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September 13, 2018 11:02 pm  #1


Friday Flashback: Not The Latest News

I’ve done a previous Friday Flashback about news, but it was such an important component for most radio and TV stations that it deserves a second take. It’s not exactly breaking news that for most of us as kids, when the headlines came on any Top 40 station, we went elsewhere. That’s why stations like WABC used to program it at five minutes to the hour, knowing they’d get the teens coming back from another news-induced stop set on competing stations within a few minutes.  
  
Here’s a look at some more news about news.
 
Someone Phone 680 News!
 
Knowing that CFTR is now a successful all-news station, it’s easy to forget that former N.D. Robert Holiday put together the single largest newsroom of any private station in Canada. But long before there were non-stop headlines, the Internet, social media or other ways to get caught up on what was happening, there was this: hear your news on the phone.
 
I’m not sure what led to this, or how long it lasted, but I’m betting it was well used in its time.
 
http://i64.tinypic.com/11qslea.jpg

 
Mornings Become Him On 590
 
Back before the frequency became the Fan, I was a fan of Pete McGarvey on CKEY. It was always a tough fight between CFRB and ’EY, and if memory serves, 1010 always won. But that easy listening format up the dial was always competitive and had a huge newsroom that included names like Ian Brownlee, Bob Crabbe, Bernie McNamee, Frank Allinson, Fred Cripps, Joe Morgan, John Yoannou, Brad Diamond, Jim Hunt and more.
 
Given the thankless task of competing with the likes of Jack Dennett and Gordon Sinclair was Pete McGarvey, a veteran news guy who lent the station a lot of credibility. And he was a nice man, to boot.
 
http://i64.tinypic.com/kc14b5.jpg

 
Tom Gould came over from CTV to do the afternoon run. He brought a wealth of experience and insight that money couldn’t buy – although in this case, I suppose it did. His career effectively ended when he had a heart attack on air just seconds after his intro ended and he turned on his mic.
 
http://i65.tinypic.com/4euc8.jpg

 
McGarvey passed away in 2014 at the age of 87. Gould was 84 when he filed his final life story in 2016.
 
The Talk Of Toronto – And Beyond
 
I’m betting most here remember John Gilbert from his pioneering talk show days at CHUM. But how many recall this less prestigious program that aired out of CKEY around 1980? It went across the country but it only lasted two years and frankly, it wasn’t all that good. Add to that, Gilbert wasn’t exactly a household name in other markets, the audience for an all night talker wasn’t huge back then and the CRTC ordered affiliates cut from 13 to just 6, and it never worked.  
 
http://i65.tinypic.com/2dmgrd2.jpg

 
Gilbert would eventually wind up on the doomed CKO All News Network. He died in 1998.  
 
Speak Your Mind On 1430
 
Larry Solway was instrumental in the success of CHUM in the 60s but that wasn’t his only spot on the dial. As illustrated in another Friday Flashback, he had his own show on CHCH-TV and did a talk show on the original incarnation of AM 640. I have absolutely no memory of him plying his talk trade on CKFH, but the ad below proves it happened.
 
http://i64.tinypic.com/15s7abm.jpg

 
The Big 143 Makes News
 
When you think of CKFH during its Top 40 days, news isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. Nor should it. But the Foster Hewitt station had a decent newsroom, including the great Bud Riley, who has a wonderful site about the folks from FH in those heady rock days.
 
 While its charts mostly promoted the music and the jocks, there were a few notes on the news – including this infamous edition where Riley shows what he was really doing while delivering the latest info. (This pic actually ended up in the letter section of Mad Magazine not long after.)
 
http://i63.tinypic.com/2bw17k.jpg

 
Like most stations, FH paid for the best news tips – a whole $143 if you had the biggest story of the year.
 
http://i67.tinypic.com/29zeaft.jpg

 
It’s News To Kingston
 
It wasn’t just Toronto that delivered the news. Here’s the line-up for CKLC in Kingston, another Top 40 heavyweight in that city during the 70s, when AM was still king.
 
http://i64.tinypic.com/sym59d.jpg

 
Headlines For Breakfast
 
Sometimes, getting your news was as simple as sitting down to breakfast. Here’s an unusual example of a promotional item that I’ve never seen before. It was put out in a local restaurant in Frederick, Maryland back in the early 70s, sponsored by WFMD-AM and WFME-FM Radio. It gave you something to read while waiting for your order, while at the same time making sure you knew who provided it.
 
http://i67.tinypic.com/ehet01.jpg

http://i68.tinypic.com/24bvmvq.jpg

 
City TV Newserials
 
Gone are the days when City TV used to do news serials, or as they insisted on spelling them, “newserials.” They would usually be five parts long and focused on a specific issue with one reporter or anchor fronting the week long effort. Here’s one from March 1983.
 
http://i63.tinypic.com/idvf9l.jpg

 
WGR-TV Does News, “Two”
 
Here’s who was fronting their casts in 1959.
 
http://i63.tinypic.com/35clz7r.jpg

 
Check out this one – it features the late, great Bill Mazer, a powerhouse broadcaster who went on to do NHL play-by-play on CBS, golf on NBC and football on ABC.  Not bad for a guy who learned his craft in the Queen City.
 
http://i66.tinypic.com/rb037m.jpg

 
A See-Saw For Esaw

Another sports legend was Canadian. Johnny Esaw put CTV on the map in the world of sports, bringing the CFL, figure skating and several Olympic broadcasts to the network. He was their V.P. of Sports for many years, before retiring in 1990. He died in 2013 after an amazing career.
 
http://i63.tinypic.com/2pry0s4.jpg

 
Seven At 11
 
If there was a fire in Cheektowaga that Channel 7 didn’t cover, it probably wasn’t big enough to bother with. Now a last place also-ran, WKBW (during the Irv Weinstein era) owned the market and its Eyewitness News held onto it for decades. Notice that Irv's early news at the time of this ad aired at 7 PM, not the traditional 6 o'clock.
 
http://i67.tinypic.com/8xlz6e.jpg

 
But it wasn’t always that way. ‘KB was the last of the Buffalo TV Big 3 to sign on (in 1958) and it struggled for years in the ratings. Slowly but surely, the pieces that make up that legendary line-up fell into place. Rick Azar was there first, as this 1960 ad shows. (Stan Barron became a huge radio celebrity for WBEN radio, but started on KB.)
 
http://i63.tinypic.com/2i27ymr.jpg

 
By 1961, a fresh-faced and very young Dave Thomas joined the station, soon to be famous as the host of Rocketship 7. By the time Weinstein arrived in 1964, the stage was set for a remarkable dynasty in local TV news.
 
http://i66.tinypic.com/2d2f39z.jpg

 
In a remarkable footnote, Tom Jolls, the final part of the titanic triumvirate, came from WBEN in 1965 – in exchange for Stan Barron, who took his place at Channel 4.
 
It’s 11 o’clock. Do you know where your newscasts are?

 

September 14, 2018 7:30 am  #2


Re: Friday Flashback: Not The Latest News

Correct me if I am wrong,but in ch 7's early days, I think Irv Weinstein once said more people watch ch 4's test pattern than ch 7's newscast and that WKBW is the number four station in a three station market.

 

September 14, 2018 8:11 am  #3


Re: Friday Flashback: Not The Latest News

Very nice comments on Pete McGarvey. He's an Orillia boy as am I and he kept close tabs on me throughout my radio career. When I retired from RCS, Ingrid and Howard Christensen urged me to pay a visit to Pete at his home in Orillia, Bob Bowland was in town that day we so both headed towards Pete's house. As we were getting out of the car I said to Bob this won't take long. Bob's comment was "wanna bet?" Two hours later we left along with autographed copies of his Stephen Leacock books. Pete never let his Toronto radio days get to his head. He was always Pete. A gentle man. 

 

September 14, 2018 9:22 am  #4


Re: Friday Flashback: Not The Latest News

pmcknight wrote:

Very nice comments on Pete McGarvey. He's an Orillia boy as am I and he kept close tabs on me throughout my radio career. When I retired from RCS, Ingrid and Howard Christensen urged me to pay a visit to Pete at his home in Orillia, Bob Bowland was in town that day we so both headed towards Pete's house. As we were getting out of the car I said to Bob this won't take long. Bob's comment was "wanna bet?" Two hours later we left along with autographed copies of his Stephen Leacock books. Pete never let his Toronto radio days get to his head. He was always Pete. A gentle man. 

In all my years in radio and TV, I have to say there are only a few people I've never heard anyone say a bad word about. (You know how backstabbing the industry can be.) Pete McGarvey was one of those. And that's rare. Among others were the aforementioned John Yoannou and the great former City TV weatherman and Lt. Gov. (how many people can include those two things on their resume?)  David Onley.  Just great people. Almost too good to be in broadcasting!

     Thread Starter
 

September 14, 2018 9:28 am  #5


Re: Friday Flashback: Not The Latest News

mace wrote:

Correct me if I am wrong,but in ch 7's early days, I think Irv Weinstein once said more people watch ch 4's test pattern than ch 7's newscast and that WKBW is the number four station in a three station market.

For decades, KB was handicapped by the fact they were the last of the Big 3 to sign on in Buffalo, and were saddled with terrible ABC programming that always left them (and other affiliates) in last place. A lot of that changed in the 70s, when shows like Three's Company, Happy Days and Mork & Mindy became huge hits. That's one of the reasons they were always struggling. Yet the "Eyewitness News" crew managed to become an institution in Buffalo and after a while, they were simply unbeatable. 

And to this day, I believe there must have been an arsonist loose in Tonawanda or Cheektowaga, since fires there seemed to lead their newscast every night. 

     Thread Starter
 

September 14, 2018 12:55 pm  #6


Re: Friday Flashback: Not The Latest News

Actually there were a number of ABC shows in the 1960s on channel 7 that were quite good and got high ratings.
Here are some that I remember which were as good or better than those on CBS or NBC:

77 Sunset Strip; My Three Sons; Donna Reed; Naked City; The Rifleman; ; The Untouchables; Ben Casey;
Dick Cavett Show; Maverick; The Flintstones; The Outer Limits; The FBI; The Hollywood Palace; Peter Gunn;
Bewitched; The Real McCoys; Cheyenne; The Fugitive; Lost in Space; McHale's Navy; Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea.
ABC's programming was definitely NOT TERRIBLE.....CBS dominated the ratings in the 1960s and ABC deserves
a lot of credit for airing the above shows. many of which turned out to be classics. I remember all of them very fondly.; 

 

September 14, 2018 2:43 pm  #7


Re: Friday Flashback: Not The Latest News

And don't forget about the short-lived Batman craze of the mid-60s. A few small corrections to your list - My Three Sons ran on ABC for five years, then shifted to CBS where it stayed until 1972. And Lost In Space was a CBS show. But otherwise, you're right. Some of those programs were classics and very popular. But they weren't all on in the same seasons and overall, ABC was always dead last in the ratings for well over a decade, unable to compete with the offerings on NBC or CBS.

Still, they did OK, given that in that era, there were only three networks and outside of some independents, no extra competition from cable channels or home video. 

It wasn't until the Fred Silverman days that ABC reached the #1 spot in the ratings for the first time ever. I hated what Silverman did to TV, as all the others scrambled to copy his "jiggle" shows, with unfunny clones of what was working for the alphabet network.

But while I didn't watch stuff like "Three's Company," somebody certainly did. A lot of somebodys. At one time, it was the #1 show on TV. And it was in that era that ABC stopped being an also-ran and gained the respect of its competitors.

     Thread Starter
 

September 15, 2018 9:30 am  #8


Re: Friday Flashback: Not The Latest News

Peter Gunn actually spent its first two seasons, 58-60 on NBC. When the Peacock network cancelled the series, ABC picked it up for one more season. One must not forget that the long running Walt Disney Presents series got its start on ABC back in 1954. Then called Disneyland, it ran on ABC until 1961. NBC swiped the show that Fall because of its  ability to broadcast in colour. Hence the name change to Walt Disney's Wonderful world Of Colour.                       What's with the Lost In Space promo in B/W when the announcer proudly states that it can be viewed in colour every week at 7:30. [Wednesday if my memory serves me correctly]. I just found the answer. The first season, 1965-66 was filmed in b/w. The final two seasons were filmed in colour. This must have been a promo for the 66-67 season.