Welcome to TV Garth!

Ever since I was a kid, I loved antennas and TV reception. It was always a thrill to hook up an antenna and see what stations I could get, and see if I could pick up anything from a far distance. With the transition to digital broadcasting happening, my love for OTA (over the air) reception came back and this blog will focus on what channels I'm able to receive via antenna from my home just outside of Toronto, Canada. Plus there may be occasional commentaries on shows that I see while adjusting my reception.

Monday, February 29, 2016

TV Guide Tackles Racism In 1968!

In honor of Black History Month, I wanted to share this article I recently discovered in one of my vintage TV Guides. (Shout out to Joe Kilmartin who sold me many of these fantastic issues at Dragon Lady Comics years ago!) What astonishes me is how much of this article is still relevant this many years later.

By Richard K. Doan

(from TV GUIDE August 17, 1968)

If Americans by the millions wind up this summer feeling that, next to politics, the topic they’ve been deluged with on television is black-vs.-white attitudes, that will be just fine with a lot of TV people—black and white. It's exactly what they've hoped for: to make as many people as possible painfully aware of deep-seated racial biases and maybe grimly determined to outgrow them. By next month's end, at least 17 1/2 hours - most of them in prime time - will have been devoted by three networks to a concentrated TV campaign to root out U.S. racism. ABC's Time for Americans, CBS's Of Black America and NET's Black Journal may, of course, add up to a drop in the bucket as far as the massive job of unprejudicing a whole nation is concerned. Yet, who's to say what the impact of such a TV effort, measurable though it might not be, must be inconsequential?

If TV has helped promote a climate of violence, as some critics claim, is it not equally capable of helping to cool a long, hot summer? As this is written, it is too early to know how much and how well these TV programs got through to the people they needed to reach. The unpredictability of events in these days of joltingly unexpected developments rules out comfortable expectancies. But causes and motives can be examined.

what went into these TV undertakings, in the way of hopes and aims?

A strikingly common note was sounded by the individuals prominently involved: They liked to think what white America might come away acutely conscious of prejudices it wasn't aware of, and that black America might be helped in its search for identity by being shown the heritage it might not have been aware of.

The motivating idea was phrased in many ways:

CBS News president Richard S. Salant: “My own test is whether I can sleep a little better nights because we [whites at CBS] tried to do something. I want our series to penetrate the thinking of whites who haven't really paid much attention to the problem. And I want the Negro community to be able to turn its TV sets on seven times and see something that tells them the White Establishment cares.”

Stephen Fleischman, co-executive producer of ABC's series: “We’ve got first to shock people, white people, into watching. Then we’ve got to show them latent racism with which they can identify, and make them realize they’ve got these attitudes.”

Lou Potter, Negro editor of the NET programs: “I’m a big believer in one of the keys to the problem being respect. I think our Black Journal can make a strong contribution by stressing dignity for the Negro. Secondly, I hope it will blaze a trail for networks and local stations - especially local stations — to do more programming for and about the black community.”

Wardell Gaynor, Negro associate producer of the CBS project: “My friends express a lot of cynicism. They don't think these programs can say much, really. I hope we will end up saying something, something that might make them sit up and say, 'Hey, that was all right!’”

Don Dixon, NET vice president of public affairs: “We want to give whites a view of Negro life they don't see on TV. We see the Negro as a maid in a situation comedy or as a rioter in the news. But we don't see him as he really is most of the time. As for the Negroes, we want to show them the world they are part of, a world they don't see much of on TV."

Perry Wolff, executive producer of the CBS series: “We’ve got to change some attitudes. The people we've got most to move are the lower middle-class whites, We've got to show them that the Negroes aren't a monolithic slab, all alike, aŋy more than whites are all alike. We've shown too much of the Saturday-night Negro; we've got to show the Monday-morning Negro, the Tuesday Negro.”

Might all this concentration on exposing biases do much to cool Summerracial tensions? People involved doubted it but agreed with Wolff's sentiments: “I just don't want to be fiddling when Chicago burns."

The networks were mostly "fiddling" however, it has to be noted, prior to this rash of concern over boiling tensions. They had aired an occasional documentary, to be sure, but hadn't turned on a massive push. What, then, triggered it?

“Panic," replied ABC's Fleischman in candor. “Just plain panic.” Others preferred, though, to trace it to the Kerner Commission inquiry into civil disorders and its disquieting indictment of “white racism.” Salant and his ABC News counterpart, Elmer Lower, say a three-day brainstorming session with the Kerner group last November touched off planning of these series. The final push to “do something" this summer to help ease white-vs.-black strains came, however, from the White House via Vice President Humphrey. He invited the top brass of the three commercial networks to Washington to urge them to help out. Humphrey staffers visited NET president John F. White to enlist his aid.

NBC, alone among the networks. made no plans to contribute in any special way to the summer cool-it campaign. NBC spokesmen said their contribution would come in an “urban crisis" series of four specials, the first in September, the second late in December, the last two next year.

ABC blocked out six editions of its Time for Americans, the last booked for July 29, CBS's seven Of Black America specials, all in prime time, were to be spread from July 2 through Sept. 2. NET's monthly Black Journal, started in June, was to conclude in September unless underwriting was found to continue the series.

What did Negroes taking leading on-camera roles in these bias-busting efforts think of them?

Bill Greaves of Black Journal: “It's unfortunate this sort of program should have to come to pass, but we have been the victim of white journals. If we can't have black-and-white journals, then we'll have to have black journals until this country matures, and particularly until the media people mature. . . . You bet your sweet life I agree with the Kerner report. The black man has been kept out of the mainstream of American life, and the white community has got to get on its bicycle and try to reverse this. One thing these programs may do generate enough interest by the white community in the black man's concerns to help restrain those white morons who are throwing fuel on the black community.”

George Foster, CBS correspondent: “My concern is that it's possible to do a show like this without it being relevant, without it making a difference. I feel people are honestly tired of the racial strife and they're looking for answers. I hope to some degree that our programs will at least aim people in the direction of answers. Television has been far too nonconmittal. I think people have had enough of this. They want strong statements. I must say I admire George Wallace in a way because he's making a strong statement for his side. We’ve got to make strong statements for our side, too.”


Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Rochester Road Trip 2014: WHEC and more!

Greetings TV Garth readers! Back in June 2014, my pal Mr. A and I made a triumphant return to Rochester to visit our friends Rick and Steve, plus tour the WHEC studios! (Check out Part One and Part Two of our previous adventures in 2013!) We also found time for some laser tag with our friend Tivia in Dewitt, NY! So sit back and enjoy a ROCkin recap which is part TV-log, part travelogue! (All TV screenshots are from my reception in Markham, unless otherwise noted.)

June 14, 2014

I had four-ocious fun with Steve, Mr. A and Rick at the Rochester Public Market!


There was a great van for Sticky Lips BBQ with some fantastic retro artwork on it! (Compare with an ad I saw on WUHF, RF28, back on July 14, 2012!)

2012-07-14 WUHF Sticky Lips BBQ

While perusing the market, I bought a funnel cake from a guy who looked like the American doppelganger of someone I was trying to get over back home.


Thankfully I was able to drown my sorrows with my pals at Black Button Distilling shortly after! They have a wonderful selection of locally made libations to sample and take home!

At Black Button Distilling

Our adventures in the Park Avenue area were a cut above thanks to the appearance of Hairzoo! (Compare with the awesomely quirky ad I saw on WUHF, RF28, back on Nov. 5, 2011!)


We also passed by Chester Cab Pizza which I remembered from the cute animated mascot I saw on WROC (RF45) back on July 3, 2011!

2011-07-03 WROC Chester Cab Ad

Our group eventually ended up at Boulder Coffee Co. which is a really cool, artsy space serving up drinks and live musical performances.


I really liked their wall of art a latte.


They also won we over with a prominently displayed poster for Rochester Pride!


In the evening we ordered take out from Sticky Lips BBQ and enjoyed it at Rick and Steve's place. I had the chicken and waffles!


After our meal, we found ourselves doing publicity pics for our new TV show Guyz On The Town! I'm kidding, but we did have fun at the Bachelor Forum!


June 15, 2014

Although Mr. A and I had high expectations of our journey to DeWitt, NY, we had no idea Exscape would pop up along the way! (Compare with the ad I saw on WHAM, RF13, back on April 6, 2012!)


Tootie and Natalie bought similar glassware to store jelly beans and root beer in a classic Facts of Life episode!


During our drive I spotted some CanCon In The US as we passed a Kitchener Rangers tour bus! (Compare with a report on Kitchener's CKCO, RF13, back in the analog days from March 18, 2009!)

2009-03-18 017

I recognized the Bill Rapp Superstore from ads I've seen on WSTQ (RF24-2) and my previous trip to Syracuse!


We soon arrived at ShoppingTown Mall in DeWitt, to meet up with our pal Tivia and her husband Paul for a rousing game of laser tag at The Fun Junction!


I remembered ShoppingTown Mall (and their theatre) from a story I saw back in 2009 on Syracuse's WSYR (RF17) covering a Harry Potter premiere!

2009-07-14 222

The laser tag adventures were a real blast and we closed out the evening with a wonderful dinner at Chili's! (Also check out Tiviachick Loves Laser Tag which is an amazing resource and celebration of the sport!)


June 16, 2014

Mr. A and I were up bright and early for our tour of WHEC! The station isn't too far from The Little, an independent theatre that was purchased by Rochester's PBS outlet WXXI! (Compare with WXXI's promotion of a Neil Simon night at The Little from April 6, 2014!)

2014-04-09 22.59.01

It was through WXXI's annual auction that I won the chance to visit WHEC and "shadow" one of my favourite anchors, Rebecca Leclair, during the morning and noon broadcasts at the station.


We arrived in time to watch the last half hour of the morning newscast.


After getting buzzed in, some friendly folks helped us tiptoe onto the set where we saw Rebecca Leclair and Nikki Rudd delivering the news!


During a break, we got to visit the control room which monitors different camera angles for the newscasts, as well as various network feeds.


When I looked closer, I noticed the monitor labeled "Net 1" was a raw feed of NBC! You could see the Today Show crew prepping for their upcoming broadcast!


News Producer Susan Connors, Director Eric Johnson and Engineer Todd Graham were all on hand to keep the show running smoothly!


Nikki Rudd had to leave right at 7am to go to her radio gig at WARM 101.3 (I found out they have a backup radio booth at the station she can use if she doesn't make it to WARM!) But Mr. A and I were happy to head back on set and pose with Rich Caniglia!


Rich is a great meteorologist and it was awesome getting to sit at the desk with him!


I also love that my city Markham appears on the station's doppler radar quite frequently!


Rebecca Leclair is just as fabulous and friendly in person as she is on air! I was geeking out when I posed at the desk with her and Rich!


It's always good to have some R and R in the morning!


Next up was a trip through the newsroom and it was cool to see Rebecca updating stories at her workstation! Meanwhile, I posed with the wall of TVs that monitored all the competing local stations!


A visit to the audio booth sounded like a good idea and that's where Engineer Keith Williams keeps the levels in check! He demonstrated musical cues for the newscasts and also observed that the Today Show audio from NBC was "running hot" at times!


After the main morning newscast, Rich and Rebecca were on hand to provide the local inserts at the end of each Today Show half hour.


I also got to see Rich on the green screen recording the updates for the weather subchannel WHEC provides on 10-3!


Look closely and you can see that Rebecca is controlling the teleprompter during the Today Show inserts!


For the next portion of our tour, Engineer Dana Tyler took us through different areas of the station and provided some interesting backstories along the way!


When I first started dabbling in DTV reception, I loved NBC's Weather Plus subchannels, so it was neat to see the program used to run WHEC's local version on 10-3!


Speaking of subchannels, WHEC broadcasts MeTV on 10-2 and I loved seeing Lucy on the studio monitors! (When I became a Lucy fan in the early 90s I couldn't have imagined a future with digital TV signals carrying classic television networks alongside the main stations!)

IMG_2959 Me TV Close up

We passed through another control room before making our way to some news vehicles outside!


Dana explained that this humongous WHEC satellite truck was formerly used for live reports! (It even made it to Canada during coverage of Rochester sports teams on the road!) The truck comes with a lot of production equipment, but is less essential now that mobile devices can transmit video. (Mobile transmission, I learned, carries a slight "delay" depending on network data transfer speeds.)


Mr. A struck a truly outrageous pose with one of WHEC's news vans!


This vehicle featured some of the newer WHEC branding compared to the previous ones!


Dana also explained that multiple satellite dishes are used to pick up both the C-Band and Ku-Band NBC network feeds. During bad weather, the C-Band feed is used as back up because Ku-Band reception is more easily disrupted.


We breezed back on set in time to visit with Rich Caniglia in the weather center!


Rich was also very friendly with us and we talked a bit about my hobby and how Canadians watch American stations from across the lake! (He mentioned that the station hears from Belleville, Ontario viewers sometimes!)


We got to accompany Rebecca Leclair to the wonderfully retro Spot Coffee during her break! She graciously treated us to breakfast and we had a great chat about the local news industry. As a TV news geek, it was a thrill and I also appreciated Rebecca taking interest in what Mr. A and I were up to in our own careers!


After our break, Rebecca introduced us to Assistant Chief Engineer Howard Cohen who surprised us with a fantastic booklet detailing the history of the station! The booklet was produced to commemorate the 60th Anniversary of WHEC!


We also reached new highs upon meeting Photographer and Editor Gretchen Cannan as she selected images to accompany a story about medical marijuana! It was neat to see her call up footage from the NBC archives and edit different clips to illustrate various stories that were slated for the Noon newscast.


Brian Lechliter is a Producer at the station and has created many of the promos that I've enjoyed seeing! He's part of The 191 Group which also produces commercials for local area businesses.


Darryl Marshall is an Art Director at WHEC and is also part of The 191 Group! He worked on the new graphics for the station's newscasts and showed us some computer modelling that looked pretty sharp.


Mr. A and I got to watch the full Noon broadcast and I got to meet Pat Taney (who I had previously watched on Buffalo's WKBW) just before we left.


Rebecca Leclair gave Mr. A and I a wonderful experience at Channel 10 and I greatly appreciate her kindness and warmth in making us a part of her day at the station.


I loved the front desk with the prominent station logo! We chatted for a bit the with the receptionist about heading back to Canada and joked about all the cross border shopping between our countries!


I brought home a TV Guide, CITY newspaper, a copy of The Empty Closet and some really cool items from WHEC! (I can't express how much I heart the "History of WHEC" guidebook!)

Rochester 2014 Montage

But the most surreal thing was seeing WHEC briefly pop up on my TV in Markham the same night after coming home from my trip!

2014-06-17 02.32.36

Rebecca also tweeted out this awesome message shortly after!

Special thanks to Rebecca Leclair, News Director Chris Ford, Station Manager Derek Dalton and all of the friendly and talented folks at WHEC who provided a unique and memorable day at Channel 10! Stay tuned to TV Garth for more adventures with television!