WGN Channel 9 - John Drury and NewsNine (Opening & Excerpt, 1979)
Here's the first five minutes of John Drury and NewsNine on WGN Channel 9. Besides the aforementioned once-and-future WLS Channel 7 anchor whose name was incorporated into the newscast's title upon his joining Channel 9, the opening moments also feature weatherman Tom Skilling and sportscaster (and fellow WLS alumnus) Bill Frink, and this clip features reports from David Margulies and Elizabeth Brackett. (Commentator Len O'Connor was mentioned in the open, but he does not appear anywhere in this clip.) Includes:
WGN "Last Farewell" animated ID without "Last Farewell" music (voiceover by Carl Greyson?)
Newscast starts with John Drury teasing the following upcoming items:
- Mexican oil slick washes ashore in south Texas
- Army major sentenced to death for DuPage County slaying
- Chicago police crack major robbery ring
- Arrest of suspect in recent Grant Park rape
Tom Skilling previews results of Chicago heat wave, with possible break the next day with chance of showers and thunderstorms
Bill Frink previews sports items:
- Chicago Cubs beat Pittsburgh Pirates (score: 15-2)
- White Sox on the road against New York Yankees, and preview of interview with manager Chuck Tanner (at the time of this newscast, the Yanks' TV outlet was WGN's New York sister station, WPIX Channel 11 a.k.a. "11 Alive"; by the way, the Sox won 1-0)
(TRIVIA NOTE: This was less than a week after an incident on August 1st in which the Yankees, after playing the Sox at Comiskey Park, refused to sign autographs for eager young fans, but eagerly would sign their names to the posterior of a roughly 20-year-old woman who had dropped her jeans, as written by Mike Royko in the Chicago Sun-Times and immortalized among "The Sorriest Role Models for America's Youth" in the 1986 book The Baseball Hall of Shame 2 by Bruce Nash and Allan Zullo.)
Opening titles, with shots of major sights of Chicago and John emerging from a helicopter before cutting to a faraway shot of the studio with two RCA TK-45A's (and Q-TV VPS-100 prompters mounted atop the camera lenses) in shot (voiceover by Carl Greyson) (NOTE: The filmed outdoor shots didn't last long, but the pulsating theme music sure did - see this 1980 clip for the contrast)
John starts off with news of a recent Mexican oil slick (the result of an oil spill that occurred on June 3rd 1979 when a well blew in the Bay of Campeche in the Gulf of Mexico, and would finally be contained on March 23rd 1980 by which over 3 million barrels' worth of oil had been spilled - one of the worst such spills in history to that time) that washed ashore in the form of tar balls on southern Texas beaches, leading into a report by David Margulies in which results of the slick are shown alongside sunbathers walking in the water and bulldozers cleaning up the scene; the slick was up to 40 feet underwater, eluding traps set up by the Coast Guard to catch it and protect the Laguna Madre area; Mexican oil company Pemex pledges to pay the Coast Guard's cleanup costs, but faces a lawsuit from the state of Texas over the loss to area businesses, and President Carter may declare the coast a disaster area; EPA predicts the slick may spread all up and down the Gulf Coast and even to Florida.
In other news:
- 25-year-old Army mechanic James Free is sentenced to death by electric chair for 1978 murder of one woman (Bonnie Serpico) and wounding of second in a Glen Ellyn data-processing office, after two-hour deliberation by DuPage County circuit court jury (he was finally executed, by lethal injection, in 1995)
- Report by Elizabeth Brackett on the breaking of a South Side robbery ring (formerly called the Royal Family) which was believed to be responsible for fifteen such robberies over the past several months; the lead-up to the bust all began at 440 West 87th Street early in the morning (at 4:15am) when four armed men held up the Concord Gas Station for over $5,000; all this was unbeknownst to Sgt. William Ross when he stopped the car, leading to a chain of events that in turn led to the sealing off of the immediate area in a search for the suspects; two men, 37-year-old Leroy Sanford and 40-year-old Lawrence Poree, were finally apprehended, and semi-automatic weapons were found (the two other suspects, James Lewis and Edward James, would later be caught subsequent to this newscast, and all four were ultimately convicted in 1983 and sentenced to 60 years)
- Four suspects killed in high-speed car chase at the Stevenson Expressway at Cicero Avenue, with footage of the wreckage for all to see; the chase began at southwest suburban Stickney around 5:20am, with the 1974 Ford Ram car going 60 mph in a 35 mph zone and going through two stop lights before it split in two after a collision with a semi truck; one of the dead was identified as 26-year-old Gertrude McKinley, but the three male victims were yet to be identified at that point
- A holdup man, aged about 50 and carrying a pistol, made off with about $3,000 from First Federal Savings & Loan Association's Wilmette Branch in Glencoe; pertinent footage of bank area shown, and John is midway through his report of this item when the recording cuts out.
This aired on local Chicago TV on Tuesday, August 7th 1979 during the 10:00pm to 10:05pm timeframe.
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