WLS Channel 7 - 30th Anniversary Special (Part 1, 1978)
Here's a special anniversary special for our anniversary! Pretty special, eh? ;-) Actually 10/31/12 marked 5 years that FuzzyMemories.TV has been around - thanks to our wonderful crew (Dave, John, Mark, Dale, Mike, Kevin, Chris, and William), and to all the Fuzzketeers that make this website a fun place to visit! :-)
Here's Part 1 of WLS Channel 7's 30th Anniversary Special, hosted by Eyewitness News anchors Fahey Flynn and Joel Daly. The broadcast originated from Chicago's Park West.
The station first signed on as WENR-TV on September 17th 1948 - the second of five ABC-owned stations to take to the air (the first was New York's WJZ-TV, now WABC-TV, on August 10th 1948; these two charter stations were followed in sign-on date by Detroit's WXYZ-TV [now owned by Scripps-Howard], on October 9th 1948; San Francisco's KGO-TV [the only one of the charter ABC O&O's still owned by the network to retain their original call letters], on May 5th 1949; and Los Angeles' KECA-TV, now KABC-TV, on September 16th 1949 [one day short of a year after the Chicago station]). After ABC merged with United Paramount Theaters in 1953, the station's call letters became WBKB on February 12th (after the original WBKB, on Channel 4, was sold to CBS which changed the call letters to WBBM-TV, followed by a move to Channel 2 on July 5th); beginning in the fall of 1965, its calls were modified to WBKB-TV (never mind that there was no WBKB radio), and then adopted the current WLS-TV call letters on October 7th 1968. In addition, this was technically the 30th anniversary of the ABC television network, though they were counting it as the 25th dating to the aforementioned ABC-UPT merger (just as WLS's sign-ons and sign-offs, for many years, referred to Channel 7 as "Chicago's first television station").
At least, that's been the story given for many years. But as noted Chicago TV historian Steve Jajkowski (a.k.a. "The Video Veteran" and webmaster of the site ChicagoTelevision.com) writes: "After ABC merged with United Paramount Theaters, WBKB moved to channel 7 merging with the original ABC station WENR-TV. The now vacated channel 4 allocation was sold to CBS and a new station debuted with the call letters WBBM-TV, with the understanding that as soon as technically possible (and with the conclusion of Zenith's KS2XBS claim to the channel) would move to channel 2. The channel 4 allocation was reassigned to Milwaukee WI and WTMJ-TV. WBBM-TV leased the 190 N. State St. studios and offices from ABC/UPT, which still owned the building, from 1953 to 1956.
"WLS-TV is a direct descendant of WBKB, first licensed as such in 1943. Its claim as 'Chicago's first commercial television station,' not 'Chicago's first television station' . . . was and is correct. Chicago's first TV station (of the electronic era) was Zenith's W9XZV. WBKB's experimental callsign was W9XBK and used between 1940 to roughly 1950. After 1943, the experimental callsign was only used during after-hours testings.
"There is no historical or legal connection between WBKB and WBBM-TV. And although they did use WBKB-TV on screen after 1966, their legal call letters remained WBKB. . . . It was strictly a vanity issue."
Many of the clips that would appear all through this special also appeared in the retrospective of Channel 7 that aired in this year's 20th Annual Chicago Emmy Awards, and some of the names whose faces appear in vintage film footage come from that segment.
This part includes:
Opening music and dance number, with a group called "Magic" performing the theme song "30 Years"; the overall feel of this number would anticipate, and be a forerunner, of, that of the opening dance number of the 1989 Chicago Emmy Awards - that is, when not focusing on vintage clip snippets
Opening title segment (voiceover by Gary Gears), with shots of the various personalities entering: Fran Allison and Burr Tillstrom; Fahey Flynn and Joel Daly; Lorne Greene; Marty Faye; plus other names unseen (Sammy Raymond (?), Tim Conway, (?), and Studs Terkel)
As the opening number continues, we see short shots of the various local and network shows and personalities, past and present:
- Mary Hartline on Super Circus
- Don McNeill (host of the long-running Breakfast Club on radio, in his short-lived attempt to translate to TV)
- Kukla, Fran & Ollie
- Studs Terkel and gang at Studs' Place
- Jim Lounsbury's Record Hop
- Alex Dreier reading the news
- Richard Nixon at a campaign rally
- A clip from AM Chicago with Sandi Freeman witnessing a man and a woman boxing
- Car commercial with Jim Moran (?)
- Dining segment
- Clip of (?) receiving multiple pies in the face
- Kate Jackson, Jaclyn Smith and Cheryl Ladd of Charlie's Angels
- Robert Redford and Barbra Streisand in The Way We Were
- Robert DeNiro in Taxi Driver ("You talkin' to me?)
- John Travolta of Welcome Back, Kotter
- Joyce DeWitt, Suzanne Somers and John Ritter of Three's Company
- Henry Winkler and (?) of Happy Days
- Penny Marshall, Cindy Williams and David L. Lander ("Squiggy") of Laverne & Shirley
- Battlestar Galactica
After more shots of the singers and dancers, we see:
- Bill Frink, Fahey Flynn, Joel Daly and John Coleman walking up to the camera
- Animated graphics morphing into "CH1CAG[circle 7]"
- Bill, Fahey, Joel, John and other members of the Eyewitness News team walking outside
- Filmed opening titles in black-and-white (reminiscent of the old 1940's and '50's newsreels) with "WLS-TV News" (set in Stymie Medium) entering the screen from frame right
Sponsor billboard (voiceover by Gary Gears) for Standard Oil (with logo identical to Amoco) - "You Expect More from a Leader," and United Airlines - "United Invites You to Fly the Friendly Skies"
After the number ends, signal for first commercial break (voiceover by Gary Gears)
This aired on local Chicago TV on Saturday, September 9th 1978 during the 9pm to 10pm timeframe.
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