Next Reunion: Survey Results

Hi, everyone!

Several months ago, we sent out a survey with questions about your preferences for the next reunion.

We’ve had a great response with over 150 alumni chiming in on times, format, and many other themes. You’ll find the summary, and the full list of respondents, below. (This is a long page with great ideas, so feel free to print it out and savor.)

We are currently working to find and confirm a Saturday afternoon in fall 2018 and we’ll keep you up to date with progress.

The next step: If you can lend a hand, please let us know in the comments at the very bottom of this page or send an email to Jay Collier. We’ll need your participation to make some of these suggestions come to life.

And, if you haven’t attended a reunion before, or you missed the last one, check out our archive of stories and photos here.

By the numbers

Would you be interested in attending an alumni reunion and celebration in Boston?

  • Yes: 99%  | No: 1%

Would you like to have a party where we can share memories, talk, hug, laugh and celebrate our history?

  • Yes: 100%  | No: 0%

Would you be interested in hearing alumni and current WGBH staff share experiences and stories from the past?

  • Yes: 92%  | No: 8%

Would you be interested in hearing current young WGBH leaders share experiences and stories from contemporary projects?

  • Yes: 73%  | No: 27%

Would you like to have a keynote speech from someone like Doris Kearns Goodwin or other such historians?

  • Yes: 59%  | No: 41%

Overall, people prefer to meet as soon as possible! Here are votes we received through the end of December.

  • 2018: Spring: 71 | Summer: 70 | Fall: 58 | Winter: 39
  • 2019: Spring: 53 | Summer: 50 | Fall: 42 | Winter: 28
  • 2020: Spring: 42 | Summer: 46 | Fall: 37 | Winter: 27

Comments

Here are the many valuable comments and suggestions you shared with us!

Planning the party

I’d be happy to help find people and plan if that’s needed. | If you need help I will be happy to lend a hand. | Do you need help? | Ask for help if you need it! (See above : )

Just saying thanks for keeping this all together! | Thanks for doing this! I really want to attend the next reunion! | Thank you to all who are planning and organizing.

Scheduling and accommodations

The sooner the better. We’re not getting any younger here. | Be sure the date is published well in advance and I will do my best to be there! | I will be planning a month-long visit to New England around the alumni reunion, so please give us lots of notice of what day you choose. I’ll have 100+ things to do in order to be there.

Obviously, it would be nice if it could be on a Saturday, and with plenty of notice so we don’t make other commitments. | Could it be in the afternoon, say, rather than, or in addition to, extending into the evening? That way those of us who hate driving in the dark could participate! Thanks very much!

I spend a lot of time outside the US,  but I’m usually in the States in February and all summer from mid-June until mid-October. So, those would be the times I could attend a reunion, which I would very much like to do. | Maybe around the Thanksgiving holiday since many people are around during that time? | Consider those of us who will travel from a distance; winter flying to Boston is a no-no.

For those who might have to travel to Boston to attend this event, arrange for a nearby hotel (such as the DoubleTree Suites or the Hyatt Regency in Cambridge) to host the attendees with a deep discount off of their regular rates and free or very inexpensive parking fees.

Encouraging people to attend in advance

The more people who come the better it will be. No doubt that is your goal too. I haven’t attended because I wasn’t sure there would be people there from my years at the foundation. So could there be a way for us to see who is coming? (Yes! Here is the guestbook of attendees we shared before the 2015 reunion. We will do this again! Also, see how many alums responded to this survey, below.)

Ask each alumnus you contact to reach out to another alumnus who may be “lost” and encourage more to attend. | Be sure the reunion reflects the diversity of the staff.

Create a way to post alumni reflections online, before and after the reunion. | I missed the last one and wondered if we might collect and share photos from the past. (Check out this page of reflections from 2015.) | One solution would be a Google Group, especially for the reunion. I’m sure there are other solutions that may be even better. (Great idea. We could grow our website comments threads into something more complex.)

Not everyone will be able to make the event, but it would still be great to “hear” from them. Would there be a way to set aside a section on the WGBH Alumni FB page where people could fill out surveys with a handful of questions such as:  “What is your origin story? How did you come to be at WGBH?”; “If you could do one thing over again during your time at WGBH, what would it be?”; “Did you have a mentor?”; “What made you smile today?” Things like that. (This is a great idea! Since not all alumni use Facebook, we can create discussions on our website with those topics. Stay tuned.)

If somebody could find a roster either in Greg Harney’s or BU’s records (I remember some but not all the names), I’ll help research their whereabouts and see who we could pull together. (We’ll post a list of alumni for whom we don’t have contact information, and we do hope you’ll help!)

Logistics and setting

Keep it casual and have great food. | Simple food and wine | Name tags with LARGE PRINTING | During the party, live piano music playing in the background would be very nice. | ‘GBH staff band?

Make sure there are seats! Last time there were not enough. | There should be more tables and chairs for sitting to eat if food is being served. Last time there wasn’t enough seating! | Seats for some of us to sit on while listening would be nice.

How about an outing of some kind at a park, beach, or place like Salem Willows? | A tour of the “new” Brighton headquarters?

Have a good filmmaker around to record people and the event.

Connecting and Reconnecting

Successful reunions and parties are created when people gather and interact one-to-one. Visiting with each other, renewing friendships, having fellowship, that’s how you make a party. | It doesn’t need to have activities. It is the people going that would motivate me to go. | Always a great pleasure to see the oldies! | Focus on the party. | A chance for alumni to share ‘GBH and current experiences.

Keeping things fairly loose and free-wheeling appeals to me more than organized, scheduled programming of speakers and events. | Just great to have time to chat and share news with old friends! | This all sounds wonderful … as long as there is plenty of time to chat and catch up with colleagues. | Informal works for me.

Some way for departments or years to meet up effectively. | Allow time for mini-groups of alumni to gather and reminisce apart from the main body. I was at the Caption Center. Other departments may want similar opportunities for time with their own department personnel.

Since people tend to arrive at various times and stay for different lengths of time, it’s fun to be able to break away from the crowds to “meet and greet” newcomers throughout the day (and evening).

Ask alums to bring or wear old ids.

I’d be fine with no hugging.

Presentations

I loved the gathering and reconnecting with former WGBH staffers at the last reunion I attended but did not like the large group presentation by the current leadership.  | I think simple is best, lots of little spots to sit and talk, not too much “podium activity”.

I vote against speakers in a formal setting because that steals time from our purpose: a reunion with coworkers and other alums. The parties are short enough without trying to cram something else into the time frame. | We don’t need speeches or keynote speakers!  | Put what they would say into a small volume — accessible online if not actually in hand.

I find there tends to be a concentration on just the well-known producers and exec producers from earlier years. Many WGBHers have gone on to do really interesting work.  | I’d MUCH rather find out what people have done since WGBH. Maybe get a cross-section of people — not just the former big shots, but people like Sheila Brass, former PAs and former tech people, who have moved on to really interesting projects. That would be fun!

Perhaps we should have a discussion of current professional activities of older members of the community, the challenges, and satisfactions. | Some who were younger and in less prestigious positions then have gone on to create media companies and do great work since. I’d LOVE for you to find such stories and bring them to the reunion — a sort of “Life After WGBH” panel maybe? I would be willing to help interview people to help select stories for this. | 2-3 short stories of alums’ career transitions post ‘GBH.

I like to hear about the 90’s to today. | A talk about public radio and television today. | I’d be interested in an update from management and/or current creative personnel about ways in which the structure and culture of WGBH have changed in the last decade or so. | I think it would be interesting to hear from the current leadership of WGBH what its current financial health is, how it relates as a source of programming to the larger universe of public TV and radio stations, and how it imagines the future for WGBH specifically and public broadcasting in general. | I would value a presentation/talk by a current executive on the mission, values, recent advances/innovations, etc of the current WGBH. | Short talks from alumni recounting experiences and thought about the past and what and where WGBH is headed now.  | A snapshot of future of public broadcasting — looking ahead, not just backward.

Bringing awareness of new projects will be awesome if kept short and to the point | If you decide to have people share their experiences and stories, please keep them short.

Live-stream the presentations for those around the globe to view, who can’t attend. Also allow them to Skype in with questions, comments, kudos!

A history presentation to include the founding of WGBH FM/TV, WGBX, WGBY — when, who made it happen, why … and today. | Gates, the historian, would be a good speaker. |  Instead of an outside historian, have a GBH person who can fulfill the function.

Videos, Photos, and Mementos

Videos from the past always go over big, they get people talking. | Collage video of special moments, productions, events, etc. | Visuals that spark memories and stories. | A short reel short of some of the early programs. | Why not have a number of screens scattered about playing blasts from the past?  | Video montage, digital program book or photo album.

Video archival highlights are always fun. | Screen archival footage. | It would be great to see some early videos of shows to show how far we’ve come or what it was like “back then” when we first started in April ’55. | First shows from some of the more memorable series. | A screening of highlights and titles from Emmy-nominated WGBH projects over the last 50 Years. | Show clips of some of the best and/or entertaining programs from the archives with highlights from programs made by those attending.

Show a short reel compilation of funny, strange, and important program clips. | Video of great outtakes from different shows. | Blooper reels (probably buried in the engineering archives somewhere). | I’d like to see the entire holiday “we’re here at 125 Western Ave” video: Hartford up a tree, Julia editing videotape, etc. Maybe have it on a loop playing somewhere. | Lots of in-house videos.

Compile old film/video footage (both of alum and old shows we worked on) with work-related still photos of alums. This completed tape could be on a loop in a separate room allowing guests to come and go to watch the video. Perhaps the footage could be interspersed with more present-day interviews with alum folks telling stories about their experiences at WGBH. Or maybe have some parts live as a reporter roams the alum party asking questions and then live stream to another screen in the room. (Who will help with this?)

Clips from some of the programs made by WGBH alumni attending the reunion would be fun to see. | A prominent place to display trailers from Alumni works and to place flyers and cards for sharing. | Reminiscences and discussion of current projects on filmed loops, not live people.

Past photos and a photo backdrop. | More photos from earlier years which alums could add to online. | Display of photos and other memorabilia from past years.

Let’s consider a then/now take home booklet. Each Department could ask a “seasoned veteran” and a current employee to write what life is/was like on a daily basis; what projects were/are underway, etc. (We welcome contributions to this website and would be very interested in editing into a booklet. Volunteers needed.)

It would be great if WGBH items (apparel, mugs, etc) could be available for sale to alums, perhaps at a “friends” price. | It would be fun to have a commemorative alumni tee or sweatshirt! (Volunteers? :)

Appreciations

2020 will be the 55th year since the BU Crew of 1963-1965 departed. We were the group who bridged the end of operations spread around the city — I sub-announced for Bill Pierce in master control on Granby Street and directed an animal series at Science Park. We were part of the groundbreaking move into Western Avenue. Fran Mahard worked his magic for Julia Child, Aaron Copland, Elliot Norton, and so many other legends.

Back in the early 1980’s WGBH became my entrée to film and TV production. I have great memories of the shows I’ve worked on and the people I’ve met. I’d love to reconnect with all of those memories and people from that time and get to know all of those who are carrying the torch forward.

How about a special thanks to the people who kept WGBH operational? Like the people who worked for Buildings and Grounds. We were asked to do many things. For example, during the taping with independent presidential candidates, I worked with the Secret Service for WGBH because I knew everyone who worked here. I drove the lead vehicle for the taping of the Marathon for the Country of Japan. When there was a parade, I drove the 2 mobile and was the bodyguard of Arthur Fiedler of the Boston Pops. I was also Julia Child’s personal carpenter at 419 Western Ave. where her show was taped. I kept the scenery in good condition after Fran Mahard and Coburn Bennett delivered the scenes. We also kept the station online during the Blizzard of 1978. Did not go home for a week. Thanks for allowing me to share.

In conclusion

I think you have covered all …! | The two reunions I have previously attended were entirely different from one another and thoroughly enjoyable.  | Am now among the ranks of alums. Having these less frequently would make them more special, in my book. Thanks, and best to all!

Respondents

  • Chip Adams
  • Margaret Albright
  • Carole Ashcraft
  • Debra Ashton
  • David Atwood
  • Steve Baker
  • Fred Barzyk
  • Dan Beach
  • John Beck
  • Henry Becton
  • Mary Benjamin
  • Susheel (Cheryl) Bibbs
  • Paul Binder
  • Ron Blau
  • Bruce Bordett
  • Christine Bradley
  • Cynthia Broner
  • Darrell Byers
  • Maria Cabrera-Baukus
  • Jack Caldwell
  • Topper Carew
  • Hoagy Carmichael
  • John Carver
  • Wilson Chao
  • Lori Cohen
  • Jack Comeau
  • Elaine Coolbrith
  • Dave DeBarger
  • Deedee (Morss) Decker
  • Sue DeMarco
  • Kathryn Dietz (formerly Pierce)
  • Lee Ann Donner
  • Mark Duffield
  • Jeffrey Dunn
  • David Elinoff
  • Boyd Estus
  • Michael Esty
  • Lynn Farnell
  • James Field
  • Greg Fitzgerald
  • Russ Fortier
  • Cornelia Fortier
  • Sally Foskett
  • Alan Foster
  • Paul Gay
  • Deborah Gibbs
  • Chris Gilbert
  • Ann Gildea
  • Todd Glickman
  • Sheldon Mike Goldberg
  • Bob Gore
  • John B. Gray
  • Marsha Green
  • Jamie Haines
  • John Hall
  • Eric Handley
  • Lo Hartnett
  • Jo-An Heileman
  • Mark Helman
  • William Hilliker
  • Peter Hoving
  • Eileen Hughes
  • Jeff Hutchins
  • Caroline Isber
  • Carol Jeffery
  • Karen Johnson
  • Marcus Jones
  • Dan Jones
  • Sherylle Linton Jones
  • Joe Karaman
  • Virginia Kassel
  • Elise Katz
  • Benny Krol
  • Susan Kubany
  • William Lampley
  • Robin Landerman Zucker
  • Judith Larsen Mehring
  • Christine Lear
  • Mary Leath
  • Bill Lenz
  • Mardi Loeterman
  • Karl Lorencic
  • Howard Lowe
  • Jo Madden
  • John Madden
  • Tonia Magras
  • Anita McFadden
  • Peter McGhee
  • Mary Meadows
  • Gordon Mehlman
  • Milan Merhar
  • Martin Miller
  • Rosalyn Minassian
  • Aida Moreno
  • Skip Mueller
  • Bob Nesson
  • Marianne Neuman
  • Steve Nevas
  • Paul Noble
  • Denis O’Neill
  • Raquel Ortiz
  • Audrey Paek
  • Cathy Page
  • Ann Peck
  • Kathryn (Pierce) Dietz
  • Alex Pirie
  • Deborah Popkin Schuster
  • Annette Posell
  • Alan Potter
  • Susan Presson
  • Tom Pugh
  • Chris Pullman
  • Brian Raila
  • Jane Regan
  • Arnie Reisman
  • Karl Renwanz
  • Sharon Pucker Rivo
  • John Rogers
  • Elizabeth Rossi (Coté)
  • Tony Saletan
  • Sari Sapir
  • Michael Scannell
  • Cynthia Seneca
  • Beverly Shaffer
  • Sheila Simollardes
  • Ashley Smith Hammond
  • Dave St. Onge
  • Mark Steele
  • Abby Stevens
  • Dave Svens
  • Olivia Tappan
  • Chris Thayer
  • Christine Tuttle
  • Joe Vitigliano
  • Louise Weber
  • Neil Weisbrod
  • MJ Wheatley
  • Liz Wilson

26 thoughts on “Next Reunion: Survey Results

  1. I’d love to screen a minute or two from old programs we worked on, including some of Fred Barzyk’s “Great American Disasters” series [Cocoanut Grove]; the fantastic “Soundings” series [Bunny Olenick]; and even some one-time beauties like Elaine Koury’s “Zappening” [Elaine is very active, living in Somerville!] — and of course many, many more, like “Building Boston” and “Waterworks” with Tony Kahn. All great adventures. Bob Nesson

  2. Hi Jay, Gail Harris here, co-anchor of TOCN with Chris Lydon, 1983-1988 and host of many ‘GBH-produced national specials for PBS (one of which won a National Emmy). Living in CA for the past 15 years but in Maine now to be with kids and grandkids June-November, and hope very much the reunion will occur at a time when I can come. ‘GBH changed my life AND my career. I am forever grateful to the people and programs that made it my alltime favorite place to work, over a 30-plus- year broadcasting career!

  3. I am amused. My comment, suggesting that ‘GBH make an effort to get Alan Dershowitz to the party is still “awaiting moderation.” How terrifying! ….smile…

    Worse, an earlier comment, recounting my experience during auction week, years ago, when Tip O’Neill pinched my ass, “evaporated.” Disgusting? I mean: who cares? He’s dead and I am old. ….smile…

    Your moderation committee seem like a sorry cabal of old ladies out of a Masterpiece Theatre story.

    Get Alan to come to the party and stop being silly. …..Susan Kubany

    • Hi, Susan. The moderation committee is, actually, just me :) As a volunteer, it usually takes me a few days to get to the queue, or longer if I am swamped with other details of daily life. However, take heart. Now that you are approved, you can post comments to your heart’s delight.

      • Well, Jay, if I’d only known it was *Just You* I most certainly would have made allowances for your old lady moderation. ….smile…

        ‘GBH was powerful and formative in my life. My stories are remembered. Perhaps I will write some.

        At the same time, I was not a lifer…. I moved on. ‘GBH nurtured some interesting talent, I suspect, which bloomed and morphed in many ways beyond….

        For one, I would be interested in the stories of folk in their post-‘GBH years…. …as well as the stories of the folk who were lifers, but post- my career.

        Who are you, the people who are coming to the party? What can you tell me now that will give me a laugh when we finally meet again (or for the first time?) after forty years? …..Susan

  4. Hi! It’s the allegedly “lost” Janet Krause Jones (“Zoom” & much, much more) who’s now “found” in Manhattan Beach, California which has been my home for 30 dreamy years. I have ridiculously happy memories of WGBH…even though I ultimately left for WBZ up the road and then finally NBC here in LA. Might just make my way to a reunion because it’d be, well, awfully good to catch up and thank all of you who helped launch me into what turned into an exceptionally good career.

    • Hey Janet — I live in Marina del Rey, at least part of the time. Caregiving in Sarasota FL for a lot of years, but visit regularly and will settle back on the beach eventually. I plan to go to this reunion having missed the last one.

    • In reply to: Janet Krause Jones.

      So good to know where you are. Thanks again for getting me the directing job at WBZ for “Tender Places.” It is my only connection to the Peabody awards. It was a good show and you made it happen. Congrats. Much love, Fred Barzyk

      • Fred, you absolutely made my day with your remembrance of “Tender Places” & the Peabody it won — thanks in no small part to your directorial finesse. I hope life has treated you well.

  5. I hope you make a concerted effort to seduce Alan Dershowitz (the “liberal” Advocate) into attending the party.

    His schedule’s tight, but….

    • Hi, Steve, Julie Piens here. I worked with your mother for years and would love to see you at the reunion.

  6. The sheer volume and enthusiasm of these responses give great incentive to attend and reconnect with the folks who made ‘GBH what it is today. I’m so excited to be part of this community. BTW still working after all these years and as busy as ever: making films, teaching [at Emerson College] and as a continuing ed student at MassArt! And in touch with dear old friends, in particular Fred Barzyk, Aida Moreno, Wilson Chao, and Linda Harrar, among others. Bob Nesson

  7. Absent the presence and wisdom of Hartford Gunn, WGBH would likely have been just a major market educational television station. What did he do? He was a leader with incredible vision: creation of CPB – Corporation for Public Broadcasting; first to have color cameras; driver to have transmitters with stereo sound; first to deliver stereo over WGBH FM with video from Channel 2; first to incorporate 16 track audio for in-house sound production; capture from U-Mass of construction permit from FCC to develop WGBY — and thereby de-facto own the state television network; the BU scholar project that gave birth to some outstanding graduates who worked within WGBH and beyond; the creation of PBS and being its first president; a committment to fully funding capital depreciation; a staff organizational design — the staff that was brought in — meshed with confidence, creativity, drive and partnership. The story is worth knowing. All should pause to take note of these and other roots that make WGBH what it is. Therein are likely the seeds to leverage past successes into future wins. He told me, back around 1967, “We must assemble the best and latest communications technology the world has to offer — and the best and most talented people in the world will knock down our doors to have access to it.” Think about it. It worked — then, today and tomorrow.

  8. WGBH gave me a start in TV and film making back in 1955. Although I have been and am still a university professor, that early experience in “Exploring Nature” with Mary-Lela Grimes, has colored my life ever since. I still remember the occasion where Don Griffin’s bats flew all around the studio and we couldn’t capture them until after Louis Lyons read the news!

  9. So glad to see so much support for a reunion. I’m one of the earliest proponents of WGBH reunions, and while I know very few names on the list, I know we share the same excitement and experiences whatever the decade or role we represent.

  10. I agree that life after WGBH would be an interesting topic. We learned many valuable things during our working years at the station that we later used to expand on those experiences into other projects. In my case, I wrote an illustrated Christmas story, THE LAST SHEPARD AND TALES OF THE TENTH ORNAMENT that is based on a true story and used to support a non-profit Mass. General cancer program that fellow WGBH alum, Paul Serafini is attempting to make a movie of. Neither of our endeavors could have been possible without the wonderful experiences forged at WGBH. Mark Duffield

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