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

More on WBZ

How big a story is the downsizing at WBZ-TV (Channels 4 and 38)? Bigger than the Globe plays it — a small story inside City & Region. [Correction: I’ve been told that it made the front of City & Region in some editions.] But not as big as the Herald seems to think, with a huge front-page package.

With three well-known names — sports anchor Bob Lobel, entertainment reporter Joyce Kulhawik and on-air news guy Scott Wahle — departing the station, the local-newscast glory days of the 1970s and ’80s are starting to look more and more like the distant past.

Oddly, though, it may be the most retro of the three, Lobel, who still has a future in local television. As Herald columnist Steve Buckley points out, the newscasts have shrunk their sports segments in recent years because the obsessives have left for NESN, ESPN and the like.

If Lobel wants to keep working and doesn’t mind taking a substantial pay cut, he could presumably slide into a prime slot on cable tomorrow. Except when the Red Sox are playing, NESN still resembles a local-access outfit more than it does a professional operation. I like Bob Ryan’s show, but Lobel would really help.

By the way — think Dan Rea has had any second thoughts about moving from television to radio? No, I don’t think so, either.

Finally, the Outraged Liberal has some worthwhile observations on the WBZ cuts and related media matters.

Discover more from Media Nation

Subscribe to get the latest posts to your email.


The bell tolls for WBZ


The Bailey Cosmo-logy


  1. Anonymous

    Dan, the Herald is breaking the Lobel/WBZ story today, complete with an interview and fresh photo with Bob. The Globe read the Herald late last night and tried to catch up with a short story for their last edition. They couldn’t make a big deal out of a story they didn’t know about it.

  2. Dan Kennedy

    Anon 10:24: And the Herald’s coverage is much better, I might add. But worth the entire front page? Maybe to some people, but not to me.

  3. Jake

    I couldnt agree more Dan

  4. JeffMediaTake:

    These layoffs are both sad, and telling. There was a time when television stations believed themselves to be recession and audience proof. I know because I have a long (though long-ago) history with WBZ and other TV companies. None would ever have had to drop that many employees at once, or even to consider it. Firing someone? Yes, certainly. (The tales of smug and callous television management style in the past are certainly true, but different from what just happened at WBZ.) This is not something small in the history of television statiions, particularly one with the history of WBZ, believe me.

  5. Anonymous

    I’m old enough when Bob Lobel was “the new thing” in local sports, drawing network attention for his light touch and his ability to draw in the non-sports fan. But like Sir Paul McCartney, Lobel found that there is an age past which “cute” is no longer achievable.That being said, I have to say I’ve never been impressed with his analytic abilities. On any panel show, his limitations were laid bare in terms of cogent analysis. Just because you’ve been around a long time doesn’t make you Clark Booth.Joyce Kulhawik was one of those people others describe as “classy.” She raved about things better than Sara Edwards did, I guess. I liked Chuck Kramer, who actually would NOT like some things once in a while.Couldn’t they all saunter over to NECN, the place where every veterans Boston TV presence plays out the string?By the way, I saw Scott Wahle play John Adams in a local production of “1776.” Like Paul Giammatti, he suffers in comparison to William Daniels.Bob in Peabody

  6. Anonymous

    No! Bob clearly stayed way too long at the party, took too many party favors, spent too much time at the high end of the buffet and simply did not know when the party was over. I never understood the shtick that some found so cute, the ” bashfull boy ” chin – to – chest look, the odd speach patterns – they were paying how much for that 18 seconds of banter during the toss to sports and the toss back?! He polluted whatever few strands of credibility he may of once had on sports with the TKK – Barnicle gigs and became a cartoon image. Good news! AARP / AFTRA local at Wells Ave has a seat all warmed up and Newton is soo much closer to Dover than Boston ever was.

  7. Anonymous

    At this rate, there will be no institutional memory left in Boston news. In fact, the Globe story on his departure says he came to ‘BZ in 1979 and became weeknight sports guy two years later, “according to a biography posted on the station’s website.” That the reporter had to cite the Web site says as much about the Globe as it does WBZ: the Globe writer is brand new, probably hired at slave wages after a recent round of cuts.I thought the end of solid Boston reporting was here when the Globe ran a story, dateline Cambridge, on how highly embarrassed Caltech students had to come pick up the mascot that MIT pranksters had stolen from under their noses. It was a great story — written by the Los Angeles Times in the Globe’s own back yard.

  8. Anonymous

    Actually, the Globe story ran on the front of the City & Region section — not inside the section.

  9. Anonymous

    Nostalgia for Bob Lobel . . . incredible. I guess that’s what anachronisms survive on.Go back and look at some tape, people. Note the number of times he’s obviously drunk and makes stupid, ill-timed jokes while saying nothing of substance.Bob Lobel is the embodiment of everything that is wrong with this provincial little 3rd-rate media market of ours. He is the reality that makes the fictional news team from “Anchorman” so funny.

  10. Dan Kennedy

    Anon 12:53: Ah, the hazards of looking at different editions. And here I am, mainly an online guy. I should stick to the Web.

  11. Anonymous

    I have to agree with the earlier poster. This is not just about Bob and Joyce. Throughout television, the days of high-paid anchor talent are over. I know you don’t cover DC, but George Michael, the city’s premier sports anchor, was recently all but forced out of his post under similar cost-cutting circumstances. Both these guys were stars who brought a substantial following to the news. And if you follow the industry, you know it’s happening all over.You may dislike Lobel, but talk to people and they will tell you they all knew, and most liked, his impish and gentle irreverence. The tide has been rising for some time now. Ten years ago, it was the reporters who were under fire as stations turned more and more to using poorly paid contractors and even unpaid staff. Now that all the money has been wrung out of those salary budget lines, the water is finally reaching the anchor level. Young, perky and stupid (and perhaps trust-funded) are the characteristics that now define journalists. And the result is obvious. Just out of curiousity, Dan, what do you tell your students about the advisability of following this career path?

  12. Anonymous

    3:40, I grew up in the DC tv market and well remember Jim Vance, George Michael, et al. on Channel 4. Nothing in this tv market has ever approached that level of quality and journalistic professionalism, except maybe the Channel 2 News.Bob Lobel has no business being mentioned in the same breath as George Michael. Michael is everthing Lobel is not.

  13. Peter Porcupine

    DK – you would have no way to know this, but Lobel is a football guy. Always has been. OK on baseball, but his real connectiuon and insight is in football (as opposed to that idiot, Felger, the Borges wanna-be).Even though we won the Superbowls, Boston has remained a baseball town, and Lobel has always been an odd fit.Herald readers, however, have many more football fans amoung them, so perhaps that’s why it was front page news there.Me, I hope Lobel winds up with Smerlas, D’Ossie and Ordway – maybe doing a show on NECN.

  14. Liam St. Liam

    For institutional memory, we have Will McDonough, if folks would get off his back.What would Ray Fitzgerald think.For Liam, it two eggs scrambled, homefries, linguica, toast and coffee.

  15. Anonymous

    I think the comments you have here, Dan, belie the perception this is not big story. And besides, the Herald is a tabloid. Does anyone not understand what a tab’s purpose and approach is? It’s called select and project. I guarantee Lobel’s mug ticked up street sales a bit Wednesday morning and that’s the goal.As for his departure, it is, sad to say, overdue. But despite PP’s vision of him as a football guy, the one line I will always remember him for was his labeling of former Sox CEO John Harrington as “the village idiot.” That’s back when Lobel had the high heat. Very few in this town could have gotten away with that.

  16. Boston Venerable Bede

    I believe this is a bigger story and fits well with the disintegration of professional independent media and the emergence of the internet and commercial media. NECN is a Red Sox commercial–hey, they own it. In the end WBZ is making a mistake in loosing their identity. In order to survive, you need an identity.I would be interested in reading a blog from Dan Kennedy comparing all the newscasts in light of this announcement.

  17. Dan Kennedy

    BV: You are likely to read an analysis of the Bruins here before you will read a close analysis of the local newscasts.

  18. Boston Venerable Bede

    Go Bruins!

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén