• Years at WGBH: 1951-52
  • Contact:

From Russ Butler — 6/11/2009

I was one of the original volunteers when WGBH-FM first went on the air from the Symphony Hall studios. Hartford Gunn, Bill Cavness, Louis M. Lyons, Bill Busick, announcers Alden Stevens and William Pierce were some of the people with whom I’ve worked in 1951-52.

I retired from a 40+ year career in broadcasting, including Vermont Public Radio and Vermont ETV. My career started with those wonderful and exciting early experiences at WGBH when it first went on the air.

My enthusiasm for radio continues with an Internet radio program, SONGBOOK AMERICA at www.bostonpete.com/russ with music from my personal collection of American standards, jazz and legendary songbook composers and performers that I record in my home studio (Bill Busiek would be proud!). Listeners email me worldwide and when they read my bio on my web page, a few have identified hearing the original WGBH-FM in Boston.

14 Comments

  1. Russ Butler on April 28, 2014 at 12:40 pm

    Hi Denny – Yes, thise streaming Internet shows on BPete we both
    hosted and produced were fun to do and receive worldwide listener
    comments and requests. Continued success with your Big Band
    Showcase and voice-over career. Keep in touch. =Russ

    • Jane Watson on January 26, 2015 at 3:40 pm

      OMG, Russ, Silvana and I have been looking for you for a long, long time. I actually haven’t corresponded with her in about a year. So much has happened! Please send me an email with your email at the address above. You come into my thoughts very frequently — I even found a college student on a Poultney Student site while looking for your daughter — to find you . . . . wondering if that might be Russ’ granddaughter. Today, you are headed for BIG snow if you are still up yonder . . . guess there won’t be any “Buttermilk Sky”!! I guess I need to get in touch with Silvana now . . . Fond wishes, Jane.

  2. Denny Farrell on April 28, 2014 at 10:17 am

    Hi Russ remember our times with B -Pete ?
    All the best,
    Big Band Hall of Fame Inductee,
    Denny Farrell

  3. Russ Butler on October 17, 2013 at 4:38 pm

    Hello Mike – Thanks for your post and your kind compliment about my program. There is now a streaming radio station that has inherited the WNEW 1130 format of American standards and songbooks with their library and legendary jingles. This is essentially the same music selections that I played on SONGBOOK AMERICA. It’s a free 24/7 website to listen on your computer with some of the familiar 1130 hosts:

    http://www.live365.com/stations/wnewradio1130

    You may also be interested in the tribute website with all the information about WNEW1130 in NYC – gone, but not forgotten!

    http://www.wnew1130.com/

    I appreciate hearing from you and, I’d like to know what you think of these websites that re-create our favorite radio station. Here’s my personal email address: Thanks for the pleasure of your company when you listened to SONGBOOK AMERICA. Cheers!! =Russ

  4. Russ Butler on October 17, 2013 at 4:35 pm

    Hello again, Lainie – Thanks for your post. There is now a streaming radio station that has inherited the WNEW 1130 format of American standards and songbooks with their library and legendary jingles. It’s a free 24/7 website to listen on your computer with some of the familiar 1130 hosts:

    http://www.live365.com/stations/wnewradio1130

    You may also be interested in the tribute website with all the information about WNEW1130 in NYC – gone, but not forgotten!

    http://www.wnew1130.com/

    I appreciate hearing from you and, I’d like to know what you think of these websites that re-create our favorite radio station. Here’s my personal email address: Thanks for the pleasure of your company when you listened to SONGBOOK AMERICA. Cheers!! =Russ

  5. lainie ross on October 17, 2013 at 9:24 am

    I sure miss Russ online! Also having a local radio station here in NYC. Do you know of any I can tune in to listen to Make Believe Ballroom-type DJ’s? I would love to put anything on my speed dial. No more Danny Stiles, William B. Not even Camping on Christian Radio WFME. Thank you and give yourself a good day. God bless Russ and fans everywhere! Music adds years to your life and life to your years.

  6. Mike Rankin on October 17, 2013 at 1:21 am

    Russ how can we obtain music that you introduced. I think most of the listeners really enjoyed your warm introductions of the music artist.

  7. Lainie Ross on August 18, 2013 at 2:24 pm

    Thanks, Ross. Life is meant to be good, enjoy. I am sure you miss the contact. You reminded me of Wm Be Williams – I’m not that old yet but my Dad used to listen to him. That velvet voice. I now went to Pandora but I miss the human contact and your personal intimate discussions were so charming. Be blessed in all you do. If you want to send me a mix of happy surprises (Sinatra, Day, Como genre etc.) that would be fun. But I liked hearing your voice! Do you need an address to mail it?
    Lainie

    • Russ Butler on August 18, 2013 at 8:08 pm

      Hi again – I appreciate your compliment with the William B. Williams comparison. He was my
      inspiration when I first heard his nighttime program on WNEW when I was living in Boston, as
      was the station’s “Milkman’s Matinee” all night show. That was “real radio” in the 1950’s!

      By the way, Bernice Judis, the WNEW General Manager back then auditioned announcers and she selected them on the “voice” that they had which would give the station an identity with listeners anytime. Deejays like William B., Art Ford, Bob Jones, Al “Jazzbeau” Coillins, Ted Brown, Klavan and Finch in the morning and others were all hired for their on-air personalities and easy to listen to voice quality.

      Ah, I digress: First, I’d like to try to forward a music file of my recorded show in an email to you as an attachment to play on Windows Media Player. If you don’t have a download, it’s free from
      http://www.microsoft.com (both for PC’s and Apply MAC’s). Please send your email address and I
      can try this approach so that you can hear a complete, one hour recorded program. If that’s OK with you, email my personal address Thanks. =Russ

    • Russ Butler on August 19, 2013 at 11:11 am

      No need to have your address, apologies Lainie. I can’t send any of my programs because of royalty rights of the music I recorded. If I do join another web broadcaster to do more shows, I’ll post the
      information on this blog. Thanks for your understanding, I misspoke in my last post here. =Russ

  8. Russ Butler on August 18, 2013 at 2:19 pm

    Hi Lainie – Thanks for your email and for listening to my program, SONGBOOK AMERICA. The BostonPete.com website went off-line in January, sad to say, and unexpectedly. Seems that the performance rights people and recording labels were hot after the small business Internet broadcasters like Pete Kenney (yes, there really was a Boston “Pete”). Pete found their compensation fees per play for the music tracks he had on 19 streaming stations, mine included, were exorbitant and he could not continue business with the new, negotiated “legal” fees.

    If you’re interested, there is continuing information on the performance rights fees issues and challenges on a blog at http://www.kurthanson.com who has formed “RAIN” (The Radio and Internet Newsletter) and offers a free E-newsletter subscription on the website. Interesting stuff to read and to follow his successful efforts to protect the small business music providers like BostonPete.

    So, to your question – all of the shows at BostonPete are no longer online. Any other website would also have to pay the royalties for performance rights. After a 40+ year career in broadcasting, it’s a good time for me to turn off the mic and enjoy my octogenarian-plus years just listening to my extensive, personal collection of CD’s of the Great American Songbook and some great jazz. If you’d like a copy of an artist’s CD in my collection in this genra, please let me know by reply email to this WGBH list. It’s one way I can say thanks to listeners of SONGBOOK AMERICA for the past eleven years is to share some of the the best music on the Internet! All the very best to you, Laine. Hope to hear from you again. =Russ

  9. lainie ross on August 17, 2013 at 6:13 pm

    where do i go now to hear boston pete, russ, you and maria new age? thanks.

  10. Mike Petersen on March 16, 2013 at 3:42 am

    Hi Russ
    We miss you and your great music. Where did you go ?
    And where may we find your program?

    • Russ Butler on June 25, 2013 at 6:25 pm

      Hi Mike – Thanks for the compliment for SONGBOOK AMERICA. Apologies, I don’t check the ‘GBH Alumni site as often as I could, so I’m tardy in replying now to your March post. The BostonPete.com website went off-line in January, sad to say, and unexpectedly. Seems that the performance rights people and recording labels were hot after the webmaster Pete Kenney (yes, there really was a Boston “Pete”), and other small webcaster. Pete found their compensation fees per play for the music tracks he had on 19 streaming stations, mine included, were exorbitant and he could not continue business with the new, negotiated “legal” fees.

      All of the stations were produced pro bono from hosts who were all over the country (I’m in Vancouver WA now) with their private music collections and we sent pre-recorded shows via FTP to Pete in his Boston area home to upload onto the website each week. I suspect that there is more to it but we programmers were not told everything, just that he was “retiring” the stations with a ten day notice. I’ve been hearing from many listeners like you who wrote to my personal email address they obtained when they first emailed a request or comment to me worldwide and I replied to them. They, too were surprised that we were no longer online! In fact, a survey a few years ago on BostonPete programs showed that SONGBOOK AMERICA had an average of 18-20,000 unique listeners every week and I’ve been doing the show for ten years until this January.

      In addition, Pete’s money-maker was selling CD’s and DVD, etc. which was going well until a few years ago when more people started downloading their music preferences onto MP3 players, iPods, et al and passed on the hard digital media. He asked us an email question: “When was the last time you purchased a music CD or a film DVD?” to make his point. That media is phasing out slowly. So there was no other business option for him to continue. He did purchase annual licenses for membership as a broadcaster in ASCAP. BMI and SESAC just like the terrestrial radio stations do for thousands of dollars to play their artists, but they and the recording labels were looking for more revenue and the small for profit webcasters were an easy target.

      Ahhh, I digress, sorry for the long post. Right now I’m retired from the airways, this is my octogenarian year after nearly 55-years now in the business. I have an extensive collection of great music that I am considering selling as a complete lot (CD’s, LP’s, audio cassettes, some collectible 45rpm ) and my “studio” equipment: (DAT recorder, mic, turntable, cassette deck and a wonderful Phillips CD burner that never dies!!) if you know a buyer, please contact me. I’ve inquired and I can sell the CD’s for about a dollar, LP’s for a dime (even collectibles) and cassettes bring a pretty “penny” each, literally, at the local music stores but they are worth so much more, especially to me and to whomever still appreciates the Great American Songbooks, the Legendary Composers – the big bands, the ballads and all the really good stuff! If another streaming venue needs my kind of show and can pay the performance fees per-play I’m still available at least for a conversation.

      Thanks for listening, Mike and for your email. Hope to hear from you again. Be well. =Russ 6/25/2013

Leave a Comment





This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.