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WBZ could get 'forward-thinking' new studio building in Allston, should construction ever resume

Proposed new WBZ building on Soliders Field Road

Rendering by Gensler.

A Newton development company this week filed formal plans to replace WBZ-TV's current Soldiers Field studios and offices with a new building right next door - which would leave open a large piece of land for possible future development.

In a filing with the BPDA, National Development says the proposed 63,000-square-foot, three-story building, which would replace a small office building and part of the current WBZ parking lot, would provide a state-of-the-art TV production facility for a station that now must deal with its current antiquated building.

The new studio will let WBZ stay in Boston and more particularly, in Allston, a neighborhood that National Development says is already bursting with pride at having the TV station in its midst:

The celebrated history of this WBZ-TV/CBS facility as a significant part of the culture and community has been a source of pride for the neighborhood for decades.

National Development adds:

The design of the building façade is intended to express the forward-thinking goals and modernization of WBZ’s studio operations, with a mix of translucent and opaque glazing types, metal panels, and metal screening elements.

In the rear of the building, according to one rendering, employees would go to work under the stern visage of CBS news legend Walter Cronkite:

New design incorporates homage to Walter Cronkite

The filing does not say anything about the future of a far larger piece of the current WBZ site, which includes a helipad and a radio tower that dates to the 1940s, in addition to the current WBZ building, but National Development is not known for small projects.

Bluish land would be empty after construction of new building:

Site map showing new building and land that would not be used for it

WBZ project notification form (12.4M PDF).

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Comments

It's never gonna happen but the plans look great.

Oh, the tales we will tell of the once great construction boom.

And our grandkids will never believe us.

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Voting closed 4

It might take 5-20 years, but building boom will return. Boston will come back. Some things will be very different, others will be largely the same.

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Voting closed 6

We havent seen anywhere near rock bottom yet.

You are right about things being "very different" though. I will give you that.

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Yes, Walter Cronkite was a mainstay of CBS News; but WBZ-TV was an NBC station during the Cronkite era. Cronkite retired from the evening news show in 1981, and Channel 4 didn't switch to CBS until 1995.

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I'm old enough to vaguely remember that switch. I think it was rough for them since NBC led ratings in the late 90s.

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Reality is that CBS and WBZ-TV are so intrinsically linked today -- that a few days ago when CBS News HQ in NYC was temporarily closed to be cleaned because of the SARS-2-Cov virus -- CBS in Boston aka WBZ was being simulcast to the entire CBS-N Network

Our local anchors had the opportunity to play on the Network Stage and our local Ch4 [aka WBZ] weather was replaced by CBS National Weather -- originating on Soldiers Field Road

For a few hours WBZ was the nucleus of CBS News

Note: that while WBZ was an NBC affiliate -- it was never an NBC owned network station
NBC was descendant from RCA which in turn was begat by GE. Eventually GE under the late Jack Welch reacquired NBC -- before GE finally disposed of it to Comcast.

Meanwhile -- WBZ a radio pioneer -- was a Westinghouse creation tracing its radio heritage to the earliest days in the 1920's in Springfield. After it moved to Boston -- WBZ was the first local broadcaster to introduce TV to the market and much later the first local broadcaster to introduce streaming to the market.

As for the rest of the story -- these broadcast companies shuffled about from network to network and owner to owner --- a bit like sports teams trading players, managers and sometimes owners.

Ultimately -- on November 24, 1995 -- WBZ-TV became a CBS owned and operated station when what was left of Westinghouse merged with CBS the company.

As they say -- It's complicated!

Refs:

Wiki on NBC

Founded in 1926 by the Radio Corporation of America (RCA), NBC is the oldest major broadcast network in the United States. At that time the parent company of RCA was General Electric (GE). In 1932, GE was forced to sell RCA and NBC as a result of antitrust charges.

In 1986, control of NBC passed back to General Electric (GE) through its $6.4 billion purchase of RCA. GE immediately began to liquidate RCA's various divisions, but retained NBC. .....

In 2003, French media company Vivendi merged its entertainment assets with GE, forming NBC Universal. Comcast purchased a controlling interest in the company in 2011, and acquired General Electric's remaining stake in 2013.

Wiki on WBZ-TV

As the only television station that was built from the ground up by the Westinghouse Electric Corporation, WBZ-TV began operations on June 9, 1948, at 6:15 p.m. with a news broadcast hosted by Arch MacDonald. The station was from its inception associated with the NBC television network, owing to WBZ radio (1030 AM)'s longtime affiliation with the NBC Red Network. At its sign-on, WBZ-TV became the first commercial television station to begin operations in the New England region.....

Group W [Westinghouse's broadcast division] eventually struck an agreement to switch WBZ-TV, KYW-TV and WJZ-TV to CBS (Westinghouse's two other stations, KDKA-TV in Pittsburgh and KPIX in San Francisco were already CBS affiliates). The Boston market's third network affiliation switch took place on January 2, 1995. After a 47-year relationship with NBC, channel 4 became the third station in Boston to align with CBS....

When Westinghouse merged with CBS outright on November 24, 1995, WBZ-TV became a CBS-owned-and-operated station (and has remained so ever since).....

After the 2000 acquisition of CBS by its former subsidiary, Viacom, which effectively made the station locally owned because Viacom's parent National Amusements is based in the suburbs of Boston, WBZ-TV's operations were merged with that of Boston's UPN affiliate, WSBK-TV; concurrently, WBZ-TV also took over the operations of WLWC, the UPN affiliate in nearby Providence, which had been run out of WSBK-TV. Today, the operations of WBZ-TV and WSBK-TV are co-located at WBZ's studios in Brighton.

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I agree that Walter Cronkite's image (and far-left politics) don't belong there, especially with the media battling massive bias problems. With WBZ's rich history, why not Arch MacDonald or Shelby Scott? Does WBZ-TV really need a massive new building in the internet age?

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Voting closed 9

Not like the earth-bestriding colossus of WGBH, for example.

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WGBH has a much bigger operation. WGBH has radio studios and offices (CBS radio was sold off and they don't need the space for WBZ AM).
WGBH's television operation also includes production offices for several national programs.

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When WGBH bought WCRB in 2009, someone there told me that there were actually more people working in WGBH's building than in CBS's New York headquarters.

There have been a lot of layoffs since then, so this might not be true any more.

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He is iconic.

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