The Staff of Channel 13
by Mike Clark
Step inside Big 13 and meet some of the people I worked with back in the 1970s. Although every person was special to me, I'm going to give some people an extra CLOSE UP.
Let's start off with the guy that hired me...JIM BENEDICT.
Jim's interest in TV was sparked when he saw cameraman Joe Wiezycki on a WTVT remote. "I wanted to be like that guy, up in the air on a scaffold running a camera," Jim once told me. Well, Jim is my idea of THE television guy.
Jim began his career at 13 as a camera operator, and later became a director and finally Production Manager. I was always amazed at the total control Jim had when directing. His mind was everywhere and totally focused.
I guess the most amazing thing about Jim is that with all his talents and leadership, there's a total lack of pretension. He's the kind of guy who inspired loyalty because he fought for you, and in return expected only your best. Jim, whose nickname is 'Peaker,' understood what it took to be a WTVT production person.
Jim is still at 'Big 13' and in 2004 celebrated a remarkable 40 years there. I know that if it wasn't for him, I'd never have gotten to where I am in the television industry.
AND ON TO OTHERS 'BEHIND THE CAMERA'
Dan Boger joined the station in the late 50's and was our Production Manager in the 1970's. Dan was one of the lucky guys to be part of the early Mercury Space Program remotes on the carrier Randolph.
Jack Breit was an art director who specialized in photographic compositions and mixed media. Jack's father was in charge of props and scenery at WFLA. To see where Jack is today, go to "Where Are They Now."
Paula Blauschka and Kristy Andersen followed Linda Rossi (her story coming up) into the all-male world of the production crew. Paula and Kristin kept right up with the boys on the production crew.
Richard Bozeman was one of my first buds on the crew. Easy going and quick with a laugh, Richard spent most of his career on the morning schedule and retired from the station in 2002.
Marvette Carter worked with Walter Rhoads in the promotion department. Marvette produced many campaigns along with an in-house presentation starring the production crew. I even had a speaking part! Marvette helped finance my move to Los Angeles by purchasing my Betamax recorder.
Mike Clark Hey, that's me! This web site has been my baby, and while its fussy and demanding, it's also a lot 'o fun. If you want to see how I got interested in TV and went to work for WTVT, check out " 'TVT and Me."
Victor Dashiell introduced me to 'natural' foods in the 70's. While the rest of us were lunching and dining daily at McDonalds or Arbys, Vic was practicing real nutrition at a local health food restaurant. A man ahead of his time!
Todd DeBonis was our own 'Chuck Norris.' Todd loved martial arts, karate movies, and Styrofoam. Yep, you heard right. When Todd became head of props, he was known for making anything you needed out of Styrofoam. He even made me the interior of an airplane once out of the stuff. Todd is also one of my best friends, and we stay in touch often. The picture below shows a genuine Todd set using wood, styrofoam, lights, and a fog machine. The girls came from Belks!
Dean Drapin was another Channel announcer with a gift of gab and a sunny personality. He was not only a booth announcer, but had a segment on Pulse Plus! called "Tampa Bay Topics." He was also the announcer for High-Q and an on-air personality for WFLA radio.
Jerry Krumbholz was attending the University of Tampa when he joined WTVT in 1956. To learn about Jerry's career and what it was like to work in early days of live television, click on JERRY KRUMBHOLZ...SPEAKING OF CHANNEL 13!
Steve Grayson was a couple of years older than a lot of us new guys, and was often the shift supervisor. Steve, a handsome guy with blond hair and moustache, attracted women like a magnet. He knew just what to say and how to make girls laugh, and we all wanted to have that ability. I think the picture seen here was taken just as Steve spotted one of our pretty Ch. 13 women staff members. Steve was also a great cameraman, floorman, and crew chief. He passed away on July 25, 2003.
Charlie Hampton was the station's public service director, and a sweeter guy you'll never meet. Charlie had been around since the early 60's (one of his jobs was playing a gorilla on '3-D Danny'!) and was a real gentle soul. His programs included High-Q, Black Contact, Church Service, and College Kaleidoscope. Charlie allowed me to produce several segments for Church Service and College Kaleidoscope, and I'm in his debt for the experience.
Jane Hilton's voice was familiar to everyone who made a phone call to WTVT. Jane has said "Good morning, WTVT....Good Afternoon, WTVT...or Good evening, WTVT...hundreds of times every day in the past 40 years. It's a good thing Channel 13 had graceful call letters. Jane has seen 'em all come and go, and she granted us an interview upon her retirement in March, 2002. To read it, click here
Jon Hoegstrom ('Hoagy') started off as a cameraman in the late 60's and became a director in the 70's. 'Hoagy' was a big guy with blond hair and a goatee. He was flexible with a leader's presence who could do any directing task with style, whether it was 'Church Service,' Pulse, a commercial, or remote.
Doug Ibold (no photo) joined WTVT in 1965, when the station was still black and white. He advanced from cameraman to director on Shock Theatre, then moved to Los Angeles and hasn't stopped working since. To read about Doug, visit "Where Are They Now."
J.C. Johnson joined the crew shortly before I left, and we had a great time on his little catamaran on Boca Ciega Bay
Tom Kelly was our own 'luck of the Irish.' Always with a mischievous twinkle in his eye, Tom kept the crew laughing with his often-risqu material. A great guy to work with, as was Larry Pacifico, who ran audio on Pulse's 11pm program.
Paul Koenig was our 'intellectual' director. Always thoughtful and inspired, 'PK' was the most visually experimental director who used tools like the magnetic disc recorder, Chroma Key, and camera angles to make the most effective presentation. Paul was also famous for his expression "Jeezo Peezo" when things weren't going so well.
Booker Lundy appeared on "Dance Party" in the late 50's! He joined the crew in the early 70's and retired in November, 2002. Way to go, Book!
John 'Mak' Makinen was our in-house photographer and cinematographer. Mac filmed commercials, public service announcements, and anything else that could not be produced on video tape. He also shot most of the employee portraits you see in this section. Mac is also one of the 'long timers'. He joined the station in April, 1964, and marks 40 years with WTVT.
Dave Markwood was tall, thin, and easy to embarrass. Dave lived a pretty conservative life, and I enjoyed making him blush. We were pals, though, and I don't think he held my jokes against me. I had borrowed a record album from Dave in 1975, and finally got around to returning it to him in 2003!
Duane Martin was an engineer who specialized in remotes. Duane's knowledge and mechanical abilities kept us running no matter what. Duane is still at WTVT and keeping the satellite trucks operations.
Jule McGee has been with the station since 1967. He worked with Ray Blush on Project 13 as cinematographer, editor and co-producer. Jule is still at WTVT as News Operations Manager.
John 'Red' McMurrow was the guy who yelled at me for touching his tape recorder shortly before I came to work at WTVT. I gave him a wide berth since Red had a quick temper. Eventually, I learned to approach him gently and we got along fine.
Gil Muro was hired at the station in 1968, and took over as lighting director when Bob Simons was promoted to director. A spiritual guy with a new age outlook, Gil was a genuine family man, not only with his relatives, but with the crew as well. His food co-op was a generous idea in the spirit of his Ba'hai faith. Gil is famous for his quote 'You're nowhere without light.' See "Where Are They Now?"
Bill Napier was an up and coming video engineer who lived and breathed video equipment the same way 'Scotty' loved his warp engines on 'Star Trek.' Bill eventually moved to North Carolina with Jefferson-Pilot productions and later WBTV. Bill helps BIG 13 identify technical equipment for photo captions. To find out what Bill's up to now, see "Where Are They Now?"
Nick Paul was a talented artist who joined the crew
as a cameraman. Nick also was an excellent Vidifont operator
and a good friend. He retired from the station in the mid
Joe Puleo was hired two weeks ahead of me, so we learned the ropes together. Joe was a good pal and we often traded lighting duties, or camera work, or even lunch. Joe was also a very hard worker who wanted to succeed in television. He did, but you'll have to read about it in 'Where Are They Now.'
|Linda Rossi was a ground breaker at WTVT...the station's first woman production person! It was the time that the ERA (Equal Rights Amendment) was getting a lot of attention, and Linda was hired to be our first female on the floor. Linda had guts and determination, and if I can say so without being called a chauvinist pig, a pretty good looker! Linda not only ran camera, floor managed, and worked Vidifont, but eventually became a news photographer and worked with Bob Fellows and Jule McGee. See 'Where Are They Now?' for an update.|
Walter Rhoads tour of duty began just a few weeks prior to Channel 13's debut in April, 1955. Walter directed 13's first live program and their first live commercial. He became production manager in 1956, and was named promotion manager in 1960. He won 31 local Addy Awards for various ad campaigns, and is credited with coining the station's nickname (our web site name) "Big 13."
I was aware of Walter during my tenure at 13, but my time with promotions was spent with Marvette Carter and her assistant. Had I known that Walter was one of the station's first employees, I would have picked his brain, you can count on that!
Bob Simons...OK, this'll take awhile!
Bob Simons was truly a 'character.' I mean this in a good sense! I met Bob about a half hour into my first day at the station. He was intensely occupied at the time running camera and performing some lighting changes on a dimmer panel. His concentration was as intense as a laser beam.
Bob was a little on the short side, but made up for it with bravado. He never backed down from an argument or a fight.
At first, Bob was like a drill sergeant, running us recruits through the mill. I didn't really like Bob at first, because he had a way of discovering your weakness and using it against you. Still, I respected his talent as a production person and later a director. Eventually, I grew to really like him. He had a certain charm and an outrageous sense of humor. Bob's comic timing was impeccable, and he could have been a stand up comic had he wished. Bob's nickname was 'Indian,' and apparently he had some Seminole blood in his background.
In his youth, Bob traveled with his parents and participated in their carnival and circus routines. At Channel 13, a day with Bob was like being at the circus! He slipped into impressions and created characters without missing a beat. Bob could tell a story as well as Robin Williams, and you'd be doubled over laughing.
Everyone has stories about Bob, and one of my favorite is the time he was running late for a remote and drove wildly into the station's dirt parking lot, spreading dust and pine cones in all directions. A few seconds later, a Tampa Police Department squad car also came roaring in, and Bob was given a ticket. In another car-related incident, the crew got six guys together and lifted Bob's small sports car and hid it in the prop storage area.
I can still hear Bob on the intercom during one of our all-night commercial tagging sessions. At about 3 in the morning, Bob would chide a sleepy tape operator, 'C'mon Harvey...stay with me.'
Bob eventually left 13 and worked free lance in Colorado, until a brain tumor ended his life in the early 1990's. We'll never forget 'Indian.'
John Sizemore was my college pal at USF. We worked on a school project together and I thought he'd be good material for Channel 13. Jim Benedict thought so too, and John joined the crew as a production person. John is tall and built like a linebacker, and did very well from the get go. Aside from Marc Wielage, he's also my best friend so I'm a little biased here. Everyone loved John because of his good nature and sense of humor. He could slip into a character as fast as Bob Simons. He could also carry a camera head across the room all by himself. John came out to L.A. about two years after I did, and you can see how everything turned out by reading 'Where Are They Now?" (Hint...he married someone on from the crew).
Bob Stone was a Channel 13 announcer who also doubled as a sports anchor. Bob was a very pleasant guy who had a sense of humor about his handicap...Bob had lost a leg years before, and walked on a prosthesis. Because of the artificial leg, you could hear Bob coming due to the distinctive 'tapping' sound of the prosthesis. Bob once told me that he played a gag on someone at the beach by leaving his trademark footprints in the sand. At a certain point, a friend picked him up and carried him away, leaving a footprint and peg leg trail that suddenly ended.
Nick Stratman joined the crew by literally 'walking in off the street.' He was a cameraman and later worked in the production/traffic scheduling department. Unfortunately, Nick passed away in December, 2002.
Paul Tanofsky was a fellow graduate of USF who joined the crew shortly after I left. Paul is in the business of building remote units in Clearwater
Bob West was a fellow I'd met on my 1962 "Mary Ellen Show" visit. I even took his picture:
(1962) Bob West and an RCA TK-11A camera on the set of "The Mary Ellen Show"
Bob was a director by the time I joined the station, and one of the guys I worked with the most. Unflappable and genial, Bob is the kind of guy you'd spent many evenings with and his company would never grow old. Which is pretty much what we did. Bob and the crew were always dining together after Pulse and we practically wore out the seats of the Dow Sherwood's Village Inn.
Joe Wiezycki was a cameraman at 13 during the early 60's. He is the one who got some terrific shots of Astronaut John Glenn as he stepped out of a Navy recovery helicopter and onto the deck of the aircraft carrier Randolph. Joe's son Larry helped me put together a profile of his dad entitled "A Guy Name Joe." You can also read a behind-the-scenes account of Joe's movie "Satan's Children."
Mary Ellen recently told me how Joe would usually be the driver when she was out of the studio filming one of the show's 'adventures.' At every stop light, Joe would whip out his comb and give himself a fresh grooming. Needless to say, Mary Ellen couldn't resist needling him about that habit.
Joe had a sunny disposition and bright blue eyes that made you feel right at ease with him. His directing style was very casual and I could only fault him for one thing: Shooting into the lighting grid for every musical number. We had starburst filters in our cameras, and Joe would always have us use them while tilting our cameras upwards to shoot above the cyc. The lights would create a nice starburst effect, but I eventually got a little tired of this. One day I decided to build a set so high the camera couldn't tilt back far enough to shoot into the grid. My ploy worked, and Joe was amused that I'd gone to all the trouble. Back in the 1960's, Joe produced and directed a low budget feature called "Willy's Gone," that was staffed by some of the Channel 13 crew. A few years later in the mid-70's, Joe was back in the director's chair for "Satan's Children." Image Entertainment released a DVD of Satan's Children in 2002.
PULSE EXTRA: Marc Wielage has found an old article he wrote during the making of "Satan's Children." To read it, CLICK HERE
Emmett West, who was our senior video engineer, arrived in March of 1959. His career spanned from the black and white era into color and then to the satellite age. I can still hear Emmett on the squawk box asking for more light on the set.
Ann Williams was WTVT's first woman who ran station breaks and commercials from master control. Everybody loved Ann, and you can see a photo of her in the 'facilities' section.
Marc Wielage is my other best pal from WTVT. Like me, Marc also loved 13 as a youngster and wanted to get into the business. Marc appeared on 'The Mary Ellen Show,' and when asked what he wanted to be when he grew up, answered "A mattress renovator."
When WEDU, Tampa Bay's PBS station, fell on hard times in the early 70's, Marc showed up to volunteer and was immediately put behind a camera. Coincidentally, the cameras were Channel 13's old TK-42s, donated the year before. Marc got into WTVT by joining the Explorer scout program that met once every few weeks at the station. He was hired as a part timer in 1973, and I've never seen anyone who was so knowledgeable about television in general, but who would still read comic books while running camera. Marc also moved to L.A. a few months after I did, and eventually became one of the industries' leading telecine operators. In early 2004, Marc started freelancing at Lucasfilm, working on DVD transfers of "Return of the Jedi" and "Star Wars." Talk about a dream come true!
Marc wrote an article about the making of Joe Wiezycki's "Satan's Children" back in 1973. To see a copy of it, CLICK HERE
Gene Windsor was another video engineer who spent a lot of time with us on remotes. Dependable and good natured.
Tony Zappone was a news stringer who started his career very early...while still in high school! He was with WTVT for a brief time in 1965, spent the next 11 years at WFLA, and then returned to BIG 13 in 1976. In addition to authoring many articles for the BIG 13 web site, Tony has written an exclusive first-person story about JFK's 1963 visit to Tampa. To read "JFK, As I Remember Him, by Tony Zappone," CLICK HERE
Fred Zoller was the station's art director, and a total delight. Always 'up,' full of fun and mischief, Fred was like a leprechaun brought to life. Word has it that Fred is currently living with his wife and children in London. Give us a call, 'mate!
ON AIR STAFF
Hugh Smith started as a reporter for WTVT in 1963. He became the Pulse anchor in 1966, news director from 1968 to 1982, and continued as anchor until 1991. When I arrived in 1972 Hugh was anchoring the 6pm Pulse News, and running a news department at the top of its game.
I now realize how much weight Hugh carried on his shoulders. In today's local news, the anchor seldom has editorial control and usually just reads what is presented on the TelePrompTer. As news director, Hugh was responsible for the quality of reporting. There were dozens of reporters and production people working on the news, and tensions could sometimes run high.
In the early 70's, the 'glass ceiling' was being challenged by women in the workplace, and Channel 13 was no exception. When reporter Sara Golinveax was dismissed, it created a lot of rancor and eventually led to charges of discrimination in the newsroom. Hugh said in testimony that he was "walking on eggshells" in his own newsroom. It was a difficult time.
However, I'll never forget that Hugh showed another side of his character when I was taken to the hospital for an emergency appendectomy. A couple of days after the operation, I was receiving a visit from John Sizemore and some other crew people when, to my surprise, Hugh walked into my room to see how I was doing. I was quite amazed that the lead anchor and news director of the number one station in the market would take the time to check in on my condition. I was practically speechless.
Later, Hugh's departure from 13 was another difficult time not only for him, but the employees and viewers of the station.
In May of 2002, I visited Hugh Smith and he granted me an interview on his time at Big 13. You can ready it by clicking on "Hugh Smith...A View from the Anchor Desk."
Andy Hardy and 'Salty Sol' Fleischman were the most fun on-air talent at WTVT. Sol would usually blow into the studio for his sports casts...energizing everyone with his off-the-cuff remarks and larger-than-life persona. Off-camera, Sol was the same gregarious guy, and always having a great time. The crew loved Sol, and occasionally he'd have one of us production people appear on camera to pull a winner out of a hat, or present some special material.
Todd DeBonis, who is a great guy but not an on-air type, once brought in some remarkable 16mm film he'd taken of a bumble bee. The shot was extra close, thanks to a macro lens, and Todd was supposed to describe what was going on. What was going on wasn't much...a bee hovering over a plant. After a solid minute of that and no commentary from Todd, Sol finally gave up.
Another time, I slipped some old 'Supercar' footage into one of Sol's "Where Am I?" segments. Sol watched his monitor incredulously as the puppet of Mike Mercury dove Supercar into the water. Sol declared that it was Charlie McCarthy flying some new contraption out of MacDill Air Force Base!
Sol's final day as sports director came in 1974. I was off that day but couldn't miss this important occasion in Channel 13 history. I came in to the station, sat on a stool in the corner of Studio A, and watched the accolades roll in as Sol completed his last regular broadcast. It was the only time EVER that Pulse news ran overtime into the CBS Evening News. Sol retired because of a heart condition, but that heart lasted him another 25 years!
Andy Hardy was also a crew favorite. There's nobody with a keener sense of humor and insight than Andy. We were also used to his moods as well. Andy had many ups and downs, and I think the general consensus was that Andy was a network quality sportscaster who was still operating out of a local market. As big as 'Big 13' was, Andy should have been on CBS. I think that contributed to his mood sometimes, although Andy would always bounce back.
I'd also like to mention what a pleasure it was to work with Pete Johnson, who grew up in the Suncoast area and brought a youthful enthusiasm to his sports reporting. Pete contributed some photos and memories to this site, and we thank him a lot. Pete shared some sports memories with our web site, CLICK HERE to read them.
Bob Stone, one of Channel 13's announcers who did sports duty was also tops in my book.
On my last day at Channel 13, Andy called me for an on-camera farewell appearance. I appreciate that and will always remember Sol and Andy.
Roy Leep was WTVT's weather director for 40 years, and pioneered the use of radar and satellites. (See Weather for more details). Roy was a serious kind of guy on camera and off, and that made me wonder if he was a prima donna. After a few months of working with Roy, I realized that he took his job seriously, and that he felt a responsibility to provide the best weather coverage for the viewers of Central Florida. I was always amazed at Roy's ability to provide temperatures and statistics without using cue cards. In the days that I worked at WTVT, Roy was using paper maps, and later pioneered real-time electronic displays. The only time I felt Roy's pique was when I was the news cast's floor director, and asked him how long that day's show would be. Roy told me he doesn't do a 'show,' he does a 'program.'
Did I mention that Roy once saved my life? Well, not literally, but I might not be here today if he hadn't provided some valuable information. My girlfriend (and future bride, Jodi) was attending the University of Florida in Gainesville. The long, boring drive to visit her was killing me, so I became a student pilot in hopes that flying there would be more time efficient and interesting. Florida weather, which can turn on a moments' notice, is one of the greatest dangers to aviators in single engine aircraft. I was at Gainesville's airport preparing to return to Tampa when I noticed ominous clouds to the south. Reliable cell phones were still 15 years in the future, so I used an old-fashioned pay phone and called Roy. I explained where I was and what my concerns were, and asked him to look at the radar. Roy did and told me to skirt along the coast to avoid some nasty weather in between me and Tampa. I did so, and safely landed in Tampa later that afternoon.
I'm sure Roy saved quite a few lives with his accurate reporting of weather conditions, and his legacy is carried on by the dozens of weather men and women he trained (some of them still at WTVT) to create the highest standard of weather reporting in the nation.
Ernie Lee was at Channel 13 for 33 years. Tampa Bay viewers enjoyed his down-home humor and music for a generation.
I worked "Breakfast Beat" occasionally, and despite the fact I'm not a morning person, it was always a pleasure because of Ernie. Ernie had not an ounce of pretension and was always ready with a good natured joke or story.
When I really started to get into lighting, I noticed that Ernie had very deep-set eyes that sometimes got lost with the regular overhead scoops and fresnels. One morning, I lowered his key light to a spot just a few feet above the camera. You could see his eyes real well, but Ernie looked up and said 'Whoa, Mike...I can't see!' Well, that didn't work but Ernie's personality always shown brightly.
Be sure to read about Ernie in the BIG 13 "Personalities" section.
Bob Fellows was a general assignment reporter at Channel 13. Bob's background was fascinating. He was a reporter with UPI and Time magazine, and reported on President Kennedy's assassination, and the subsequent killing of Lee Harvey Oswald. Bob attended Oswald's funeral, and was asked to be a pallbearer. He refused.
Bob was an old school reporter, kind of like the guys from the movie 'The Front Page.' He was bald, and had a tough, bulldog appearance that belied a wonderful sense of humor. Bob was often reporting on local crimes and mayhem, and with his deep voice and superior command of the English language, was quite effective. I noticed, however, that Bob would often repeat a certain description when commenting on some random murder...it usually went like this: "The bludgeoned body of ____________ was discovered last night in an alley behind the _____________ bar and grill." Every time Bob said 'bludgeoned body,' I'd start to giggle and finally asked him if he realized that the phrase was in every other crime report. Bob denied it, but slowly dropped 'bludgeoned body' from his reports. I loved the phrase, though, and got Bob to repeat it for me on my home videos. Bob's daughter Robin visited the station often, and we were quite the better for it...she was a former Miss Tampa and could sing like a canary.
Scott Shuster was one of our Pulse anchormen and the most amazing local newscaster talent I've ever worked with. His on-camera personality was top notch, and I've always been astounded that he did not end up anchoring for a network. Scott was the perfect newscaster...bright, articulate, and a little bit of a ham. He was great.
Scott's voice had a quality that reminded me of the old time radio announcers, so I asked him to play the part of '3-D Danny' in my revival of the character for a USF radio class. Scott performed admirably, of course.
Marc Wielage reminded me that Scott would sometimes appear on the set of Pulse wearing the usual shirt, tie, and jacket. Instead of pants, Scott would be in a pair of shorts, figuring that no viewers were going to see him from the waist down. Good thing there was never a fire in the studio while we were on-air!
Scott was very funny off camera and did something that I've never seen anywhere else. He bought a new Plymouth Valiant (black, as I recall) in 1973, and never removed the price sticker from the window. Two years later, the sticker was quite faded and starting to peel, but it was still there. I'm still amused by that many years later.
Lesley (Schissell) Friedsam contributed this tale of one on-air Shuster introduction: "Scott Shuster intro-ed Roy by saying 'the weather is going to stay the same tomorrow as it is today and now to stretch that into seven minutes, here's Roy Leep'."
PULSE EXTRA: Read about Scott's incredible career in "The Amazing Journey of Scott Shuster"
Pat Colmenares was our co-host of Pulse Plus! and also a pretty fine singer. Pat would conduct celebrity interviews, cooking segments, and sing during the course of an average day. We had a lot of fun staging Pat's songs, and she was a popular on-air personality for many years. Pat became one of Tampa Bay's premiere real estate agents. She fought a long, brave battle against lupus, which claimed her life in 2003.
Lesley Schissell was one of the first women reporters at the station, and pretty serious about doing a job that earned respect in the male-dominated newsroom. She was very concerned with the E.R.A. and similar issues. Lesley spearheaded the effort to call attention to fellow reporter Sara Golinveaux's dismissal. When John Hayes became Assistant News Director in 1978, Lesley was promoted to the position of Tallahassee Bureau chief.
The Weather guys such as Howard Shapiro, Bill Kowal, and Mark Schumacher were all great to work with, but I'd like to mention my favorite fellow,
Eric Meindl. As Roy's Chief Forecaster, Eric was very serious about the weather, but he also had a zany side that us crew guys loved. Every Christmas Eve, Eric and I would team up and produce a special effect for the children who were anxiously awaiting Santa. Towards the end of his weather program, Eric would suddenly spot something on the radar, and you'd see the outline of Santa and his reindeer hovering over Florida. I was in the other studio panning some Santa artwork which was superimposed over the radar. By the the third or fourth Christmas Eve, my 'Santa On the Radar' bit became a miniature team that was Chroma Keyed over the radar sweep. To learn what Eric's up to nowadays, click here
Ray Dantzler was also from the 'serious' side of news reporting. When I worked at 13, Ray delivered the editorial every day. I believe that Ray also had a say in programming decisions. In 1974, he took a meeting with a salesman from I.T.C. who was pitching 'Space:1999'. Although the show eventually was bought by Channel 8, Ray managed to score an impressive sales brochure for '1999' that I still have. I did get in hot water with Ray once...well, lukewarm water at least, for writing a Christmas comedy sketch for Pulse Plus! that was anti-consumerism. I staged it with a choir and Ray didn't see the humor in it at all. Maybe he was right. Ray passed away in the summer of 2004.
There were scores of other people working in traffic, engineering, sales, and management that didn't make it into this list. As time and space permits, I will add them in.
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