WGBH (89.7 FM MHz) is a public radio station located in Boston, Massachusetts. WGBH is a member station of National Public Radio (NPR) and an affiliate of Public Radio International (PRI) and American Public Media (APM). The license-holder is the WGBH Educational Foundation, which also owns WGBH-TV and WGBX-TV.
The station, dubbed "Boston Public Radio", renamed "Boston's Local NPR", broadcasts a news-and-information format during the daytime (including NPR News programs and PRI's The World, which is a co-production of WGBH, PRI, and the BBC World Service), and jazz music during the nighttime.
"GBH" stands for Great Blue Hill, the location of WGBH's FM transmitter, as well as the original location of WGBH-TV's transmitter. Great Blue Hill in Milton, Massachusetts, has an elevation of 635 feet (193 m), is located within the Blue Hills Reservation, and is the highest point in the Boston area. (Mai Cramer, longtime host of the program Blues After Hours, jokingly maintained that the station's call sign stands for "We Got Blues Here!")
WGBH also operates a separately-programmed service for the Cape Cod and Islands area, with a full-time news-and-information format. This service is simulcast on three stations: WCAI (90.1 FM) Woods Hole, WNAN (91.1 FM) Nantucket, and WZAI (94.3) Brewster.
WGBH also owns WCRB (99.5 FM, previously at 102.5 FM), a classical music station. This service is simulcast by two stations, WNCK (89.5 FM) in Nantucket and WJMF (88.7 FM) in Smithfield, Rhode Island (near Providence).
Both WCAI and WCRB are also simulcast on HD Radio sidechannels of WGBH itself. The WCRB simulcast on WGBH-HD2 is also relayed by translator W242AA (96.3 FM) East Cambridge, as the Federal Communications Commission regards it as a WGBH translator (from October 1991 until April 8, 2010, W242AA carried WGBH's main service).
- For more of a history of the Lowell Institute Cooperative Broadcasting Council see the article on John Lowell, Jr.
WGBH Educational Foundation received its first broadcasting license (for radio) in 1951 under the auspices of the Lowell Institute Cooperative Broadcasting Council, a consortium of local universities and cultural institutions, whose collaboration stems from an 1836 bequest by textile manufacturer John Lowell, Jr. calling for free public lectures for the citizens of Boston.
WGBH signed on October 6, 1951, with a live broadcast of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Within a decade, it had grown enough that it partnered with the Five Colleges to set up a repeater for western Massachusetts, WFCR. That repeater is now a separate station, with its own programming, and is the flagship NPR outlet for western Massachusetts.
WGBH was a charter member of NPR, and was one of the stations that carried the inaugural broadcast of All Things Considered in 1971.
In the summer of 2016, the station will broadcast some of its programming from an on-air studio in the newly renovated Boston Public Library Johnson building, fronting on Boylston Street in Back Bay.
WGBH broadcasts news programming, generally from NPR or PRI. On weekends and some weekday evenings, a variety of public affairs programming and other informational/entertainment programming is featured, such as "This American Life", "The Moth", "Selected Shorts", "Freakonomics", "On Being", "Radiolab", "Studio 360", and "The New Yorker Radio Hour".
Jazz music is broadcast on weekend evenings and overnights. Until July 2, 2012, WGBH-FM also carried jazz during the evening and overnight hours on Mondays through Thursdays. However, this programming was severely cut back on July 2, 2012, to increase news and information programming during the evening and overnight hours.
Programs originating from WGBH for the local market include:
- Boston Public Radio, a daily two-hour local public affairs talk show co-hosted by Jim Braude and Margery Eagan. Since September 29th, this time are now of three hours, starting at 11 a.m. Boston time.
- Greater Boston: Radio Edition, a radio adaptation of WGBH-TV's nightly public affairs program broadcast on Saturday afternoons
- A Celtic Sojourn, a three-hour program of Celtic music broadcast on Saturday afternoons
- Arts and Ideas, a three-hour news and arts magazine broadcast on Sunday evenings
Programs originating from WGBH that are also broadcast in other markets include:
- America's Test Kitchen Radio
- Says You!
- The World (co-produced with the BBC World Service)
- From the Top
- "Innovation Hub"
2009 format change
Until December 1, 2009, WGBH broadcast a variety of classical music programming, mostly during the day on weekdays, weekend mornings, and Sunday afternoons. These broadcasts included (in addition to generally available recordings) recordings made by WGBH of regional chamber music and solo recital performances, live in-studio performances and interviews, as well as live broadcasts of the Boston Symphony Orchestra from Symphony Hall (on Friday afternoons when the orchestra is scheduled to play), and Tanglewood (on Sunday afternoons in the summer).
In addition, WGBH's music programming also included folk music on Saturday afternoons and blues on Saturday evenings. News programming was limited to drive time (6-9am and 4-8pm) on weekdays, and between 10am and noon on weekends.
In September 2009, the WGBH Educational Foundation announced a deal to acquire WCRB, a local classical music station. It consolidated all classical music programming on WCRB, and changed WGBH to an all-news and information format. A significant number of WGBH's traditional classical listeners were sacrificed in the transition, as WCRB transmits from the North Shore of Boston, and cannot be received reliably in areas to the south, including Cape Cod. In November 2009 the station announced that its long-running Saturday afternoon folk and Saturday evening blues programs would be discontinued in December, however A Celtic Sojourn and A Prairie Home Companion would remain.
On June 20, 2012, it was announced that WGBH would cut back jazz to nine hours a week, and replace most of the previous evening and overnight jazz programming with public radio news and information programming. WGBH now carries a rebroadcast of The World from 8 to 9 pm, repeats of Boston Public Radio between 9 and 11 pm, and PRX Remix overnights.
The cutback in jazz took place on July 2, 2012. Eric Jackson still does nine hours of jazz programming on weekends. However, there is fear among Boston jazz fans that at some point, WGBH may cut out the weekend evening jazz programming for even more news and information fare.
The same notice announced that in July 2012, WGBH would combine the hour-long Emily Rooney Show and Callie Crossley Shows into a two-hour segment named Boston Public Radio. The station also started carrying the APM show Marketplace.
In February 2013, Jim Braude and Margery Eagan (previously co-hosts of the Jim & Margery Show talk show on WTKK) were brought on to co-host Boston Public Radio. They brought along with them the monthly Ask the Governor program, a series that WGBH also provides to other local stations free of charge.
WGBH and WBUR both serve the Boston area, and there is some overlap between programming on the two stations (i.e. All Things Considered, Morning Edition). When WGBH announced plans to convert their daytime hours to news and information, there was speculation as to how much overlap between the two stations there would be.
WGBH broadcasts The World and the sound portion of the PBS NewsHour; while WBUR does not. WBUR carries Talk of the Nation, On Point, Here and Now, and Car Talk, which are not heard on WGBH. The latter three programs are produced locally by WBUR.
The two stations also broadcast somewhat different selections from among the programs available through their national network affiliations.