The Lowell Council Ditty (1949)


From Larry Creshkoff

a song from the past. It’s sung to the tune of "There is nothing like a dame" (from South Pacific) and was performed for the first (and only) time at the Christmas party of the Lowell Institute Cooperative Broadcasting Council staff in the library of the building at 28 Newbury Street where LICBC was housed before the move to Symphony Hall in ’51. (At the time, 28 Newbury Street was headquarters of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. The last time I remember looking, it was the Boston location of Elizabeth Arden!)

The Lowell Institute Cooperative Broadcasting Council (LICBC) was the forerunner of WGBH. Established in 1946 by Boston College, Boston University, Harvard, MIT, Northeastern, and Tufts — with the venerable Lowell Institute as the "spearhead" entity — its mission was to create educational programs using faculty and content from the member institutions.

The programs were to be broadcast by major Boston AM radio stations as part of their public service obligations. At its peak in 1949, some three hours per week were aired during prime time in regular series on such subjects as the humanities, meteorology, music history, behavioral sciences, child care, and international affairs.

The ditty that follows was created for the staff Christmas party in 1949, the same year that South Pacific (with Mary Martin and Ezio Pinza) played in Boston prior to its New York opening.

LICBC Alma Mater

(To the tune of There is nothing like a dame)

I. We are out to teach the masses here at LICBC
All the things they might have learned at Harvard University.
You don’t have to go to college ? you can listen to a station.
What do you get? AN EDUCATION!

Chorus
Education’s what we share
At L.I.C.B. C.
There is nothing quite so rare
As the stuff we put on the air.

II. We get kudos from professors, we get Peabody Awards,
And our loyalty ain?t questioned by investigating boards.
We get letters from our listeners, who are just like you and me.
What don’t we get? Publicity!

Chorus

III. We have Howard Mumford Jones1 or Willis Wager2; if you?d rather,
You can listen to Fred Morris3 as he talks with Kirtley Mather.4
We have good old Charlie Havice,5 who can straddle any fence.
What don’t we have? AN AUDIENCE!

Chorus

IV. We can talk about sex … we can talk about crime …
We can talk about drink … or have a good time …
We can do politics … or Plato for kicks …
But two things we can’t do (though we could)
Are the Old Testament and Planned Parenthood!
At L.I. C.B. L.I. C.B. C!

Chorus Finale

Notes

1. Distinguished scholar of American Literature at Harvard.

2. Professor of Humanities at Boston University College of General Studies. (Hard "g" in "Wager.")

3. MIT Professor of Earth Sciences.

4. Professor of Geology at Harvard, social activist in the peace movement, and supporter of organized efforts at population control.

5. Professor of Sociology and Dean of Chapel at Northeastern. As a moderator, he famously asked panelists to share their "kindly insights."