Thursday, September 27, 2007

Serving the City of Canton...WJAN-TV 17

The Only Logo used by WJAN-TV 17 in it's Janson Industries ownership that I know of...Canton Repository, May 7, 1968

January 2, 1967 Ad in the Canton Repository for the "Electronics Center" on Canton's Cherry Avenue NE..Selling UHF converters to receive WJAN-TV 17, due to sign on January 3. The Electronics Center was open into the 1990's and still may be. It was rumored they still had some UHF converters at that time, too..

Also from May 7, 1968..Ad for Stark CATV, which ultimately became Warner Amex..Then Time Warner Cable..the dominant Cable TV franchise in Northeast Ohio...

Today we'll look at the history of WJAN-TV 17 in Canton. TV in Canton/Stark County has sort of a sparse history until the mid 1960s. In the earliest days of commercial television, there were allocations for "Channel 1" as what would be known as "community stations" Low-Power units that would serve small areas..Canton was listed for a Channel 1 allocation in 1946.

Around the mid 1950's plans were laid for Tri Cities Telecasting to operate Channel 29 as WTLC-TV in Canton. The 1958 Canton City directory shows this station at 324 Market Ave. N. In Canton, with Morton Frank and Loren Sourers jr. as officers. I have never seen that this station ever made it on the air. There was also planned WMAC-TV on Channel 23 in Massillon, which also never made it on the air.

Forward to 1967. Channels 25 in Cleveland and 49 in Akron were the only UHF's on the air in the Cleveland/Akron/Canton region. Cleveland Commercial UHF's were a year away. Channel 17 had been licensed to Marion, Ohio at one point, but Janson Industries, a Stage Curtain/Equipment manufacturer, secured the license for Channel 17 and moved it to Canton..Taking the Call Letters WJAN (In recent years Radio stations in Vermont and a Spanish Language TV station in Miami have used WJAN)

Below is a short article (one column) of WJAN-TV's Sign-On..


Canton's first television station, WJAN Channel 17, will broadcast its first programs beginning at 4:30 PM Tuesday, General Manager John E. Hamm announced Saturday (12-31-66)

Eollowing its opening day of broadcasting, the 105kw station will be on the air from Monday through Friday fron 4:30-10PM with transmitting equipment designed to provide a strong signal anywhere in Stark County.

The daily program schedule includes three news programs, a feature movie at 8PM, and film series in the Western, Mystery and Comedy categories.

John Baker is the station's News Director and he will be seen weekdays at 5:30, 7:30 and 9:30 PM.

(Editor's note:It doesnt say here, but John Baker was also News Director at WHBC-AM 1480 in Canton at this time as well.)

Harold Gorsuch,former superintendent of electronic systems for the Ohio State University, is chief engineer at the station, While Frank Buchtel, former manager of Canton radio stations WCNS/WCNO (900 AM/106.9 FM-Ed.) is director of sales.

Studio transmitter and tower are located on Route 62 at California Ave. NE. Five miles northeast of Canton. The Station is owned by Janson Industries of Canton.

Canton Repository
Monday, January 2, 1967.

Next:A more specific look The Earliest days of Channel 17-from 1967-69


  1. The only two personalities I remember from WJAN were Milton The Milkman and The Cool Ghoul.

  2. My late dad was a Canton native and he once told me that The Canton Repository tried to get a license back in the 1950s but lost out to a party who didn't have the money to go on the air. At the time the Rep owned WHBC AM and FM so we could have had WHBC TV. I don't know if this Tri-Cities Telecasting was that party that beat out the rep or not. On the subject of cable TV, I had and aunt and uncle who lived for many years on Windsor Avenue in Canton and they told me that they got cable when it first started and kept it for less than a week before my uncle went out back and disconnected the cable and then made the company come to the house and take it out.

  3. My father was the sales manager at WJAN 17 from 1968 until just after the purchase by PTL. During these times my father, Herbert Burke, was quite innovative with the creation of a crack sales staff like Lester Thomas, Bill Pryor, Bill "Butterball" Wyatt and Ben Werk. I grew up knowing these people intimately and later professionally er while working as a camera man. Working with other celebrities including Jay Andrews (Milton the Milk Man), George Cavender (The Cool Ghoul). I have many long and fond memories of working for the Jansen Brothers along with these fine people that I have previously mentioned, and of course working with my father, Herbert Burke Sr. I may be reached at anytime to assist in setting the records straight on Canton's First successful television station.
    Herbert J. Burke