When New Bedford and Fall River had their own local cable news


For 25 years, the New Bedford-Fall River area had its own local television news program that covered events not included in the evening news programs on commercial television networks Providence and Boston.

Local Cable News 13 produced local news five days a week from 1981 to 2006 from its modest studios on Warren Street in Fall River. For 22 years Jim Phillips was Dartmouth’s news director and chief presenter. The quality and uniqueness of the product made it a hit.

Before moving from radio to television, Phillips spent 11 years at the head of WBSM’s news department as a credible news reporter and broadcaster. In other words, Phillips, who is often referred to as the “dean” of local news, had street credit.

When Local Cable News 13 first aired in 1981, two unknowns, Pamela Watts and Bill Rappleye, served as hosts. Phillips didn’t join the show until 1984.

Courtesy of Phil Devitt

Courtesy of Phil Devitt

Watts, now retired, continued to host 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 on NBC) and Michele Silva, who have enjoyed successful careers in television and radio in Texas and Tennessee are among the many talented people who have contributed to the success of Local Cable News 13.

Phillips said the New Bedford freeway killings, the New Bedford fishermen’s strike and the local elections – “too many to count” – are among the more memorable stories he covers during his time at Local Cable News 13 has. “We also did a month-long series about drug problems in New Bedford and Fall River,” he said.

Local Cable News 13 aired live weekdays at 5:30 p.m. and rebroadcast at 7:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. The program developed a loyal following.

“The Providence stations only showed up when something terrible happened,” Phillips said. “We had stories about the city council, local school boards, neighborhoods, people’s pets and hobbies.”

Phillips said what made Local Cable News 13 unique was that it “had stuff about your community that you couldn’t get anywhere else.”

Local Cable News 13 signed in 2006. Phillips said it was a “business decision” by the cable TV operator that signed the deal at the time. When the program went off the air, Phillips returned to WBSM News, where he still resides today.

Who else remembers watching Local Cable News 13?

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