The History of WBZ NewsRadio: The 1930s

WBZ Radio Players

WBZ Radio PlayersPhoto: WBZ Archive Photo

Because radio was live, members of the WBZ staff became the “WBZ Radio Players,” performing live radio dramas every week.

Throughout the 1930s, WBZ has the premier “sound effects” man, W. Gordon Swan. Newspapers praise him for being able to imitate nearly every animal and he generates a wide range of sounds for commercials and radio dramas.

Mildred Carlson

Mildred CarlsonPhoto: WBZ Archive Photo

October 1930: Mildred Carlson is put in charge of women’s programming and begins doing a popular show called “Home Forum.”

1931: WBZ is the first station to provide regular air time for New England’s Governors. Governor Ely (MA) and Governor Winant (NH) frequently give talks on WBZ and WBZA.

February 21, 1931: Facility swap – WBZ moves to Boston; WBZA moves to East Springfield. WBZ begins to broadcast with 25,000 watts.

April 19, 1931: First radio broadcast of the Boston Marathon.

Hotel Bradford

Hotel BradfordPhoto: WBZ Archive Photo

July 1, 1931: WBZ studios are moved to the Hotel Bradford, which is today the Courtyard by Marriott.

September 18, 1931:10th anniversary celebration is held at the Hotel Bradford with an impressive 30-hour show of music and famous guests. Part of the program was broadcast to the entire country over the NBC Radio Network.

November 1931: WBZ program director John L. Clark tries to install a “purity code,” removing songs with lyrics he feels are too suggestive. He gets into a much-publicized dispute with popular band-leader Joe Rines, who has one of his hit songs banned by the station.

Lion Unleashed In WBZ Studio

Lion Unleashed In WBZ StudioPhoto: WBZ Archive Photo

April 28, 1932: The headline of the Boston Post reads “Lion Wrecks Radio Studio – Seven Hurt.” A supposedly tame circus lion had been brought into the studios to roar on cue; but he suddenly became agitated and rampaged through the studios, injuring 7 employees and breaking numerous pieces of equipment.

Staff Meteorologist Mr. G. H. Noyes

Staff Meteorologist Mr. G. H. NoyesPhoto: WBZ Archive Photo

1933: WBZ begins airing regular weather reports from the National Weather Bureau, becoming the first Boston radio station to have a staff meteorologist, Mr. G. Harold Noyes. Also in 1933, WBZ officially begins regular broadcasts with 50,000 watts of power.

Spring 1935: Popular country vocalist Bradley Kincaid, the “Kentucky Mountain Boy,” brings his traveling show to Boston and begins several years of regular appearances on WBZ, proving that country music has many fans in the east.

October 7, 1935: “Your Esso Reporter” begins. This popular news feature will later be carried over to television.

Spring 1936: WBZ is the only station to offer extensive live coverage of the floods which ravage Springfield and much of New England. WBZ provides important emergency reports that keep the public informed and helps to save lives.

April 1938: WBZ hires a new announcer, Arch MacDonald. After a decade on radio, Arch will become a well-respected news anchor on WBZ-TV.

September 21, 1938: Continuing its reputation for community service, and again helping to save lives, WBZ is the first station in Boston to warn listeners of an oncoming hurricane. The brutal storm will leave hundreds dead and destroy thousands of homes. When downed power lines temporarily knock WBZ’s Boston studio off the air, the station transmits its programs from Springfield and remains on the air to provide vital information.

WBZ News Room 1939

WBZ News Room 1939Photo: WBZ Archive Photo

May 23, 1939: When the submarine Squalus sinks in the waters off Portsmouth, NH, WBZ is first on the scene, providing eyewitness accounts of the efforts to rescue those who were on board. The reports are also carried by the NBC Blue Network. Later, WBZ broadcasts a memorial service for the men who lost their lives.

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