70 years ago today (October 6), GBH Radio made its debut on the airwaves with a live broadcast of the Boston Symphony Orchestra (BSO). The two Boston institutions have been in sync ever since, and GBH continues to air live BSO performances on Saturday nights on its radio station CRB Classical 99.5, including last Saturday’s first program of the new season.

"The partnership between the BSO and GBH, which fittingly began on GBH's very first day on the air, is deeper and more complete than the connection between any other American orchestra and its hometown radio station,” said Anthony Rudel, general manager of GBH Music. “It is a great relationship that has made the orchestra available to hundreds of thousands of listeners who may not be able to get to attend a concert in person at Symphony Hall."

On that night in 1951, the BSO was opening its 71st season. GBH Founder Ralph Lowell and BSO President Henry Cabot welcomed the audience and BSO Music Director Charles Munch stepped up to conduct.

During the intermission, composer Aaron Copland spoke on the air describing GBH as a “bright new hope among radio stations,” adding that it’s “heartening to know that a station is now on the air broadcasting programs designed to be of interest to an adult mind. The field is wide open, and I cannot think of an area better equipped than Boston for the carrying out of an adventurous project of this kind.”

While only 15 percent of the households in Greater Boston had FM receivers in 1951, GBH's premiere foray was considered a rousing success. During its first year, GBH radio broadcast 2,600 hours of programming.
GBH television came a few years later, on May 2, 1955. Its first broadcast was Come and See, a program for children with folk singer Tony Saletan and Mary Lou Adams from Tufts University Nursery Training School. Louis Lyons (a GBH radio fixture) came on the air next to read the news in front of the camera.

CRB’s live broadcasts of the BSO can be heard on Saturdays at 8pm on CRB Classical 99.5, classicalwcrb.org, and the CRB Classical app. For a full listing of upcoming BSO broadcasts, go online to CRB Classical 99.5
Check out other GBH “firsts” here.