William (Bill) Pierce

Bill worked at WGBH 1952 to 1953 and from 1955 to 1986. He was the ‘voice’ of WGBH radio and television. He announced more than 3,000 BSO broadcasts over a span of 38 years.

From WGBH QuickNooz

David Ives: “Bill’s voice and delivery were adored by many and made fun of by a few. His tone was calm, deliberate, and gentle. Some thought of him as affecting an upper class accent, but his admirers felt that his diction and tone were admirably suited to his task. He loved being thought of as the voice of the symphony, and his measured tones were surely among the best known in the Boston market.”

Bill Pierce announces the closing credits for Discovery with Mary Lela Grimes (now Sherburne). This clip was lifted from the track of the 1957 film Discovering Discovery, detailing the making of that NET program series. The mysterious reverb on the first part is as it was on the original film — although unexplainable, it does lend to the sense of historical atmosphere.

Bill Pierce

    8 thoughts on “William (Bill) Pierce

    1. For a student growing up in rural Alabama the introduction, by William Pierce, of a Boston Pops concert, Arthur Fiedler conducting, was always a great treat.

    2. I changed the first line of this profile to reflect Keith’s corrected information.

      Thank you, Keith. (Keith is Archives Manager at WGBH.)

    3. According to our records, Willam Pierce was an announcer at WGBH in 1952, starting in May/June. In 1953, he left WGBH to work for WBET in Brockton, working there from 1953-1954. In January of 1955 he came back to WGBH on a full-time basis.

    4. At the head of Bill Pierce’s alumni page, his dates are given as 1954-1986. I’m pretty sure that he actually went back even earlier, possibly as far back as 1951, though he didn’t start doing the BSO concerts until a few years later (after Parker Wheatley was convinced that he needed to be a manager, rather than a performer). Isn’t there some way of confirming Bill’s start-up date?

    5. I spotted a mistake in the timeline of William Pierce’s fine job of announcing the Boston Symphony and Pops programs. As far as I know, he was still announcing for the Symphony as late as 1985-1986 season (I know this as I have a tape of a Christoph Eschenbach concert). Hope this helps everyone!

    6. A consummate artist in his métier, Bill Pierce left an indelible imprint on the world of music broadcasting. He created the canon and stuck with it long enough to make it the style of choice. Whether consciously or unconsciously, contemporary announcers of symphonic music broadcasts follow in his footsteps.

    7. One of the really special people at WGBH never produced or directed a television show, but his voice could make the amateurs in class of ’58 look professional. It takes a special talent for an announcer to carry a show, but Bill could do it. Bill Pierce was the voice of WGBH for so many years that I think a lot people tuned in just to hear him. Certainly not us wondering how to roll a camera tripod over a cable. He laughed at our screw-ups, saw God knows how many new “scholars” come and go, but was always the consummate pro. And one of the nicest people I have ever met and had to privilege to work with.

      I think WGBH owes him a tribute.

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