According to statements by Dyett, he came across his signature line while promoting concerts and serving in the Air Force.
“I was promoting concerts, and Duke Ellington invited me to take a trip with his band on its bus,” Dyett said. “I noticed at the end of every concert, just before he walked off stage, he would turn to the crowd and say, ‘I love you! I love you madly.’
“It touched me so much that I ended every one of my own shows with it.”
For nearly 35 years, his Saturday night show has been a WBZ mainstay, a place where host and listeners alike could discuss issues ranging from the local to the national.
In December, however, Dyett was informed that he would no longer have a radio program and was, in fact, no longer employed by WBZ.
Dr. J. Jacques Carter, M.P.H., an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and a friend of Dyett since the 1980s, said he spoke to Dyett the day he was terminated. According to Carter, the firing surprised the longtime host.
“Lovell did not receive the proper amount of prep time concerning his termination … There are better ways to retire someone from a radio show,” Carter said.
On that point, Pastor Wall agreed, calling the decision to terminate Dyett “mean-spirited” and “not good business.”
“Lovell is an institution in Boston; he is able to transcend race and culture and speak to everyone,” Wall said.
The pastor even went as far as to liken Dyett’s termination to Rosa Parks’ 1955 arrest for refusing to give up her seat at the front of the Cleveland Avenue bus in Montgomery, Ala. Wall said Dyett’s firing had sparked similar outrage, and subsequent unity, in Boston’s communities.
Others with whom Dyett has worked over the years echoed their surprise at the way the situation has unfolded.
“I thought [Lovell] was a guy who would be [on air] forever,” said James Henry, an aide to state Sen. Anthony Galluccio.
Henry met Dyett in the 1990s when they worked together on a documentary about some of the issues facing minorities in Cambridge. He said he was shocked when he first heard news of Dyett’s firing.
“I’m amazed at the disloyalty they could show him,” Henry said.
Along the same lines, black community activist Sadiki Kambon said he thinks Dyett has been underappreciated and overlooked at WBZ.
“Lovell looks to uplift society, not just build his resume,” said Kambon, director of the Black Community Information Center, who said he has known Dyett for more than 30 years. “… I don’t think WBZ knows what they have in Lovell Dyett.”
For his part, WBZ’s Casey told the Banner that the decision to terminate Dyett was made necessary by the changing economic landscape, saying that the station is not immune to the financial pressures being felt by many media outlets. However, he was quick to note that he agrees with Dyett’s supporters’ characterization of the host’s place in the Boston broadcasting landscape.
“Boston has a great local presence,” Casey said in an interview prior to the host’s reinstatement. “Lovell is a great piece of that.
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