Friday, August 07, 2009


Looking back on radio's first big challenge: Television

Radio has known to be resilient. Wilmer "Bill" Cressman Swartley Jr. was the former general manager of WBZ. He recalls a time when radio faced a bigger challenge - and not only survived, but also learned how to thrive.

Swartley looks back on radio's first big challenge: television

"The moment television was announced as a reality, everyone immediately forgot about radio except for the newscasts," says Swartley, who was also a regional vice president of Westinghouse Broadcasting Co.

"Radio borrowed heavily, when it first came on air, from vaudeville," says Swartley. The soon-to-be centenarian recalls hearing Jack Benny and other comedians in his youth in Pennsylvania. But by the time he assumed the job of general manager at WBZ in 1946, following five years of Army service, Swartley says the medium had gotten more formal, with talk shows or radio plays, a concert every afternoon, and evening announcers in tuxedos.

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