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WSNS Channel 44 - Al Lerner Sports - "So Long..." (Part 1, 1971)

Here's Part 1 of the final episode of Al Lerner Sports on WSNS Channel 44. Lerner was the station's first sportscaster, and would go on to a long career with such stations as WLS Channel 7, WMAQ Channel 5, WGN Radio 720 and WSCR-AM, as well as being a wrestling announcer. Also featuring a young (and at this point, moustacheless) Tim Weigel, then a sportswriter for the now-defunct Chicago Daily News, who himself would become a familiar face on Chicago television, working for all three network-owned stations at one time or another. Includes:

An introduction of Tim Weigel, with the offscreen announcer (Al Lerner himself) mentioning his prediction that Northwestern would win the Big 10 title, and advising he is "isolated in a super-secret soundproof booth"; the voiceover then announces this program as coming "from the penny-pinching capital of the world, Chicago"

Al Lerner Sports title bumper and theme music - "Chicago's most complete and comprehensive coverage of the day's sporting events" (typeface used for title is Americana Bold) (voiceover by ??)

Al Lerner (wearing a green-colored jersey sporting number 84 on the front) introduces Tim (as the "First Bum of the Week") and announces that this is the last program (to groans from the crew), as well as the last big football day; at one point Don (?) passes through. A brief display of small pickets reading "We Love You Al" and "Unfair!!" is shown, and Al advises that the pickets will be outside the WSNS studios after 6:30 (with a "Right On, #84!!" picket showing briefly). Al then gives the phone number for viewers to call. Afterward, Al goes on to the first of the college football scores:

- Army defeats Navy at JFK Stadium in Philadelphia, 24-23 (with Al wearing the headgear of each branch, finally settling on an Army helmet; Al has trouble getting to the score at one point because he is sprayed with pink confetti); the winning score was by Kingsley Fink; one of the Navy touchdowns was by Fred Stuvek. After Al mentions that "it wasn't a pillow fight," one of the crew members throws a pillow at him.

Throughout this segment, various sound effects are heard, more or less signifying what Al and Tim are discussing at a given moment.

Al Lerner Sports title bumper

Commercial: Discipline hair spray - for long hair - Available at Osco Drug

Commercial: George Kirby for Cool-Brella umbrellas (ending voiceover by ?? - "Don't let it rain on your parade")

TECHNICAL NOTE: The in-studio picture quality is attributable to a British-made camera, the EMI 2001, which was prevalent on many British TV shows of the late 1960's to the '80's and even into the early 1990's (ranging from Doctor Who to Dave Allen at Large to Monty Python's Flying Circus to The Benny Hill Show to Upstairs, Downstairs to the early years of EastEnders). This camera was marketed in the U.S. by International Video Corporation (IVC) in two variations, four-tube (IVC/EMI 2001-B) and three-tube (IVC/EMI 2001-C); WSNS was probably the only U.S. station to have bought and used this camera - making it unique among the Chicago TV stations - or for that matter, other U.S. stations (WBBM Channel 2 and WFLD Channel 32 used Marconi Mark VII's during this period; WMAQ and WGN Channel 9, the RCA TK-44A/B; and WLS, the General Electric PE-250, for example).

This aired on local Chicago TV on Saturday, November 27th 1971 during the 5:30 to 6pm timeframe.

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This clip aired on Saturday, November 27th 1971, and is included in the following categories:

Viewer Comments

Once again...EPIC!
Comment posted by ArmitageNLowell on Tuesday, February 7th 2012 at 1:29pm.

Based on the television listings, WSNS cancelled the show before the end of its scheduled run. Can't imagine why. Al Lerner and Tim Weigel moved on to Sports Sportlight for Channel 44 until Weigel got hired by WMAQ.
Comment posted by Phantom on Tuesday, February 7th 2012 at 8:56pm.

Never saw this show although I've heard about it often!
Nice to see it for the first time! OUTSTANDING Rick!!! :)

Comment posted by Matt on Wednesday, February 8th 2012 at 11:15am.

Glad you guys like it. It came from a VHS dub of a studio recorded tape (not sure if it was on 2" or what) - unfortunately the original has long since been discarded, so all we have is this VHS dub. Still, for something this old the quality is not too bad. :-)
Comment posted by FuzzyMemories on Wednesday, February 8th 2012 at 11:32am.

I never expected to see anything from this era! I *think* I was actually in studio for this one. Those might have even been my hands (I often floor directed "Al Lerner Sports"), insisting that we go to break.

I *think* the v-o announcer was Harvey Radis. The crew member in question, who passed through as Al was introducing young Tim, was Dom Bonavolonta. (Howdy, Dominic!)

I do believe that the obnoxious "Flyaways" hairspray commercial had been the very first filmed spot that ever ran on 44. (All spots before its first run, were from slides with a taped accompaniment.) For a few weeks, that damned spot came up every 10 or 15 minutes. I was ready to blow up the film.

I remember the George Kirby spot very well, too. I'm glad it's out there in the cloud now!

That Zenith ChromaColor commercial sure had crappy color, didn't it? I always thought it was pretty funny that you could watch a spot for a great new TV set, on a horrendous old TV set.

I don't know who voiced the Paneling Unlimited spot in segment 3 ... but it wasn't Mal.

Joe Oher was the director, according to the only closing credit.

Comment posted by Geno57 on Thursday, February 9th 2012 at 2:25am.

I did notice that the way filmed ads were shown on 44 seemed below par compared to the "major" stations (2, 5, 7, 9 and 11 - even 32, though it wasn't until later that WFLD's ratings were on par). I'm curious - what film chain would WSNS have used in those days - RCA TK-27? Or an old TK-26 that was somehow donated by WGN or WMAQ?
Comment posted by W.B. on Thursday, February 9th 2012 at 7:24am.

Awesome stuff! I was surprised to see Silly String on display here, thinking it was a newer invention. And looking at Wikipedia, it says Silly String was patented in 1972. Any kids from the 60s or 70s know what this pink proto-Silly String was?

Comment posted by APM on Friday, February 10th 2012 at 2:36pm.

It's too bad you don't see shows like this anymore.
The only thing that I can remember that was close was the Sunday night sports show (I can't remember what it was called) on WMAQ in the early 90's with Mark Giangreco and #76 Steve "Mongo" "Ming" McMichael.
That was wild!

Comment posted by ArmitageNLowell on Friday, February 10th 2012 at 4:02pm.

Yeah, I was surprised by the silly string too. In one of the clips he doesn't call it that either, but something else.
Comment posted by FuzzyMemories on Friday, February 10th 2012 at 4:17pm.

Kinda reminds me of a TV Production class the day the teacher wasn't around. Too funny !

Comment posted by TeleFrank on Monday, February 13th 2012 at 5:19am.

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This clip has been viewed 2976 times.
This clip debuted on FuzzyMemories.TV on Tuesday, February 7th 2012.
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William Zbaren is still around; he's now an architectural photographer:
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