Thursday, September 3, 2009

Ohio Story:The Port of Toledo

Image of a Ohio Bell Porcelain Sign. Ohio Bell Sponsored Radio and TV Versions of "Ohio Story" for about 20 years-courtesy

Nelson Olmsted(1914-1982), who began his career on Radio as an actor and "storyteller" at WBAP, Fort Worth, Texas and at NBC in New York, acted in Films and TV through the 1970's..He was Narrator on the TV Version of "The Ohio Story"-courtesy Wikipedia

Today I'd like to present a real "Blast from the Past" as it were..From about 1947-1967 Ohio Bell Telephone Company, with help from Producer Frank Siedel, sponsored a radio series called "The Ohio Story" on stations throughout Ohio, broadcast from Cleveland 3 times a week..

In the early 1950's The Ohio Story began a Television Version, a once weekly filmed program 10 minutes in length..Ohio Industry, Geography , Art, Communications and History were among the subjects on "The Ohio Story"..

The Narrator was Nelson Olmsted, a nationally known actor in Radio, Films and Television..
He began as Radio and TV narrator June 2, 1952, according to a report in the Toledo Blade at the time..

These films were generally aired at times like 6:50 or 7:20 PM to fill out the half hour after a 20 minute news block, or at other times in tandem with other "film fillers" that stations would use in the 1950's and early 1960's..Stations airing Ohio Story Included:

Cleveland:WNBK-4 and WXEL-8
Columbus:WLWC-4,WBNS-10,WTVN-6,WOSU-34 (WTVN, WBNS WLWC 2012 Edit)
Dayton-WHIO-7 (2012 Edit)
Zanesville WHIZ-18 (2012 Edit)

Anyone that has info on other TV stations airing Ohio Story throughout the rest of Ohio please message or email me..thanks..

Wikipedia article on Nelson Olmsted

Brief article on Frank Siedel

Courtesy Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

I have been looking for many years for a sample of one of these "Ohio Story" episodes on YouTube..Thanks to YouTube user Retro Toledo, a friend of long standing on many message boards and sites, I finally found one..

I apologize for the quality as understandably, 50 or more year old film is not going to look "pristine" Thanks again to Retro Toledo for sharing..


  1. I was the one who put this up indeed!

    I don't own this film sadly, as I had borrowed it from the library over a decade ago when they still had a 16mm collection in their a/v department. The attempt I made and thought was alright at the time was to shine the projector at a converter box and have the video camera record it on the other end while the audio from the projector was fed into the VCR. I did a little bit to clear up the audio as an avi and felt YouTube did a better job on the video despite me not having a telecine-capable projector to use. This was the only episode they had at the library at the time, and I only assume they had this since it was on my hometown anyway, I didn't know this was a TV show at all until I read this post.

    I do wonder if it aired locally though, at the time we only had one station on the air (WSPD 13), and they had their plate full with showing as much from all four networks as they could get (ABC, NBC, CBS and Dumont). We didn't get a second station until '58, and I rather blame our close proximity to Detroit for why it took very long for our city to get as many stations on the air as possible.

    Nice to get some recognition or it anyway.

  2. Chris:
    I have some early 1952 schedules of WSPD-TV and they didnt air it then.They almost would have to have aired it at some point in the 1950's.. Considering what you did to get the video on YouTube, you did quite well..While the airtime was ysually 10 minutes, your version was missing the Ohio Bell ads except for a brief spot at the end..Would love to see more of these..

  3. Thanks for the info Tim! I figured the film was edited as well. The opening before the title shows up had a tacked on title card put there by the library saying it was their property as well (the usual snipes seen on library/university prints). I wouldn't suspect them to keep the ads on at all if they were more for it's educational/informative purposes.

    Finding out info if the show aired or not would require hours of looking through microfiche if WSPD's listings were in the local paper at the time, if only to pinpoint an exact time the show was aired.

  4. Bravo, I was as other were glad to finally find something on "The Ohio Story" after looking for 5 years for information about the program. While researching a book "THE CUYAHOGA RIVER, RIVERS OF AMERICA by WILLIAM ELLIS I found in Mr. Ellis's biography that he wrote scripts for the Ohio Story program from 1946 to 1960 when it was(as I believe) a radio program and then a TV program. This led me to your UTube, I enjoyed this one and hope that you can find more. I do remember it playing on one of the Cleveland TV stations all threw the 1950's, thanks again, ..

  5. Just thought about it, I cut off the bit at the beginning of this episode that was a tag spliced in by the local library that had this print when I borrowed it that simply said something like "This film is from the Toledo Public Library Lending Collection" or what-not. I didn't think it was inportant to include here anyway.

  6. We used to watch these films in Ohio History class in the mid 1960s