By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Dan Rea’s radio days

I’ve got a profile of Dan Rea in the new issue of CommonWealth Magazine. Rea, a longtime television reporter at WBZ-TV (Channel 4), is now the host of the talk show once helmed by the late David Brudnoy and Paul Sullivan at WBZ Radio (AM 1030). “NightSide with Dan Rea” is an oasis of civility in the talk-radio wars. But can it work in today’s caustic environment?

Rea’s got some tough things to say about the state of local TV news, telling me, “It was very clear to me that there was a direction of television news that was not going to be reversed, and I wasn’t quite sure that I wanted to continue doing television news as I was doing it.” He added:

Local television news is one of the great purveyors of racism of our time. They don’t understand that. But if you are somebody who lives out in one of the 128 or 495 suburbs, and never have a reason to really interact with people of color, the only time you’re going to see young black males is when they’re being arraigned, they’re being arrested, or they’re dying in the street. We ignore the 99 percent of the kids in that community who are trying to do the right thing, trying to go to school, trying to participate in community programs and athletics.

Rea is probably best known for his years-long efforts on behalf of Joseph Salvati, wrongly convicted of murder because of the false testimony of a government-protected witness.

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  1. endangered coffee

    We ignore the 99 percent of the kids in that community who are trying to do the right thing…unless they are wearing minty fresh shoes. Nightly local newscasts long ago became a circus of the bloody, absurd and trivial. Good for Dan for trying to do something ouytside those bounds.

  2. Anonymous

    I didn’t know Dan went to Latin School. Interesting that another grad,Richard Clarke, had been effectively banned from BZ airtime by Brudnoy,Sull, and Rich for being an informed critic of the Administration post 9/11. Clarke has authored three books and I don’t think he’s ever been on the station. An example of pre-war,post-result concerns about towing the administration line, in talk radio.

  3. O-FISH-L

    Dan, I enjoyed your profile on Dan Rea but I actually learned more about Liz Walker than I wanted to.How could she become so angry merely because Rea and his black cameraman videotaped what they found, two black panhandlers and no white ones? Are you kidding me? And why would Rea be in fear for his job over this? Did ch. 4 enforce some type of quota system designed to sanitize blacks who reporters found acting in a less than favorable light? You describe this as an embarrassing moment for Rea, but I’d say it’s far more embarrassing to Walker and to ch. 4 if they threatened to sanction Rea. Also, any idea why Walker would decline to be interviewed for your piece? Is she still wrathful over the blacks panhandling video or did she just not have time to say a few good words about her longtime colleague?Sounds like yet another ordained minister who doesn’t have a clue about living God’s word. Good riddance.

  4. Anonymous

    Dan, you champion mediocrity to further a politial agenda. I won’t condemn you for being a snob, I think your desire for shows geared towards “civility” is a noble cause. It’s a waste of energy but what the heck. Let me be blunt. Dan Rea is boring, he’s awful. He’s boring but he’s not a Right Wing Bomb Thrower, so you praise him. You do so without providing any real perspective. Then again, how could you, having no idea what you’re talking about. Dan Rea couldn’t get a job at a 1K watt station in Iowa but WBZ hires him. Why? Because they’re looking for Brudnoy. He’s no Brudnoy. While I’m at it, Brudnoy was no Michael Savage. It’s not a public trust, it’s an entertainment vehicle and by every measure, Michael Savage is a much better “talk show host” than Rea, Brudnoy, Burns or Jerry Williams ever were. Rush and Hannity even more so. There’s certainly a market for radio without bombast, NPR is more successful than most talk stations in big markets. However, people like Dan Rea will never appeal in big numbers to the demographic big media buyer are interested in. People listen to WBZ for traffic, weather and news, nothing more, certainly not for talk. Those days are long gone.

  5. Anonymous

    Savage is a bombastic thug and a despicable man. If saying that is snobbery, so be it.

  6. liamstliam

    *****is an oasis of civility in the talk-radio wars.*****That could have been written about Brudnoy and Sully, too.I am glad they have kept the sanctity of that time slot.

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