When New Bedford and Fall River Had Its Own Local Cable News
For 25 years, the New Bedford-Fall River area had its own local television news program covering events not included in the evening news broadcasts on the Providence and Boston commercial television stations.
Local Cable News 13 would grind out the local news five days a week from 1981 to 2006 from its modest studios on Warren Street in Fall River. For 22 of those years, Dartmouth's Jim Phillips served as News Director and lead anchor. The quality and the uniqueness of the product made it a hit.
Before leaping from radio to television, Phillips established himself as a credible news reporter and broadcaster through 11 years at the helm of the WBSM News Department. In other words, Phillips, often referred to as the "dean" of local news, had street cred.
When Local Cable News 13 first aired in 1981, two unknowns, Pamela Watts and Bill Rappleye served as anchors. Phillips would not join the broadcast until 1984.
Watts, now retired, went on to anchor the evening news for WLNE 6 in Providence, and Rappleye, now deceased, became an award-winning investigative and government reporter for WJAR 10 in Providence.
Monique Stylos, Pamela Martin, Paul Santos, Delia Goncalves, Jim Polito, John Carchedi, Paul Burton, Shannon Moss, videographer Gil Nobrega (now with NBC), and Michele Silva who has had a successful career in television and radio in Texas and Tennessee, are among the many talented folks who contributed to the success of Local Cable News 13.
Phillips said the New Bedford highway killings, the New Bedford fishermen's strike, and local elections – "too many to count" – are among the more memorable stories he covered during his time with Local Cable News 13. "We also did a month-long series on drug problems in New Bedford and Fall River," he said.
Local Cable News 13 aired live at 5:30 p.m. on weekdays and was rebroadcast at 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. The program developed a loyal following.
"The Providence stations would only show up when something terrible happened," Phillips said. "We had stories about the city council, the local school boards, neighborhoods, people's pets, and hobbies."
Phillips said what made Local Cable News 13 unique is that it featured "stuff about your community you couldn't get anywhere else."
Local Cable News 13 signed off in 2006. Phillips said it was a "business decision" by the cable television provider that held the contract at the time. When the program went off the air, Phillips returned to WBSM News, where he remains today.
Who remembers watching Local Cable News 13?