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They talked the talk

Mass. Broadcasters Hall of Fame to induct 20 local personalities who helped shape industry

By Emily Sweeney
Globe Staff / September 13, 2009

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To many people in Massachusetts, their voices sound familiar: Fred Cusick shouting “Scoooooooore!’’ as the Boston Bruins put the puck in the net. The deep, booming voice of Gil Santos announcing play-by-play action at New England Patriots games. Charles Laquidara’s banter on “The Big Mattress’’ show on WBCN-FM. Emily Rooney posing questions to guests on WGBH-TV.

Their long careers in radio and TV made them local icons, and on Wednesday they will have the honor of being inducted into the Massachusetts Broadcasters Hall of Fame in a ceremony at noon in Dedham.

This is the third induction of Massachusetts broadcasters by the organization, based at Massasoit Community College in Brockton. Founded in 2006, the nonprofit is housed in the Anna P. Buckley Fine Arts Center, where plaques and photos of notable broadcasters are displayed on the wall.

Cusick, Santos, Laquidara, and Rooney will be in good company on Wednesday. Their fellow inductees include broadcasting pioneer Bill Hahn, TV host Sonya Hamlin, news anchor John Henning, former public affairs director and news director Don Latulippe, WBZ’s Dave Maynard, radio station owner and manager Allan Roberts, broadcasting consultant and station owner Al Tanger, and classical music host Len Zola. Eight others, including Don Gillis, will be honored posthumously.

Anyone can nominate a broadcaster to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. Over the past three years, the organization has received about 200 names of potential candidates. A six-member nominating committee reviews the list of names and presents its recommendations to the 19-member board of directors for a final vote. Inductees are approved by unanimous vote of the board.

Several of this year’s inductees have ties to Southeastern Massachusetts. Hahn lives in Quincy, Cusick in Barnstable. Gillis, known as the “Dean of Boston Sportscasters’’ who hosted candlepin bowling for years, grew up in New Bedford and started his career at WBSM, an AM radio station in his hometown.

Latulippe went to Braintree High School and got his first broadcasting job at WJDA, a Quincy radio station known for its coverage of local news.

“If you looked out your window and saw someone digging up a pipe from the street, you’d listen to ’JDA to find out what was going on,’’ said Latulippe. “That’s how good they were.’’

Latulippe worked at WJDA as a board operator and record librarian. “That was the beginning,’’ he said. “I knew what I wanted to do in life.’’

He went on to become the public affairs director and news director of WROR-FM, then in Boston. He was a booth announcer for WGBH-TV and WNAC-TV, also in Boston, and he produced some of the Red Sox game coverage for Plymouth radio station WPLM.

Now 79, Latulippe lives in Randolph and works part time at WEZE-AM (590) at Marina Bay in Quincy and appears on the Walpole Community Television program “Preview,’’ which airs in 38 communities.

He is compiling archived interviews that will be donated to the Massachusetts Broadcasters Hall of Fame. He said that in his decades long career in broadcasting he got to meet many notable people: As a teenager working at WJDA, he attended Harry Truman’s inauguration; later on, he interviewed celebrities such as Margaret Hamilton, best known for her role as the witch in “The Wizard of Oz.’’

Another hall-of-famer with local ties is Santos, the longtime voice of the New England Patriots. Born in Acushnet and raised in Fairhaven, Santos went to Southeastern Massachusetts University (now the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth) and New England Broadcast School. He got his first broadcasting job at WBSM in New Bedford, and made his on-air debut in 1959 during a basketball game between New Bedford High School and Brockton High. After working at WNBH Radio in New Bedford and WSAR and WALE in Fall River, he became the morning sportscaster for WBZ (1030).

He retired from his morning sports job at WBZ in January, and continues to announce Patriots games - something he’s been doing for a total of more than 30 years.

“It’s been a great ride,’’ said Santos, who lives in Raynham with his wife of 48 years, Roberta, and their two Maine coon cats, Tiffany 2 and LP. His grandchildren live in Bridgewater.

Some listeners think broadcasting sports is easy work, but Santos says he takes at least four hours to prepare for every hour he’s on the air. He reads about opposing teams, memorizes names and how they’re pronounced. He learns the heights, weights, and other stats of players. The number of years they’ve played in the league. The schools they attended. How they were acquired by their team.

The research and preparation that goes into each broadcast, said Santos, “that’s the hardest part.’’

“You can’t just show up and start talking.’’

Santos is looking forward to Wednesday’s ceremony. “It’s quite an honor,’’ he said. Broadcasting “is all I ever wanted to do in my life. I’m doing what I absolutely love to do.’’

With the addition of Santos and his fellow inductees, the Massachusetts Broadcasters Hall of Fame will have a total of 48 members. The organization says its goal is to develop the hall into a research center and repository of archived TV and radio shows, recordings, and scripts. For now, the institution is limited to the wall exhibit and a new website, www.massbroadcastershof.org, launched last month. There are plans to add more video, archive materials, and interactive features to the website, said Art Singer, president of the hall’s board of directors.

“We’re very excited,’’ Singer said. “We see this as a virtual museum.’’

Emily Sweeney can be reached at esweeney@globe.com.