Boston TV pioneer Robert Bennett has died after a long illness. He was 89.
“He was a genuine broadcasting pioneer and legend, respected equally by his staff and competitors,” said Bill Fine, WCVB president and GM. “His impact on local broadcasting, nationwide, is his legacy,”
Bennett started as an usher at CBS in Los Angeles and joined KTTV in Los Angeles in 1952 as a salesman. He was the station’s director of Sales from 1958 to 1966. At Metromedia, he worked as GM of WTTG in Washington, D.C. and later WNEW in New York. He went on to lead Metromedia Broadcasting, when it was the country’s largest station group.
The Metromedia entertainment empire included television stations in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, Houston, Dallas, and Washington, D.C., as well as 13 AM/FM radio stations in ten major metropolitan areas, Harlem Globetrotters, Ice Capades, and Metromedia Producers, which distributed virtually all of famed producer Aaron Spelling’s television series, along with Metromedia’s own network movies-of-the-week and award-winning mini-series. In his first year as head of Metromedia Broadcasting, the company’s stock rose from $45.00 per share to more than $500 per share, the highest price then recorded on the New York Stock Exchange.
He championed and captained the launch of such nationally successful shows as “Fame”, “Three’s Company”, “Small Wonder”, and “Star Search.”
In 1972 Bennett was awarded a license by the FCC which became WCVB. He is credited as being the station’s principal architect, builder, manager and owner.
Mr. Bennett built into WCVB-TV’s success a sense of public service and community interaction, she noted. “He not only had a desire to make money, he also understood the FCC mandate to give back,” she said.
In his memoir, Mr. Bennett attributed his success to luck and good co-workers. “I always had good people around me who were dedicated to working hard and had a great deal of pride in their jobs,” he wrote.