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WIIC Channel 11 - 6:30 News Roundup With Len Johnson (1962)

Exactly 53 years ago today (at 6:30 PM)!

Here's an incredible find - usually anything this old, if I am lucky to find it, is on a 16mm kinescope (remember, in 1962 Quad tape itself was only 6 years old). And even though it's from a Pittsburgh station, it has a very strong Chicago connection, as it is anchored by Len Johnson, whose voice (if not face) will no doubt be very recognizable to people who watched WGN in the 60s, 70s, and very early 80s. He was one of the ubiquitous staff announcers that did everything from local movie show openings, to kids cartoon bumpers, to editorial bumpers. Len was also heard for many years on WGN Radio - you can read more about his history here.

Tremendous thanks to Kevin McCarthy, who was a longtime friend of Len's, and who inherited some tapes of his after Len passed away - including this rare broadcast segment. He contacted us and we helped get the tapes transferred to DVD for the first time. One of them was completely unlabeled - even Len did not remember what was on it. Well, let's just say for now that it's of even more interest to Chicago TV viewers than this one is - and you will be seeing it here soon! :-)

Here's the local segment of the 6:30 News Roundup on WIIC (now WPXI) Channel 11 in Pittsburgh, PA - then as now, an NBC affiliate. The anchor was Len Johnson, who would go on to a long career at WGN Channel 9. This was from an original live 2" quad tape recording. Includes:

Opening of newscast (tape comes in during the middle), with shots of traffic, fireworks exploding and women in a local area beauty pageant, and sponsor billboard for the Natural Gas Companies including:

- Equitable Gas Company
- Columbia Gas of Pennsylvania, Inc.
- The Peoples Natural Gas Company

Len Johnson previews the following headlines:

- Traffic accidents, including one which was fatal
- Beaver County man held for murder
- More labor troubles hit Pittsburgh area

Commercial: Your Gas Company - for low-cost gas air conditioning - for sleeping comfortably on the hottest nights - featuring a gas company representative in bed who is awoken in the middle of the night by a call from a customer (voiceover by ??)

Len reads the following items, starting off with a rash of traffic accidents:

- Near Butler, PA on Route 8, Sandra Weigel, 20, of Butler, collided with another car on her way home from work and was dead on arrival on the way to Butler Memorial Hospital

- Near the New Stanton Interchange of the Pennsylvania Turnpike, a New York-bound Continental Trailways bus collided with two trucks, with nine injured, of which three are treated at Westmoreland Hospital (none of whom were from Pittsburgh)

- In Forest Hills, a truck carrying cases of beer tipped over, spreading the contents along Ardmore Boulevard; driver Frank George (sp?) had lost control of the rig after a tie rod end broke, and had managed to crawl out without a scratch

In other news:

- Dennis Angle, 8, about to start the third grade at St. Luke's School in Carnegie, dies of suffocation after he climbed into a trunk in the attic of the family home; the trunk somehow locked after the lid fell, as his brother was playing outside; a film of Allegheny County Coroner Joseph Dobbs speaking of this and another death involving a child is shown (the other case was of a 9-year-old who was riding a bicycle without brakes and lost control); he urges parents to take their children's bikes to be serviced

Commercial for Natural Gas Companies - in which a lady envisions an airy, cool, modern gas kitchen - including a tap and gold star gas range with rotisserie inside for barbecuing and flame-kissed smokeless broiling, and a counter-top with stove (voiceover by Len Johnson)

Len reads more news items:

- In a report from State Health Department on coal miners brought out at Penn State University, Dr. W. Wayne McBride says 1 out of 10 Western Pennsylvania coal miners suffers from a potentially fatal lung disease caused by dust from the mines

- A search in the Ohio River halfway between Freedom and Rochester in Beaver County for the body of 62-year-old William Snyder who had gotten in a fight with 40-year-old Clarence Burroughs of Freedom, who was picked up by State Police after admitting he hit Snyder in the head with a rock during an argument and dumped his body in the river; Snyder had been missing 10 days (and his body was discovered on October 22nd in a wooded section of Rochester Township)

- In Huntingdon County, PA, 17-year-old John Robert Minemier of Franklin Township is charged with murder in connection with the death of his 13-year-old brother Charles; according to District Attorney Warren Yocum, John choked his brother into near-unconsciousness and then backed a tractor over his body

- In labor news, United Steelworkers Local 1531 to hold a special meeting in Lawrenceville to vote on a new contract offer from strike-bound McConway & Torley Corporation whose 260 workers were off the job since July 31 after the old contract expired; and at Westinghouse Electric Corporation in East Pittsburgh, 40 carpenters from Local 601 of IBEW (which Len refers to as the International Union of Electrical Workers) are handed disciplinary one-day furloughs after they staged a wildcat strike in protest of jobs being handled by other craftsmen, and the company has ordered the workers back on the job on Monday (the 27th)

- In the Ohio River between Emsworth and Athlon, thousands of dead fish are found floating in the area, and it is not known what killed them; investigators from State Health Department are checking into the cause

- Former President Harry Truman makes a brief stop in Pittsburgh en route to New York; while there, he says he has not tried to advise President Kennedy, noting that anyone who does try to advise the President is a fool who does not know all the facts

With this last item, Len closes the local segment of the news roundup, and the tape cuts out just after he segues to the weather report.

This aired on local Pittsburgh TV on Thursday, August 23rd 1962 from 6:30pm to 6:40pm. (Eastern Daylight Time)

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This clip aired on Thursday, August 23rd 1962, and is included in the following categories:

Viewer Comments

It was less than 15 years after this newscast that WIIC (now WPXI) had one of the most infamous moments in television - then-anchor Beverly Byer, on the August 19th 1977 newscast, intoning, "Groucho Marx has taken a turn for the worse - in fact, he died."

But as far as this amazing find, given that Len joined WGN soon afterward (based on one of the links), let's just say Chicago's gain ended up being Pittsburgh's loss. Or was it Pittsburgh's loss being Chicago's gain?

Comment posted by W.B. on Thursday, August 23rd 2012 at 5:05pm.

I've never heard background music on hard news b-roll before this.
Comment posted by Szake on Thursday, August 23rd 2012 at 5:14pm.

Sponsored by 3 Pittsburgh NATURAL GAS COMPANIES?
Comment posted by Dth1971 on Thursday, August 23rd 2012 at 8:39pm.

Background music was a relic from newsreels ... John Cameron Swayze's Camel News Caravan used a lot of it.

It doesn't sound like they made much effort to match the tenor of the music to the stories here... a lot of it is pretty sinister sounding, like it should be used in a horror movie.

If only we could see a Paul Long or Bill Burns newscast from KDKA around this time!

Comment posted by T.K. on Thursday, August 23rd 2012 at 9:48pm.

I'm loving these classic news clips.
Comment posted by ChitownTVFan on Friday, August 24th 2012 at 7:45am.

Speaking of Paul Long . . . YT has some short clips of newscasts from him on WTAE Channel 4 with Don Cannon.
Comment posted by W.B. on Friday, August 24th 2012 at 10:55am.

Sounded like another happy day in Pittsburgh.
Comment posted by ArmitageNLowell on Friday, August 24th 2012 at 2:34pm.

What a great find. Thanks for posting it.
Comment posted by Erniebaud on Friday, August 24th 2012 at 6:05pm.

When did Len Johnson pass away?
Comment posted by VintageCanada on Saturday, September 1st 2012 at 5:51pm.

This aired on my mother's 30th birthday...she just passed her 80th.
Comment posted by TomServo56954 on Tuesday, October 9th 2012 at 5:56pm.

Happy 51st anniversary to this classic TV treasure! Thank you Rick & Kevin
for making this available!

Comment posted by Matt on Friday, August 23rd 2013 at 12:22am.

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This clip has been viewed 6198 times.
This clip debuted on FuzzyMemories.TV on Thursday, August 23rd 2012.
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Comment posted in WFLD Channel 32 - The Joker's Wild/Tic-Tac-Dough Contestant Search (Promo, 1983) by FuzzyMemories on Sunday, May 1st, 2016 at 8:37am CT

Corrected spelling of Jack Barry's name.


Comment posted in WFLD Channel 32 - Newstalk - "Audio Book Devices" (Small Excerpt, 1981) by Szake on Tuesday, April 26th, 2016 at 9:06pm CT

http://factually.gizmodo.com/the-first-audiobooks-were-invented-for-blind-americans-1620940467 It seems like two librarians talking about books on tape and books on record albums with adaptive devices such as a record turntable with a pause button and a pitch or speed control on the audio cassette tape player.


Comment posted in WSNS Channel 44 - Bob Luce Wrestling - "Report on Verne Gagne Loss" (1974) by FuzzyMemories on Tuesday, April 26th, 2016 at 1:58pm CT

Correction: Al was able to confirm that this was a filmed insert for Bob Luce Wrestling, not Al Lerner Sports as was previously listed.

Also, I updated the video title to make it more clear that this is a report, and not actual footage of the match. :-)


Comment posted in WGN Channel 9 - Garfield Goose and Friends - "Clutch Cargo" (1971?) by W.B. on Sunday, April 24th, 2016 at 8:15am CT

I was wondering exactly what telecine equipment was used to make this transfer. Because certainly it appears a bit better than it would have "back then" via WGN's film chain setup which at that point would have included RCA TK-27's.


Comment posted in WGN Channel 9 - Garfield Goose and Friends - "Clutch Cargo" (1971?) by FuzzyMemories on Monday, April 18th, 2016 at 6:07pm CT

GHilbrich - Good observations. To answer your question, we did the transfer ourselves, direct from the original film reel. Everything you see, including the dissolve between the ID and the GG opening, was as it appears on the reel.

I agree with your reasoning. Perhaps we'd have a better idea where this came from if we can get any more information out of the original seller on Ebay. For example, I'd like to know how long this reel was in his possession, and where he got it from (was it an estate sale / private collection, or something else?)


Comment posted in WGN Channel 9 - Garfield Goose and Friends - "Clutch Cargo" (1971?) by GHilbrich on Monday, April 18th, 2016 at 2:32pm CT

I do not believe that this was done for any other reason than someone taking home a souvenir of sorts. I think what you have here is one of (and maybe now the only) original, station used 16mm reels with the WGN Color Presentation and Garfield Goose intro that would have run any given morning before moving into the video feed with Frazier. Perhaps someone who worked at WGN got a hold of the materials here when the station was unloading reels into a dumpster and adding one of the full 5 part Clutch serials for continuity.

This is just a guess, of course. But judging from the flow of the 16mm print, it's probably the best bet (the Clutch episodes are spliced pretty tightly together without any leader, countdowns or "Place Commercial Here" slugs).

Maybe the person responsible for getting this reel out of WGN is or will read this and chime in.

I have to ask, Fuzzy, did you add the dissolve between the Color Presentation and GG titles? Do you have the actual reel or was it transferred and sent to you this way?


Comment posted in WSNS Channel 44 - Bob Luce Wrestling - "Report on Verne Gagne Loss" (1974) by TeleFrank on Monday, April 18th, 2016 at 12:22pm CT

SPOILER ALERT !!
No wrestling is shown. Booooo !!!!


Comment posted in WSNS Channel 44 - Bob Luce Wrestling - "Report on Verne Gagne Loss" (1974) by ArmitageNLowell on Sunday, April 17th, 2016 at 4:22pm CT

From what I have read in various message boards, including THE source for wrestling's past, kayfabememories.com , this sounded like a non-taped/broadcast house show to promote the big card at Comiskey Park in September; Robinson actually DID NOT win the title because Gagne's foot was on the rope when he was pinned. So, the belt was held up until the September card at Comiskey Park.

(Edited to correct date of the Amphitheater card.)

*SPOILER*
Gagne defeated Robinson via count-out.


Comment posted in WSNS Channel 44 - Bob Luce Wrestling - "Report on Verne Gagne Loss" (1974) by FuzzyMemories on Saturday, April 16th, 2016 at 11:34am CT

Or, could this have been from Bob Luce Wrestling?


Comment posted in WGN Channel 9 - Garfield Goose and Friends - "Clutch Cargo" (1971?) by Szake on Thursday, April 14th, 2016 at 8:49pm CT

I'm thinking it was the film roll in for the show. I wonder if the original 16mm film had a splice between the Garfield Goose intro and the Clutch Cargo cartoons. If so... it may have been the telecine film run during the show. There is also a dissolve between the WGN Color intro and the show open. Film dissolves needed to be done optically, so I expected the one to end in black and the next to start from black.


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