Carl Stevens, the legendary WBZ radio reporter and poet known for his signature voice and calm demeanor during chaotic press scrums, is dialing it back.
Stevens, 64, said in a Facebook post Friday that he’s now working part-time at the station he’s called home since 1991.
“I start working part time on Monday. Here’s a note that I sent to my colleagues at the station a couple weeks ago,” Stevens wrote.
The note began, appropriately enough, with a rhyming couplet:
“At the age of sixty-four/I don’t want to do this any more.”
Stevens continued, “Management has kindly granted my request to work part-time. For that, I am grateful. I will feed in one story per day. Maybe more. I don’t really know. Maybe an occasional poem. It’s kind of an experiment of necessity. I got old.”
He wrote that he no longer wants to “drive through nor’easters, trudge through blizzards, walk up an icy hill to a three alarm fire, or transcribe the tears of a grieving father. I’ve had enough icy hills. I’ve had enough tears. I got old.”
The radio giant, adept at gently guiding harried local officials and civilians to the microphones amid the tumult of a fast-moving story, also alluded to some recent health challenges.
“Certainly the radiation treatments a couple summers ago for prostate cancer produced a few anatomical hiccups, and I would’ve retired after that if management had not allowed me to get off morning drive,” Stevens wrote. “I just got too tired, and old. The world became heavy.”
He also reflected movingly on the recent deaths of several colleagues, including WBZ radio reporter Lana Jones, who died last year at the age of 62 and later received a posthumous induction into the Massachusetts Broadcasters Hall of Fame.
Stevens had marked Jones’s passing with one of his beloved poems that he records and posts to social media, garnering a sizable cult following among the local media literati.
“I think, with me, there’s been an erosive effect of all the deaths: Lana, Gary, Gil, Mark, Joe, Dave, Sully, Bruds, Darryl, others,” Stevens wrote Friday. “Lana was two months older than me. Gary [LaPierre] and Gil [Santos] were my mentors. It was the three of us in the newsroom when I first started at WBZ. Several months ago, as I was preparing the eulogy for Gary, I was thinking that I needed to stop working. That’s what Gary did when he turned 64. Went radio ‘cold turkey.’ But my oldest son warned me: ‘Dad, you can only play so much golf; and you know you’re gonna drink too much.’ He’s probably right.”
So Stevens plans to stick around in a limited capacity.
“I think I’m going to kind of phase out, and maybe find a few good stories as I slowly walk out the door,” Stevens wrote. “I might report for another three months, or maybe twenty years. I really don’t know. As a general assignment reporter, you learn to embrace the reality of uncertainty. ... To be a good writer or anchor or editor or reporter or web person, you need passion and intelligence. We have plenty of that in the newsroom now. It bodes well for the future of WBZ.”