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Danny Schechter arrived at WBCN in 1970 as a volunteer, but quickly moved up to be News Director when his predecessor, Bo Burlingham, was indicted by the Federal Government for his activities in the Weather Underground. Schechter, just as politically-minded, tore into his new job with zeal. It wasn’t long before he adopted the famous radio handle that would remain with him throughout his career. “I was writing news [stories] for the DJs to read and I wasn’t the best of typists, so I would correct the copy with a pen. [But], my penmanship was worse than my typing! At one point I handed Jim Parry some news which had my scrawl on it. He goes, ‘What’s this? You read this and I’m going to take a leak.’” Parry got behind the microphone and gave Schechter an impromptu windup: “He said something like, ‘I‘m going to introduce Danny Schechter – the news detector…the news inspector…the NEWS DISSECTOR!!’ So, thanks to Jim Parry, I adopted this brand.”
In 1973, Schechter, who had studied labor relations at Cornell, helped the staff organize into a union and became its first shop steward. That partnership would be strong enough to win a strike at WBCN six years later when new owners fired 19 employees including Schechter himself. All were rehired. In 1978, as news programming was reduced in size and importance, the idea for a weekend news magazine lead to “The Boston Sunday Review,’ which Danny Schechter cohosted. A testament to its enduring popularity, this award-winning show would continue to thrive even beyond the long-distant demise of WBCN.
Schechter departed ‘BCN in 1980 to produce Matt Siegel’s local overnight TV show, “Five All Night/Live at Night.” After that, “The News Dissector” transitioned into a long and distinguished career in network television and internet news reporting. He blazed a bright spotlight on human right abuses around the world during his remaining years as a public voice until the “News Dissector” was silenced by pancreatic cancer in 2015.
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(by Carter Alan)
Carter Alan is a former WBCN DJ now heard on WZLX-FM in Boston. He is the author of Radio Free Boston: The Rise and Fall of WBCN (University Press of New England, 2013), available here as well as from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.