What Are You Watching? ‘Chronicle’


Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

I have been watching “Chronicle” news magazine on WCVB-TV Boston for about 40 years now. And what’s amazing is how strong the Vineyard connection is with this highly successful newsmagazine. The original host of the show was news anchor Chet Curtis, but standing right behind him were Arnie Reisman and his wife Paula Lyons, the WCVB consumer reporter. Arnie and Paula went on to become mainstays of the Vineyard arts community.

In 1982, I had an advertising agency in Boston, and Barry Rosenthall, marketing chief at WCVB and soon-to-be Vineyard resident and owner of the nightclub Outerland, approached our agency about coming up with ideas for a new show called “Chronicle.” The show was to be half an hour long, and be all about New England. It was meant to be a show that could go up against WBZ-TV’s powerhouse “Evening Magazine.”

Our idea was to give “Chronicle” a different name. We proposed “Main Streets & Back Roads,” which they didn’t end up using as a name, but it eventually ended up being the longest-running segment in the history of the show.

And from that point on I became hooked on the show. To begin with, I’ve lived in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Maine, and New Hampshire throughout my life, so watching “Chronicle” is like thumbing through an old scrapbook. There’s a Norman Rockwelly aspect to the show, but it’s not just a show featuring old general stores, quaint barns, and picturesque lobster fishermen.

There’s enough scenery and old Yankee porn to go around, but what brings the show to life for me are the stories behind the characters, touching stories of Mainers struggling to keep up with the times, of retirees fighting cancer and chefs coping with the pandemic — all told with dignity, grace, compassion, and in many cases, humor.

And apparently I’m not the only one who finds this formula appealing. “Chronicle” is still on the air, after 40 years, now under the capable hands of hosts Anthony Edwards and Shayna Seymour. “Evening Magazine,” on the other hand, has been out of business since 1991.