(Television History and Trivia)




Victor Edward Swanson,


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- - - T.H.A.T., Edition No. 45 - - -

    To date, I have been able to see all the television-program listings in The Detroit News from June 3, 1947, through December 31, 1949, and I now have a good idea of the locally produced programs that people saw in the Detroit area during the period, and some of the popular shows were Beat the Band, Music of the Evening, Our Story Book, Starlit Stairway, Television Matinee, and Television University.  In addition, I have found wonderful information about television from articles written by Herschell Hart, the first writer to regularly write about television in Detroit in a major daily newspaper--he worked for The Detroit News, writing the "Air Gossip" column during the period.  Incidentally, I have done research mostly of newspaper material of The Detroit News, because, during the period, The Detroit Free Press was not really involved in covering television, and the newspaper really would not take up covering television in earnest till April 1953--specifically April 26, 1953, when the newspaper issued its first TV Prevue magazine.  There are a lot of things that I can now pass along about television in Detroit from June 3, 1947, through December 31, 1949 which I could not have passed along about the period only six months ago, but I will only pass along one piece of thought of the period for now--Herschell Hart wrote in one column (Hart, Herschell.  "Air Gossip."  The Detroit News, 21 June 1949, p. 30) that "we" have a gripe about the way in which television producers are more and more trying to hide "mikes" [known as 'mics" today] leading to more and more singers being drowned out by the musicians with them when the singers move away from the over-head mikes, and he wondered why producers would not rather show mikes than not show mikes so that the singers could always be heard.

    A few weeks ago, I was helping to move things out of an attic of a house in Michigan.  While going through boxes of various things, I came across pages of old newspapers that were used to protect items, such as glassware.  One newspaper (or section of a newspaper) that I found had the headline--"Man Lands on Moon!" ("Man Lands on Moon!"  Detroit Free Press, July 21, 1969, p. 1-A).  Another newspaper (or most of it) that I came across had this headline--"Eagle Blasts Off After Man Walks on Moon" ("Eagle Blasts Off After Man Walks on Moon."  The Daily Tribune (of Royal Oak, Michigan), 2 July 1969, p. 1).  And yet another section of a newspaper had this headline over a story at the top--"Kennedy Charged in Fatal Accident, May Hurt Political Career" (U.P.I.  "Kennedy Charged in Fatal Accident, May Hurt Political Career."  The Daily Tribune (of Royal Oak, Michigan), 21 July 1969, p. 17), which was a story of Edward Kennedy and Mary Jo Kopechne (who died in a traffic accident involving Edward Kennedy).
     The articles noted in the previous paragraph covered topics that I was familiar with, and another portion of a publication that I found covered things that I was familiar with but I was not familiar with the publication, and that publication was a magazine entitled TV News (dated March 9, 1968).  From what I can determine from the few pages that I could look over (some of which were the cover pages), I can say that TV News is like a TV Guide magazine or a tv book (of The Detroit News), but the listings of shows are for shows aired on television stations in the Terre Haute (Indiana), Champaign (Illinois), Indianapolis (Indiana), Evansville (Indiana), Dcatur (Illinois), Lafayette (Indiana), and Springfield (Illinois) areas and not the Detroit area.  The listings were for the week of March 9, 1968, and some of the stories that I could read in the edition were a story about Eve Arden (then being seen regularly in The Mothers-In-Law series), a story about Stephen Books (then being seen regularly in The F.B.I. series), and Elizabeth Montgomery (then being seen regularly in the Bewitch series).  On page 13 was a section called "Who's in the News," and,. for instance, it was noted in the section that Nelson Eddy had died March 6 and that Liza Minnelli had married Peter Allen on March 3.  I only had eight pages of actual television-program listings to look at, and some of the special programs listed were Third Reich (a documentary scheduled for Friday, March 15, that was narrated by Richard Basehart) and Junior Miss Pageant (a beauty pageant scheduled for Friday, March 15), and some of the series that viewers were seeing in new form at the time were Batman, The Beverly Hillbillies, The Big Valley, Green Acres, I Spy, It Takes a Thief, Lost in Space, and Wild, Wild West, all of which you can see on television or tape or DVD today.  I was able to see the cover page for this edition of TV News, and on the cover was a photograph of the cast of Family Affair and a drawing of Lawrence Welk (an orchestra conductor and a television-show host), and the photographs (or graphics) pertained to a story that was giving the final results of a popularity poll, but I could not see the article, since it was not on the pages of TV News that I could read.
    The edition of TV News was published by TV News Company in Indianapolis Indiana (at 6330 Ferguson Street), and a cost for a one-year subscription was $6.00.

    Here is a good place in this document for me to answer the trivia question posed in the previous edition of T.H.A.T., and the question was--"What television show has Nancy Lieman hosted for about twenty-five years?"  The answer is Sewing with Nancy.  In 1979, a satellite-associated programming service called Satellite Program Network, which could be picked up by people having receiving dishes for satellite-fed television, was started up, and, in late 1982, Sewing with Nancy became one of the programs of the service.  In 1986, Satellite Program Network became Tempo TV, and, for example, around January 1987, the program could be seen through Tempo TV on Saturdays at 9:30 a.m. (New York time).  It was around 1988 that the program became associated with the PBS network, and today it is seen on PBS-associated television stations, and, in essence, the program is based in Bever Dam, Wisconsin, as it has been for many years.  I found that television viewers in the Detroit area who did not have satellite-fed television first saw Sewing with Nancy through television-station Channel 31 (Ann Arbor), then known as WIHT-TV, in roughly 1985 (the station was airing some satellite-fed programming).

    This past December, several television-related events took place that I must comment on, and the comments are all linked together in a thought about one gal who won a spot as a "traffic reporter" for WDIV-TV (Channel 4)--Lauren Podell (in essence, television viewers were aware WDIV-TV was holding auditions for a traffic reporter from November 21, 2007, through December 17, 2007, the day on which a winner, Ms. Podell, was announced and on which more was announced).  Back in the early mid-1970s, I was attending Wayne State University (in Detroit) and was involved with a radio station at the university, WAYN-AM 860 (to learn a bit about the radio station, you can hit this link: WAYN-AM), and when I was there I helped a man named Doug Podell ready an audition tape for a radio station--I learned Doug Podell is the father of Lauren Podell (currently, Doug Podell is a staffer at WRIF-FM, Detroit).  On November 26, 2007, the ion television network began to carry a program or service entitled Firebrand from 11:00 p.m. to midnight on weekdays, and the focus of this service is to present real television commercials, in essence, one after another, and the service uses "commercial jockeys" (or CJs) to introduce and backsell the commercials, and some of the CJs that I have seen since the service started are Rue (a brunette), Lauren (a black gal), and Philip, and I can report that these CJs are very smooth in their delivery, giving viewers an impression of smoothness that disc jockeys at CKLW-AM of the late 1960s and early 1970s had (I talked a bit about CKLW-AM in T.H.A.T. #21, and to see it, you can hit this link: T.H.A.T. #21).  On December 24, 2007, I was watching WTVS-TV, Channel 56, in Detroit in the ten o'clock hour in the evening, when the station ran a program that can be called The Holiday Pops (though a more full title is The Holiday Pops featuring The Flint Symphony Orchestra and an even more full title is ABC12 and The Flint Journal Present The Holiday Pops featuring The Flint Symphony Orchestra) (Flint is a city that is about one-hour away from Detroit in driving time), and the show was hosted by two staffers of WJRT-TV, Flint, and they were Bill Harris and Angie Henbershot, the latter of whom looked like a former model or a would-be model, and one thing that I found weak about Ms. Henbershot's work is how she slouched throughout the presentation.  Carmen Harlan is one of the featured news anchors at WDIV-TV, as she has been since the early 1980s, and from time to time, I have caught her shifting her style of delivery while reading stories, going from an regular delivery style to an unnatural or inappropriate style (if not a phony style), and, by the way, it is something that gets done by a gal named Donna Barbera (a newscaster at WJR-AM) in Detroit from time to time, as when she switches within a story from what I will call a formal and straight style to a breathy and sexy style (often not appropriate for the story being read).  I recently learned a gal named Randy Thomas, who I have been aware of for several years and have known as an announcer for some network awards shows, can be called a Detroit-area native (Ms. Thomas was the announcer for The 61st Annual Tony Awards, which was shown on CBS-TV on June 10, 2007).  On one of the days during the week before the new traffic reporter was announced by WDIV-TV, I had seen one of Lauren Podell's audition bits, which was included in a story that, for one, also presented information about Ms. Podell's going to get her hair done before doing an audition bit, and during the story, a guy noted how he thought she was good at ad-libbing.  Some of the things that I saw from Lauren Podell during the audition bit that I caught was she rambled in her speech and she was not in control of her body (for instance, she was not in control of her arms, and it looked as if her arms were flailing about), and, generally speaking, she looked like a high-school girl because of the wardrobe she had on--things that reminded me of what a high-school pop-culture gal would wear, and I think her hair style did not suit her.  I am not a wardrobe stylist or a hair stylist, but I will say that she should have worn something more formal and something that showed off her waiste a bit (to make her more like an adult gal), and I will say that, maybe, she should have worn her hair longer and in a formal-style ponytail.  If I were to talk with her in person, trying to help her as I had her father years ago, I would tell her to watch very carefully how, for instance, Rue (of Firebrand) is in control of her body and has a smooth and controlled delivery, which does not exhibit any "sing-song effect," which more and more announcers, especially young announcers, seem to be taking up in their attempt to sound enthusiastic and full of excitement  (For one, "sing-song" delivery is a type of delivery in which accent is put at wrong places of a sentence or delivery in which the wrong inflection is given at the wrong time in a sentence.)  To me, Rue has that type of control in which if a bomb were to explode near her while she was talking she could keep on talking without flinching and getting rattled.  I would have to tell Ms. Podell that, to me, you look as if you can be easily "rattled."  Randy Thomas is another steady speaker.  To help Ms. Podell understand about being steady and smooth in her delivery, I would have to show her how it is commonplace for Charles Pugh, who is a staffer at WJBK-TV (Channel 2), to regularly make mini-stalls while reading--that is, it seems to me, he stalls several times while reading every story--and I would have to say to Ms. Podell that is it something that you cannot afford to do.  I would have to report that saying something like "...traffic is goin' slow..." (for "...tra ffic is going slow...") is not acceptable, and I would have to say that, if you get in the habit of being unclear with words and cutting off letters of words, you will get into a habit that will hold you back.  In the end, I would have to say that, somehow, you need to get additional toughness, maybe by reading books, such as Modern American Usage, aloud for hours at a time and shovelling dirt or heavy snow for hours or doing something that will make it look as if you are more than a high-schooler on television.  And I will have to say that I will watch for her time to time to see if she is improving.

    By the way, one important factor that led to Ms. Podell's being hired by WDIV-TV was she did well in the audience voting.

    Earlier in this edition of T.H.A.T., I reported that Junior Miss Pageant was listed in TV News for Friday, March 15, 1968.  The program was a one-hour special that was done in Mobile, Alabama.  For this show, who was the host and who was the hostess?  If you have a copy of TV News for March 15, 1968, you will find the answer easily, and if you do not, you can look in other television-program-listings publications for March 15, 1968, since the program was a presentation of the NBC-TV network.

    Here is a little bit of history.  On November 27, 2007, I was finally making  notes in my files about changes that took place with TV Book (of the Detroit Free Press) in April 2007.  The Detroit Free Press published an article about the changes entitled "TV BOOK HAS A ROUGH CHANGEOVER" on Sunday April 8, 2007 ("TV BOOK HAS A ROUGH CHANGEOVER."  Detroit Free Press, 8 April 2007, p. GF).  One thing the article noted was the Detroit Free Press was getting the television-listings information now from FYI Television Inc., which, it seems, was also producing TV Book (which was really produced in four editions--to cover four regions of customers), and the article noted, for one--"...Yes, the covers have been more attractive...."  A photograph of a forthcoming cover--for the edition of TV Book for April 8-14, 2007--was shown with the article, and the feature photograph on the cover was a photograph of Jennifer Westfeldt, who was appearing as Lauren in a new series entitled Notes From the Underbelly.  What was odd on November 27, 2007, for me was at my side was the new TV Book for November 25-December 1, 2007, and on the cover was a photograph of Jennifer Westfeldt, who was appearing in Notes From the Underbelly, which was starting a new season.  So within the eight months, two covers of TV Book had very similar covers.  You cannot blame the Detroit Free Press for the two covers being similar, since FYI Television Inc. is providing the Detroit Free Press with the main structure for the TV Book.  A person can wonder if FYI Television Inc. is "pushing" or marketing Jennifer Westfeldt or, at least, Notes From the Underbelly.  I learned years ago that a publisher should not produce a similar-looking cover so soon after publishing a particular cover.  It seems to me FYI Television Inc. should have at the very least published the edition TV Book for November 25-December 4, 2007, with a cover having another performer from Notes From the Underbelly on it or a cover with the regular cast members from Notes From the Underbelly on it, or FYI Television Inc. should have focused on another show.  By the way, truly, it was coincidence that I was finally making notes about the changes with TV Book at a time when the new TV Book had a photograph of Jennifer Westfeldt on it.

       "For the record," I have to talk a bit about one of the several low-power television stations that exists in the Detroit area--WHPR-TV (Channel 33)--since the station is going through a few changes, and most of the information comes from my watching the station on the afternoon and evening of December 25, 2007, and but some of the information I gained over the week or so around December 25.  Generally speaking, WHPR-TV looks like the old WGPR-TV (Channel 62), because WHPR-TV is loose in technical standards, some of which are the poor placing of mics for shows (such as an interview segment that was done by an interviewer with R. J. Watkins and Henry Tyler) and the poor transition between programs, and what WHPR-TV (called "Your Community Broadcasting Station") does is air talk shows produced locally by people who buy time to put their own shows on the air, broadcast national infomercials, and show programming of what can be called a national entity--White Springs Television, which supplies old movies, old television shows (such as Shirley Temple Theatre), and cartoons to takers, such as television stations and people with receiving dishes for satellite-fed television.  The station also has music-video shows, and, on December 25, 2007, I saw a number of locally produced programs--R.J. Watkins Christmas Special, Video Memories (also known as HTVM), which was hosted by Henry Tyler, and The Dance Show (as it was called by the host R.J. Watkins), which was a special Christmas-themed show filled with videos and no dancers doing any dancing.  Also during the afternoon of December 25, 2007, I saw Reverend Dr. Jim Holley urging people to send in money so that the antenna for the station could be moved, and he said that $17,000.00 was needed and that he would give at least $3,000.00 toward the cause, and also the station was making a plea for people to send in donations of $20.00 a month to help support the station.  Through what was shown on December 25, 2007, I know the principles for the station (also called "Studio 33") are Henry Tyler, who is the vice president, and R.J. Watkins, who is the chief operating officer and who, for WGPR-TV in the late 1980s and early 1990s, was involved with such programs as Late Night Entertainment, Late Night Fashions, Late Night with R.J. Watkins, Contempo, Talking with Jennifer, and Video Request.  In December 2007 (around December 18) the headquarters for the station were moved from a location on Woodward Avenue in Highland Park (from one day to the next, I noticed the sign on the building disappeared) to 160 Victor in Highland Park (a suburb of Detroit), and soon the studios for the station (a studio A and a studio B, which is the smaller of the two studios) will be used regularly at 166 Victor.

Stay well!


    By the way, low-power television stations, which have history roots tied to "repeaters" and "translators," such as those of the 1950s and 1960s, are television stations that operate at much lower power levels than regular television stations operate, and while a low-power station might only send out a signal for ten miles or so, a regular power station might send out a signal for thirty miles (or more, as happened because unusual weather conditions on June 10, 1949, when people in Miami, Florida, picked up for a short while the signals of WJBK-TV (Channel 2) and WWJ-TV (Channel 4) (Hart, Herschell.  "Air Gossip."  The Detroit News, 15 June 1949, p. 42).

copyright c. 2008
Date published: January 10, 2008

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