The Ten O'Clock News was a nightly news program produced and broadcast by WGBH, the public television and radio station located in Boston, Massachusetts. WGBH is the largest producer of national programming for PBS, creating shows such as NOVA, Frontline and American Experience.
A local program aimed at the Boston audience, The Ten O'Clock News debuted on January 15, 1976. Its two immediate predecessors were The Reporters and Evening Compass. A news and public affairs show focusing on neighborhood, local and state issues, The Reporters was produced and broadcast on WGBH from 1970 to 1973. The Reporters was then replaced by Evening Compass, which expanded into a twice-nightly news broadcast during the tense moments of Boston's busing crisis. On the air from 1973 to 1975, Evening Compass found an audience through its in-depth coverage of school desegregation in Boston, which began in 1974. Ed Baumeister, Pam Bullard, Paul de Give, Gary Griffith, Greg Pilkington, Judy Stoia and other reporters covered press conferences with city officials, protests by activists on both sides of the issue, and the effect of court-ordered desegregation on the Boston Public School System. This coverage included valuable interviews with students, local residents, community activists, and school and city officials.
When Christopher Lydon signed on to anchor the show in January of 1977, The Ten O'Clock News began to assume an identity of its own... In addition to his work for The Boston Globe and The New York Times, Lydon had done some political commentary for The Ten O'Clock News in 1976. In the 1980s, Lydon was joined by a series of several co-anchors, including Gail Harris in 1984 and Carmen Fields in 1987; Lydon and Fields co-anchored the show until its demise in 1991. In addition to Lydon, Harris and Fields, a core group of reporters including Christy George, Marcus Jones, Meg Vaillancourt, David Boeri, and Hope Kelly were regulars in the newsroom.
Among the many competitors in the Boston television landscape, The Ten O'Clock News stood out as an in-depth news program. It strove for a balance between local and national stories, between politics and the arts. Capitalizing on Lydon's strong journalism skills, the program featured one or more nightly in-studio interviews with political figures, analysts, professors, artists and writers who came to discuss current events and culture. In addition, the quality of the reporting, set The Ten O'Clock News apart. Reporters had the latitude of filing stories that were three- to six- minutes in length, allowing for a level of background and analysis not often found in broadcast news. Local news included coverage of Boston neighborhoods, Beacon Hill politics, the arts, and culture. A 1991 editorial in The Boston Globe stated, "The show produces deeper reports on the joys and hardships of the city's poorer neighborhoods than customarily seen on the commercial channels."
Beginning in 1978, the news staff garnered several New England Emmy Awards; three of these awards were for Best News Program and five others for specific stories or features. The last The Ten O'Clock News program was broadcast on May 30, 1991. An editorial in The Boston Globe commented at that time:
"No other channel has approached the oddities and village politics of this city -- its cultural, religious and intellectual life included -- with more curiosity, energy, intelligence, and daring. The WGBH news audience . . . is diverse, cutting into gritty neighborhoods as well as upscale precincts of academe. Across the board it is an audience of thinking people."
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