Tom Dunn, 72, Writer-Announcer

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The WGBH community notes with sadness the passing of former Writer-Announcer Tom Dunn, who died Wed, 5/22 after a short illness. He was 72.

Tom first came to WGBH in 1974 as a record cataloger in Radio. Known to have a smile in his voice, he soon was lending his talents on our air. According to an article in the 1978 WGBH Member Guide (thanks Media Library and Archives!), ’GBH listeners responded “warmly, encouragingly, and effectively,” and Tom became the first announcer of choice as a substitute for almost any shift—everything from Robert J. Lurtsema’s MORNING PRO MUSICA and Christine Sweet’s EVENING PRO MUSICA, to Ron Della Chiesa’s FRIDAY MORNING PRELUDE, and Tom’s favorite, MUSIC FOR A SUNDAY AFTERNOON.

But Tom probably will be remembered most for his “This is Tom Dunn, saying good night” sign-off.

Condolences and memories may be forwarded to the family via Boston Cremation.

From the Boston Globe via

Thomas Freyn “Tom” Cruciverbalist, voracious reader and voice extraordinaire

Tom Dunn, resident of Boston, MA, died after a short illness on May 22, 2019, at the age of 72. Tom had a prodigious memory, an abundance of knowledge, and a gracious character accompanied by a wry sense of humor.

Tom was educated in New Rochelle, NY, public schools, where his outstanding voice was first featured in performances of Gilbert and Sullivan operettas. A graduate of Amherst College, Tom earned his MBA from Harvard Business School in 1974.

After being introduced to announcing and the business of broadcasting at local radio stations while in high school and college, Tom decided to follow what he enjoyed most and joined WGBH (Boston) Channel 2 in 1974 by volunteering to catalog records. His talents were noticed and he became a writer-announcer, an association that lasted more than 15 years. Many will recall his memorable “sign off” from 1984-early 90s, “This is Tom Dunn, saying Good Night” which can still be heard via the web.

After leaving WGBH, Tom continued in media production in voice and consulting. His primary lifetime occupation was as an announcer and “voice over” professional, often specializing in difficult technical science, medical and engineering assignments as well as in commercials. His clients ranged from charitable organizations to Martha Stewart, from Range Rover to Beano, from scientific manuals to the Vienna New Year’s broadcast. Mellifluous, intelligent, and interested, his voice carried the product to the target audience without grandstanding.

He is survived by his sister, Sarah Hoag (Toronto, Canada). Tom was a loving and generous Uncle Tom (UT) to Hannah Hoag (Omer Rashid) of Toronto and Matthew Hoag (Marsha Santerre) of Vancouver. In recent years he became the doting “GRuncle” To Zara Hoag Rashid and Isla Jane Santerre Hoag. He was predeceased by his parents Thomas Mansfield Dunn and Margaret Freyn Dunn.

Cremation has occurred; at his request, there will be no service. Condolences and memories may be forwarded to the family via Boston Cremation.

From: ‘GBH Radio 89.7 FM – Sept. ‘78

Hidden Talents

Here’s an Introduction.

Tom Dunn has a smile in his voice–many listeners have told him. that. He also has a smile on his face as he talks about his haphazardly fortuitous evolution as a radioman.

It began in 1965 at Eastern Public Radio sister station WFCR when Dunn, then an anthropology student at Amherst College, was singing in the college Glee Club, He urged the station to air a Glee Club tape, was urged in turn to announce the tape for radio himself. And he quickly found himself the host of a weekend music program—then eventually acting station manager. Radio beckoned—but studies suffered, so Dunn dropped the radio work, graduated, worked as an airline ticket salesman, and then a self-described ‘computer jock.’

Eventually, he wound up at Harvard Business School; he got his M.B.A. in 1974. “And then, like Peggy Lee, I was asking myself, ‘Is that all there is?'” he said. “I decided I didn’t like business. And I thought again of radio, which is what I seemed to like best.”

So Dunn found his way to ‘GBH Radio—through the Boston Globe. “I answered an ad requesting record cataloguers. So I cataloged.”

He cataloged. Then he filled in for 5 hours one afternoon. “I was trying to Announce,” he remembers, “even with a monster cold, I had at the time. But I was told that I wasn’t hired to be an Announcer; I was hired to be Tom. That was en important lesson.”

Needless to say, Dunn’s hours on the air increased since that first afternoon years ago. ‘GBH listeners—never ones to let people and programs on their radio station go unnoticed—responded warmly, encouragingly, and effectively. Nith his appearance last summer as a substitute for vacationing Robert J. Lurtsema, especially, Dunn’s presence was felt.

Now the man with a smile in his voice is the first announcer of choice as a substitute for almost any shift—everything from Ron Della Chiesa’s Friday Morning Prelude, to Christine Sweet’s Evening Pro Musica, to Tom’s favorite, Music a Sunday Afternoon. It’s his favorite because he gets to program music as well as announce it and it truly becomes his show—a freedom he doesn’t have when he inherits someone else’s program.

And Tom revels in that creativity—in the skillful flow of small to large ensembles, vocal to instrumental, Baroque to modern, one mood to another. The challenge of ‘prepping” his listeners for what follows his program, be it live Boston Symphony concerts or Mostly Musicals, it is a pleasure for him. (Those who heard the Tanglewood concert in August on the Sunday of Pope Paul’s death surely remember Tom’s inspired and inspiring programming right after he read the UPI news wire: Mozart’s Ave Verum Corpus followed by the Adagio of Mahler’s 10th Symphony followed by the Kyrie from Bach’s B Minor Mass, all assembled within the space of 5 minutes.)Dunn says he grew up listening to music on the Buick radio on his way to the supermarket in New Rochelle, New York. A reflective sort, a ping-pong whiz, a singer still (he’s often confused with the other Thomas Dunn, artistic director of the Boston Handel & Haydn Society, of which our Tom Dunn is a choral member), a man who knows how to pronounce Villa Lobos without fear (it is Veela Lohbohs, nothing fancy, he insists), Dunn smiles with his audience because he genuinely likes them and feels comfortable with them. “The emotional rewards are fantastic here,” he says, “because ‘GBH listeners put their mouths where their bucks are, and let me know what they think.”


  1. Bradford Whipple Sugar Hill, NH on August 5, 2019 at 1:07 pm

    I posted about Robert Carey who left WGBH to run an Inn and Restaurant in Franconia, NH He and wife Sybil ran Horse and Hound for several years while Bob continued on as a Private Investigator. We worked together in New England, New York and Canada on the Winter Hill/Whitey Bulger Gang, specifically on the Martorano Brothers Jimmy and John.
    Bob and I also did a job for the National Toxics Campaign which took us to the Denver, Colorado area, where we tangled with some top FBI agents and ended up filing FOIA suits related to this case.
    Later Bob died in an unexplained death while working a case in Florida. His remains were cremated and shipped to his latest spouse(number 4) and I spread his ashes, following a promise Bob made me swear to keep. That I followed through on in Franconia Notch, New Hampshire. Loved that BROTHER!!!

  2. Leslie Warshaw on June 28, 2019 at 2:36 pm

    A unique memory of Tom at ‘GBHfm. In the wonderful, sociable old radio office at 125, I had bemoaned that I had never had a birthday party at school or work because of my January 1 birthday. That year Tom showed up on January 2 with a cake for the ages. It was about five inches in diameter and ten or more inches high (Tom said he didn’t own a cake pan and had to improvise), and coated with an icing so impenetrable that we had to borrow a tool from tech to hack our way through it. My admiration and love for Tom were as impermeable as the cake.

    • Peter Swanson on July 5, 2019 at 8:04 pm

      Thanks for that, Leslie. Tom was a rare bird in the public radio firmament. Big hearted, and at least outwardly, without an out-sized ego. Those were the glory years of concertcasting at WGBH-FM

      • Leslie on July 9, 2019 at 4:25 pm

        It was great while it lasted, Peter, and Tom was certainly special when egos began to run rampant.

  3. Peter Swanson on June 21, 2019 at 6:09 pm

    Tom’s passing is sad news, indeed. He was an unflappable host of the New Year’s Day from Vienna radio broadcasts back in the day when music still mattered on ‘GBH. I still remember coming in for NYD with barely 2 hours of sleep on many New Year’s early mornings to tape the live feed from Vienna and being impressed with his and Wes Horner’s talents at coming up with a finished product in time for our time-shifted and appropriately translated scripted package. It was a true joy to have it all come together. He had great pipes and made ‘GBH-FM sound like a million bucks (old money, of course).

  4. Leda Zimmerman on June 17, 2019 at 12:43 pm

    Tom was responsible for my very first job at WGBH: an internship the summer of my sophomore year at Amherst College. A generous Amherst alum, he put me in touch with Nancy Mason Hauser who was creating dance videos for a more “experimental” stream of programming. The experience was transformational, propelling me toward PTV post college.
    I popped in to see Tom that summer to thank him, and later, after landing my first official job (Caption Center) to let him know that he had changed the course of my life. He was lovely, so pleased to have made this possible. We had a warm bond at the station for years. So sad to have lost touch with him.

    • Nancy Mason Hauser on June 21, 2019 at 3:57 pm

      OMG! How wonderful to see your name again, and to know that your experience with me was “transformational”! I have some sense of what that was like, because that’s what happened for me when I was mentored by the person who would become my husband, Rick Hauser.
      I’m glad I didn’t let Tom down. He was a good man.

  5. Bill Pimentel on June 14, 2019 at 1:43 pm

    I knew Tom all the way back to the mid-80s, when he came in with a ‘GBH gaggle (Bill Cavness and few other icons of ‘GBH radio & TV) to a club in which I worked as a bartender. I quickly became friends with Tom for his quick wit, love of the NYT crossword puzzles, and always amiably demeanor. When I graduated college and floundered around for a few years, Tom helped me land my job in ‘GBH Local Development, during the waning days of the Reagan Administration. That was November 1988, and I’m still here. Thank you, Tom Dunn;’ I won’t forget you. And your velvety, intelligent, measured yet assured voice still guides this kid from Winthrop. ~BP

  6. Dan Jones on June 13, 2019 at 11:59 pm

    Tom had a wry sense of humor, a quick wit, and was great fun to work with.

    • Frank Capria on July 12, 2019 at 4:55 pm

      What a joy working in the room adjoining the B+ suite, listening in, and often joining in on Tom’s and your banter.

  7. Paul Solman on June 13, 2019 at 5:13 pm

    Tom was a lovely guy — warm, engaging and ever so civil.

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