*It’s a good thing that our colleague Lance Venta over at RadioInsight put up an early roundup Monday evening of what he was hearing and seeing from Boston’s radio and TV stations, just a few hours after a pair of bombings rocked the Back Bay on perhaps the biggest news day the city has seen in generations. Not only were we on the road, but we were – and are – more than a little shellshocked by what happened in the city we once called home and still care about passionately.

But history must be chronicled, and the excellent work so many Boston broadcasters have done in the last day and a half deserves to be noted and honored. So from 400 miles down the road, here’s what we’ve been able to piece together about how the city’s radio and TV stations responded to the bombings:

On TV, all four of the city’s commercial newsrooms immediately swung into action with wall-to-wall coverage, much of it seen nationwide thanks to simulcasts on cable news channels and on the network TV coverage that also kicked into gear shortly after the attacks. (Fox-owned WFXT, in particular, provided coverage that was seen on sister Fox O&Os and Fox News Channel; we also saw NBC affiliate WHDH’s coverage on MSNBC and CNN.) The nonstop coverage continued into prime time, blowing out network programming on most Boston stations (though CBS-owned WBZ-TV moved the CBS prime-time lineup to sister station WSBK, channel 38, for the evening.)

At least some of the TV coverage also ended up on the radio: WCVB (Channel 5) audio was heard at times on WXKS (Bloomberg Radio 1200), while WBZ-TV (Channel 4) audio was heard intermittently on WBZ (1030).

On the radio side, it was WBZ leading the way both locally and nationally. The all-news station quickly began simulcasting on all four of its CBS Radio FM sisters (WBZ-FM, WZLX, WODS and WBMX) – and its coverage became the mainstay of CBS Radio News’ ongoing coverage, which was in turn picked up by news and talk stations around the country. (We heard it here in western New York on Rochester’s WHAM and Buffalo’s WBEN; WBZ coverage was also carried at length by New York City sister WCBS and other big all-newsers around the country.)

The WBZ afternoon news team, anchored by Anthony Silva and Diane Stern, stayed on duty until midnight Monday, augmented by interview segments with WBZ’s usual evening talk host Dan Rea as well as some eyewitness accounts phoned in by WBZ-FM morning co-host Rich Shertenlieb, who lives within sight of the bombings and had to evacuate his apartment.

Over at Entercom, coverage from the WRKO (680) news team and talk hosts Howie Carr and Jeff Kuhner was simulcast on WEEI-FM (93.7) and the WEEI sports network across New England. (Radio Ink reports morning man Greg Hill from sister station WAAF was hosting an event a few blocks from the bombing; he’s OK, and he ended up donating money raised from the event to benefit the victims of the attack.)

Without a news-talk station in the cluster since the flip of the former WTKK (96.9) earlier this year, Greater Media’s FM cluster provided updates on the situation during cut-ins to their regular music formats.

Over on public radio, WBUR-FM (90.9) went wall-to-wall until 7 PM, with its coverage being offered to NPR stations around the country for several hours. Rhode Island NPR simulcast WBUR in the hours after the attacks, and we’re told WBUR’s coverage also aired on New York’s WNYC-FM (93.9). At 7, WBUR produced a special edition of its “On Point” show that was also offered nationwide via NPR, and “Radio Boston” coverage continued into the night afterward. Crosstown WGBH (89.7) mixed NPR national coverage with local reporting, including updated editions of “The World,” the news hour it produces in conjunction with the BBC.

And we’re indebted to one of Lance’s Radio Insight readers for noting that WNTN (1550) in Newton, almost within sight of the marathon course, provided “real and calm” coverage with host John Frassica that extended past the daytimer’s usual early-evening signoff time.

*Did you hear something we didn’t? Let us know in the comments, and we’ll provide an updated rundown of coverage and the aftermath of the bombing in Monday’s NERW.








  1. I know for sure that both VPR and NHPR also simulcast WBUR at least at some points during Monday as well. Don’t know exactly when, but it was at least an hour or two…probably more.

    I’ve heard that Minnesota Public Radio was also simulcasting WBUR at some point, too.

  2. Also, according to one post on Radio-Info, WGBH didn’t change the programming on The World until late in the hour when the bombing happened…at least 20 minutes after WBUR had already shifted gears on Radio Boston. If true, oops.

    But in fairness, at RIPR we didn’t immediately drop Fresh Air and go to the Radio Boston simulcast either. Why? Because in that first hour, nobody knew a damn thing except that there’s been an explosion. No details were really coming out to the media until after 3:30pm or so. So we did breaking-news-flash-stay-tuned announcements during the breaks of FA and switched to RB as soon as facts started coming out. We were very mindful of how badly CNN flubbed the SCOTUS decision on Obamacare and wanted to get it right, not just get it first.

  3. There were a few cable simulcasts, NBC Sports Network was simulcasting WHDH for part of the evening, CSN New England was simulcasting NECN breaking in every hour with an update from their studio. At first NESN stuck to regular programming with a breaking news ticker before eventually simulcasting WBZ-TV. ESPN had live coverage on a special edition SportsCenter that at one point simulcasted on ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNEWS.

    It even extended to out of market, Mike Francesa was covering it on WFAN and YES. After Francesa ended YES went with a simulcast of Fox News Channel for a while. The big 3 NYC stations stuck with the network news all evening. ABC’s news coverage ended around 6:15pm ET after President Obama spoke so WABC-TV had a quick 15 minute newscast all about Boston before an hour long World News began. Their meteorologist Lee Goldberg was at the marathon watching his brother run, so they attempted to do a live interview via Skype with him and his brother, although with the mobile networks being overloaded it kept on breaking up.

    Worldwide Sky News was simulcasting WBZ-TV’s coverage (despite being run by News Corp, Sky has a long standing partnership with CBS News that predates the launch of Fox News) BBC News Channel and BBC World News were in simulcast mode nonstop (so no countdowns at the top of the hour) with Katty Kay in Washington and their London anchors at the Broadcasting House complete with an awkward pause mid sentence at 5:30pm ET to start World News America for PBS. NOS in the Netherlands had their NYC reporter giving live updates after it initially happened before sending him to Boston providing live reports on all their news porgrams, including the Jeugdjournaal (Youth news).

  4. Doesn’t WBZ cover the marathon?

    The station that is covering an event always has the best coverage. NBC was king during the Atlanta Olympic bombing simply because they had cameras all over the place.

    CNN that was in Atlanta had virtually no video of the event and it was in their back yard.


  5. WBZ-FM, WZLX both were simulcasting WBZ 1030 or WBZ-TV, depending on what time you listened, but WODS and WBMX remained with normal programming.

    Our coverage was seen nationally on many FOX affils not just the O&Os, as the network did a level 1 cut in with our program control feed.

  6. And contrary to several reports, Cell Service appears that it was never actually taken down. It sounds more like people who were getting horrible cell congestion were mistaking that for an actual shut down. Verizon and Sprint are on record as not shutting off service nor getting any requests to do so.
    We had several people using cell service down at the scene without an issue, other than heavy call volume.

  7. NHPR’s network of stations in the Granite State took WBUR’s “On Point” Tuesday morninng at 10:00 am but was back to broadcasting Diane Rehm at 11:00.

  8. WCAP Lowell simulcast WCVB Channel 5’s audio from shortly after the news broke until 9:00 Monday night, with local cut ins for phone interviews from Merrimack Valley area residents who were in Boston. WCAP also aired WCVB’s coverage of this morning’s Interfaith prayer service.

  9. Just a quick note that unfortunately 104.1 is no longer WBCN but now sadly WBMX. Scott I thought you might want to correct that.

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