Thursday, January 14, 2010

Upbeat Memories-Don Webster

TV Guide ad from the Big 5 days-Probably 1965..

Good evening:Tonight, I thought we would feature a two part video from WEWS Morning Exchange featuring Don Webster and "Upbeat"..This is from the December 17, 1997 edition of the "Exchange" with Fred Griffith and Connie Dieken on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of Channel 5..

Don Webster was a Chatham, Ontario native that was discovered in September 1964 by WEWS station manager Don Perris while on a vacation trip to Lake Erie with his daughter. Webster was doing a Teen Dance show in Hamilton, Ontario..Perris' daughter suggested Webster would make a good host of The "Big 5 Show" which premiered in late September of '64..At first, Webster had Cleveland radio DJ's as co-hosts.."The Big 5 Show" became a huge success and was syndicated under the name "Upbeat" beginning in 1966..A lot of Popular music stars got their TV beginnings on Upbeat, Including Bobby Goldsboro, John Denver, Bobby Sherman (who appeared several times), The Animals, Otis Redding (who died in a plane crash shortly after appearing on Upbeat in 1967) , The 5th Dimension, Tommy Roe, The Outsiders, Paul Revere and The Raiders , and many others..They were augmented by "The Upbeat Dancers"

With the advent of large rock concerts, the days of the regional Rock Music Shows were numbered..Upbeat was canceled in 1971..Webster then became station weatherman, hosted The Ohio Lottery Bingo shows,Bowling For Dollars and was the First co-host of the Morning Exchange with Alan Douglas in 1972..For a time in the 1980's Don Webster was Channel 5 station manager..
As of 2007 Don was living in Retirement in South Carolina..

Couple of cool stories: Don was actually offered a job by Dick Clark out in Hollywood at one point..Don's response was, I appreciate the offer, but what would I do? Youre the man out there..We're basically the same type of host..It wouldnt make sense...

Also: Dick Clark applied to Channel 5 around 1956 to basically take the "Bandstand" Concept locally to Cleveland..and was turned down flat.but within a year, WEWS was carrying "American Bandstand" Over ABC anyway...

From The WEWS 50th Prime Time Special:Don Webster on Upbeat's success..also with Ted Henry

In-depth Cleveland Seniors article on Don Webster:
TV Guide Listing

Saturday June 19, 1965

8:40 News
8:45 Living Word
9AM Fisher Family
9:30 Discovery 65
10AM Casper
10:30 LeMans Grand Prix
11:30 Porky Pig
Noon Bugs Bunny
12:30 Hoppity Hooper
1PM Meet Your Schools
1:15 Its Worth Knowing
1:30 Cartoons
2PM Baseball Cubs at Reds
5PM Big 5-Don Webster
6PM 12:00 High (Tape Delay)
7PM Valentine's Day (Tape Delay)
7:30 King Family
8:30 Lawrence Welk
9:30 Hollywood Palace-David Janssen- Guests include: Chagrin Falls Native Tim Conway, along with Carl Reiner, Mel Brooks and The Harlem Globetrotters..
10:30 Call Mr.D..
11PM News
11:10 Weather-Court Stanton-Long Time voiceover announcer..He was most famed for his authoritative station id's for Channel 5..
11:20 Sports-Randy Culver
11:25 Sports Commentary-Gordon Cobbledick (Plain Dealer Sports Editor)
11:30 Johnny Carson-Repeat
1AM News

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