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WNBC Channel 4 - News, Sermonette, & Sign-Off (1980)

Ok, it's not Chicago - it's New York, but I figured we'd all like to see this anyway - I just found it. (And we do have some New York visitors here from time to time.) Includes:

WNBC-TV News, Sports & Weather summary with Don Pardo voiceover (can't help but smile a little when I hear him reading serious news)

WNBC-TV4 Editorial (Don Pardo voiceover intro) with Joseph Michaels, Editorial Director of WNBC-TV.

PSA for Census '80 - We're Counting For You! with Edward James Olmos

Drunk Driving Morgue PSA from the Nassau County Police Department

"Get a Second Opinion" PSA from U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare (with actor Cliff Robertson) (Ending voiceover by Peter Thomas)

WNBC-TV-New York Station ID (Don Pardo voiceover)

Sermonette with Fr. James L. Tahaney of the Brooklyn Diocese

Spaulding for Children of Westfield, New Jersey - Adoption plea - with voiceover by Fred Facey

PSA for Census '80 - We're Counting For You! with Hattie Carthan, Julio Vigoreaux and Charles Wang

New Jersey Division of Youth and Family Services PSA

WNBC-TV-New York Station Sign-Off with National Association of Broadcasters Television Code Seal of Good Practice (voiceover by Arthur Gary)

National Anthem (performed by United States Army Band)

Color Bars and Tone

This aired on local New York TV early Saturday, March 22nd 1980 between approximately 3:33am and 3:43am (EST).

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This clip aired on Saturday, March 22nd 1980, and is included in the following categories:

Viewer Comments

This was from a late Friday night/early Saturday morning in early 1980 - remember, "News 4 New York" didn't debut until October 1980 - given that the legendary Mr. Pardo was holding down the fort, if you will, at the announcing booth on this day (and of course he was, and is, the announcer for "Saturday Night Live"). Also, this was the second prerecorded sign-off from fellow veteran staffer Arthur Gary; during the red/blue "N" era of the mid-to-late 1970's, his final words after "...on behalf of Channel 4" were the slogan of the time, "Part of Your Life." Two of the slides - the copyright disclaimer notice and a flopped (reversed) picture of the New York skyline looking south from the top of 30 Rock at 49th Street - were used for a later, post-TV Code sign-off from 1986, by which time Fred Facey held the sign-off honors. Further, this may "only" be New York, but a thousand, thousand thanks (a la Ed McMahon's greetings to Carnac the Magnificent on "The Tonight Show") from a New York boy. (To be sure, I am appreciative of learning the ins and outs of Chicago TV.)
Comment posted by W.B. on Saturday, March 1st 2008 at 3:50pm.

P.S. Mr. Pardo also was at the announcing booth at WNBC-TV in the early afternoon of Nov. 22, 1963, when the first bulletins came in about the shooting of President John F. Kennedy, therefore he was the first voice to inform Channel 4's viewers about this history-changing event. Audio tapes recorded by a collector of Mr. Pardo's bulletins surfaced about a quarter century later. So he did do "serious" news from time to time.
Comment posted by W.B. on Saturday, March 1st 2008 at 3:57pm.

And I as a CT lad, will honor those greetings. And to hear Don Pardo do the news summary--this is classic! Too bad he didn't do the sign-off and instead hear Arthur Gary. You know this is just like some KNBC-TV Los Angeles sign-offs that have been posted on the web.

For the record, Don Pardo, even in his 90's is still heard on Saturday Night Live.

Comment posted by BobAnthony on Saturday, March 1st 2008 at 5:50pm.

Speaking of Fred Facey . . . he V/O'd the Spaulding for Children P.S.A.
Comment posted by W.B. on Saturday, March 1st 2008 at 6:01pm.

To 'BobAnthony', per the "this is just like some KNBC-TV Los Angeles sign-offs that have been posted on the web": Not exactly. KNBC's sign-off newscasts were 15 or so minutes in length, and structured not unlike New York station WPIX's sign-off "Action News" editions from within the same era, with taped reports from the "NBC Nightly News" and the 11 P.M. edition of "NewsCenter4." (On KNBC's sign-off news, that is.) By contrast, although here we see an editorial, a sermonette and all sorts of PSA's, WNBC seemed in comparison more in a hurry to sign off for the night, given Mr. Pardo's to-the-basics news update, which lasted as little as 2 minutes and as much as 5 minutes.
Comment posted by W.B. on Saturday, March 1st 2008 at 6:05pm.

Haven't seen this before! Thanks Rick! :)
I miss the good ol' days...watching sign offs and sign ons. Get up about an hour before cartoons would start on Saturday mornings, watching TV test patterns and eating cereal. Good times!

Comment posted by MATSYLPOFF on Saturday, March 1st 2008 at 6:41pm.

Don Pardo turned 90 recently!
Comment posted by dth1971 on Saturday, March 1st 2008 at 7:17pm.

And finally, that was Edward James Olmos on one of the Census PSA's - years before landing the role of the boss on "Miami Vice."
Comment posted by W.B. on Saturday, March 1st 2008 at 7:25pm.

That's pretty cool hearing Don Pardo do serious news! Hey, W.B., where in NY are u from? I was born in Buffalo and lived there until my family moved (back) to Chicago in January of '67. (one week before the big blizzard)
Comment posted by madsixtian on Saturday, March 1st 2008 at 8:35pm.

Why, Manhattan, of course. I also seem to recall that in earlier years, the likes of Jerry Damon, Bob Waldrop and Matt Thomas did live sign-offs of WNBC.
Comment posted by W.B. on Saturday, March 1st 2008 at 9:41pm.

The exact date of this aircheck was the early morning hours of Saturday, March 22, 1980 - the Nets/76ers game referred to by Mr. Pardo was played on Friday, March 21, 1980.
Comment posted by W.B. on Sunday, March 2nd 2008 at 12:16pm.

Thanks for all the interesting info, W.B. and everyone else - I updated the video description. :-)
Comment posted by FuzzyMemories on Sunday, March 2nd 2008 at 3:55pm.

Was Channel 5 and other NBC o&os using the same type of anthem for their signoff at the time?
Comment posted by 1cpw on Sunday, March 2nd 2008 at 9:15pm.

To '1cpw': Not that I know of. At the same period as this aircheck, KNBC in Los Angeles was using a homemade production with shots of open fields, to the tune of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir's rendition of "America the Beautiful." (Did any TV station air the MTC's "ATB" produced by the Latter-Day Saints itself, a la their "SSB" that aired for years at sign-on and sign-off on WOR-TV in New York, or their "My Country 'Tis of Thee" which aired at sign-off on WRTV in Indianapolis, IN?) I cannot speak for any of the three other NBC O&O's of the time - WRC-TV in Washington, DC, WKYC-TV in Cleveland, OH, and of course, WMAQ-TV. Perhaps 'Fuzzy' and the other Windy City-based vintage TV aficionados may clue us all in. I certainly saw no "SSB" or "ATB" on either the 1982 or '84 Channel 5 sign-ons.

Oh, and to 'Fuzzy': The Spaulding for Children adoption plea PSA, as I noted a few posts above, was voiced by another longtime NBC staff announcer, the late Fred Facey.

Comment posted by W.B. on Sunday, March 2nd 2008 at 10:26pm.

The sermonette was very insightful. And is very relavant to today. I think people today make simple things complicated. Sometimes I'm guilty of that myself. Perhaps if people see this clip they can learn from it, and maybe remember that being too serious just not cool. Okay, I'm done being serious, but I had to get that off my chest. Thanks a bunch, Fuzzy! 8^)
Comment posted by Bertonator on Saturday, March 8th 2008 at 6:29am.

By the way, Arthur Gary was a staff announcer at NBC Radio. He was one of the announcers on Bill Stern's radio program, the first ever sports radio program (15 minutes in length) from 1938 to 1951.
Comment posted by BobAnthony on Monday, March 24th 2008 at 2:47pm.

As a vintage NYC TV nut, I must say thanks for unearthing that rare gem.
Comment posted by cbsfm101 on Thursday, May 1st 2008 at 5:40pm.

That's a great piece of NYC TV there.Great find.I never knew that Don Pardo did news either.

I learn something new here everyday.

On a humorous note here.Doesn't Edward James Olmos look like the Geico caveman there.

Comment posted by Chisox73 on Saturday, May 17th 2008 at 10:10pm.

To 'Chisox73': Mr. Pardo wasn't the only one to do sign-off newscasts from time to time at WNBC. Once, in 1986, Bill Wolff (another NBC staff announcer who was famous as the original announcer for the daytime soap "Another World" from its 1964 debut until 1987) read the news prior to sign-off.
Comment posted by W.B. on Saturday, June 7th 2008 at 12:39pm.

And a follow-up to '1cpw's' 3/2/08 question: WKYC-TV in Cleveland, in the mid-to-late 1970's, had a homemade video of the "SSB" where the anthem was sung by a group of children.
Comment posted by W.B. on Wednesday, November 26th 2008 at 11:35pm.

O.K. Since my name won't show for some reason, i'll have to identify myself. "Detroiter, but Chicago Fan" here. If you're going to add New York stations, Fuzz, you really need to find some clips from my town. We have had two very influential stations, WXYZ and WKBD. They both have had classic moments in their history. WXYZ was known for their famous news theme and anchor man, Bill Bonds. I need to be able to watch stuff like this somewhere. The only site that Detroit has for this kind of stuff is "Detroit Radio Flashbacks." By the way, check out detroitradioflashbacks.net, all of you. There are even some Chicago Radio Flashbacks on it.
Comment posted by on Tuesday, August 4th 2009 at 1:56pm.

Detroiter, there are quite a few clips from WXYZ on YouTube, which I'm sure you've already seen. (Unfortunately, no one seems to have an EBS test from WXYZ, which I understand included a representation of the sine-wave pattern of the attention signal, which I'd love to see.) .If you had any tapes, you might persuade Fuzzy into putting them out here, because a lot of us might be interested in seeing them, too.
Comment posted by HUdson 3-2700 on Tuesday, August 4th 2009 at 2:12pm.

"Detroiter, but Chicago Fan" here. HUdson 3-2700, the only tapes I have that would deserve posting would be from WDIV (October-November 1979), and WJBK (Summer 1982, I think). I wish I could post them up, but both of these gems are on their last legs, and just trying to do this would probably break them. By the way, I forgot to mention something. If any of you take my advice and try to find those Chicago Radio Clips on Detroit Radio Flashbacks, when you get to the site, click on "...and More", and then click on "Far Out There Flashbacks."

STATION!!

Comment posted by on Wednesday, August 5th 2009 at 12:51pm.

You gotta love the way Pardo inflects "BILL-ion dollars," "bllllowww up the compound," and "Comandante Uno." As with KNBC's Victor Bozeman, his classically trained stage presence comes brings a bit of life to otherwise dry news copy. It would be a refreshing change to hear the news occasionally delivered this way again -- a resonant off-camera voice with a slightly dramatic delivery and little other affectation.

Today's cookie-cutter VO talent seems to fall into two categories, either: 1.) overprocessed to the point of sounding like Satan incarnate, or, 2) wimpy and pubescent voices attempting to be "hip, everyday guys." I'll get off my soapbox now...

Comment posted by T.K. on Saturday, October 10th 2009 at 2:25pm.

It should be noted that the "SSB" played here was by the U.S. Army Band, and because of the area in and around where this was filmed, has been referred to by Wikipedia as the "Mount Vernon SSB." Besides WNBC, other stations that played this film included WNAC/WNEV Channel 7 (now WHDH) and WBZ Channel 4 in Boston, WFMJ Channel 21 in Youngstown, OH, KLCS Channel 58 in Los Angeles, WETA Channel 26 in Washington, DC, and several others.

In addition, the "SSB" recording here was also used for another film called the "Army Evolution SSB" because it showed a brief history of the U.S. Army from its founding in 1775 up to the point the film was made (around late 1960's, as seen here); plus another film that may or may not have been homemade, and which aired on WPIX Channel 11 in New York for many years starting around the late 1960's (as shown here; however by the time of this 1979 sign-off, the film was very badly faded). I say "may or may not" because it's possible a short snippet of the "SSB" film WPIX ran for years was shown at the end of an "SSB" film run as of 1987 on KING Channel 5 in Seattle, WA per here.

Comment posted by W.B. on Monday, November 1st 2010 at 10:32pm.

Info on ending voiceover on "Second Opinion" PSA and version of National Anthem added to clip description.
Comment posted by W.B. on Wednesday, April 13th 2011 at 10:55am.

Pinpointed the timeframe of this sign-off and added to clip description. (This followed a repeat of the 1960's Patrick McGoohan spy series Secret Agent which aired at 2:30am [EST].)
Comment posted by W.B. on Sunday, November 11th 2012 at 4:30am.

Rest in peace, Don Pardo. 96 years is such a blessing!
Comment posted by AnnArborMI90 on Tuesday, August 19th 2014 at 4:52am.

"Ladies & gentlemen, it's with great admiration that I present for the 2,753rd time. The star of Jeopardy!... Art Fleming!" - Don Pardo on the last NBC telecast of Jeopardy! aired on Friday, January 3, 1975.
Comment posted by ChitownTVFan on Tuesday, August 19th 2014 at 7:39am.

I did a tribute to Don this morning on my blog.

He was a dedicated professional and he will be missed.

Comment posted by HUdson 3-2700 on Tuesday, August 19th 2014 at 2:57pm.

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This clip debuted on FuzzyMemories.TV on Saturday, March 1st 2008.
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Comment posted in WFLD Channel 32 - Super Cartoon Sunrise (Jetsons Bumper #2, 1984) by OldTVNut on Monday, October 20th, 2014 at 2:42pm CT

OOOPS! It seems that somebody got Jane Jetson's & Judy Jetson's hair colors mixed up LOL.


Comment posted in WFLD Channel 32 - The Jack Benny Show - "Pre-Emption Notice" (1975) by Burr-Rabbitt on Monday, October 20th, 2014 at 11:29am CT

This aired the day I was born!


Comment posted in WFLD Channel 32 - Keyfax Nite-Owl Service - "Episode Two!" (Opening, 1981) by HUdson 3-2700 on Saturday, October 18th, 2014 at 8:52pm CT

GalagaFleetCommander - Johnny Unitas used to wear his hair in a crewcut until about 1970, when he decided to let it grow out to where he could part it. A real square...


Comment posted in WFLD Channel 32 - Keyfax Nite-Owl Service - "Episode Two!" (Opening, 1981) by GalagaFleetCommander on Thursday, October 16th, 2014 at 9:23pm CT

Johnny Unitas did WHAT? I can't believe that! He's got that perfect haircut you can set a watch to like Abe Simpsons said! I wonder if he made anyone any significant amount of money.


Comment posted in WFLD Channel 32 - Keyfax Nite-Owl Service - "Episode Two!" (Opening, 1981) by ER3017 on Wednesday, October 15th, 2014 at 7:37am CT

About 2 years ago, my brother and I was on our way to the park and I saw boxes and boxes of videos, and my brother and I agreed to get almost all of them. Unfortunately, due to my strength, I didn't carry a lot, so I grabbed like 2 boxes and some videos are quite interesting I tell you. I'am still waiting to deliver these to you because if I wait, not only they'll rot but worried that these will be in the dumpster like my mom did but retrieved by me thank god.


Comment posted in WFLD Channel 32 - Keyfax Nite-Owl Service - "Episode Two!" (Opening, 1981) by FuzzyMemories on Tuesday, October 14th, 2014 at 12:48pm CT

davismv - Thanks Mark! Well, we do have some late-breaking developments - once again provided by our researcher extraordinaire, Mr. Chris Tufts (Phantom). He found this interesting article on the development of Teletext in the U.S. as well as it's use on Nite-Owl. It's from New Scientist magazine and dates to July 22nd 1982. After reading this one has to wonder - what happened? Everything seemed so rosy. They had lots of viewers, and were making some advertising money apparently. So why did Nite-Owl quit just about a month later at the end of August 1982? Were they just tired of "giving it away for free"?

In any case, Chris found another interesting article, this time from Broadcasting Magazine dated September 7th 1981. In it, we finally learn that the true start date of Nite-Owl was early Friday, September 4th at 12 Midnight! Therefore, we can say with certainty that the clip you see here is the opening of Nite-Owl's Second Episode! We'll have to adjust the airdates of a few other clips to reflect this new information.

(T.K. - the answer to your question regarding Nite-Owl's music is also in this article - although who knows, perhaps they changed music providers at some point during the run of the show)

One other thing - the article mentions that WFLD was actually including teletext pages over its regular broadcasts since April of 1981. I had never heard this before. This information just leaves me wanting more. Did they transmit the teletext pages over every program that aired on WFLD since April 1981? Secondly, if you have a recording of a WFLD broadcast from that time period and you are able to fashion some kind of decoder, can you see the original teletext pages that aired during the broadcast? According to this article, there were at least 100 decoders floating around the Chicagoland area. Did anyone save one?

davismv - Regarding your questions: this was recorded by someone who was a "serial taper" but who also apparently had a short attention span. His tapes are filled up with 4-6 hours of material per tape, and rarely are there complete programs, but instead have little "snippets" (no pun intended) of news, sports, commercials, and whatever else struck his fancy I guess. There are a lot of good "bits" but unfortunately almost each one makes you wish he stuck with the recording at least a little longer. (but then again, if he recorded longer segments we wouldn't have the variety that he captured, so it's a six-of-one situation)

Regarding finding tapes: more and more I believe that the best way to find tapes is by asking neighbors, friends, or acquaintances. Why? Because unfortunately these home recorded tapes are seen by most people as virtually worthless most of the time, and if something is viewed as worthless it has way less of a chance of even making it to a thrift store or garage sale. People would just throw them out (which is sad, I know).

Also, some thrift stores now have policies of not letting "home-recorded" tapes make it to the shelf at all - they will just toss or recycle them if donated. The reason I've heard for this is that either someone complained before about something they found on one of the tapes ("adult" content perhaps), or the thrift store people are just being proactive and trying to avoid any issues like this from happening in the first place. In any case, it does stink. One idea I had that you might want to do is call all of your local thrift stores in your area and ask them if they ever get any home-recorded tapes and what they do with them. (first hurdle is making sure they understand what you're talking about - I usually use the term home-recorded tapes and then make sure it's clear by saying I'm not talking about "store-bought" movie type tapes - but tapes that people recorded themselves at home off of TV) If they say that their policy is to just throw them away or recycle them, tell them to save them for you. Give them your name and number and tell them you will pay for them too if they are what you're looking for. Make sure you're talking to a manager or someone at the store that actually has the power to make this change. Also remind the manager to inform his workers so that they are aware of what to do with the tapes too. And lastly, it couldn't hurt to call the stores again every couple months or so, and talk to the same manager if possible, to double check they are still saving tapes for you and that they haven't lost your contact info. :-)

One last tip - when buying tapes I don't buy them based on what is on the labels. The stuff written on the labels can be a red herring. I go by the age of the tapes. If you've been doing this long enough you can identify a pre-1985 videotape just by the box style as well as certain markings on the videotape itself. The stuff written on the labels can be a nice clue, but again I don't hold much stock in it. There could be a Sony K-60 Betamax tape that could potentially date to 1975 and the person could have recorded over most of it and wrote "Jurassic Park 2" on the label - doesn't matter - because you may still find an untouched 10-20 minutes at the end of the tape of a 1978 airing of Baretta with original commercial breaks for all you know. Anyway, happy hunting and of course please let me know if you find anything good. :-)


Comment posted in WFLD Channel 32 - Keyfax Nite-Owl Service - "Episode Two!" (Opening, 1981) by Phantom on Monday, October 13th, 2014 at 6:41pm CT

An article in Broadcasting Magazine in February 1982 says Nite-Owl had as many as 110,000 viewers on some nights.


Comment posted in WFLD Channel 32 - Keyfax Nite-Owl Service - "Episode Two!" (Opening, 1981) by T.K. on Sunday, October 12th, 2014 at 10:04pm CT

It struck me how much Keyfax resembles the graphics of the Prodigy online service several years later. I guess I shouldn't be surprised because they both used the NAPLPS graphics language, which was originally developed for videotex and teletext use.

Now I'm curious how Nite-Owl's music feed originated. Usually the all-night news tickers run by stations in other cities simply carried audio from a sister radio station or the local National Weather Service broadcast. It sounds like Nite-Owl had a dedicated playlist. Did WFLD have a full-blown radio automation system with multiple carts and reels run off a clock, like something by Harris or IGM? Or did someone just dub everything together onto a new reel for each night's playback? Or did the overnight master-control operator sit there and play each song back from its own cart?


Comment posted in WFLD Channel 32 - Keyfax Nite-Owl Service - "Episode Two!" (Opening, 1981) by Detroit4Chicago on Thursday, October 9th, 2014 at 12:09pm CT

Kinda neat to see an early computer-based newsfax system up and running for a UHF Station in a big market about this time. I'm thinking WFLD was trying this out to see if it became successful, it would have been used within years at the other Field stations across the country. Another possibility was to compete locally against WGN, WBBM and possibly WSNS (with of course, ON-TV) in the wee hours of the morning.

But what's neater-than-neat? Watching the Empire State Building take off like a Saturn V rocket in Commodore 65 form!


Comment posted in WFLD Channel 32 - Son of Svengoolie - "Monster on the Campus" (Partial Mail Segment with Chicago Lions Showgirls, 1981) by HUdson 3-2700 on Tuesday, October 7th, 2014 at 2:57pm CT

http://chicagolions.com


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