By Ed Karvoski Jr., Contributing Writer
Hudson/Southborough – Guests attending the Jan. 10 meeting of the Breakfast Club at the Southborough Senior Center heard Hudson native Howard Rouse discuss his career of over 40 years in the broadcast industry.
Rouse trained as a radio operator for the amphibious forces in the Philippines during World War II. After returning home to Hudson in 1946, he studied radio and television in Boston through the GI Bill. In 1947, he received a broadcasting license and got married.
“The chance of getting a job in television was slim to none,” he said. “So I took a radio job in in Connecticut.”
He and his wife relocated to Torrington, Conn., where a new AM radio station hired him as an electronics technician in 1948. While other staff members broke for lunch, Rouse hosted a one-hour program called “Rouse's Rouse.”
To be closer to the promising television scene in Boston, Rouse returned to Massachusetts in 1951 and worked at Raytheon in Waltham.
“Television was the coming thing,” he noted. “Westinghouse built this big, state-of-the-art studio on Soldiers Field Road, which cost them a fortune. They had no inkling of whether it would succeed or not.”
That studio was WBZ-TV, channel 4, where Rouse was hired in 1952 as a broadcast technician. Each year, the employees could choose which shift and the nature of work they wanted. Acknowledging himself at the time as “the new kid on the bottom of the totem pole, as far as the union,” Rouse remembers the position as a valuable learning experience.
“I's always get the dregs, whatever was left,” he said. “But that was wonderful because I got a chance to do so many different things. I absorbed it all like a sponge and never forgot.”
While Rouse enjoyed working there, he received a tip from the chief engineer that the headquarters might cut staff. He left WBZ in 1957 for a higher position at channel 5, then known as WHDH.
“It was a good opportunity when I got to channel 5 and was made supervisor of the remote operations,” he said. “I's never done anything like that. I didn's know if I could do it – but I did. Working at WHDH was a real learning curve for me.”
In 1972, WHDH-TV, channel 5, ceased operations after losing its license. Channel 5 became WCVB-TV. There's no relation to the current WHDH-TV, channel 7.
Rouse welcomed the changes including some new staff.
“WCVB was so progressive, doing so much that other stations weren's doing then,” he said. “The new personnel were people who thought outside the box. It boosted me because everybody wanted their work to be the best they could do. It was a more creative time for me.”
He retired from WCVB in 1989.
Rouse also shared stories about working on television programs alongside Boston broadcasting veterans, such as sportscaster Don Gillis, news anchor Arch MacDonald, and children's performer Big Brother Bob Emery.
“I'se had a fascinating life and career,” he said.
Now living in Framingham, Rouse frequents the Southborough Senior Center where he enjoys rehearsing and performing with their Senior Songsters.
The Breakfast Club meets the second Friday of each month at 10 a.m., excluding July and August. The next meeting is Feb. 14, featuring Paul and Patrice Doucette of the Southborough Historical Society with the history of the Burnett family, founders of Deerfoot Farm. Suggested donation is $6 for members of the Friends of the Southborough Senior Center; $10 for non-members. A required reservation can be made by calling 508-229-4453. For more information, visit southboroughseniors.com.