By Emily Sweeney GLOBE STAFF AUGUST 24, 2018
WBZ NewsRadio 1030 is scheduled to stop broadcasting from Soldiers Field Road in Allston-Brighton at 6 p.m. Saturday.
From that point on (if all goes as planned), the station will be operating from its new home at 1 Cabot Road in Medford.
Over the past few days, the staff has been packing up and getting ready to move out of the old newsroom on Soldiers Field Road, which has served as the home of the AM radio station since 1948.
Deb Lawler has been working at WBZ since 1984. She described the old building as a rambling place where one room tumbles into another. “It’s kind of like a labyrinth over here,” she quipped before leaving the old location.
Lawler recalled how when she started working there, the staff used electric typewriters. Gil Santos was the one exception. He swore by his old Royal manual typewriter. He kept it going for years, she said.
“He would make his own repairs with paper clips,” she said. Years later, he’d use computers to do research, but he still typed out his sportscast with a Royal typewriter, she said.
She also recalled how Dave Maynard used to have his Farm Stand fund-raiser in the WBZ parking lot.
“A lot of stuff has happened here,” she said.
If all goes according to plan, Lawler will work her first shift in the new building in Medford at 5 a.m. Monday morning. She and other staffers have been training on the new equipment in the state-of-the-art studio. While it’s “bittersweet” to leave the old WBZ headquarters in Allston-Brighton, “they’ve pulled out all the stops to make it work for us” in Medford.
WBZ NewsRadio 1030 will be under the same roof as several other radio stations owned by its new corporate parent, iHeartMedia Inc., including Kiss 108, country station 101.7 The Bull, Jam’n 94.5, and classic rock station WZLX.
iHeartMedia, which owns more than 800 radio stations across the country, acquired WBZ in November 2017 following the merger of Entercom Communications Corp. and CBS Radio. WBZ-TV will remain in operation at its studios on Soldiers Field Road.
“I remember when I walked into ’BZ in the early ’90s, and I’ve been honored to work with people like Gary LaPierre, Gil Santos, Deb Lawler, Diane Stern . . . there’s been so many great people in this old building,” said longtime WBZ radio news reporter Carl Stevens.
Stevens fondly recalled having a lot of “fun times” at the old building on Soldiers Field Road, as well as a lot of “tense times,” depending on what they were doing and what kind of news they were covering at the moment.
Although he’ll miss the folks at WBZ-TV, Stevens said he is ready for the next chapter in the station’s history. “I’m personally looking forward to a brand new building,” he said. “It looks like it’s going to be a great place for us.”
Tom McConnell, division president for iHeartMedia, said the company has been working with the WBZ radio staff to ensure that the transition from Allston-Brighton to Medford goes smoothly.
“We’re putting a lot of resources and technology behind them,” he said. “We’re excited.”
WBZ radio has a long history in Massachusetts. The station aired its first broadcast in September 1921 from East Springfield and started broadcasting in Boston a few years later from a studio at the Hotel Brunswick. WBZ became known as the “Herald-Traveler station” because it broadcast news supplied by the Boston Herald and its sister newspaper, the Boston Traveler, according to WBZ’s website.
Over the years, WBZ radio earned a reputation for being a news powerhouse, as it was the first radio station to broadcast the Boston Bruins (that was in 1924, and Frank Ryan, a sportswriter for the Boston Herald, did the play-by-play) and the first radio broadcast of the Boston Marathon in 1931.
In 1933, WBZ became the first Boston radio station to have a staff meteorologist, and in September 1938, it was the first station in Boston to warn listeners of the deadly hurricane that was coming. When downed power lines temporarily knocked WBZ’s Boston studio off the air during the storm, the station continued to operate and transmitted its programs from Springfield to provide important news and updates to listeners.