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Sunday, June 24th, 2018
WBBM CBS 2 announcer Jerry Harper dies at age 90


Jerry Harper, the voice of WBBM Channel 2 for over 30 years died of natural causes at the age of 90 on June 9, 2018 at the Belmont Village senior living facility in Carol Stream. Mr. Harper had lived in Carol Stream for the past four years and before that had lived in Elmhurst for more than a half century.

Born in Chicago and raised on the South Side, Harper graduated from Fenger High School. He began working as a disc jockey at a radio station in Milwaukee.

Harper then joined a radio station in Madison, Wisconsin and transition to TV, signing on as WKOW-TV’s inaugural staff announcer and speaking the first words on the station as it went on the air for the first time in 1953.

From there, Harper moved to WFLA-TV in Tampa, Florida, in 1956. He then returned to Chicago in 1960 when he joined WBBM, signing on as both a street reporter for the station’s newsroom and as a staff announcer.

In time, Harper’s duties shifted to largely serving as a staff announcer. Viewers would hear Harper’s voice at the top of the hour, as he announced three-second promotions of upcoming shows. He also served as a voice-only anchor of the early morning newscast, “First Edition,” in the late 1970s, and his voice appeared on the station’s prerecorded sign offs as well. Here is a sign off from January 8, 1981.

Harper retired from Channel 2 in 1992.

WBBM Channel 2 - Seal of Good Practice, SSB, & Station Sign-Off (1981)

Here's a more complete sign-off sequence from WBBM Channel 2 (as compared with this circa 1978 sign-off). Includes:

Station ID / promo for The Rockford Files for 4:00pm (voiceover by ??)

Television Code "Seal of Good Practice" notice (the same 1965 design variant as on this 1979 sign-on), followed by approximately 30 seconds of black and then showing the SOGP again (voiceover by Jerry Harper)

National Anthem, a.k.a. "CBS SSB"

Remainder of station sign-off, with different ID slide from other aforementioned clips - station logo with ITC Avant Garde Bold for channel number, call letters and city of license, and different shot of Chicago skyline with shot of John Hancock Building where WBBM's transmitter was / is located (voiceover by Jerry Harper)

Animated station ID (voiceover by Bob Carrington)

Approximately 12 seconds of black, followed by EIA color bars and tone

This aired on local Chicago TV early Thursday, January 8th 1981.

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This clip aired on Thursday, January 8th 1981, and is included in the following categories:

Viewer Comments

Regarding the Rockford promo starting this video: At the time the syndicated reruns of "The Rockford Files" were being aired under the title "Jim Rockford: Private Investigator".
Comment posted by Dth1971 on Friday, March 13th 2015 at 10:09am.

Voice over is Jerry Harper (with the exception of the Animated station ID which is voiced by Bob Carrington).

There are a lot of black lines associated with this recording. Is it the problem of the signal or because of the age of the tape (was the tape a VHS or a Betamax)?

Comment posted by Betamax75 on Friday, March 13th 2015 at 11:04pm.

Couple of comments here...

Many programs after or during their first-run status would be renamed in syndication...

Emergency!/Emergency One
CHiPS/CHiPS Patrol
Happy Days (Again)
Laverne & Shirley (& Company)

And...1:05...WBBM sign-off TAKE 2 (pun intended...or not)

Comment posted by BobAnthony on Saturday, March 14th 2015 at 3:16pm.

Have committed the pertinent V/O info to the description. But as to the question of the black lines: It could be a combo.
Comment posted by W.B. on Saturday, March 14th 2015 at 9:37pm.

I think the black lines were mostly a reception issue. This was from a VHS recording.
Comment posted by FuzzyMemories on Saturday, March 14th 2015 at 10:26pm.

It could also be electrical interference, like when you run the vacuum...
Comment posted by HUdson 3-2700 on Saturday, March 14th 2015 at 10:46pm.

Running the vacuum or the hair dryer and getting this effect from OTA reception. Those were the days; before cable and digital.

My guess of the re-running of the SOGP statement was one of two things:

a. no time to run Meditation (due to time constraints; "drive-by" testing or the second feature of The Late Show,)

b. nobody could locate the master tape or film of a local sermonette or Give Us This Day import scheduled at that time, causing Master Control to say f*** it; run SOGP, CBS SSB, sign off and legal, then color bars.

Just guessing...

I think the current digital transmitter for WBBM is now located on the Sears Tower; the old analog was on the John Hancock up to 2009.

..my bad. I meant the Willis Tower.

(Whatcha' talkin' 'bout Willis?)

Comment posted by Detroit4Chicago on Monday, March 16th 2015 at 6:16pm.

@Detroit4Chicago- It is the second showing of "The Late Show"; they were airing "The Court-Martial of Billy Mitchell" at 3:30am and probably signed off at about 5:30am. Here's the schedule.
Comment posted by ER3017 on Thursday, March 19th 2015 at 6:29pm.

Interesting - I remember once seeing The Court-Martial of Billy Mitchell aired in black and white around this date. Next time I saw it I was surprised to see it was in color! Wonder how that happened?
Comment posted by ChrisBCritter on Friday, March 20th 2015 at 5:25am.

@ER3017- Thanks for the info from the schedule. With a two-hour feature (The Court-Martial of Billy Mitchell) including a few commercial spots in between, it does take up a lot of time to force a station like WBBM-TV to cancel the sermonette.

CBS O&O's were notorious for their Late Show lineups circa 1979-1980 IMHO. In places like NYC, Philly and Chicago, it was most common. But in LA, it was variable and in St. Louis, schedules were "normal:" between 1 and 3 in the morning, especially on Sundays.

Comment posted by Detroit4Chicago on Saturday, March 21st 2015 at 9:27pm.

@ChrisBCritter- It has been in color the film lol.
Comment posted by ER3017 on Sunday, March 22nd 2015 at 7:39pm.

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This clip has been viewed 2321 times.
This clip debuted on FuzzyMemories.TV on Wednesday, March 11th 2015.
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Was that pilot they're talking to high? What was the matter with him?

Comment posted in Hallmark Cards with Nancy McKeon (Commercial, 1981) by Burr-Rabbitt on Sunday, June 17th, 2018 at 10:10pm CT

LMBO @FuzziyMemories and BabyBear on your comments!!

Comment posted in Arby's - "America's Roast Beef Yes Sir!" (Commercial, 1981) by OldTime on Thursday, June 14th, 2018 at 5:33am CT

It used a red/white/blue motif. That wouldn't do today, too offensive. Now it would be pink, cream and aqua, with a vegan represented just so no one feels left out.

Comment posted in Arby's - "America's Roast Beef Yes Sir!" (Commercial, 1981) by David H on Sunday, June 3rd, 2018 at 10:52pm CT

So much better than Ving Rhames bellowing "AW-Bee's! We have duh Meats!"

Comment posted in No Frills Discount Foods (Commercial, 1980) by Burr-Rabbitt on Saturday, May 26th, 2018 at 3:55pm CT

LMAO @ T.K. comment!!!!!

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I miss those big cans of Hi-C Citrus Cooler - it was the perfect drink to go with brown sugar cinnamon Pop Tarts.

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Where do you guys think you're going? Have some beer before you go out driving on those dark, icy roads!

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Why, I like music. Especially "good ones." I think I'll give this musical radio station a try.

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I forgot about the Sugar Twin commercial!!!

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I'm laughing at the person that said that dude will probably break your legs if you missed "dis munt" payment!!!

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