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Jim Boyd with WCVB anchor Susan Wornick and TV host Tom Bergeron.

Eric Antoniou photos

Retired WCVB Anchor and recent inductee into the Massachusetts Broadcasters Hall of Fame Jim Boyd says he had no idea he was going to become a journalist. Boyd, a native of Harlem, established a career in journalism without a college degree.

“I’m still in awe over the things I was able to do,” said Boyd during an interview at Eastern Standard, a restaurant in Boston’s Kenmore Square.

Over lunch, Boyd reflected on his early days in Harlem and his 36 years in the news industry.

“It’s an industry that’s been extraordinary to me and helped me carve out my life,” said Boyd, who grew up in a working-class family. Jim Boyd’s mother was a secretary and his father was a letter carrier. Boyd’s parents instilled the belief that the color of his skin could not hinder his success.

“Fortunately, I had parents whose attitudes [were], where you were, what you look like, none of that determines who you are, where you will go and what you will be,” said Boyd. 

Boyd took his parents’ advice and graduated from high school at 16. He attended Long Island University, but soon dropped out.

“I was a fish out of water in a college environment,” said Boyd, who is now completing a Sociology degree at Tufts University. “I flunked out of college, which is a blemish on my record, [but] I am not a failure.”

With no background in journalism, Boyd began his career in public television in 1961 working in the mailroom at WNET-TV in New York. He worked his way up and was promoted to production

assistant and then to associate writer. He went on to cover public affairs and produced the Emmy Award-winning news program “News in Perspective.”

“The program was just phenomenal. It gave me opportunities that [I] as a kid from Harlem never thought I would [have],” said Boyd.

After “News in Perspective,” Boyd was responsible for contributing to the earliest productions of WGBH-TV’s “Say Brother,” known today as “Basic Black.” In 1972, Boyd began working as a reporter for the newly launched WCVB-TV in Boston. He became an anchor for the weekend and early morning newscasts, and eventually co-anchored midday newscasts with Susan Wornick.

As a news reporter and anchor in the post-Civil Rights era, Boyd says he didn’t experience racism in the newsroom like many journalists of color.

“I cannot say that I experienced what one would have expected, considering the reputation that Boston had,” said Boyd. “I’m not aware that I was at all disadvantaged because of my race.”

Boyd attributes his journey in journalism to his mentor and WCVB colleague Bob Clinkscale, who showed him the ropes when he didn’t have any formal training.

“He would help me with scripts, he would help me with performance, alliteration, he was magnificent,” said Boyd. “He even gave me some breathing exercises to do voice training.”

Boyd continued to perfect his craft by watching the news. Over the years, he began to connect with his audience and soon discovered his niche.

“I found that I was  much more attracted to stories of humanity, stories of process,” said Boyd. “I’m not very much of a political reporter.”

Ironically, one of Boyd’s highlights of his career was interviewing former U.S. President Bill Clinton. He says Clinton was just as charismatic as people said he would be.

“I’m delighted that I was able to have my entire career right here in Boston, 37 years working at the same station in the same market,” said Boyd. “I could have not asked for anything more than that.”

On Sept. 14, the veteran journalist was inducted into the Massachusetts Broadcasters Hall of Fame for his exceptional work in news. In a room full of his colleagues, including former inductee Sarah Ann Shaw and WCVB meteorologist Dick Albert, Boyd confidently delivered his acceptance speech, in which he stressed the importance of journalists being credible, honest and a voice for the voiceless.

“It’s nothing extraordinary about me,” said Boyd. “I’ve just been able to be in the right place to take advantage of opportunities.”