WSAZ History | The Decades / 1960s
History Information | The Decades / 1960s


Public activities have always been a focus of WSAZ-TV, from live shows such as Saturday Night Jamboree to events like the West Virginia Marching Band Festival and Channel 3 Day at Huntington's Camden Park.

Here, Bob Mills as The Old Timer takes some young fans for a spin at the 1961 event at Camden Park.

WSAZ's on-air staff are always available for public events and community benefits. Today, we participate in hundreds of community events annually, from speaking in classrooms, and judging contests to building shelter for the homeless. Wherever you need us, we'll be there.

In 1965, former WSAZ-TV Coffee Time Hostess, Sue Chambers performed with Bob Hope at an event to benefit Cammack Children's Center. Capacity crowds filled Huntington's Memorial Fieldhouse. The show also featured WSAZ's Jule Huffman and Bud Dailey.

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While local viewers came to expect that WSAZ-TV would cover regional and state political issues, the news department also covered the top level of national politics - United States Presidents, and those who sought the office.

WSAZ-TV's News Department received national attention in a powerful way when the Kennedy-Humphrey primary campaign roared into election day of 1960. NBC tested its new election tabulating system in WSAZ-TV's Charleston studio.

That system was an unqualified success. The NBC/WSAZ returns were so far ahead of the wire services that many newspapers, even the New York Times, were forced to use them in their stories.

Senator John F. Kennedy watched the outcome of the West Virginia Presidential Primary Election in the WSAZ-TV studios.

Bos Johnson reports on local elections.

The 1962 NBC News Election Team.

Here, Bobby Kennedy paid us a visit during his brother's Presidential campaign.

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Bos Johnson reports on the 1965 gubernatorial inauguration of Governor Hulett Carlson Smith. Snow and freezing temperatures couldn't diminish Bos' enthusiasm for getting the news out. Smith replaced Wallace "Wally" Barron in the Governor's Office.

During Smith's term, the legislature enacted measures to control air and stream pollution and protect human rights, as well as passing some of the state's first strip mining legislation.

In his first year as governor, Smith signed into law a bill repealing the death penalty. He instigated a "government- to-the-people" program that enabled citizens to interact with public officials. The most significant change in state government was the passage of the Modern Budget Amendment, making the governor responsible for developing the state budget.

WSAZ NewsChannel3 reporters were there.

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This afternoon and evening program schedule for the '62-63 season is sure to bring back memories. Highlights were Dr. Kildare, Bonanza, Car 54, Hazel and of course, the Huntley-Brinkley Report.

By 1963, WSAZ served the 23rd largest television market in the country. Our clear signal broadcast to more than 500,000 households in 5 States.

Here is a map of our 1963 coverage area.

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1962 Staff

The Channel 3 "on-camera" staff in 1962, as well as a list of local programs. This was a part of a brochure that was used to promote the station to advertisers.

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Late Night

In the late '50s and early '60s, Jack Paar defined the role of late night talk-show host. Johnny Carson took over the reins of The Tonight Show when Paar retired in 1962. For thirty years, Americans went to bed with Carson, the eternally boyish king of late-night television. When he retired from the Tonight Show, in 1992, it provoked national mourning.

The tradition lives on in the capable hands of performers such as Jay Leno (now at 10 p.m.), Conan O'Brien and Jimmy Fallon. Night owls the world over thank these performers for giving them something other than a test pattern to watch after 11:30.

Here, Jack and regular "Charlie Weaver", played by Cliff Arquette.

NBC's Broadway Open House was TV's first late-night talk-and-entertainment show. Jerry Lester and Morey Amsterdam alternated hosting, along with poetry-reading blonde Dagmar.

Premiering in 1950, the series lasted for just over a year, nevertheless, it laid the groundwork for the later success of Jack Paar and Johnny Carson.

Dagmar, a Huntington native, is shown in an appearance in a local parade. WSAZ NewsChannel 3 was there.

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Local stories are a mainstay of WSAZ-TV programming. Sensitivity and respect for the community are hallmarks found in all of our features.

Mickey Curry sets up a shot during the filming of "The Way We Walk", a 1963 feature about the network of Catholic hospitals in West Virginia.

Our focus on local culture was emphasized by events such as 1962's Folk Festival.

Or features like "While the City Sleeps", a 1961 documentary about the Police forces of Charleston and Huntington, WV. In this staged shot from the production, Huntington Police Chief Herman Frazier "investigates" a crime.

Steamboat Bill, always a hit with the kids. George Lewis also appeared as Mr. Cartoon; a role reprised in the '70s by Jule Huffman.

WSAZ also provided a forum for local organizations to produce shows. In December, 1965, Marshall University students staged "Miracle of Christmas" for WSAZ-TV viewers. Here, Program Director Mickey Roth presents an kinescope of the show to MU President, Dr. Stewart Smith.

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Miss USA

Coverage of local news events with national interest was all in a day's work for the WSAZ NewsChannel3 team. Although most news sent to the national level was about grim subjects such as mine cave-ins or floods, sometimes it was just a good news day, or, in this case, week. Twice!

Huntington hosted the Miss World/USA beauty pageants of 1962 and 1963 with WSAZ-TV provided outstanding coverage of these exciting competitions. Huntington was abuzz with excitement over hosting these prestigious events.

Today, the Pageant is a live television special that is telecast from exotic locations around the globe.

The Miss World/USA 1962 Winner was Amadee Chabot from California and the Miss World/USA Winner for 1963 was Michelle Bettina Metrinko of New York, New York.

Here are some of the competitors taking a tour of downtown Huntington.

Huntington Pageant Winners and Runner Ups
  1. Winner: Amadee Chabot—California
  2. Lithona Rozier—Florida
  3. Pat Franklin—New York
  4. Linda Kennon—Los Angeles, California
  5. Marilyn Nordman—Alabama
  1. Winner: Michelle Bettina Metrinko—New York City, New York
  2. Kathy Miller—Alabama
  3. Diane Budan—Ohio
  4. Kathleen Barden—Arkansas
  5. Sandy Bawol—Missouri

Long-time Huntington residents will remember their excitement when native Jo Ann Odum won the 1961-62 Miss USA/World Title. Miss Odum went on to represent the United States in the Miss World Pageant, placing a very respectable 6th, behind winner Rosemarie Frankland of the United Kingdom.

Jo Ann was instrumental in bringing the next two Miss USA/World pageants to Huntington. Her efforts resulted in international press coverage for our region and helped dispel the hillbilly image of West Virginia.

Jo Ann Aldrich (née Odum). Miss USA World, 1961

About 40 years later, Jo Ann ended up having a personal connection with WSAZ. Her son, David Aldrich, worked at WSAZ as a meteorologist.

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While WSAZ-TV carried Cincinnati Reds baseball games from the early '50s, the station also broadcast minor-leaque baseball from Charleston's Watt Powell Park. This photo shows the coverage of a Charleston Marlins game.

The station hosted WSAZ Marlins Day.

Square dancing was a regular event on the diamond during WSAZ Marlins Day.

WSAZ continues to provide the best coverage of sports in the region. Local school, amateur event, semi-pro, national and international scores, reports, interviews and analysis are broadcast daily on WSAZ NewsChannel 3.

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WSAZ NewsChannel3 Reporters, since the beginning, have covered local events and news by going to the scene of the action whenever possible. In the '60s, advances in technology made on-site reporting easier. Our reporters started the decade shooting their stories on 16mm film, which had to be developed and then edited before airing.

By the time of the photos below, we were, with a little prior notice, able to provide live or videotape coverage throughout the region. The problem of moving a 400 pound camera and all the related equipment called for great creativity on the part of the production team.

Here you see Bud Dailey reporting live outside the WSAZ Studios in December, 1967. Apparently, no one really wanted to carry the camera down the steps.

Of course, there were always some assignments for which our producers never had trouble finding volunteers.

1965 saw the origination of live coverage of the West Virginia Legislature with the opening session of the 56th Assembly, a telecast pioneered by the station in 1956. West Virginia was the first State in the country to allow live broadcast of its Congress and Senate in session. WSAZ NewsChannel3 brought the news to you as it happened.

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  • Tom Garten, Vice President and General Manager of WSAZ, Inc. and member of Board of Directors.
  • Radar Weather System is inaugurated with purchase of $25,000 equipment, addition of two weather wires, and appointment of Director of Weather Services.
  • Death of Farmer Bill Click; John Heiskell succeeds Click as Farm Director.
  • Second 2 inch video tape recorder is purchased.

  • Charleston newsman Ken Kurtz honored for outstanding reporting with nomination for Earl Godwin Memorial Award.
  • Station sold for $6,000,000 to WJR, The Goodwill Stations, Incorporated.
  • Walker Long, former President of WSAZ-TV, Inc., dies.
  • Garten is named Vice President of Goodwill Stations, Inc. - and General Manager of WSAZ AM-TV.
  • Memorial Scholarship to honor Farmer Bill Click established.

  • Bos Johnson receiver "Distinguished Service Award" from Huntington Jaycees.
  • Sports Director Jim Thacker named "Outstanding Sportscaster of the Year" by National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association.
  • Four new RCA cameras are purchased at cost of $85,000 for Huntington and Charleston studios.
  • Station receives "Public Interest" award from National Safety Council.

  • Garten is elected president of Huntington Chamber of Commerce. United Fund of Kanawha Valley cites WSAZ-TV.
  • Tri-State Advertising Federation selects "Medal of Honor", a documentary of WV State Police, as best program series on television. Entries were from a four state area.
  • $12,000 in television equipment given to Marshall University by WSAZ-TV.
  • William D. Birke, former President of WSAZ, Inc. dies.

  • Station sold by Goodwill Stations, Inc. to Capital Cities Broadcasting Corporation, Jack Wendell Lee, Vice President of CapCities becomes General Manager.
  • There are 515,000 homes able to receive WSAZ-TV signal in West Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky, and Virginia coverage area, according to American Research Bureau. TV Homes estimates, September 1964.

  • WSAZ purchases new RCA color studio camera.

  • Purchase of new color videotape recorders enables station to become the first full color station in the area.

  • News Department initiates new concept of newsgathering with Jerry Sander becoming the area's only full-time Regional Reporter.

July 20, 1969
Apollo XI astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin became the first men to walk on the moon, after their lunar module separated from the command module and landed on the lunar surface at 09:18 GMT/4:18 EDT on the Sea of Tranquillity. It was the culmination of a national goal, set by President Kennedy, to land an American on the moon before the decade's end.

After flying 240,000 miles through airless and soundless space, the lunar module separated from the ship and began its jerky descent to the surface. On living-room sets, on giant outdoor screens, and in appliance-store windows, the drama unfolded. The module's thrusters kicked up lunar dust and, transfixed, we saw the craft cast a shadow on Moon's surface.

Neil Armstrong and Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin established Tranquility Base while Michael Collins orbited above. Armstrong stepped on the lunar surface at 10:56 ET and proclaimed "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." Nearly 700 million earthlings tuned in. WSAZ NewsChannel 3 broadcast this historic event live.

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