During football season, Joe free-lanced on weekends at Tampa Stadium as a field director for CBS Sports. The years passed by and in 1988, as Joe approached his 30th year with WTVT, the station was sold to Gillette Communications. All the Channel 13 employees were given a bonus by the station's outgoing owners, Gaylord Broadcasting. Joe was singled out for praise and thanked for his many years of dedicated work.
But the normally genteel Joe's demeanor was soon tested by the station's new-fangled equipment. "Joe didn't like it when they switched to computers at the station," recalls Larry. "For many years, he had used a legal pad to write down the format of each day's 'Pulse Plus', and then he'd make 20 copies of it. He was supposed to start using the computers for this, and it was making him real tense. The biggest reason he retired was that he didn't want to contend with the computers and keyboards. He left in '89 right before they moved to the new WTVT building." Joe concluded his 30 years at WTVT by being a guest on the last episode he produced of Pulse Plus!, and was given a plaque and a round of applause.
Several months later, a concerned Larry decided to drop in on his father's new business venture, Florida International Pictures. Located in a strip mall near the downtown area, Joe's company had been sustained by making training films for the iron workers union. Larry wanted to see how his Dad was holding up after the strain of leaving WTVT and starting a new life. "It was always Joe's dream to make a big movie, and he was always planning the next one," smiles Larry. "Joe's latest project was developing a movie script about Elvis titled 'The King of Rock and Roll.' I arrived at the strip mall, and saw his Cadillac parked in front of the office. "I crept inside and turned the corner into Dad's officeand there he wasin a short sleeve shirt, running shorts, and his feet propped up on his desk. He was asleep."
Joe passed away after a heart attack in 1994, leaving behind his two children Larry and Pam, and two grandkids, Pam's sons John Campa Jr., and Larry Wiezycki Jr., who is working at WEDU-TV.
The former bellhop from Chicago had come a long way in his life and career, and made many friends in his 30 years at WTVT. "Channel 13 is the greatest training for anyone in the business," Joe told the WTVT newsletter upon leaving the station. "Better than any school or anywhere else, because they give people more responsibility and opportunity to grow and create than any other place."
To read about the making of Joe Wiezycki's feature film "Satan's Children,' CLICK HERE
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I recall when we televised an event starring none other than Dick Nixon and his wife Pat at a 1960 political rally in Tampa, Joe was sent running back to the remote truck to get more cable. It was OK when Joe was running AWAY from Nixon but when he returned on the double, he got tackled right in front of me by the Secret Service, who later explained to an upset Joe that "NOBODY runs TOWARD the candidates.
And I note you didn't include his nickname, which was used with warmth: "Whisky Joe"..given to him because it was easier to pronounce than Wiezycki. He was not a drinker.