Sunday, July 29, 2012

Bob Crane and the WICC-TV Family - See Us on Channel 43 (Bridgeport, CT)

Although we have already posted about WICC-TV (Channel 43) in the past, when new, remarkable pieces of WICC history are discovered, we naturally love to talk about it. And so is the case with the The Sunday Herald, a weekly newspaper that featured local stories about Connecticut, including Bridgeport, Stamford, and the surrounding towns.

The WICC-TV Family. Bob Crane is in the center back row, standing.
Morgan Kaolian is standing, third from left. Wallie Dunlap is
seated, third from left. Next to him, seated in the center, is
WICC General Manager Philip Merryman.

In the March 1, 1953, edition (beginning on page 90), the new UHF station WICC-TV Channel 43 was featured in a lengthy, sixteen-page supplement. It is packed to the brim with WICC history - from the birth of the radio station on August 2, 1926; to its on-air personalities and behind-the-scenes staff; to its takeover in January 1952 by WLIZ (the dominant WICC call letters remained, but WLIZ staff took control); to March 15, 1953, when WICC launched Channel 43 as Connecticut's third television station and the first in Fairfield County.

Page 1 of the supplement to the March 1, 1953,
edition of The Sunday Herald.
Design by Morgan Kaolian.
WICC was way ahead of its time. In fact, ti was so far ahead of its time that it left John Q. Public in the dust. Despite its noble efforts of trying to get the fledging station off the ground, it failed miserably - not for lack of talent, but rather, because the average person in 1953 just did not have the means or the desire to purchase the extra equipment necessary to receive the UHF programming. As the story goes, Bob Crane once told viewers he would give away $100 to the first person who called - and because nobody was watching, nobody did. 

Yet, the radio-turned-television entertainers that included Bob Crane, Morgan Kaolian, and many others reveled in the new medium, enjoying the novelty of it as well as the ability to utilize it as a learning platform for grander venues down the road. 

Whether your interest is in Bob Crane, WICC, radio, or Connecticut - or all of the above! - we think you'll enjoy perusing the pages of this historic document, rich with information and overflowing with photographs from the Golden Age of Radio and Television. It is a treasure not to be missed.

(Connecticut residents - Do you have a copy of this supplement? Let us know! We'd love to add it to our WICC/Bob Crane archives!)

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

New Zealand's 'Radio Kidnappers' Pays Tribute to Bob Crane and KNX

Bob Crane and Pat Boone entertain Alan Hall
(standing), who was visiting from Napier, New Zealand.
Photo taken June 7, 1961 / KNX-CBS Radio.
Photo courtesy of Alan Hall. Used with permission.
In the spring/summer of 1961, a young man from New Zealand, Alan Hall, journeyed to America for a vacation abroad. All of 20 years old, he had never been out of New Zealand before. Having listened to KNX broadcasts out of Los Angeles regularly in his hometown of Napier, Alan wrote to the station, telling them about his ensuing trip and asking if KNX could recommend a family in the Southern California area that might be willing to host him during his stay. KNX did more than offer help Alan find local room and board. They took the adventurous fellow under their massive CBS wing and planned out a full Hollywood itinerary for him, which included his coming into the station and being interviewed by Bob Crane, Pat Buttram, and Ralph Story. KNX also arranged, through the president of Radio Recorders, for Alan to watch a recording session.

On June 6, 1961, Alan Hall was Bob's in-person guest on "The Bob Crane Show" over KNX, and Bob asked Alan why he chose to venture so far away from home and visit America. Alan answered, "To have a good look around and listen to as much American radio as I can." American radio, including KNX, had really influenced him, and he had wanted to experience it for himself. When Bob asked if he had gotten to listen to his show back home in New Zealand, Alan admitted, "No, unfortunately, but I listened to it yesterday morning and really enjoyed it." To that, Bob replied with his usual dry wit and a wry smile, "I've noticed your whole attitude has changed."

Dean Mardon, program producer and presenter for Radio Kidnappers, an Access Radio station broadcasting in the Hawke's Bay, New Zealand, listening area had received a recording of Bob Crane's KNX show when Alan had been the in-person guest. As a radio personality and musician who appreciated Bob's work in broadcasting, Dean decided to produce a tribute program about Bob Crane, featuring Alan Hall's 1961 KNX interview. After several months of hard work, the program was completed. It aired on Saturday, July 7, 2012, in Napier, New Zealand (Friday, July 6, 2012, in the U.S. and Canada). The program is simply terrific, and we can't thank Dean and Radio Kidnappers enough - not only for all their hard work in making this program available, but also for their strong and ongoing support of Bob Crane's induction into the National Radio Hall of Fame.

(Click on the image once and then again 
in the new window to magnify for easier reading.)