Monday, October 1, 2007

WJAN-TV 1970-77..Growing Pains

TV Guide Ad For a Thursday December 19, 1974 showing of an Oral Roberts Christmas Special on WJAN-TV-17. Of the few Complete TV Guides I have from the 1970's, this was the only ad with Channel 17 even mentioned. Channel 17 as far as I know, never bought TV Guide Ad space on its own..always as part of generic producer-bought ads for shows like this one and Billy Graham Specials.

As the 1970's approached, Channel 17 was building its broadcast day slowly. As we saw earlier, they were on only 5 days a week to start..

By April 1970, they were starting to do local color programming..Saturdays were filled with Country Music, as seen here on Saturday, April 24, 1970 from TV Guide:Other than the known Syndicated shows and Jerry Edwards, I have no idea who a lot of the names below are..

1:45 Unity
2PM Hi Jerry-Kids-Jerry Edwards
2:30 Youth Crusade
3PM US Navy Film
3:30 It is Written
4PM Soap Box Derby
4:30 Porter Wagoner-Currently seen on RFD-TV Friday Nights at 7:30 ET
5PM Paul Stowers-Local?
6PM Little Art-Music
6:30 TV Country Time
7PM Country Place-Blake Emmons, Jim Ed Brown
7:30 Cardinal Sweethearts-I think this may have been live from the Cardinal Bar In Canton
8PM Bob Ramey-Music
8:30 Arley Hall-Music
9PM To Be Announced
9:30 Country Carnival-Billy Walker or Del Reeves
10PM Country Western Music
10:30 Country Western Music
11PM Roy Lively-Music
11:30 Wilburn Brothers-Also on RFD-TV Thursday 9PM
Midnight Novie-TBA

Sunday, April 25, 1970

8:30 Oral Roberts
9AM Faith/Hope/Inspiration
9:30 Herald Of Truth
10AM Canton Baptist Temple-BW (They did eventually get color cameras)
11:15 Film-BW
11:30 Bible Story
Noon This Is The Life
12:30 Insight
1PM Wrestling
2PM Gospel Singers
3:30 Enloes Quartet
4PM Inspirational Singing
4:15 Bishop Mayle
4:30 Embers Quartet
5PM Harmony Time
5:30 Homestead USA
6PM To Be Announced
6:30 Youth Crusade
7PM Humbards
7:30 Call Of The West (Death Valley Days)-BW
8PM The Untouchables-BW
9PM Movie-TBA
11PM Movie-TBA

Monday-Friday April 20-24, 1970-Typical Weekday:

10:30 Milton The Milkman-Kids Eventually moved to 4PM..Probably the last station to show "Linus The Lionhearted"..Very bad prints.

11AM Ronnee Furman-Radio personality at WOIO-AM 1060 in Canton before beginning a long stint at WHBC-AM 1480..

Noon Available Jobs
12:20 Louisville Speaks
12:25 Paul Harvey
12:30 Movie-TBA
2:30 Here's Barbara-Washington News Reporter Barbara Coleman, hosted a syndicted program in 1969-70
3PM Big Valley
4PM Alfred Alligator-Cartoons
5PM Jerry Edwards-Eventually moved on to a long career at Liberty University's WRVL-FM in Lynchburg, Va. as General Manager
6PM News-Variously called "Update" and "Our Day In Canton"..The News was anchored by Randy Gerber(To Youngstown) and Allen Davis on Sports-Davis had a long career in Cleveland at WEWS and WKYC and worked in the Cleveland Indians offices for awhile.
6:30 Ben Werk-Live Interview show
7:30 Big Valley

8:30 Monday-Call Of The West-BW
Tuesday-Rosey Grier Show Guest:Daniel Boone Co-Star Darby Hinton
Wednesday-Orrville Scene
Thursday-Alliance Scene
Friday-Minerva Scene

9PM Here's Barbara

9:30 Monday Wilburn Brothers
Tuesday C/W Music
Wednesday Porter Wagoner
Thursday Country Place
Friday Country Carnival

10PM Monday-Startime
Tuesday Jerry's Scene-Jerry Edwards
Wednesday Suspense Theater
Friday Suspense Theater

11PM Paul Harvey
11:05 Movie

High School Sports was a regular feature, with Allen Davis, Steve Bozeka (Spotter for ABC's Monday Night Football for years) and Denny Hazen, with the highest rated game being the Live Massilon/Canton McKinley Football showdown yearly. High School Basketball was shown mostly from Canton Memorial Fieldhouse or Canton Civic Center, with Occassional Live Canton City Doubleheaders from the Fieldhouse with Canton Timken, Canton Lehman, Canton Lincoln and of course, Canton McKinley..

The Cool Ghoul (George Cavender) had Saturday Night Horror Flicks Later in the 1970's..Local Model-Actress Sherry Lee hosted several interview shows on 17 and later WOAC-67. TV 17 was also the Akron-Canton Affiliate for the Jerry Lewis Telethon until 1977. Other personalities included Chuck Healy and Carl Day..
They also broadcast live from the Stark County Fair..

While the quality of Syndicated shows was improving by 1973-74, including Dragnet (1967-70 version), The Bold Ones, Adam 12,The Virginian, Hee Haw and Lawrence Welk, Channel 17 had cut back their sign-on time to 2PM..Not a good sign.

A major programming acquisition was Jim Bakker's PTL Club in 1974, just getting established nationally. The show aired 6 nighs a week..Ultimately Janson Industries decided they couldnt make a go of Channel 17, selling out to Jim Bakker In August 1977..The Station became all religious at that point..

Because of FCC irregularities regarding donations to the station, the Bakkers sold WJAN to Lonnie Rex and David Livingstone Missionary Foundation of Oklahoma in December 1982, changing the Call Letters to WDLI..Denny Hazen assumed a larger role at the station, hosting various religious talk shows and doing High School Play-By Play. Demond Wilson and Roosevelt Grier were frequent visitors to the station..Of course, Jim Bakker's troubles were just beginning in 1983..

TBN's "Praise The Lord" began on 17 in the mid-1980's..Ultimately Lonnie Rex sold the station to Paul and Jan Crouch/TBN in April 1986. TBN currently owns the station, operating TBN's 5 digital channels from a location near Akron, Ohio.. I remember the final Denny Hazen Ministry broadcast on Channel 17-Lots of tears and a little bitterness..Hazen has been running "Plus or Minus 60" since then on various stations..

Commentary:Prime Example of a company (Janson Industries) getting into television woefully undercapitalized..No wonder it was a struggle..The Schedules from 1970 indicate the most extensive programming the station ever had in terms of number of hoours broadcast, but instead of expanding more, they cut back..If Channel 17 had been started by say, the owners of WHBC Radio or another real broadcast company, it might have had a much better chance at success..

A lot of what I've written comes from memory and whatever TV Guides I have, etc..Being the era before VCR's there is no known video of the WJAN days, except a bit of the "Cool Ghoul" from George Cavender's website..The names in some of these listings arent really easy to find online..I just feel, that even with its shortcomings, this station needed to be recognized and the people involved for trying to make a go of it..


  1. I think it's humorous that right in the middle of a big block of religious shows on Sunday is wrestling, probably from Cobo Hall in Detroit.

    Very informative.

  2. Recall enjoying many Canton-Akron Indians baseball games on channel 17. They also carried a number of Invaders soccer matches.