Happy 70th birthday, GBH

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by DAPHNE NORTHROP

70 years ago today (October 6), GBH Radio made its air debut with a live broadcast from the Boston Symphony Orchestra (BSO). The two Boston institutions have been in sync ever since, and GBH continues to broadcast BSO performances live Saturday nights on its CRB Classical 99.5 radio station, including last Saturday’s first show of the new season.

“The partnership between BSO and GBH, which aptly began on the very first day of GBH’s broadcast, is deeper and more complete than the connection between any other American orchestra and its home radio station,” said Anthony Rudel, Managing Director of GBH Music. “It’s a great relationship that has made the orchestra available to hundreds of thousands of listeners who may not be able to attend a concert in person at Symphony Hall. “

That night in 1951, the BSO opened its 71st season. GBH founder Ralph Lowell and BSO President Henry Cabot welcomed the audience and BSO Music Director Charles Munch stepped in to conduct.

During the intermission, composer Aaron Copland spoke on air, describing GBH as a “shining new hope among radio stations”, adding that it is “heartening to know that a station is now broadcasting programs intended for interest an adult mind. . The field is wide open, and I cannot think of a region better equipped than Boston for the realization of such an adventurous project.

While only 15 percent of homes in Greater Boston had FM receivers in 1951, GBH’s first foray was considered a resounding success. In its first year, GBH radio broadcast 2,600 hours of programming.
GBH television arrived a few years later, on May 2, 1955. Its first broadcast was Come and see, a children’s program with folk singer Tony Saletan and Mary Lou Adams from Tufts University Nursery Training School. Louis Lyons (a GBH radio set) then went on the air to read the news on camera.

Live broadcasts of the BSO by CRB can be streamed Saturdays at 8 p.m. on CRB Classical 99.5, classicwcrb.org and the CRB Classical app. For a full list of upcoming BSO shows, go online at Classic CRB 99.5
Check out other GBH “firsts” here.


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