Sunday, July 29, 2007

Part 4-WJW becomes FOX 8

1980's WJW-TV Logo

This Final part of the WJW-TV 8 History covers about the 1980's to around 2000..When WJW became established as a Fox Owned and operated station..

WJW Becomes FOX 8
Doug Adair: It was never quite the same for me when I got lured to Channel 3. At the time it was run by NBC out of New York; they had their own way of running a local news operation.

Wilma Smith [Anchor]: I used to watch this station as a child — never had a dream of working here. I was baby-sat by the TV. I was a latchkey child; my father worked one shift and I worked another shift. So I was between time reading books. I was a boring child! (laughs) When I first came home to Cleveland TV, I remember thinking, "I hope I don't embarrass my parents." I wanted to make them proud. People I went to school with would say, "Isn't that Wilma? I had algebra with her!"

Kevin Salyer: I grew up in Cleveland watching Channel 8 — Dick Goddard and Big Chuck — and always from the time I was 15 years old, I knew I wanted to work here. When I started, they hired me as a full-time tour guide. The General Manager, Bill Flynn, was fanatical about the station's role in the community. I did four tours a day...Boy Scout troops, Girl Scout troops, and you name it. Today I'm Vice President of Programming and Promotion...but even now when I see a yellow school bus, I react to it.

Dick Goddard: The basics of forecasting are still the same. But when I started in TV, I used chalk...I would chalk four hours a day. I almost had white lung disease by the time I was done. Then I went to Magic Marker in Philadelphia. You could tell which meteorologists used Magic Marker because their shirts all had black ink spots around the pockets. And when I started here at Channel 8, I painted the maps with acrylic paint, which drove the floor crew nuts because they had to clean 'em up every night.

Doug Adair: Goddard was the dearest friend. I lived through all the things he was going through. We played a lot of golf. We would go out for supper together. One time, he couldn't play golf because he was baby-sitting while his wife went bowling. So on the air, we presented him with "Bowling's Baby-sitter of the Year award."

Virgil Dominic: Dick came to me with an idea that we put a feature on the news about animals that were up for adoption. We talked it over and decided we'd try it...and I mean the audience went crazy. Here's Dick, who the audience loves anyway, with these puppies and kittens. Well, some time goes by and my boss, Bill Flynn, gets promoted to run our Detroit station and a new General Manager comes in...sees Dick with these animals and said, "Get rid of that!" I had to tell him, "No, you don't understand!"

Jim Prunty: In the early days, Neil Zurcher was a stringer. He'd send us news film from Amherst before he came aboard as a reporter.

Virgil Dominic: Neil Zurcher is a wonderful guy. When the oil crisis hit in the early '70s and there were long lines at gas stations, we thought about different things we should do. We got this idea for a feature called "One Tank Trip." Even though gas is in short supply, people still have to have recreation time; they can still travel. So Neil starts in on this feature where he visits interesting places that you can get to without using a lot of gasoline. He gets this Nash Rambler and goes to all these places and, over time, the feature became very popular. Well, you know what happens: the gas crisis ends. Me and my wisdom: I took the feature off the air. In no time, we got so many calls from the public — people were saying, "Where's One Tank Trip? We want it back!" So once again, the lesson learned is, you gotta listen to the audience.

Jim Doney: I love it here in Honolulu. I had been here many times while I did "Adventure Road" on WJW. I worked for 23 years here at KGMB, which is the CBS station in Honolulu. I was in charge of Community Affairs and then was the station's human resources manager. I retired in October of 1998.

Howard Hoffmann: When I retired on October 15, 1986, George Forbes, who headed up the City Council, and Mercedes Cotner, the recorder clerk for years, put me in the official city record as the TV voice of Cleveland for 37 years.

Doug Adair: I have been very lucky in my career. I stayed long enough in this business to get gray hair. When I retired in Columbus, I was by 30 years the oldest person in the newsroom. Today I spend winters in Florida. And one of the worst nightmares I have is that someone will offer me an opportunity to go back on the air, I accept it, and then I can't find my contact lenses or I can't find the studio. I guess that's proof that I need to concentrate on enjoying retirement, doing charitable things and working on my golf game.

Jackie Golnick: Of course, we call 'em the good old days. It was harder because we had to do everything by hand. But in a way, it was more fun. Today you've got computers and fax machines and everything is last minute. When I started here in 1963, you got copy through the mail. Now when the computer goes down you're sunk!

Kevin Salyer: We went from being owned by this family company to being owned by a conglomerate when George Gillette's company bought the Storer stations. Gillette came in for the dog and pony show and was very candid with us; he promised to support us, and when one of the employees asked a question he couldn't answer, he would do a tap dance. He was very dynamic.

Mike Renda [General Manager]: I worked here in sales management for 11 years in the 1980s when were CBS — a dominant CBS station. We carried Donahue and CBS News, all the CBS shows. We were one of the strongest CBS stations in the country. I left during the period when George Gillette bought the station. A friend of mine had gone down to the NBC station in Cincinnati and asked me to take over and build the sales department. Leaving WJW meant taking a huge chance, personally, but I had gone about as far here as I could and I wound up learning a lot about people and management down there.

Kevin Salyer: Gillette did the whole junk bond thing — remember this was a time when junk bonds were being used everywhere in business. And Gillette's business got to the point where he had to sell out. Then I got a call at home one Sunday night from Virgil Dominic that FOX was buying us. [The station joined FOX on September 3, 1994. FOX bought the station January 22, 1997.]

Mike Renda: I came back to FOX 8 for the switchover to FOX. The switch from CBS was like closing one book and opening another one. A lot of people thought we'd never be #1 again...but we're on our way.

Kevin Salyer: We had been CBS for all those years and we were stunned. But you know, FOX coming in changed the course of television history. It really did. The big three networks became the big four networks.

Mike Renda: Actually a lot has changed that nobody ever saw coming. During my first tour here, there were really only the three big channels fighting for the audience. All the cable channels, digital television, convergence of the Internet and television have come along since...and our platform has changed. I'm glad we have the FOX brand to help us.

Kevin Salyer: FOX signed up the NFL. And they became such a powerful brand name. I mean, people know what FOX is the same way they know what Coca-Cola is. It's cutting's the willingness to take chances. Of all the networks, FOX has done the best job of branding.

Tim Taylor [Anchor]: It's quite different under FOX. It's been a real transition, but one that I think has left us on the cutting edge because we're combining the integrity and experience of the old team with the cutting edge nuances of FOX, so we have the best of both worlds. We're attracting a younger audience, but one that we can still identify with because we've grown up with them. Now their kids can remember, I remember when I was a little kid, my parents watching these people. It's an interesting marriage and one that leaves us in a very solid position.

Mike Renda: Our goal is to be your preferred supplier. Over time, people are going to have more and more say in what they see on TV...and we want to be a dominant choice. We'll do it with local news...and I think already, when you say "FOX 8 News," people know what it is.

Copyright © 2000 New World Communications of Ohio, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

WJW-TV has remained a strong station under Fox..With recent moves such as the retirements of Chuck Schodowski and Tim Taylor, and the introduction of a new news set as well as the announced sale of the station, WJW-TV will be entering yet another new era as we head into 2008...Again thanks to Richard Warner for contributing the webpages..This history needs to be preserved..

WJW History Part 3-The 1960's

Most well-known WJW-TV Logo-from the 1960's

Part 3 of the WJW-TV History-The 1960's:

The '60s
Joel Daly: This sort of personality[Happy-Talk News-Ed.] also became the standard for the way news is done now, and it all started at Channel 8. We didn't do it every night...and we still took the news seriously.

Doug Adair: People recognized that we were human and as a result they had confidence in us as newscasters. At the time, most anchors just read what they were given.

Bob Soinski: We had a real feeling of family. For example, we'd have a station picnic at Chippewa Lake every year.

Chuck Schodowski: Helen Celke had a place there and she hosted these picnics.

Doug Adair: When she first started having these parties, we all wanted to go but we had a newscast to do. So the staff said, "Oh, come on...what would happen if we pre-taped the news advance? Nobody would notice!" And then we could all go to the picnic. Well, I didn't like this idea one bit. I was scared the tape would break or some big breaking news would happen. It didn't. We taped a newscast and we all went to the picnic, but we were so preoccupied worrying about that newscast, we never did it again.

Joel Daly: WLS in Chicago saw what we were doing and tried to hire Doug and me. I went, and we started with the people who made the "Eyewitness News" so successful around the country.

Doug Adair: They wanted to hire me, too, but I couldn't get free from my contract to leave. And actually, I didn't really want to.

Dick Goddard: I went to Philadelphia when KYW moved there, but one weekend after we'd come back to Cleveland to visit friends, I asked my wife, "What are we doing? This is where we belong!" All three stations offered me jobs, but I went with Channel 8 because they had the Browns and I'm a huge Browns fan. I've done spotting for Browns radio for years.

Bob Soinski: We were going to do this live show on Friday nights and Howard Hoffman was being considered to host it. Glen Bowers came up from Miami to start it. The station had bought a lot of spooky pictures, and the idea at the start was to do something serious...a ghoul.

Chuck Schodowski: Tim Conway, Ernie Anderson and I were actually the beginning team here.

Tim Conway [Director/Host]: Ernie and I quit [Channel 3] the same day [to do a weekday show on Channel 8 called "Ernie's Place."] Whenever we needed a prop, we'd run down to the magic shop together. It was that kind of arrangement...You were completely on your own. If you needed a chair, you went and got a chair. You didn't tell somebody else to get it, because there was nobody else to go.

Chuck Schodowski: When Ernie Anderson started as Ghoulardi here I didn't want anything to do with being on camera, but I'd go out of my way to help him. I liked blues, so I'd always try to find musical stuff he could use. I was switching programs [a technical job] at the time and I was a big fan of Ernie Kovacs, an early TV performer who was very limited in what he could do as far as technical things go, but was very inventive. He did some great special effects. And me being in the technical end, I admired him, so we tried some things on Ghoulardi that seem primitive now.

Jackie Golnick: Oh yes, I remember Ernie driving his motorcycle down the hallway. He was quite a character.

Bob Soinski: I came up with the idea of interrupting the film with drop-ins. I was the one who found "Papa oo mow mow" — I said, "Man, we gotta use this" and sure enough it was a hit right from the start. I remember bags and bags of mail coming in.

Doug Adair: Big Chuck was an absolute genius. I always admired that guy for the magnificent work he did working with Ernie and later with Houlihan. I came to realize how funny Tim was when he and Ernie did commercials during the news for a coffee company. Ernie played the dad and Tim was the son. They'd be sitting in this row of coffee plants. Tim would say, "Dad, how come you're choosing these coffee beans?" And Ernie would say, "Dumb kid, don't you realize..." Well, they'd do these commercials and everybody would remember the coffee company. It got to be very hard to come back and do news we were laughing so hard.

Chuck Schodowski: Back then, before a newscast, we had to have the graphics department type out everyone's name who was going to appear on the newscast on black cards...white type on black. We'd put all these names on a big board in the studio...and then the camera actually had to shoot each name and I had to superimpose it over the story. So one time, I was thinking...I told Ernie, I said..."You know, if you wear all light stuff, I'll bet I could put you in the movie!" That's where his white smock came from and his white fright wig. And he was really good at it.

Bob Soinski: Ernie was a wild man. He came up with the idea of a half-time show. We'd compete against local schools with our little six-piece band wearing bowling shirts. People turned out by the thousands to see us. We'd come up with routines, like we'd form a pencil, or if we had more people marching, maybe a golf club and golf ball.

Chuck Schodowski: One time we took our show to Detroit, to Channel 2 WJBK. We tried it for like 15 weeks there. We got so many complaints about this and that. Oh, man! They can't laugh at themselves in Detroit, let me tell you, like Clevelanders can.

Doug Adair: I'd get Dick Goddard sometimes. Years ago, there were boards he had to pull by hand while he was on the air doing his forecasts. Each board had a map or charts showing the local temperatures or the national conditions. Well, when I would finish the news and Dick got on the air, I would get up and go behind his boards...and when he pulled one board, I would pull another. He would talk to me behind the board and say, "Adair, stop doing that!" We usually resorted to these sorts of hijinks on a Friday night before "Ghoulardi."

Larry Giele [Business Office]: The way Polish jokes started goes back to (Big) Chuck. He was the director of the Ghoulardi show and bought a house in Parma. Well, the night he bought the house, Ernie, who was this big practical joker, starts making fun of Parma as a way to kid Chuck. You know the chrome balls, the white socks and the pink flamingos. Then it became "that certain ethnic group."

Chuck Schodowski: Tim and Ernie asked me to dub off some stuff for them. They sent it off through Rose Marie to Steve Allen. Steve Allen sees the stuff and says, "Those guys are funny! Send me the little bald, fat guy [Conway]; I can do the other guy's job." So Tim did the "Steve Allen Show" and later went on to "McHale's Navy."

Tim Conway: I was having that good a time in Cleveland, with Ernie. I wasn't sure [about leaving Channel 8], so I told the station manager, who said, "Maybe this will help you. You're fired. If you don't go out [to Hollywood]. You're nuts. So you're fired."

Chuck Schodowski: Tim was out there in Hollywood always pulling for Ernie to come on out, so eventually Tim got Ernie a good agent and Ernie eventually became the voice of ABC. He was the highest paid, most famous announcer in the history of the world.

Doug Adair: Tim and Ernie and I owned a racehorse together. We didn't have much money, so we pooled what we had and paid $1,500 for this horse. Well, he couldn't win for anybody. We wound up giving the horse away. Today out in California, Tim has a stable of horses.

Chuck Schodowski: When Ernie left, he asked the station management to carry on with our show. He told 'em that I had talent...but I really didn't want to do anything on the air. Houlihan was the weatherman and he auditioned for Ernie's spot, and he asked me to help him with the audition. I thought this would be great. I can get a little TV here, which is really all I wanted. But the station liked it so much they made us partners. I didn't think we'd last 13 weeks...and here it is 38 years. Houlihan left in 1978 for Florida. He had a position as a station manager of a religious station, which didn't work out. L'il John had been in many skits with Houlie and I, and when Houlie left, we had so much tape with John in the know, skits and stuff...I thought he would be the logical replacement because we had done so much material together. So that was 20 years ago. L'il John came out of Ohio State with a business degree and worked for Cowle and Hubbard as a jeweler and about nine years after that, he got his own jewelry store, which he still has. Rinaldi Jewelry on East 9th and Euclid in Cleveland. He's quite a character...a bundle of energy. When I'm tired, like right now (laughs)...John, in five minutes, gets you up. He transmits this energy so if you're down or mad or sad...if you're with him for any length of time...he just brings you out of it. He's in his 50s and acts like a teenager.

Jim Doney: In the '60s, I was community affairs director. There was a lot of racial tension at that time; there was definitely a feeling that TV stations had not responded to the black community. I did a lot to try to solve some of the problems. If somebody got upset about a stereotypical cartoon, for example, my job was to get it off the air. There was a lot of stuff everywhere in those days that was not only politically incorrect, it was also politically corrupt.

Howard Hoffmann: I was the last live booth announcer in the country. I'd give station IDs and do commercials.

Kevin Salyer [Programming]: In essence, Storer had been a family company, one of the last bastions of family television stations in the industry. Everybody knew Peter Storer.

Virgil Dominic [News Director]: I was an NBC news correspondent in the '60s and as part of the job, I did the 5pm NBC radio newscast from Cleveland. I got plenty of freedom and got to get on the phone and gather many of my own actualities, so it was nice from a personal standpoint. I'm from Oklahoma originally, and my dad hated to see me move so far away to Cleveland. But this way he was able to hear me every day on the radio. I was the main substitute anchor on the "Today Show" during the days when Frank Blair was the anchorman on the show. But I reached this point where I had to decide whether to try to make it really big, which meant inflicting the New York lifestyle on my family. Sometimes, you know, the good Lord just takes over; I got a call to become the news director at a TV station in Atlanta. I spent a great five years down there and wound up taking the station to #1. Storer owned a station in Atlanta that I competed against and they also owned Channel 8 in Cleveland. So I got a call from the General Manager at WAGA TV in Atlanta asking if I would like to come back to Cleveland and be the News Director at Channel 8. Well, I'd spent a wonderful seven years here, so I said sure, I'd like to talk. I flew into town during a big snowstorm, interviewed with Bill Flynn who had been a mentor to me, and he hired me — for a big pay cut because I wasn't going to be anchoring the news anymore!

Doug Adair: TV is so different today. In those days we had a monopoly. Our news staff consisted of one photographer, the news director, and me. You think of the 60, 70, 80 people in a newsroom today, and you see how far the business has come. But our ratings were better in those days because there were only three stations. If people didn't want to watch the news at 6:00, they had no choice. Their only choices were the three local stations and all of them were showing news.

Virgil Dominic: We started Newscenter 8 in 1977. Tim Taylor had been doing the weekend newscast on Channel 5 and we decided we needed to make him a part of our team, because we were making some big changes. I had known Tim for years — he was on the radio in Cleveland during my first time here — and we would run into each other now and again. When I came back to Cleveland, I was staying with friends because we hadn't even bought a house yet, and on the first Saturday night I was back in town, I watched Tim finish the 6:00 news on Channel 5. As soon as he signed off, I called him. We'd been chatting for a few minutes when he said, "Hang on, I've got another call"...and it was the General Manager at Channel 5 who had heard the rumors that we were going to try to hire Tim. He was trying to get Tim to stay. I said, "Hey, you don't want to stay there!" And he agreed to come with us. We brought Judd Hambrick back, too. Bill Flynn and I flew out and met him at the Denver Airport and Judd flew in from San Francisco, where he had been anchoring. We built Newscenter 8 into the #1 newscast in Cleveland. The city really responded to us

Copyright © 2000 New World Communications of Ohio, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

WJW History Part 2-News Takes Hold

Late 1950's Ad for the "Nite Movie"

This is Part 2 of The orginal WJW-TV told by personalites and employees of Channel 8..

News Takes Hold
Soupy Sales: Her name was Patty Rowe. (Girl that Soupy worked with on a Variety Show-ed.) She was a piano player. We did "Soup's On" for about a year and won the Plain Dealer Award for best new TV show. The station took it off the air the next day, and I headed to Detroit.

Jackie Golnick [Traffic]: In those days, the FCC had strict regulations on how many commercials you could air: no more than four in a break. Today, it's whatever you want. You can do nine commercials in a break. Probably the biggest change I saw in my job in the continuity department was when we lost cigarette advertising [in 1971]. We'd run cigarette ads in just about every break, especially in prime time. We took a big hit when those went away. Today, everything is car dealerships.

Jim Doney: Empire Coil sold the station to Storer Broadcasting. Storer owned several stations and had a strong relationship with CBS. WXEL had been with the ABC and DuMont networks, which weren't even full-time networks.

Howard Hoffmann: Old man Storer had a seat on the Board of CBS, so when he bought the station, he stole the affiliation [in 1955] from WEWS and they got ABC. It hurt 'em for a little while, but they did fine.

Jim Doney: About the same time they switched the station from Channel 9 to Channel 8 [on December 10, 1953]. Storer wanted to increase the power, but that interfered with a station in Steubenville, which was also broadcasting on Channel 9. Storer also bought WJW radio so the TV station could get the call letters; they thought it was very prestigious to have three call letters instead of four.

Helen Celke: There was a lot of publicity when we changed from Channel 9 to Channel 8. When the Storer family bought it, we took the WJW call letters from their radio station, which was at 850AM.

Chuck Schodowski: I came out of high school...I had no college...I went right into working in a foundry. Whew! I got tired of that in a few years. I used to drive past the Channel 8 transmitter and I'd say to myself, "Man, would I love to work at something like that!" So one day I was downtown and I stopped at Channel 3 and I asked, "What do you have to do to get a job here?" Well, they said you need this and this and this...and at the very least you need a First Class FCC license. So I went out and took a three year course, one a night a week, and learned TV repair while I was working in the foundry. I take my test and get my license and came back to Channel 3 and told the guy, "Here it is! This is what you told me to get!" Let me tell you, he was impressed with that! And he gave me a shot as a summer replacement. I worked my butt off. Did real well. I was only there for the summer, but the Chief Engineer liked me a lot because I was so eager, so he called here and set up a job interview for me because they were getting their first tape machine and they needed another engineer.

Helen Celke: I used to hire talent. We'd hold auditions and people would walk in off the street. I would invite the ad agencies in to watch the whole process. Some of the people were so funny it was almost sad because they thought they were so good. But every so often we would get some really good people. One of them...someone right off the street...became the spokesman for Society National Bank and retired in Paris!

Chuck Schodowski: Channel 8 used to have a movie on in the '50s and called it Night Owl Theater. They had this cartoon that came on the screen...a little guy pulling a wagon that would give you the station ID. He comes along and looks at the camera. So when I starting work here, I met the guy who did the cartoon. His name was Rick Reinard, and he did all the artwork here and he actually drew this cartoon on film and put it on the movies. Now he's a big animator in Hollywood — worked on these really big movies.

Helen Celke: Everything was much simpler then. A lot of people in those days only stayed with their jobs for a few years, but at Channel 8, things changed so fast it was like you were always working for a different company. So much was live, like the commercials. You never knew what was going to happen. If there was a football game on the air and the score was 55-3, they'd come back to the studio and the guy might be there and he might not be there. It was never boring!

Howard Hoffmann: We did everything. Anything that went on the air, I was a part of it.

John FitzGerald: I wound up doing the Browns games with Bill McColgan in 1953. People would recognize you. One night in a bar, this guy walks up to Gale Egan, who was a sports writer with the Plain Dealer and did a show with me and starts punching him out. Didn't like what Gale had said on the air!

Chuck Schodowski: Cleveland, now, is the 14th or 15th largest market. Back then it was the 7th or 8th. A very important market because of the cross section of people that lived here. When I first started here in 1960, we had special commercials that were sent to us by the network where we had to cover some of the network commercials. I never understood why until I found out that Cleveland was a test-market for many, many products. When they would run the national spot, we would cover it and run a local spot and then they would see how the product did in Cleveland. Like the Princess Phone. It was first in Cleveland for two or three years before they sold it nationally. We were a big market because of the diverse, ethnic people here. It's really a special kind of market.

Dick Goddard [Meteorologist]: I was on the GI Bill — got $150 bucks a month, which then in the late '50s wasn't bad. I got a full time job at the Akron Weather Bureau, so I worked full-time at night and went to Kent State during the day. Five years later I get my degree in art ready to quit. But out of the weather bureau I'm doing forecasts and the General Manager of the old Westinghouse station, KYW, called me and said, "Goddard, we're looking for a guy who hasn't just been out IN the weather but he knows a little bit about it." The same week I got an offer to work for Disney in California, I got an offer from Westinghouse. I figured, "Oh well. I'll try TV. I know I won't make it. At least I can tell my grandkids I was on TV!"

Doug Adair [Anchor]: Helen Celke called me in 1958 when I was working for a station in Dayton doing the Sohio Report. She invited me to come to WJW and audition as a staff announcer...a position that was very common in those days. It wasn't like I had a news background; actually, I had a speech background. I always thought news was the last thing I wanted to do. It wasn't as much fun as doing commercials.

Jim Prunty: We fed a 10-minute newscast everyday to TV stations across the state called the Sohio News Network. Warren Guthrie did it every morning at 11:00, but since Cleveland was the only city observing daylight savings time in those days, we had to do it again.

John FitzGerald: Warren was brilliant. He'd been in the Navy, and his job every morning was to give the Fleet Admiral a one page briefing of all the world news. That's how he became so skilled at it.

Doug Adair: When I came to Channel 8, I began working with Warren, who was the head of the Western Reserve speech department. He was Channel 8's first real newscaster and I came to idolize him. Warren had the most unusual ability in the world. Every day, he would come into the newsroom and look over stories his editor had picked out. He would look at them...write down one or two words for each one...then he'd put his feet up and rest because he was so tired. Then they'd do two rehearsals...not because Warren needed them, but because the director would need them. Guthrie never had a script. He took his 2 or 3 words for each story and then delivered a newscast that was flawless.

John FitzGerald: Guthrie had very little interest in local news. One of the general managers tried to push him into doing local, but he wouldn't. He just didn't care if so-and-so's garage had caught fire. So they followed Warren's national news with five minutes of local news called "City Camera," which is how Doug began to make a name for himself.

Doug Adair: We started off using Polaroid pictures. I could hear them using staple guns attaching the pictures on the board as we were doing the news. I'd start reading stories and they'd go to the pictures...and you might not see me again till right before the commercials.

John FitzGerald: The staff carried around Polaroid cameras, and when they'd spot something, they'd snap a picture and bring it back to the station. While we were on the air, we'd hear this "snap snap pop" of the pictures being stapled to the board.

Doug Adair: Then after the newscast was done, we'd take the pictures off the board and mail them out to the people that were involved. That idea immediately caught on. It helped catapult local news to a prominence that no one would have believed as possible. "City Camera" was so popular that we passed Walter Cronkite and Douglas Edwards in the ratings.

Dick Goddard: In every major market in the '50s, they usually had really a good looking lady on one — well endowed — you had a comedian or magician on the other and on the third station, who knows what you had. So I was the first guy to come to Cleveland as a meteorologist. I was so bad when I started. The rumor at Channel 3 was that I was the nephew of the General Manager. (Laughs.) Years later, some of the veterans told me, "We took a vote, Goddard, when you first came as to whether you'd stick around, and the vote was 8 to 2 that you wouldn't!"

Jim Prunty: We carried the Browns for years because CBS had them and we were a CBS station. Sometimes, we would feed the entire country from here in this control room. There would be two complete sets of films and commercials, because if one film chain broke, you only had one chance to get it right and a lot of money was at stake. So you needed a back up. And then if the game didn't sell out, we had to operate a third film chain which is what Cleveland saw because we had to black out the game.

Doug Adair: One time, I was about to leave on vacation and they told me that Joel Daly from Channel 5 and I would replace Warren. I was sick about it. When I saw Warren, I said, "I have no business at all taking your place." I later read this somewhere, that Joel and I were the first local anchor team in the US.

Joel Daly [Anchor]: At that time — we're talking 1964 — it was unheard of to hire someone from across the street. It was decided that we go with a two-man anchor format, which had also never been done. I mean, there was Huntley and Brinkley, but they were in different cities. Up until then, the news ran 12 minutes, then the sports came on and then the weather. It wasn't a half-hour, continuous show because the unions insisted that people who appeared anywhere on a 30-minute show be paid as if they did the entire show. We got the union to change the rules, and as a result, ours was the first local half-hour newscast that became the standard all over the country.

Doug Adair: Joel and I started what some people call the "fun and games." Actually, it was never that; we just went for a feeling that at the end of the show, when we finished, you had to leave the audience with something to smile about. It began to grow where Joel would try to get me on the air or do something to me.

Joel Daly: Doug and I were such good friends; we'd kid each other on the air. I'd do the worst things to him. I became the bad guy. People would come up to me on the street and say, "What are you gonna do to him tonight?"

Doug Adair: He got me one time, in particular. The film editor called me in to look at what he was working on. Like every reporter, I would be out on the street doing a report and I'd mess up from time to time. Joel would find my outtakes, string them together and embarrass me. Well, the film editor said, "We got Joel this time!" He'd found a bunch of Joel's outtakes and was going to use them at end of the show. What he didn't show me was that at the end of all these bloopers, he had sliced in one piece of film where Joel said, "There! That's my imitation of Doug Adair."

Copyright © 2000 New World Communications of Ohio, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

The World On View-WXEL-Part 1 Getting Airborne

Original Test Pattern for WXEL-TV 9 Cleveland at sign-on December 19, 1949

The next few posts will be a reproduction of the Original WJW-TV History pages. These pages were first produced by Richard Warner for WJW Fox 8's website in 1998-99. The new website no longer has the pages on site. This, in my mind was the most well done TV History ever. This is "living history" so to speak..Just memories by mostly former TV 8 employees..Outstanding reading..Mr. Warner was kind enough to offer me the pages..A big thanks to Mr. Warner.
Personalites in this history include:Howard Hoffman, Dick Goddard, Doug Adair, Chuck Schodowski, Tim Conway, Soupy Sales, Jim Doney and many others..

Getting Airborne
Jim Prunty [Engineer]: Channel 5 went on the air first, followed by Channel 4, which had the backing of WTAM radio. Channel 4 went to channel 3 because Detroit had a Channel 4, both were NBC, and people who lived midway between the cities got this ghost effect on their screens. We started out [December 19, 1949] on Channel 9 as WXEL, with the old DuMont network. We operated out of the transmitter site on Pleasant Valley Road in Parma.

Howard Hoffmann [Announcer]: I started in December of 1949 as the 12th employee of WXEL, before the station even went on the air. I'd been working at WHK radio and watched the progress of the new TV station in the newspaper.

Jim Prunty: Howard was one of the original singers on the Milton Berle show. He was one of those guys who would sing, "We're the men of Texaco, we work from Maine to Mexico." But he was from Cleveland and came back to be a weatherman.

Howard Hoffmann: I'd toured with Stan Kenton, recorded for Capitol Records and was one of the original Texaco singers on the Berle Show. There were six of us, but they decided they couldn't afford six singers, so they cut back to four and I was let go. I'd just gotten married and needed a steady paycheck, so I came back home.

John FitzGerald [Sportscaster]: I was working at a radio station in Detroit and really wanted to get back home to Cleveland. So I'd take a flight on the old Capitol Airlines and go on job interviews and be back on the job in time for my afternoon shift. I had never been inside a TV station when Franklin Snyder at WXEL interviewed me, and a few days later, offered me the job. It paid less than the job offer I got from WERE radio the same day, but he said, "Well, you can't expect TV to pay as well as radio. We're not making any money!"

Howard Hoffmann: We flew in two planeloads of dignitaries and personalities the day the station signed on. It was cold — let me tell you — the wind was blowing and the snow was flying at Burke Lakefront. Morey Amsterdam, who had a show on DuMont, was one of the people who attended. Mel Harder, a pitcher with the Indians, was there. I signed the station on: "The World on View: This is Channel 9, WXEL Cleveland." We were all packed into this one little studio that had two cameras and people took turns welcoming the station on the air.

Chuck Schodowski [Engineer/"Big Chuck"]: Empire Coil, out of New Rochelle, New York, was the first owner of the station. They were owned by a guy named Herbert Mayer...they started out making coils that were put in automobiles and eventually they expanded to make coils for radio and TV stations. Their very first station was WSPD [named for the company's gasoline additive, Speedene] in Toledo.

Howard Hoffmann: That first day, we were supposed to show the station's mascot...a big paper maché elephant called "Little Ajax." But that idea never took off.

Helen Celke [Traffic]: They were wonderful years. I was hired to buy the films that the station ran. Nobody had any idea what they were doing...I mean, we were making it up as we went along. I'd come in about 2:00 in the afternoon, because we didn't go on the air until 4:00 and then we'd all work until 2:00 in the morning. Everybody was so happy doing what they were doing.

Jim Doney [Announcer/Host]: In 1952, I had been working at WNBK, which was the NBC TV station in Cleveland, and I got bumped. I was the low man on the totem pole when a guy came back from the Korean War and they had to give him his old job back. So I went over to WXEL and applied. The Program Director at the time was a guy named Ben Wickham, who had held the job of radio and TV editor of the old Cleveland Press newspaper.

Helen Celke: One of the salesmen would call trying to get us to buy some pictures and we wouldn't call them back, or we'd say, "Well, I really want to think about it." We were just trying to drive the price down and it worked because in those days nobody knew what the prices were supposed to be. I'd buy a western for $30. And of course the commercials were the same way...we'd take what we could get. I remember advertisements selling for $5.

Jim Doney: We had two studios at Channel 9. In one studio, we had a daily cooking show with Alice Weston and in the other one, we did a big dramatic show for Sohio where they acted health problems and followed it up with a discussion with experts.

John FitzGerald: I wound up with more exposure during those early years than anybody else. The boss used to say I was his all-purpose guy who could do anything. Since there weren't a lot of network feeds, they'd take your ideas for a show, or bring you some of their own. They'd say, "We've got this idea. You interested?"

Helen Celke: Alice Weston was on the air with her cooking show for years. She'd have guests and cook recipes. And there were many other live shows, although most didn't last very long. I remember one that only ran a little while called "Sports Desk." The most talented man was Warren Guthrie, who was a speech professor at Case Western Reserve. He had a fantastic memory. When he joined us the news department only had two other people.

Jim Doney: One of the most popular shows we did was called "Bargain Barn," which was done by a couple named Rena and Bob Ledyard. He'd been the Program Director at WJW radio, and he was a licensed auctioneer. His wife was a garage sale addict. She was always running off scouring the city for garage sale items and would come back and put together a half-hour show. Essentially, it was a garage sale on air. They'd send a pick up truck over to someone's house, bring the stuff back and sell it on TV. It was actually a very big show...very popular.

Howard Hoffmann: We were pretty much picking up whatever shows we could get. The cable hadn't reached Cleveland, so we couldn't get live shows. What we had were films of shows that were mailed to us. It took a while for us to get our feet on the ground and learn what we were doing.

John FitzGerald: For three or four years, we did a daily ladies' participation show called "Village Fair" from Herman Perchner's Alpine Village at 17th and Euclid. It was a nightclub, and we'd have audience participation and live commercials; there was no teleprompter. And we'd have as guests the people who would be performing that night at the club...Howard Keel...Professor Irwin Corey. We had three live Chiquita banana girls dressed up in their big hats doing commercials, and the Joe Baldi Trio.

Jim Doney: They hired me to replace Paul Newman, who had been doing commercials on the station for National City Bank. He came on every night following a news commentary sponsored by the Council for World Affairs that was delivered by a fellow named named Shepherd L. Whitman. Paul Newman's family was very well known in Cleveland at the time. They owned a sporting goods store called Newman and Stern on Euclid Avenue...which was something like Abercrombie and Fitch. I became a staff announcer, which was basically the booth announcer who was on duty at all times. Then a little later, I became the second banana on the Dale Young morning show, which we did from a restaurant.

John FitzGerald: Just before I started working here...I had to give notice at the radio station up in Detroit...and the boss here at WXEL said, "Well, hurry up. I've got someone who can fill in, but I don't want to hire him full-time." He was Alan Freed [the legendary disc jockey who coined the term "rock and roll"].

Bob Soinski [Engineer]: Freed did the 1:30 movie every afternoon. His sidekick was Grant Wilson, our record librarian. Alan would introduce the movie, do some of the commercials. Grant would play piano. Alan loved R&B music, and he wound up on WABC radio in New York, where he became very famous.

Helen Celke: I remember Alan Freed selling pots and pans on the air at night, sort of like all the infomercials that are running today. I bought one of my best pots from him for $1.00. I still have it.

John FitzGerald: Freed's nighttime show was live and featured a gal helper and a guy who drew cartoons. He'd draw something that went along with the record the Alan was playing.

Howard Hoffmann: "Cousin Walt" Kay did a Saturday morning kids show with cartoons. They'd all sit in a circle on the floor like they were in kindergarten.

Bob Soinski: Soupy Sales also started here, only back then he was known as Soupy Hines. He wound up changing his name because he didn't want to be linked to Hines ketchup.

Soupy Sales [Host]: I had been hosting a dance show on a station in Cincinnati for a couple of months when they came up to me and said, "Who wants to watch a bunch of teenagers dancing on television?" Rod Serling and I got fired from the same station on the same day. The day I came up for the interview at WXEL, someone robbed my car. When I discovered it had happened, I just sat down and cried. They hired me to do a show every afternoon called "Soup's On" where we pantomimed records and had guests like the Hilltoppers and the Four Aces. Johnny Ray made his TV debut on my show. That was also the show where my "pie in the face" routine started. We did a bit about an Indian and a cowboy; this was when the movie "Broken Arrow" was popular. A farmer who lived next door to the station let us use his horse for the skit — it was a wild horse — and the skit wound up that the Indian threw a pie in my face.

Helen Celke: Soupy was doing a show with this girl singer, and together they did comedy.

Copyright © 2000 New World Communications of Ohio, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

The History site as originally presented on the old Channel 8 website is linked at the right..Including pictures..

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Retired WKYC-TV reporter passes away

April 30, 1969 TV Guide Ad for WKBF-TV 61's 10:00 News..The first 10PM Newscast in Cleveland.

WKYC-TV Senior Director Frank Macek has reported in his blog last evening that Veteran Channel 3 News Reporter John Herrington passed away last night. He began his TV career at WDAF-TV Kansas City in 1958. He first came to Cleveland as the news anchor for WKBF-TV 61's 10:00 News, the first 10 PM Newscast in Cleveland in 1968-69..He then began at channel 3 as a reporter in 1971 and stayed 22 years..for a total of 25 years in the Cleveland Market. Herrington had a very low, authoritative "reporter" voice if you will..He was good at what he did, had the respect of his peers and was well liked by the viewers. Funeral arrangements are pending..Prayers go out to the Herrington family at this time..

Friday, July 20, 2007

Akron-Canton Television Market-My thoughts

WAKR-TV 23 News ad in TV Guide for July, 1975

December 23, 1964 TV Guide Print Ad for the "Singing Tower" a traditional Christmas program on Channel 49 Akron.

There has been some discussion in the local TV-Radio Community about a PBS 45/49 special aired last week called "Akron, Ohio, the City where Television News went black." This was produced by Ohio University/WOUB-TV and hosted by Cheri Russo..While the documentary was well done, it did'nt cover a lot of new ground as far as what we didnt know already. I was a bit disappointed there ws'nt more "Older" WAKR film footage used..All in all, though, a decent effort. One of the reasons WAKR-TV didnt succeed (among many) was the lack of real competition in the Akron-Canton Coverage area. I feel that if there were even one or two network stations that could have come on the air in the 1950's or 60's alongside WAKR-TV, all three would have had a chance to survive or thrive as an "Akron-Canton" Market.

A number of weeks ago I dug into some old "TV Almanacs" at my local library to bring out some licenesed stations that never made it on the air..This resulted in a May 22 blog entry..(which for some reason I can't link to right now-check the May postings at the right)

Now, what I'd like to do is "Create" a Akron-Canton TV Market based on the information in these permits as well as stations on the air, with original channel numbers, call letters, etc. Also assigning network affiliation..

17 WJAN NBC Canton
23 WMAC FOX Massillon
29 WTLC CBS Canton
45 WNEO PBS Alliance
49 WAKR-TV ABC Akron
55 WBNX CW Akron
67 WOAC Independent Canton

Let me stress that this is ONLY fun speculation..Something like this could never happen now, unfortunately.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Away For a Few Days:Cleveland TV 1949

1949 Vintage ad for WEWS-TV Channel 5 from TeleVue Magazine out of Cleveland. Notice the mention of Coaxial Cable..This Cable, which made possible live TV programming as far west as Chicago, was completed on January 11, 1949..

Hello All,
My wife and I will be gone on a 15th Anniversary trip to Niagara Falls, Canada July 17-19, so this will be the last update till after July 20 (Not that we've updated that often anyway.)

As a companion to the above ad, Here are the Weekend TV listings for February 5-6, 1949 exactly as printed in TeleVue..These listings are unique in the detail for the time. Most Local Newspapers, If they carried TV listings at all, had one line for the show title and you couldnt always tell what it was by the title. Listings here have the sponsor, network and origin point (Chicago, New York, Hollywood, etc.)

Saturday, February 5, 1949

WEWS-TV Channel 5 (listed first in all listings-They had most of the ad space as well)


10:00 Test Pattern and Tone
2:00 Test Pattern and Tone

6:00 Test Pattern and Tone
6:30 Lucky Pup Review (CBS-NY) A full half-hour with Lucky Pup in a special adventure.
7:00 News (ABC-NY) Interviews with the Income Tax Experts
7:15 Wren's Nest (ABC-NY) Another Adventure in the life of the Wren Family
7:30 News (CBS-NY) World News with on-the-spot film coverage
7:45 Make Mine Music (CBS)
8:00 Film Shorts
8:30 Pabst Presents:Hockey:Cleveland Barons Vs. Buffalo Bisons from the (Cleveland) Arena. (American Hockey League-Barons were defending 1948 Calder Cup Champions)
10:30 To Be Announced

Sunday, February 6, 1949
4:30 Test Pattern And Music
4:45 WEWS Film Featurette:"Life Has Its Ups and Downs"
5:00 Super Circus (ABC-Chicago)-Fun For the Whole Family Under The Big Top
6:00 Cartoon Teletales (ABC-NY) With Chuck and Jack)
6:30 Ireene Wicker-The Singing Lady (ABC-NY) Songs and Stories
7:00 Old Gold Presents:The Original Amateur Hour (DuMont-NY)Ted Mack Gives young talent a chance for Fame and Fortune
8:00 Hollywood Screen Test (ABC-NY) Screen star Mary Anderson joins Neil Hamilton to test unknown actors.
8:30 Actors' Studio(ABC-NY) "Jim Pemberton and His Boy Trigger" by William Saroyan
9PM Emerson Presents:"Toast Of The Town" (CBS-NY)-Mc is Ed Sullivan with guest stars of top Broadway musical Hits "Lend an Ear" and "Where's Charley?"
10:00 WEWS Film Featurette "Strikes to Spare"

WNBK-Channel 4

(NBC Owned and Operated)

Saturday, February 5, 1949


6:45 Bulletin Board
6:50 Children's Film
7:00 Sportsdesk
7:30 The Armchair Travel(er)
8:00 "Scattergood Baines"
9:00 "NBC Television Newsreel"

Sunday, February 6, 1949


7:10 Bulletin Board
7:15 Feature Film
8:30 "Golden Wedding"
9:00 Philco Television Playhouse-"The Late Christopher Bean" with Lillian Gish and Bert Lytell-NC (Network Commercial)
10:00 NBC News Review-(Disney Hats)-NC
10:15 Program Previews

Anothr quick note:Ive decided to go with a new Template to brighten things up a bit..Thoughts and suggestions are always welcomed..

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Christmas In July..from WJKW-TV 8 Cleveland (1977)

Recently found this in Google Video..The Entire NewsCenter 8 Newscast at 6PM for Saturday December 24, 1977. This is unique in that the video is in one file. The whole newscast at one time..Including commercials and station promos. Several heartwarming "Seasons Greetings" spots with the staff of TV 8 and their Children. While there was some violence that day the mood was fairly light being that it was Christmas Eve. The talent on hand that day included Jim Finerty and Kathy Adams, Mike Marlier with weather and Fred McLeod (Now Cavaliers announcer), with Sports, Including reports on the Cavaliers and the NHL Cleveland Barons. Really kind of a Time Machine of a seemingly simpler time 30 years ago..Thought it might cool us off by thinking of the Holidays coming up...

Push the Play button on the left to begin the video..Enjoy!