WBZ Newsradio reports the death of longtime broadcaster Gary LaPierre, as well known for his winter school-closing rundowns as his news reporting and announcing. He had worked at the station for 44 years.
Now Phil Amaru's attention turns to trying to keep his money away from the funeral home...
Too soon, perhaps.
Kids today will never appreciate the suspense of going to bed with a snowstorm in the overnight forecast, then waking up to Gary LaPierre's voice rattling off the schools, public, parochial and private in alphabetical order. It was stressful if your school was at the end of the alphabet or even worse, not mentioned at all. Gary was one of the last of the golden era of local radio. RIP.
Once they could put it on the crawler at the bottom of the screen, they didn't need to read it.
Listening for the school on the radio, you could do other things while waiting for your school name to come up. The crawler requires you stare at the screen until the name comes up, lest you miss it. I didn't stop using the radio announcements until my kids schools started putting it up on their web sites or sending email.
He probably was responsible for about 8 of the happiest moments of my childhood, reading off those snow days. And about 110 of the worst disappointments as he skipped right over my town even though those knuckleheads in Northbridge got every single one of them off.
We would lay in bed on snowy mornings and listen for the 2-2-2 pattern at 6:45 AM from the noon horn atop the main fire station in Burlington Center (and it was usually muffled by the snow, which made for a very comforting sound). They could be heard townwide and, by some accounts, well into neighboring towns, just as some other towns' fire horns could be heard in ours. My family lived on the Wilmington side of town, not anywhere near the bounds, but close enough that we knew to differentiate their 3-3-3 pattern.
In the early 80's I would see Gary every morning at a long-gone diner in North Cambridge (Vic's) He HATED getting up early and was grumpy. :)
Just before Christmas, the waitress was in a panic because she could not find a Cabbage Patch doll for her daughter. On Christmas Eve morning Gary walked into the diner and gave her a doll. He bought it at the WBZ Children's Hospital Telethon.
The man had a heart of gold.
From the 'Shelburne Falls is so small' jokes (and it is) to working as the announcer at his wife's dance school recitals he was a pretty special guy. And yes, I dreaded waiting for my town to be inevitably skipped over in the school closing listing.
That video from his retirement was a nice job, and illustrates the mostly-lost local media identity. Things like the Herald, Globe, and local stations are shells of their former selves and/or tiny stepchildren of corporate/network parents.
It was good to see a reminder of all the good work he did. Too much of my recent memory of him was dominated by advertising work or that "live and local" WBZ Florida embarassment.
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