I was also saddened to learn of the death of John LaBounty. He and I worked together on many remotes — usually taped for subsequent editing and broadcast — in the pre-historic, pre-TV days.
During the years from 1951, when WGBH-FM first went on the air, to the early months of 1955, the station was located at Symphony Hall in Boston.
At Symphony Hall, we used three separate spaces. The studio was on the 2nd Floor in a room that used to be a musical instrument museum. All programming, production, and engineering personnel worked there. We also had access to the Boston Symphony’s announce booth for BSO concerts. That’s where Bill Pierce first became a household name (and voice) in New England. And, perhaps untypically, the executive and administrative offices were in the basement.
As an engineer, I was frequently grateful to John for his help and patience; he always had time for whatever was required.
John was one of the great WGBH characters and as John Kerr put it so well, one of those “bedrock people who built WGBH.” I’ll always remember John plodding resolutely down the hallways, that intent look on his face (some might have misinterpreted it as a scowl) and then the shy grin whenever I teased him about looking “so darn serious!”
A kind and gentle soul.
It was sometime in 1960. I was working Master Control on a Monday night with Bob Hall as Engineer in the old studio at 84 Massachusetts Avenue. Bored between breaks, Bob and I decided to repatch things so when the director pushed a button in “A Control” behind us, the entire bank of monitors in front of him and us would lock in on one image. The poor guy pushed the button, the monitors locked, he panicked, we laughed. We were kids. It might have been Russ or Don Clark who was directing, I can’t remember. One of many silly pranks.
WGBH is as successful as it is today because of conscientious, competent, steady people like John.
There was a howl from the video tape room next door. John LaBounty came bolting out of the door. I think he was yelling. I never saw John yell before — or after. Our silly prank had caused some major meltdown with the recording he was carefully making on 2-inch tape for a program he was preparing to “bicycle” out to stations. We never did that again.
John became a good and quiet friend. He could make things work. He was one of those bedrock people who built WGBH, and who stuck with it. I hope everyone knows that WGBH is as successful as it is today because of conscientious, competent, steady people like John. He was one of the best. A mentor, an example, a friend. I sought his help many times with engineering and other questions. He was always patient, and could find an answer to whatever problem we had.
I’d see him in Concord sometimes. It was always so good to see him. A devoted father, a wonderful guy. I will miss him.
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