, Jon.

When the PBS Board was here a few weeks ago, I met a new PBS Director who has just stepped down as president of the North Carolina University system, and so we were comparing notes. She said, “Well, Henry, you and I are now what they call PIPs. Do you know what that is?” I was thinking this must be some regional slang from the great Smokey Mountains. “No,” she said, “a PIP is a Previously Important Person!”

So, now that I’m a PIP, I can tell you that it feels good to know that ’GBH is in such excellent hands with Jon Abbott and the senior management team, and to sleep soundly at night knowing that the buck doesn’t have to stop on my desk anymore, but on the desk or desks of those in whom I have great confidence.

Jon and I have been struggling over what kind of staff event to have to acknowledge my recent PIP-dom.

First, we knew we had to delay it because of all the other events going on in October and early November. Then it seemed too odd to have the kind of big roast of the type we gave, say, David Liroff when he went off to CPB. Because I’m not really going anywhere.

So we settled on the metaphor of the passing of the baton — of a relay race, and this part of today’s event is going to be a baton passing. Literally. And we’ll do the hand-off in a few minutes.

But before we do that, I want to reflect a bit on what’s changed during my years at the helm and what remains the same.

I came to WGBH in early January 1970, so I’m only a few weeks away from my 38th anniversary. But even before I was an employee of ’GBH, I was a fan of public TV and radio. I think I was actually watching when Julia Child famously dropped a chicken she was preparing on the Studio A kitchen floor, and then in front of 5 million TV viewers said, “It’s ok, dearie, just pick it up: no one is watching!”

I came to Boston to go to law school. But in my third year, I took a filmmaking course at the Carpenter Center at Harvard, and made two short animated films that were shown on Channel 2, on Flickout (a very’70s title).

After teaching for a year, I decided filmmaking was the career for me, and I applied for a job at WGBH as a producer trainee. Two weeks later I got my rejection letter, and as I was reading it the phone rang to offer me the job. Any organization that chaotic had real potential for improvement, I thought!

I got the job and began a rotation through different assignments, starting with three months working on the studio crew. I never intended to make WGBH my career. I thought I’d be there a year or two and then move on. But they kept offering me better and better jobs, and I stayed.

When I arrived at ’GBH … we were very excited about the mission of public broadcasting. There was a great sense of possibility; we could take risks and try anything, and more often than not we’d succeed in creating some exciting new series!

When I arrived at ’GBH we had about 100 employees and a budget of about $6 to 7 million; no endowment. And I remember it was always touch and go whether we had enough cash to make the payroll every two weeks.

But we were very excited about the mission of public broadcasting. There was a great sense of possibility; we could take risks and try anything, and more often than not we’d succeed in creating some exciting new series!

Today there are some 950 of us working here, an annual budget of close to $200 million, and an endowment of a little over $63 million. Our services and audience reach are vastly greater than they were in 1970. You know well the roster of all the things we are doing now which we hadn’t even imagined were possible back then.

What hasn’t changed is our mission and that sense of possibility I remember from the early ’70s. It has been my conviction through all these years that there will always be a place for high-quality, educational content that offers a real alternative to what commercial business models will support.

The commitments that are part of the long form of our mission statement won’t be found on any P&L spreadsheet:

  • to foster an informed and active citizenry
  • to make knowledge and the creative life of the arts, sciences, and humanities available to the widest possible public
  • to reflect positively the diversity of our audience, inviting a sense of inclusion and a better understanding of each other
  • to improve, for all people, access to public media
  • to be a trusted partner to parents and educators, providing programming and services that promote the healthy development of children
  • to serve the individual not just as a spectator but as a participant, able and willing to learn new skills through our programs and services.

There were times in the 1980s and early ’90s when cable TV seemed to many people to provide much of what public TV had done. We now know that that was an illusion. And when the Internet and broadband came along, cable couldn’t any longer be the gatekeeper that it once was, blocking public TV from adding new services. I think we are once again in an environment where anything is possible for WGBH. It reminds me more of what it was like in the early ’70s than any time in between.

But if we’re going to succeed at taking advantage of those possibilities, we’ll need to continue the internal change initiatives we began in the last few years: We need to continue to evolve our business processes to bring them in line with best practices elsewhere and with the more competitive environment. We’ll need to realize the synergies of greater internal collaboration and teamwork across departments and projects. And we’ll need to explore and develop new revenue streams that are compatible with our mission.

The goal of these changes, of course, is to better support our mission; to have the resources to invest in new programs and services; and to realize the great possibilities in front of us.

The … most important advantage we have is the caliber and dedication of all of you who make up this WGBH community. Whatever credit I’ve gotten for the achievements of ’GBH during these years is due to your accomplishments.

We have three great assets as an organization that make me very confident in our future success.

First, we have developed very powerful brands that can cut through the clutter of an increasingly crowded media field.

Secondly, we have an extremely high level of trust among the audience. You’ve read the Roper Polls.

The third and most important advantage we have is the caliber and dedication of all of you who make up this WGBH community. Whatever credit I’ve gotten for the achievements of ’GBH during these years is due to your accomplishments.

If you’ve been in my office you may have seen a large photograph on my wall of the staff and crew of the original Zoom series in the mid ’70s. There are some 30 people in the photo. I keep it there as a reminder of how many people and how much teamwork it takes to produce a major project, from producers to studio techs to fundraising and Physical Plant … from the on-air kids to the choreographer … from NABET and AEEF to management. There are people in that photo who are still here — although their hairstyles have changed — and there are sadly those who are no longer with us, but whom we remember well.

For me, that picture symbolizes the greater WGBH community, and I treasure it. You and this community are why I have stayed here for 38 years; you are the reason why I don’t really want to be anywhere else. And you are the reason why I’m so optimistic about our future.

One of the most important things a CEO can do is help identify and develop a strong successor for his community. And I’m proud of the smooth transition to the capable leadership of to Jon Abbott.

Jon really understands and is passionate about our mission. He has demonstrated great strategic sense about how best to develop our new digital services. He has a great marketing sense of how to expand our share of attention in this cluttered environment. He has the respect of all parts of the system nationally, and has already earned a top leadership position among his system peers. And he works tirelessly on our behalf.

So now’s the moment for the symbolic passing of the baton.

Perhaps belatedly, but proudly and ceremoniously, I want to hand off the baton to Jon Abbott. Here we go!

Jon Abbott

Thank you, Henry.

I should note that one mark of the widespread respect and affection for Henry is The Becton Fund that was launched by donors to our Breaking New Ground Campaign. That fund will continue on — nurtured by the Major Gifts team led by our new VP for Development, Win Lenihan — when the Campaign draws to a close at the end of this month, and the Fund will support producers and editorial efforts that carry on Henry’s legacy of excellence.

So … following Henry as president is a little like following Larry Bird onto the parquet floor at the Boston Garden. Fortunately for me, there is a terrific team of talented people and assets firmly in place as I step into my new role.

Money for Nothin’ at the CPB

Written by WGBH Vice President Lance Ozier. Performed 3/21/07 at the “Liroff Liftoff” farewell event by “Henry Becton and The Platform Agnostics”

Video

Press play button, above, to watch video. Press CC for captions.

Audio

Money for Nothin’ at the CPB

Lyrics

To the tune of Dire Straits’ “Money for Nothing”

Now look at David Liroff, that’s the way you do it!
He’s the guru of DTV.
That ain’t workin’, that’s the way you do it!
Now he’s up and movin’ on to CPB.

Now that ain’t workin, that’s the way you do it!
Lemme tell ya, that guy ain’t dumb!
Maybe get an office with a big wide window,
Or maybe an apartment in Washington.

Yeah, he’s the new Veep for System Development
And the Media Strategies.
He’s leavin’ Boston, but not to worry —
He’ll be our friend at CPB.

Our David Liroff, well, he never gets older.
Yeah, buddy, that’s his own hair.
Trademark suspenders over both his shoulders
And Diet Cokes stashed everywhere.

Yeah, he’s the new Veep for System Development
And the Media Strategies.
He’s got to do some audience research.
He’s gonna give us our DTV.

I shoulda learned to monitor waveforms,
I shoulda learned to work in policy,
Look at that Task Force, they’re meetin’ in Seattle,
Next month they’ll be meetin’ in Hawaii.
And he’s up there . . . What’s that?  You want a contract?
He’ll make it happen quick as 1-2-3.
That ain’t workin, that’s the way you do it!
Get your money for nothing at the CPB.

Yeah, he’s the new Veep for System Development
And the Media Strategies.
He’s got the power and a whole new outlook,
He’ll shake things up in old DC!

Now that ain’t workin, that’s the way you do it!
Just be the guru of DTV!
That ain’t workin, that’s the way you do it
Money for nothin’ at the CPB . . .
Money for nothin’ at the CPB . . .
Get your money for nothin’. . .
At the CPB . . .

David Liroff on the state of WGBH

Here are David Liroff’s farewell remarks from his going away party, the “Liroff Liftoff,” on March 21, 2007. Afterward, be sure to check out Lance Ozier’s tribute ditty.

Video

Press play button to watch video.


Audio

David Liroff on the state of WGBH

Transcript

David Liroff: Jean Liroff tells me that if I begin by saying that “I couldn’t have done it without her,” I’m free to say anything else after that.

I couldn’t have done it without her.

I joined WGBH in August, 1979, 28 years ago this summer.   I believe it’s prudent to change employers at least once every quarter century or so, so I’m heading off to CPB, to another branch of our extended public media family.

I’ve been extraordinarily fortunate to have had the opportunity to wear many hats here over the years, and to have had the privilege and pleasure of working with many of you in this room.

Last Friday I got a call from a long-time colleague who has visited with us here on Western Avenue many times over the years. He empathized that it must be difficult for me to leave a facility which — along with many of you, I’ve come to know and love in all its funky glory — for all of the good fellowship we have shared with each other here, and for the extraordinary things we’ve accomplished together on behalf of the people of Boston, America, and the world.

“Yes, it’s tough to leave,” I said, “but Henry and Jon are trying to make it easier on me. As soon as I step out the door, they’ve agreed that most of these buildings will be demolished.”  I appreciate their understanding. (Don’t forget to wear your hard hats.)

When I joined WGBH in 1979, we had 181 full-time staff and gross revenues of $30 million a year.

Twenty years later, under Henry’s leadership we had grown to 1,018 full-time staff, and gross revenues of $215 million.

Some of those who have joined us only recently openly disparage the work we did before their arrival. To them I say: “Of course we could have done it better”.

But I need to disabuse them of the idea that it was the favorable climate for public media in the ’80s and ’90s which assured our success.

In the ’80s and ’90s … a number of our colleagues at the major producing stations came close to financial meltdown … Under Henry’s leadership, WGBH was a noteworthy exception to that pattern.

It doesn’t take much digging to learn that during that same period, a number of our colleagues at the major producing stations came close to financial meltdown. The partial roster of near-death experiences is sobering:  WNET/New York; KCET/Los Angeles; WTTW/Chicago; WQED/Pittsburgh; KQED/San Francisco, KCTS/Seattle. Under Henry’s leadership, WGBH was a noteworthy exception to that pattern. Someone here must have known what they were doing.

Yes, there’s plenty of room for improvement in the way we do our business — we must change in fundamental ways and that’s true of any organization of our age — but the key to our success in those years, as it continues to be today, is belief in our mission, and remaining true to our commitments:

  • to foster an informed and active citizenry
  • to make knowledge and the creative life of the arts, sciences, and humanities available to the widest possible public
  • to reflect positively the diversity of our audience, inviting a sense of inclusion and a better understanding of each other
  • to improve, for all people, access to public media
  • to be a trusted partner to parents and educators, providing programming and services that promote the healthy development of children
  • to serve the individual not just as a spectator but as a participant, able and willing to learn new skills through our programs and services

You won’t find these on any P&L spreadsheet.

When I arrived here, our first trial by fire in 1980 was our broadcast of Death of a Princess, executive produced by David Fanning (pre-Frontline) and written by David and by Antony Thomas. It was my first major league  lesson in editorial independence and editorial integrity.

It was a story that the Saudi Royal Family didn’t want told, and so it was a story that the US State Department and Mobil Oil Corporation — our largest corporate underwriter — didn’t want told. Mobil took out an op-ed ad in the New York Times condemning the broadcast, but to their great credit they continued to support us for many years after.

Just about ten years later — in the summer of 1990 — an exhibit of the work of photographer Robert Mapplethorpe opened at the ICA. Some labelled it “pornography.” As a result of a showing earlier in the year, the Cincinnati Contemporary Arts Center and its director had been indicted on obscenity charges. In Boston, both supporters and opponents of the exhibit complained that the media had been reluctant to describe or show the most controversial of the works.

On July 31, on the eve of the opening of the ICA exhibit, with appropriate alerts to viewers we broadcast the photos on The Ten O’Clock News. With Henry’s encouragement, we had decided to show the photographs because the best way to deal with the controversy was to let them be seen.

Again, about ten years later, in May of ’99, it came to light that — contrary to WGBH policies — some names from our donor list had been used for partisan political fundraising. The resulting scandal had national repercussions.

Locally, in the wake of the scandal, Henry had produced several radio and TV spots to explain what had happened and why it wouldn’t happen again. The Globe published an op-ed by Henry in mid-July 1999.

As part of our effort to determine if we had done serious damage to our reputation, and to help figure out what to do next, we enlisted the assistance of John Martilla, a long-time Boston-based political consultant and public opinion pollster.

For an entire day, John moderated focus groups with WGBH members.  At the end of the last session — and after a very long day — John came back into the viewing room on the other side of the glass, shaking his head in disbelief.

“In all the many years I’ve been talking with people in this town about causes and companies and political campaigns and institutions, I’ve never encountered an organization which is more trusted by its constituents than WGBH.”

“David,” he said, “In all the many years I’ve been talking with people in this town about causes and companies and political campaigns and institutions, I’ve never encountered an organization which is more trusted by its constituents than WGBH. To a person, these people are like the parents of a beloved child who’s made a mistake. They are fully prepared to forgive the mistake — in fact that’s what they’d prefer to do — but every time you try to explain how it happened, to spin the story, you remind them how disappointed and angry they were when they heard about it.  Let it go — they believe you when you say it won’t happen again.”

We pulled the spots the next day.  In the months which followed, we scrubbed down our donor list policies and procedures, making it far less likely that our actions, deliberate or inadvertent, will ever betray that trust again.

More recently, we’ve had additional opportunities to be proud of being true to the WGBH mission when we championed the broadcast of what became known as the “two mommies” episode of Postcards from Buster;  our continuing commitment to Between the Lions, despite financial uncertainties; and the many-years-long struggle to maintain the WGBH Archives in the face of calls to “back up the dumpsters and throw that stuff out” to ease the burden of that financial obligation, the true value of which is only now being glimpsed in this era of “the long tail.”  The Archives collection is the dowry we carry with us into the future.

The lesson we should all take away from this is that this organization — and the interests of our intended beneficiaries and stakeholders — has been best served when we have been true to our mission, even when doing so seemed to run counter to that quarter’s P&L.

In last Friday’s Globe, columnist Brian McGrory wrote about the recent pattern of New England-based businesses deciding to move out of the area. He was writing about Quincy-based Dunkin’ Donuts, which plans to expand nationally, and the determination expressed by the company’s chairman/CEO to remain headquartered in Quincy.   “When you make these financial decisions, sometimes you have to say, “This is where we belong, and this is where we’re going to stay … It’s like family here,” he said, “and I have to tell you, it works.”

Here at WGBH, we too are like family.  And it works.

Thank you.

WGBH Timeline (1946-1978)

From “The first 24 years: A somewhat random compendium of milestones along the way”

1836

John Lowell Jr., leaves a bequest creating free “public lectures for the benefit of the citizens of Boston.”

1946

The Lowell Institute forms a cooperative venture with six Boston colleges (spearheaded by Ralph Lowell) to broadcast educational programs on commercial stations. Original offices are housed at 28 Newbury Street.

1951

April

WGBH Educational Foundation is incorporated. Parker Wheatley is first station manager.

October 6

WGBH-FM is on the air with a live concert by the Boston Symphony orchestra under conductor Charles Munch.

1955

May 2

WGBH-TV begins regularly scheduled broadcasting on Channel 2, 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m., Monday through Friday. Studio and offices are located at 84 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, with remote cables and lighting at MIT’s Kresge Auditorium (next door) and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

First program: Come and See, “a progra.m. for young children” with Tony Saletan and Mary Lou Adams, from Tufts Nursery Training School. At 6:30 p.m., Louis Lyons, who has been a fixture on WGBH-FM, reads the news before a TV camera for the first time. Transmitter is located (as is FM transmitter) on Great Blue Hill in Milton; thus the call letters.

October

First BSO simulcast (FM/TV) originates from Kresge Auditorium, MIT, beginning a tradition of musical broadcasts unique in the U.S.

1957

February

Sunday programming begins, 2:30 to 6:30 p.m.; in May, Sunday hours are extended by moving sign-on to 11:00 am.

May

Hartford Gunn becomes WGBH station manager.

June

First “Boston Pops” telecast (from Kresge).

In the Sylvania Television Awards for 1957, WGBH’s Discovery is honored as the outstanding children’s educational series created by a local station. And Louis Lyons wins a Peabody Award for local TV and radio news.

1958

March

In-school instructional television service commences with eight weekly 6th grade science programs shown “in some 48 separate school systems in and around the Boston area.” In the fall, The 21″ Classroom is formally set in operation.

Summer

WGBH acquires its first videotape machine (one of the very first to be sold by Ampex).

September

Elliot Norton Reviews begins lengthy run.

November

A high power transmitter (a gift from Westinghouse) doubles Channel 2 signal to 100,000 watts maximum.

1959

June

WGBH helps set up WENH-TV, Channel 11, in Durham, NH, and the interconnection between the two stations represents the first “network” of educational stations; the Boston-Durham link will become the basis for the Eastern Educational Network.

October

Eleanor Roosevelt’s Prospects of Mankind, a WGBH monthly series carried on educational and commercial stations around the country, begins with V. K. Krishna Menon of India as first guest.

A Peabody Award goes to WGBH’s Decisions series.

1960

WGBH programs win six Ohio State Awards, more than any other station or network in the U.S.

1961

October 14

A fire in the early morning at 84 Massachusetts Avenue completely destroys WGBH facilities. Channel 2 is off the air for all of Sunday, October 15, but, by dint of herculean efforts by staff, and superb cooperation from the community, manages to sign on at the regular time on Monday the 16th. Emergency control room is set up in Catholic Television Center (WIHS), which also lends use of its limited studio space.

For the next seven months WGBH-TV functions as the “diffuse organization” — control rooms at Catholic Center, large-studio facilities provided late at night and on weekends by WHDH-TV on Morrissey Boulevard, films and tapes (some of which have been salvaged from the fire) originated, via network, at Channel 11 in Durham, as well as other Boston stations. Scenic department finds home at Northeastern, arts department at B.U., programming and production offices at Kendall Square, Cambridge. Full schedule of programs maintained.

1962

February

A film on the poet Robert Frost is begun by WGBH, encouraged by Secretary of the Interior Stuart Udall.

May

In a major consolidation, programming, production and engineering move to the Museum of Science, occupying the “red frame building” that had been used for construction offices when the Museum was built; space for a studio is found in the Museum itself. FM and some offices remain in Kendall Square.

August

Three programs on French cooking are produced in a special kitchen constructed in the Boston Gas Company’s auditorium; as a result of their instant success, a full series is decided upon, to begin in 1963. Within a year after that, Julia Child is being seen regularly in New York, Washington DC, San Francisco, Pittsburgh and many other cities, as educational TV’s first nation-wide “hit.” She is also the first in the distinctive WGBH series of “how-to” personalities that will in time include Thalassa Cruso, Joyce Chen, Erica Wilson, Maggie Lettvin, Theonie Mark, the Romagnolis, and many, many others. History is made!

October 14

By the first anniversary of the fire, over $1,700,000 has been raised to construct new studios for WGBH; a half million dollar matching grant from the Ford Foundation is the key contribution. Construction to begin in spring, 1963.

1963

August

National Doubles televised from Longwood Cricket Club in Brookline for first time; obscure Boston newspaperman becomes TV star. [Ed.: This reference begs for clarification. Bud Collins? Please help us.]

October

Symphony Hall is cabled and lit properly. Henceforth, all BSO and Pops telecasts originate there.

1964

March

Louis Lyons receives Dupont Award “in recognition of the nation’s outstanding news commentator of 1963.”

April

Louis Lyons retires as Curator of Nieman Fellowships, joins WGBH staff after a dozen years of news on FM and TV.

The Robert Frost film, A Lover’s Quarrel with the World, wins an Oscar for WGBH.

August 29

WGBH-TV signs on from new studios at 125 Western Avenue, Allston. Building is only partly finished, but functional. FM to move in by April, 1965.

November

Saturday programming begins with the support of the Boston Globe and Record American.

Late Fall

In order to film the two-part South African Essay series, a clandestine organization is set up with money laundered through Texas, a dummy corporation, and a specially trained African photographer, who mails exposed film back to the U.S. as “Zulu beads.” Cover never blown. [Ed.: This reference begs for clarification. Please help us.]

1965

April

Julia Child receives Peabody Award.

May 1

On WGBH-TV’s tenth anniversary, the new building, work complete, is formally dedicated as the Ralph Lowell Studios. In the course of a live anniversary broadcast, Louis Lyons tells a story: Lady from Boston meets a new faculty wife, who identifies herself as from Iowa, and tells her, “My dear, we say ‘Ohio.'” [Ed.: This reference begs for clarification. Please help us.]

October

Hamilton Osgood comes to offer his talents to WGBH, and is instantly pressed into service planning first Channel 2 Auction, scheduled for June 1966.

1966

Spring

Julia receives Emmy; South African Essay receives UPI Tom Phillips Award and is one reason for a special Peabody Award to NET.

May 31

First Channel 2 Auction begins. It raises more than $130,000, plays to biggest audiences in station’s history.

June 17 – 18

Channel 2 transmitter is moved to Needham.

1967

March

Vietnam View-In, a four-and-a-half hour special produced in WGBH studios, includes propaganda films, panelists of all persuasions, a studio audience asking questions, and open telephone lines. Well over six thousand phone calls are counted.

June

What’s Happening Mr. Silver? begins a year’s run.

September

WGBX, Channel 44, signs on. The first color cameras arrive: four by the end of the year, two more on order.

October

Public Broadcasting Laboratory (PBL) begins two-year run on Sunday nights, demonstrating potential of national public TV network.

November

Following Carnegie Commission Report, congress passes the Public Broadcasting Act, establishing the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which will lead to the creation of the Public Broadcasting Service (and National Public Radio). Within three years, public TV will have its own coast-to-coast interconnection and simultaneous national programming.

MIT’s Dr. Jerome Lettvin takes on Timothy Leary in debate about drugs and “dropping out.” Filmed by WGBH and broadcast four times in one week, the debate becomes topic number one throughout Greater Boston.

1968

April 5

The night after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a concert at Boston Garden starring James Brown is televised live by WGBH on roughly six hours notice. Worried that the concert might provide the critical mass to set off a riot, and certain that cancellation would be even worse, Mayor White gets the WGBH commitment and then urges people (via commercial radio stations) to stay home and enjoy the show for free. WGBH broadcasts the entire show, and then immediately begins showing it again on video tape, staying on the air until 1:45 a.m. It is shown twice more over the weekend. The Mayor writes that this “contributed as much as any other event to the atmosphere of conciliation which prevailed in Boston this past week.”

July

Premier of Say Brother, the first regular program by, for and about Boston’s black community.

September

After a controversial play — designed to help students understand black frustration in white America — has all but rips Wellesley High School apart, WGBH re-stages it (with some 11 words “blipped” to stay within the law) and follows it up with a lengthy discussion among parents, teachers and students dealing with its propriety and meaning. It is front-page news for two days running.

1969

April

In the aftermath of the University Hall bust at Harvard and the subsequent strike that paralyzed the school, WGBH places 16 chairs around a table in studio A and invites any and all members of the Harvard community to come in and speak their piece. And for five solid hours in the evening, students, faculty, neighbors, and other people keep coming in and sitting down and talking to each other … and all of Greater Boston. [Ed.: This reference begs for clarification. Please help us.]

October

The Forsyte Saga arrives in the United States. Public TV has an unprecedented success: telephone calls go unanswered, social engagements are rescheduled and life is generally disrupted throughout the country. To cushion the shock in Boston, channel 2 runs each weekly episode three times, Channel 44 an additional five times. Thanks to various repeats of the entire series, the final episode will be seen in Boston for the last time in August, 1972 … nearly three years later. If nothing else, the Forsytes give American television viewers a case of galloping Anglophilia (also known as BBC fever) that soon leads to other things.

The Advocates, produced on alternative weeks by WGBH and Los Angeles’ KCET, makes its debut via a national interconnection of public TV stations. Its even-handed debates on pressing national issues ellicit considerable mail (an early show on abortion brings over 11 thousand pieces), and in the first of its five seasons it wins a Peabody Award.

November

The voice of the Cookie Monster is heard in the land: Sesame Street, easily the most important children’s program in the history of American television, makes its debut. Shortly thereafter, every kid in the neighborhood can identify can identify the letter R.

1970

February

Hartford Gunn resigns as General Manager of WGBH to assume the presidency of the new Public Broadcasting Service in Washington. Later in the year, David Ives becomes President and Robert Larsen General Manager.

July

Evening at Pops’ first summer series brings Arthur Fiedler and WGBH’s Symphony Hall savvy to the whole country.

October

PBS’ first season begins, with a network of 198 public TV stations coast to coast. WGBH contributes The Advocates, The Nader Report, and a brand new French Chef (in color). Kenneth Clark’s Civilisation dazzles the eye.

Locally, more excitement: The Reporters, expanding the definition of “television news” five nights a week; Catch 44, the first public access TV program in the United States; Dr. Sachar’s The Course of Our Times.

1971

January

John, meet Sarah. The First Churchills inaugurates Masterpiece Theater, and Alistair Cooke becomes a regular Sunday night visitor.

April

Jean Shepherd’s America shows what the PCP-90 portable TV camera can do.

October

WGBY, Channel 57, signs on the air from its studios in Springfield, bringing public television to western Massachusetts. The microwave link between WGBH and WGBY establishes the first state-wide TV network, reaching over 90% of Mass. homes.

November

The Electric Company arrives to take on the task of reaching problem readers. And reaches them.

1972

January

ZOOM, WGBH’s revolutionary program for and by kids, makes its PBS debut and the first requests for ZOOMcards come in from all over the country. Within ZOOM’s first two years on the air, more than a million ZOOMcards will be mailed out.

October

The Advocates, now entirely a WGBH production, moves to Faneuil Hall for its Boston shows (and goes on the road for others).

1973

January

Are you ready for Lance Loud? An American Family startles the nation.

April

Death of Robert Larsen.

May

ZOOM and The Advocates are awarded Emmys.

June

For the first time, the Channel 2 Auction breaks the half-million-dollar barrier.

November

The mammoth BBC production of War and Peace marches onto American TV screens (introduction by WGBH).

December

With the cooperation of the American Broadcasting Company and its affiliates, WGBH’s Captioning Center begins nightly broadcasts of ABC Captioned Evening News for the hearing-impaired.

1974

January

Philip Garvin’s films of Religious America, produced at WGBH, begin on PBS.

On Masterpiece Theater, Upstairs, Downstairs brings back the bad old days and makes them look good.

March

Science adventures for curious grownups, some from WGBH, some from the BBC, and some joint efforts, give NOVA a breadth previously unknown on American TV.

May

Upstairs, Downstairs wins an Emmy as the best dramatic series of the season. And ZOOM receives its second Emmy in two years.

October

Evening At Symphony demonstrates nationally on PBS what Boston has known for years: orchestral music, even without special guests, makes for exciting television. (Also, Seiji Ozawa wears a turtleneck with his tails.)

November

A former Advocates moderator, Michael Dukakis, is elected governor of Massachusetts.

1975

January

The Ascent of Man, Jacob Bronowski’s brilliant bequest, is presented to U.S. audiences with introductions and epilogues by WGBH.

February

After over a year of preparation and six months of production under conditions that verge on impossible, the WGBH series Arabs and Israelis gets under way on public television.

March

NOVA receives a Peabody award, with special praise going to the programs produced by WGBH.

Michael Rice, head of programming and Vice President of WGBH since 1973 becomes General Manager.

1976

Channel 2 News moves out of early evening for the first time in 21 years, and The Ten O’clock News is born.

April

Dying, a cinema verite’ visit with terminally ill cancer patients, moves local audiences, and later the nation.

Club 44 brings live TV back to Boston. The two hour show happens in a pub set in studio A, with live audience and scads of local talent and talk.

November

Say Brother Salutes Webster Lewis With A Night On The Town, to rave reviews.

Channel 44 cuts the apron strings from Channel 2; within the year, 74% of its programming is unique to it — meaning we nearly double the public TV programs available to local viewers.

The WGBH Declaration of Independence — a major capital drive for equipment and programming funds — goes public. PrimeTime becomes a magazine again after a year as a calendar. ‘GBH radio sponsors the first Boston appearance of legendary Soviet pianist, Lazar Berman; Louis Lyons continues a stellar ‘GBH radio career by launching Pantechnicon, a magazine-format show with Elinore Stout and Frank Fitzmaurice.

Kudos: Upstairs, Downstairs wins its third Emmy in a row — and sixth over all. ‘GBH radio’s The Spider’s Web increases the number of NPR stations carrying it to nearly 100, while wining the Action For Children’s Television Award as “the most positive alternative to television.”

The New York Times is moved to ask, in an August feature article, “what makes WGBH Crackle with Creativity?”

1977

Christopher Lydon takes over The Ten O’clock News; the Boston Phoenix says viewers can now “expect to see lengthier and more professionally produced pieces as the Channel 2 news show moves away from heavy coverage of spot news.”

Ben Wattenberg begins his search for The Real America on Channel 2, and we find the ancient Mid-East at the Museum of Fine Arts and bring it home in Thracian Gold.

WGBH presents tennis for the 15th year in a row and World Tennis magazine says, “For the discerning viewer of this sport PBS is the only game in town.”

Crockett’s Victory Garden maven Jim Crockett’s book of the same title hits the best seller list.

‘GBH radio launches Evening Pro Musica, and a Live Performance series in its own studios – and sponsors another live event in Jordan Hall: Daniel Shafran is the visiting artist.

“Stereo television” takes a giant step forward with improved technology: a new kind of video tape is invented which has a stereo audio track right on it, making the vastly superior sound of FM-TV simulcast an affordable luxury, at long last.

Milestones: Upstairs, Downstairs ends May 1 with a Boston cast party which nets PBS stations nearly $2 million in viewer contributions; and, the series gets its seventh Emmy — making the total to date for Masterpiece Theater an even dozen. Emmy also goes to “ballet shoes” from the Piccadilly Circus series, ZOOM (for the third time!), and a Women’s Special: Rape, by ‘GBH’s own Nancy Porter.

1978

Ralph Lowell dies in May at the age of 87. He founded the Lowell Institute Co-operative Broadcasting Council in 1941, the parent organization of WGBH radio in 1951 and WGBH-TV in 1955.

Awards: Upstairs, Downstairs adds the prestigious Peabody Award to its long list of kudos. Ten O’clock News’ Mike Kolowich captures a Local Emmy for “outstanding news reporting” in his Logan Airport pieces — as the program celebrates its 2nd birthday.

People: Michael Rice departs for the Aspen Institute after a 13-year WGBH career. Henry Becton, Program Manager for Cultural Affairs since 1974 and an 8-year WGBH veteran, moves up to the Vice President and General Manager spot.

At CPB, Henry Loomis steps down and Robben Flemming is appointed to the President’s post. Newton Minow is elected Chair Person of PBS.

Milestones: Public television celebrates its 25th year in March, and, in November, becomes the first network in the country to be linked by satellite.

Two old friends return to WGBH studios: Julia Child to make her first new shows in 5 years, titled Julia Child and Company, and The Advocates returns after a 4-year hiatus to continue the debate tradition begun in 1969.

I, Claudius on Masterpiece Theater earns rave revues; James Lardner, in The New Republic, calls it “probably the best historical drama ever mounted on television.”

After a 2-year run on Channel 44, The Club books its exuberant act on Channel 2.

WGBH provides national and local TV audiences with a feast of new productions, among them World, Solzhenitsyn at Harvard, Mr. Speaker – A Portrait of Tip O’Neill, and three lush specials on exhibits at the Museum of Fine Arts: Thracian Gold, Pompeii – Frozen in Fire, and Treasures of Early Irish Art.

Local debuts include Dancing Disco (a Local Emmy winner), The Photo Show, Sports Weekly, At Home, and the fund raising extravaganza, Disco Dazzler.

‘GBH radio adds new local productions: Mostly Musicals, Folk Festival USA, Artists in the Night with Eric Jackson, MusicAmerica, and Poetry in Massachusetts.

Morning Pro Musica extends its reach to the Big Apple itself where it is heard on WNYC radio.

A fiscal-year fundraising gap is narrowed in a month-long on-air “Race To The Finish,” which includes the second biggest pledge night in WGBH history as the regular schedule is scrapped for a marathon effort — viewers call in with contributions totaling $92,000 in just one night.

Stories and photos From Studio A (1955)


Images From John (Rocky) Coe

Bob Larsen in Studio A Control Room (with Judy Larsen in the background) — August 1955

Story by Michael Greenebaum

Performance — String group — Nov. 1955

The photo of the chamber orchestra … is of the first televised concert of Harvard’s Bach Society Orchestra, conducted by me. For all I know, this may have been the first orchestral concert televised on WGBH, in the studio on Mass Ave across from MIT. The orchestra also appeared sometime in the spring of 1956. Both of these appearances were arranged by Jordan Whitelaw, with whom I would lunch occasionally at the Signet Society at Harvard.

This is of particular interest this year [2004] since the Bach Society Orchestra is celebrating its 50th anniversary in the upcoming season. I founded the orchestra in the fall of 1954.

I was very glad to come across this photo, quite by accident during a search for information about William Pierce.

Performance – Choral group — July 1955

Prof. Irwin Bodky – "Roads to Mozart" Nov. 1955

Prof. Irwin Bodky – "Roads to Mozart" Nov. 1955

Story from Larry Creshkoff

In the Bill Pierce picture, you might be able to make out that the desk microphone is being supported by a stand unlike any you had ever seen before. The story?

Bill Pierce at the Studio A news desk (Nov. 1955)

In 1955, most good mikes were still those designed for radio in pre-transistor days: bulky and heavy. The stands that came with the mike in the picture were straight up-and-down. We wanted to get the mike a bit closer to the face of the person speaking without having it dominate the scene.

We were unable to find a cantilever stand that was large enough or heavy enough to support the mike. So, vaguely remembering something about a law of physics involving the center of gravity, I designed a base for the stand, which was fabricated in the shop — if not by Rocky, then by Peter Prodan, or possibly Ray Wilding-White.

It consisted of what I suspect was nothing more than three pieces of pine — possibly 2" X 2" — with two rounded-off edges on the top surface, assembled into a V shape, with appropriate hardware screwed into the bottom of the V to hold the mike. The wood was then stained to approximate the color of the desk.

The engineering staff, as I recall, scoffed at the idea — John LaBounty and Roger Rice with some derision; Bill Busiek, more gently. They were convinced that the whole rig would tip over. Came the moment of launch and, voilà, it worked!

Rocky — bless you for digging this up. I confess that I had completely forgotten what might have been my most significant contribution to WGBH-TV’s operation during those rickety first two years.

Story from Don Hallock

Bob Moscone in the "scene shop" with the DeWalt saw – June 1955

The original scene shop was an office space measuring approximately 10′ x 20′ next to the record library. When it came time to rip boards any longer than 8′ on the saw pictured here, we had to open the record library door and feed the wood into the saw from out there.

Rocky (John) Coe – trying out smoke effects, 1955

From Vic Washkevich

Airing live TV in Studio A starting with Louis Lyons at 6 pm until sign-off at 11 pm from the summer of ’57 until the summer of ’58 also meant that each of us ten neophyte scholars had to have a lot of faith in one another’s abilities and commitment.

We came from different places, had never met one another, barely knew each other’s first names for a while and suddenly we were the arms and legs of the station, mastering the mysteries of being a switcher, boom man, camera operator, floor manager and lots more all on the same night. Although it was a labor of love, the fulfillment of that trust engendered a camaraderie among us that continues to this day for our class. We’ve had three class reunions since ’58 and we want to thank WGBH for throwing the party for us in April [2000].

Think about it. A bunch of kids walked in the studio and had all the toys in the world to play with, under direction, of course, while actually being on the air. Where else in the world could this happen? If you made a mistake, you didn’t get fired, you got better. And, mistakes were expected, given who we were. In fact, the lifers like Ambrosino, et al. made a lot of mistakes. But that was part of the greatness of being there, at least back in ’58.

Isn’t that wonderful — having air time, a studio, equipment, such as it was, and being able to learn while doing. It was exhilarating. Hell, for all we knew, every studio everywhere had ruts int he floor. For kids just out of college, this is what a TV studio looked like. We had nothing to compare Studio A to, so we made it as good as it could be and it made us as good as we could be.

In the summer of ’58 when we did the Boston Arts Festival, I was the stage manager for the ballet segment. Andre Eglevsky was the featured dancer. As you may recall, the wings of that stage were very narrow. I was crouched in a tiny corner with my headset on talking to the back of the station wagon (control room). Andre, sweating and with his feet propped against the wall behind him ready to leap upon the stage, looked at me and said, "Tell them I am ready."

Somehow, we all were. This experience will never happen again in anyone’s lifetime. It is to be cherished. As you noted many people share that feeling. Oh, and the class of ’58 has decided that we’re going to sing our anthem at the event. Tell Barzyk. That’ll give him something else to worry about. And we want prime time.

Dave Davis’ “Creativity” Memo (1958)

Click on the images to see the original memo. Read the text, below.


Memorandum July 23, 1958

To: Tv producer-directors
From: David M. Davis
Subject: Creativity

I have a great concern that we are not all utilizing the creative imagination that we have to make our programs interesting, stimulating, and even exciting. It seems to me that many of us are in a rather deep rut on stock format types of programs, and that real attempt at creation is not taking place.

I think that the lifestyle series which will be assigned to each producer on a rotating basis during the coming season will be very helpful in this regard since each producer will have an opportunity to develop his own program in the direction in which he wishes to go. However, on our standard programs and general regular assignments I think we have much to be desired. Also, I don’t believe this is purely a matter of time, personnel, facilities, and money; I think it is a matter of the way you approach the problem. Think of your new assignments this way: You have a given program and a given time slot. Our decision on scheduling this program and putting it in the time slot is based on an audience need for the program, that it is worthwhile to put on the air, that it has the potential to attract and hold an audience, that we have (we hope) the right talent for the program, and that all in all it should be done. The thing that the producer must now do, taking the above elements into account, is to determine in his own mind exactly what the purpose of the program is. Think it through yourself and then talk that point over with Bob Larsen or myself. Talk it over with your colleagues, too: utilize their thoughts and ideas. Then make a basic decision: decide that this will not be just another television program, but that it will be a unique experience for the viewer and that this will be the best television program that you are capable of producing and directing under the conditions under which you will be working. To make the point very obvious, please stop automatically deciding that this program should be done with a man in front of a demonstration table with a blackboard. Utilize the creative talent that is available to you.

Decide that this will … be a unique experience for the viewer and that this will be the best television program that you are capable of producing and directing …

I feel that we are certainly not utilizing the talents available in matters of setting, staging, and art work. Peter Prodan is more than available to help on the creative aspects of set, design, and construction. We will also be using David Robertson, who is essentially employed as a lighting man, but is a qualified designer to help with this work. On art work, instead of deciding precisely what you want in terms of a camera card or slide or what-have-you, go to the art department and discuss with these visual experts the concept that you are going to try to present. We have highly talented people in these departments and they can contribute much to your total production if you make an effort to utilize their talents. Think carefully about the competitive aspects of the medium that we are in. We are presenting good programs, but we are not in many cases delivering those programs to the people who really want them because of the way in which we are presenting them. Even though we are programming for special audiences in all cases, we are still in a highly competitive medium, and we must successfully get the person who wants our kind of program to look at it. We must remember that one of our basic public responsibilities is to provide programs that will attract ever increasing numbers of those people who will benefit most from the programs that we offer.

I have mentioned certain creative people who are available to you in terms of art and design, but I also suggest to y ou that you have bull sessions with people like Moscone, Vento, Hallock, and Valtz on yor programs themselves. What ideas do these people who are also creative artists have about what you are doing or what you plan to do? Make every effort to stop is from being dull and pedestrian and to make us exciting.

On the content side, you have certain responsibilities unique to educational television. In almost all cases, you are working with an educator (or group) who is the content expert and talent for your show. However, this degree of expertness does not make this man an expert in the field of television. He must be guided, produced and directed in a way which will guarantee the presentation of his material, in this medium, in a successful way. Remember that you, as a producer, are responsible for all of the show, and that no amount of a great setting, lighting, staging, etc., will make a good show unless the content itself, and the delivery of the content, is good. Therefore, you must take charge much more than many of you have been doing. You must also give the talent sufficient and proper direction. This can not be done during camera rehearsal; you must schedule dry rehearsals for this purpose. If you make clear to the performer in the right way that pre-planning and rehearsals are for his benefit, to help him to look good and to be good, he will cooperate.

All of us involved … are interested in but one thing: delivering to the home receivers programs which are going to successfully achieve their aim.

All of us involved, station staff and performers, are interested in but one thing: delivering to the home receivers programs which are going to successfully achieve their aim. You, as the producer-director, are the key man in meeting this objective.

DMD/sd
cc. all staff including B.U. crew

Program list — to 2000

Television and radio, New Television Workshop, educational services, more

From Don Hallock – 2000

Just how far have we come? How many programs, series, co-productions and other projects have borne the WGBH logo over the past 50 years? In that time, an enormous and varied community of richly talented human beings have transformed a modest “educational” broadcasting effort into one of the major engines of modern “public” broadcasting.

Every one of the titles below has required production work, from the simplest kind to the most elaborate, complex and ingenious. Imagine the literally millions of person/hours that have gone into realizing the projects listed. Very likely, the lives of almost every person in our country has been touched, if not profoundly affected, by a WGBH production. And we can only speculate about the rest of the world. The influence of WGBH has spread across the entire media industry, and has left virtually no sector of it the same. Product has, of course, been the manifest of WGBH’s success, but the totality of that product has had its origin nowhere except in the hearts and minds of you who have produced it ? and that product is the proof of your dedication and talent.

Not only have the accomplishments of WGBH’s later workers been built upon the efforts and ingenuity of their predecessors, but the “early birds” now enjoy a vindication and an affirmation of their input by witnessing the whole effort carried forward so admirably by those who have come to take their places.

As one contributor to the Guestbook so aptly put it, “I feel a surge of pride every time I see ‘WGBH’ on a program credit.”

Here is just a partial listing of WGBH’s track record.

If you’re anything like us, you may not have counted (or even remember) all the projects you’ve been involved with. Perhaps this list will help remind you of what you’ve done, and of the massive body of accomplishment your work enriches.

Please add to this list. Send us updates.

Your contribution may remind someone else of an effort they have forgotten, and of the wonderful time they had doing it.

Broadcast television & radio

  • A Note to You
  • A Time to Dance
  • A Celtic Sojourn
  • A Science Odyssey with Charles Kuralt
  • Aaron Copland Meets The Soviet Composers
  • Africans in America
  • Amherst College Commencement
  • An American Family
  • Anatomy of a Homicide
  • An evening of Championship Skating
  • Antiques Road Show
  • Artists in the Night
  • Art of the States
  • Arthur
  • At Home
  • Backgrounds
  • Barbara Linden: Artists in America
  • Barry Morse on Acting
  • Beverlee’s Clipper Ship
  • Beyond Sand Dunes
  • Blues After Hours
  • Boston Arts festival
  • Boston Common Boston Proper
  • Boston Symphony Broadcasts
  • Boston Pops Broadcasts
  • BSO Live
  • Catch 44
  • Cavness reads Dr. Zhivago
  • Cavness reads other classics
  • Championship Ballroom Dancing
  • Changing Seasons
  • Channel 2 News
  • Channel 2’s Ten O’Clock News
  • Children’s Circle
  • Circle of Lights
  • CITY/Motion/Space/Game
  • Classic Theater
  • Classical Performances
  • Classics in the Morning
  • Club 44
  • Colgate Grand Prix Tennis
  • Columbus and the Age of Discovery
  • Come and See
  • Computer Age Math
  • Concealed Enemies
  • Contemporary Drama
  • Crescent City Sounds
  • Crockett?s Victory Garden
  • Culture Shock
  • Dancing Disco
  • Dance for Camera
  • Dance in Open Spaces
  • Deadline 11
  • Death of a Princess
  • Debbie Travis? Painted House
  • Degrassi High
  • Destinos
  • Dido and Aeneas
  • Disco Dazzler
  • Discovery
  • Discovering Women
  • Dying
  • Elliot Norton Reviews
  • Epitaph for Jim Crow
  • Enterprise
  • Erica!
  • Eric in the Evening
  • Escorial
  • ESSAYS: I.M. Pei
  • Evening at Pops
  • Evening Pro Musica
  • Exxon/Mobil Masterpiece Theater
  • Eye-to-Eye
  • Filmmakers’ Showcase
  • Films of the World
  • First-ever trans-Atlantic and trans-Pacific digital broadcasts
  • Flaherty and Film
  • Folk Music, USA
  • Folk Festival USA
  • For Freedom Now
  • French through Television
  • Frontline
  • Frontier to Space
  • Gavel to Gavel
  • George’s House
  • GODSPELL Goes to Plimoth Plantation for Thanksgiving with Henry Steele Commager
  • Great Decisions
  • Greater Boston
  • Greater Boston Arts
  • Harvard Business Review
  • Harvard Business School Commencements
  • Hodge Podge Lodge
  • Holding On
  • I, Claudius
  • In Search of the Real America
  • Invitation to Art
  • Introductory Geology
  • I’ve Been Reading
  • I’ve Been Reading Paperbacks
  • Images
  • Janaki
  • Jazz with Father Norman J. O?Connor
  • Jazz from Studio Four
  • Jazz Meets the Classics
  • Jean Shepherd’s America
  • John T. Kirk on American Furniture
  • Julia Child and Company
  • Julia Child’s 80th Birthday Celebration
  • Just Published
  • La Finta Giardaniera
  • La Plaza
  • Laughter is a Funny Business
  • Let’s Learn To Type
  • Live Performance
  • Long Ago & Far Away
  • Louis Lyons News & Comment
  • MacNeill/Lehrer inserts
  • Main Street: Boston’s West End
  • Maggie and the Beautiful Machine
  • MAGGIE’S Physical Fatness Program
  • Marketplace
  • Massachusetts Senate and House of Representatives Coverage
  • Metric Moments
  • MIchael Ambrosino’s Show
  • Middle East – US Disaster?
  • Mr. Speaker – a Portrait of Tip O?Neill
  • MIT Science Reporter
  • MIT Weather
  • Morning Pro Musica
  • Mostly Musicals
  • Museum Open House
  • MusicAmerica
  • Music Grade II
  • Music of the Ballet
  • Music of the Baroque
  • My Heart’s in the Highlands
  • Mystery!
  • National Doubles from the Longwood Cricket Club
  • NET Playhouse
  • NET Journal: LSD: Lettvin vs Leary
  • New England Field Trips with Tony Saletan
  • New England Views with Robert Baram
  • New Television Workshop
  • News Hour inserts
  • Nine Heroes
  • No Soap Radio
  • NOVA
  • Of Science and Scientists
  • On Being Black
  • On the Money
  • Pantechnicon
  • Pare Lorentz on Film
  • Parlons Français
  • PBL: Ronald Reagan at Yale
  • PBL: The Dwarfs
  • PBL: Louise Day Hicks
  • PBL: Multiply and Subdue the Earth
  • PBS Millennium 2000
  • People?s Century
  • Performance
  • Peter and the Wolf
  • Phonics
  • Piccadilly Circus
  • Poetry in Massachusetts
  • Pompeii – Frozen in Fire
  • POV
  • Princess Phone Commercials
  • Prospects of Mankind
  • Psychology One
  • Reagan’s New Federalism: Shift or Shaft?
  • Rebop
  • Recreation Review
  • Religious America
  • Remy Charlip’s Dances
  • Rock & Roll
  • Roomful of Music
  • Royal Flesh
  • Ruth Ann?s Camp
  • Say Brother/Basic Black
  • Says You
  • Seen and Heard
  • Seven Meditations on Political Sado-Masochism
  • Sing Children Sing
  • Small City Garden
  • Solzhenitsyn at Harvard
  • Sound and Spirit
  • Soviet Press This Week with Colette Shulman
  • Sports Weekly
  • Ten O’clock News
  • Testimony on a Riot
  • Thalasa Cruso, Making Things Grow
  • Thalasa Cruso, Making Things Work
  • The 21 Inch Classroom
  • The Advocates
  • The Age of Overkill
  • The American Experience
  • The Ascent of Man
  • The Boston Arts Festival
  • The Captioned ABC Evening News
  • The Churchills
  • The Club
  • The College Sport of the Week
  • The Electric Company
  • The Evening Compass
  • The Evolution of Jazz
  • The Facts of Medicine
  • The Film Critic
  • The Fight to be Remembered
  • The Flower People: or How to Make Your Garden Grow with Just a Little Bit of Style & New England Charm
  • The Folk Heritage
  • The French Chef
  • The Gloucestermen
  • The infinity factory
  • The Irish in America
  • The Jazz Decades
  • The Jazz Gallery
  • The Jews of Boston
  • The Jazz Songbook
  • The Hypnotic Glass Harp
  • The Long & Short of It
  • The Makebelieve Clubhouse
  • The News at Ten
  • The New Yankee Workshop
  • The Photography Show
  • The Press and the People
  • The Queen of Spades
  • The Scarecrow
  • The Scarlet Letter
  • The Secret of Life
  • The Spider’s Web
  • The Reporters
  • The Romagnoli’s Table
  • The Trial of Dr. Kenneth Edelin
  • The Victory Garden
  • The WGBH Declaration of Independence
  • The Windsors: A Royal Family
  • The World
  • The World of Buckminster Fuller
  • This Old House
  • This Week’s Symphony
  • Thracian Gold
  • Three Views of the News
  • Treasures of Early Irish Art
  • Tree
  • Trouble in Tahiti
  • Tug of War: The Story of Taiwan
  • Two Gentlemen Folk
  • Tzaddik
  • Upstairs, Downstairs
  • U.S. Open Tennis at Longwood
  • Viewpoint
  • Vietnam: A Television History
  • Walsh’s Animals
  • War and Peace
  • Weather and Sports
  • Weather for You
  • WGBH Auctions
  • WGBH Classical Concert
  • What’s Happening Mr. Silver?
  • What’s New/Field Trip Specials
  • Where in the World and…
  • Where in Time Is Carmen Sandiego?
  • Women?s Special: Rape
  • Woof! It’s a Dog’s Life
  • World
  • Your Income Taxes
  • ZOOM

New Television Workshop

For more information on NTW, or on individual titles, visit the NTW Archive

  • 1932
  • 21
  • 37/73
  • 9 Variations on a Dance Theme
  • 9/23
  • Aeros
  • All About Eggs
  • America, Inc.
  • Anges Rebelles, Les
  • Anniversary Special
  • Art of Memory
  • Art Talker
  • Artist in the Seventies, An: Peter Campus
  • Artist’s Showcase Documentation
  • Artists Babies Bodies
  • Artists on Artists, Compilation Tapes
  • As if Memories Could Deceive Me
  • As Quiet As…
  • As Seen on TV
  • Aviary
  • Aviation Memories
  • Ballplayer
  • Banned Reels
  • Barbara Two
  • Batteries Not Included
  • Bees and Thoroughbreds
  • Belladonna
  • Berlin/Nilreb: Tourist Journal
  • Between Time and Timbuktu
  • Big Inning, The
  • Binge
  • Blues for Piggy
  • Bob’s Master
  • Body Beautiful, The
  • Borders
  • Bruce and Babe
  • Buddha’s Door
  • California Casual
  • California One
  • Capoeira of Brazil
  • Carmen
  • CAT Fund Documentation
  • Celebrate: A Time to Dance
  • Ceramic Images
  • Changing Steps
  • Chant A Capella
  • Charles Blessing Interview
  • Charlie Smith and the Fritter Tree
  • City Archives
  • City Motion Space Game
  • City of the Angels
  • Cityscape
  • Coffee Coloured Children
  • Collisions
  • Collisions (Louis Falco)
  • Color Piece for Television, A
  • Color Schemes
  • Common Mistakes
  • Confessions of a Chameleon
  • Contexts
  • Criss X Cross
  • Cross Body Ride
  • Da Capo
  • Damnation of Faust: Charming Landscape
  • Damnation of Faust: Evocation
  • Damnation of Faust: Will-O’-the-Wisp (A Deceitful Goal)
  • Dance for Camera
  • Dance for Camera
  • Dance in Open Spaces
  • Dance Journeys
  • Dance of Darkness
  • Dancers, Buildings, and People in the Street
  • Dances: Remy Charlip
  • Dancing on the Edge
  • Darkness of My Language
  • De Stijl
  • Dead Images
  • Design Archives ? Compilation Tapes
  • Desire, Inc.
  • Devices of Detachment
  • Digital Speech
  • Dinner Party: A Semi-Buffet
  • District 1
  • Dogs, The
  • Double Lunar Dogs
  • Double Take
  • Dream Moments
  • Dreamworks
  • East Ended Tape
  • Easy Living
  • Edit 1
  • Elder, The
  • Ellis Island
  • Ena’s Adventures, Part II
  • Event Horizon
  • Evol
  • Ex-Romance
  • Exultate Jubilate
  • Femme a la Cafetiere, La
  • Foto-Roman
  • Four Sided Tape
  • Four Songs
  • Frames of Reference
  • Frank: A Vietnam Veteran
  • Fred Astaire/George Balanchine Project Documentation
  • Freefall
  • From an Island Summer
  • Funeral
  • Gallery Piece, The
  • Ganapati: A Spirit in the Bush
  • General Archiving Documentation
  • George Rochberg and His Music
  • George’s House
  • Going Away Party, The
  • Gray Hairs
  • Great American Fourth of July and Other Disasters, The
  • Great Frontier, The
  • Hail the New Puritan
  • Hall’s Crossing
  • Harry Somers and His Music
  • Hart Island
  • Hazardous Hootenanny
  • Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, The: A Video Opera
  • High Hot Moons
  • Homage by Assassination
  • Honi Coles Interview
  • Hoppla!
  • Houses that Are Left, The
  • Human Tube, A
  • I Do Not Know What It Is that I Am Like
  • I Want Some Insecticide
  • I Will Not be Sad in This World
  • I Wish I Might
  • Images Diffused by Time
  • Imaginary Crossing
  • In the Blink of an Eye, Amphibian Dreams… If I Could Fly, I
  • Would Fly
  • In the Rehearsal Room
  • Inertia
  • Inhabitant of Another Place
  • Interpolation
  • Irony
  • J. S. Bach
  • Jesus: A Passion Play for Americans
  • Joseph Schwantner and His Music
  • Judy Chicago Interview
  • Karkador
  • Kissing Booth, The
  • L’Image
  • Landscape in Motion
  • Lathe of Heaven, The
  • Lauf der Dinge, Der
  • Lea Grammont
  • Lee Krasner Interview
  • Lies and Humiliations
  • Lines of Force
  • Living with the Living Theater
  • Lotte Goslar’s Pantomime Circus
  • Louis Zukofsky
  • Lown Ranjer Aind Tontow, The
  • Lulu Smith: The Chicken that Ate Columbus
  • M. F. K. Fisher: Writer with a Bite
  • Made in Maine
  • Magritte sur la Plage
  • Making of Severe Clear, The
  • Man Ray, Man Ray
  • Meaning of the Interval
  • Medium Is the Medium, The
  • Melanie Kahane Interview
  • Melting Pot
  • Modern Times
  • More TV Stories
  • Mosaic for the Kali Yuga, A
  • Mother’s Little Network
  • Motherland, The
  • Mountain View
  • Music Image Workshop Documentation
  • Music Image Workshop Experimentation
  • Music of Ivana Themmen, The
  • Music of Joan Tower, The
  • Music of Lukas Foss, The
  • Music of Michael Colgrass, The
  • Music of Ralph Shapey, The
  • My Father’s Song
  • My Puberty
  • Myth of Modern Dance, The
  • Nam June Paik on the Beatles
  • Neo Geo: An American Purchase
  • New England Fishermen
  • New Television Documentation
  • New Television, Episode 101-111
  • New Television, Episode 201-204
  • New Television, Episode 301-313
  • New Television, Episode 401-413
  • New Television, Episode 501-513
  • New Television, Episode 601-613
  • Nine Heroes
  • Northern Shore, The
  • Northlight
  • Nosferatu
  • O Panama
  • O’Neil Ford Interview
  • Observations on Photography
  • Oh Nothing
  • One Many
  • One Way
  • Pale Cool, Pale Warm
  • Past Fantasies
  • Paul Rand Interview
  • Peter Campus Compilations
  • Peter Campus on Paul Strand
  • Phantom of the Open Hearth
  • Phenomenology (Parts A, B, C)
  • Place to Dance, A
  • Plage Concrete
  • Poetry Breaks Compilation Tapes
  • Poetry Breaks Documentation
  • Poetry Breaks for Schools and Libraries: Charles Simic
  • Poetry Breaks for Schools and Libraries: D. Nurkse
  • Poetry Breaks for Schools and Libraries: Galway Kinnell
  • Poetry Breaks for Schools and Libraries: Lucille Clifton
  • Poetry Breaks for Schools and Libraries: Martin Espada
  • Poetry Breaks for Schools and Libraries: Philip Levine
  • Poetry Breaks I, Allen Ginsberg
  • Poetry Breaks I, Galway Kinnell
  • Poetry Breaks I, Martin Espada
  • Poetry Breaks I, Robert Bly
  • Poetry Breaks I, Ruth Stone
  • Poetry Breaks I, Seamus Heaney
  • Poetry Breaks I, Sharon Olds
  • Poetry Breaks II, Cyrus Cassells
  • Poetry Breaks II, Li-Young Lee
  • Poetry Breaks II, Lucille Clifton
  • Poetry Breaks II, Stanley Kunitz
  • Poetry Breaks II, Thylias Moss
  • Poetry Breaks III, Charles Simic
  • Poetry Breaks III, D. Nurkse
  • Poetry Breaks III, Philip Levine
  • Poetry Breaks Sound and Graphic Elements
  • Portrait of a Friend by Friends: Emmett Williams
  • Portraits from the Two O’Clock
  • Primordial Soup
  • Proposition, The
  • Public Nuisance, A
  • Put Blood in the Music
  • Quarks
  • Quickening
  • Quidditas
  • Radio Inside
  • Rear Bumpers
  • Reflecting Pool, The
  • Return of the Motherland
  • Reverie, The
  • Reverse Television
  • Ritual Clowns
  • Romance of the Angel of Lions
  • Ros Barron
  • Roseland Recollections
  • Rotary Action
  • Royal Flesh
  • Sabda
  • Second Mesa
  • Secret of the Waterfall
  • Selected Works, William Wegman, 1973-1974
  • Set and Reset, Version 1
  • Set of Coincidence
  • Sightlines
  • Sign Sounds
  • Slott Opera
  • Small Jubilee, A
  • Solos, Duets, and Pizza
  • Sombra a Sombra
  • Son of Sam and Delilah
  • Soundings Documentation
  • Southern Cross
  • Spitting Glass
  • Split Britches
  • Star-Crossed Romance of Josephine Cosnowski, The
  • Step Across the Border
  • Storm and Stress
  • Strange Space
  • Sudden Difficulties
  • Summer Dances
  • Sun, Moon and Feather
  • Survival Ecology – Hamburger Harmonics
  • Sydney an der Wupper
  • Teleportraits
  • Terra Degli Dea Madre
  • Third Tape
  • Three Transitions
  • Thundering Scream of the Seraphin’s Delight, The
  • Time Code
  • Time Squared
  • To Dancers
  • Total Rain
  • Tribute to Growth, A
  • Tribute to John Cage, A
  • Trisha and Carmen
  • Tristan and Isolde
  • Turtle Dreams
  • Tzaddik
  • Vacation II
  • Very First Half-Inch Videotape Festival Ever, The
  • Vestibule (In 3 Episodes)
  • Video Commune (Beatles from Beginning to End)
  • Video Portrait: Robert Rauschenberg
  • Video: The New Wave
  • Video Variations
  • Violence Sonata
  • Virginia Dare’s Vision
  • Volcano Saga
  • Walking Up
  • Walter Robinson and His Music
  • Water Catalogue, The
  • Watermill
  • Watermotor for Dancer and Camera
  • Waterproof
  • Way Downtown
  • Wedding, The
  • What You Mean We?
  • Winter Notebook
  • Within Dialogue (Silence)
  • World of Photography, The
  • You Little Wild Heart
  • Zero Degrees Latitude
  • Zone in Three Parts

Educational services

  • Teaching Math: A Video Library
  • French in Action
  • Destinos: An Introduction to Spanish
  • Americas: Visions of America teacher’s guides and posters
  • Interactive software packages
  • Online teachers’ services
  • Classroom tailored programs
  • College credit telecourses
  • Classical music CDs
  • NOVA Curiosity Kits and board games
  • NOVA teacher’s guides
  • Large-format NOVA films for IMAX
  • CD-ROMs based on WGBH’s popular “how-to” TV shows videotapes, videodiscs, and multimedia software as classroom companion material to WGBH TV productions

Other Activities

  • WGBH Learningsmith: a “general store for the curious mind”
  • “Companion book” publishing
  • WGBH Audience Research, and Information for Public Television Professionals
  • WGBH International: world-wide broadcast distribution department of WGBH Enterprises
  • Descriptive Video Service (DVS®): makes institutional, educational and training videos accessible to blind or visually impaired patrons/employees
  • CPB/WGBH National Center for Accessible Media (NCAM): expanding media access for the disadvantaged.
  • The Caption Center: a nonprofit service of the WGBH Educational Foundation (and the world’s first captioning agency), provides unsurpassed captioning and subtitling for all facets of the television industry
  • Production Services: a full service production and post production facility, with the ability to provide virtually any planning, development, design, construction, production, post-production, tape duplication, traffic, playback, encryption and transmission service a client may require.
  • WGBH Film and Video Resource Center: (high-qulity stock footage source)
  • WGBH Interactive: designs World Wide Web sites and multimedia software for WGBH program brands and outside clients.
  • Award-winning WGBH Scenics: creates major set pieces and scenery for news, entertainment, and corporate clients, including PBS, ESPN, The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, and Lotus
  • The WGBH Media Archives & Preservation Center: in charge of maintaining and preserving WGBH television and radio programs, production media, photographic assets, data files and historical records. Established in 1978, the collection constitutes more than 160 hours of television programming, over 20,000 hours of film, more than 32,000 reels of FM radio programming and 4,000 boxes of historical files.
  • WGBH Member Services
  • This Old House Kitchens: CD-ROM
  • The Channel 2-Mobile
  • WGBH concerts
  • The annual Ice Cream FunFest