Broadcast Notes

"Viewpoint" Explores Radio
The Boston Globe, Tuesday, May 11, 1993
by John Koch-Globe Staf

Judging by a few examples of WGBH-TV's new Tuesday-night forum for independent productions, the weekly "Viewpoint" series is turning up some very good work indeed.

Tonight's half-hour installment on the eccentric one-man FM operation Simon Geller, called "Radio Fishtown" (at 10, Channel 2), is a piece of poetic silver. It's a shimmering film impression of the odd Gloucester broadcaster, who eventually fled the town that loved and endured his peculiar presence.

For more than 20 years, Simon Geller was the voice of WCVA-FM in Gloucester. Financed mostly by small donations, he single-handed the classical-music station from a tiny, grimy apartment where he lived alone until 1988. That year, he sold the station for $1 million and moved to his native New York.

In director Henry Ferrini's "Radio Fishtown," residents variously remember Geller as dedicated, strange, cantankerous, scary, outspoken--in any case "a landmark." There is grudging but real affection, despite what was seen as a kind of betrayal. The film's distinction is the way it evokes Geller and Gloucester as mirror images of one another--crusty, intrepid and tinged with despair. "He was a real loner," says one man, "in a city that understands loneliness." end