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The History of WAND, Decatur, IL
  Page 1
The First 10 Years of Channel 17 as WTVP 1953-64
  Page 2
LIN Broadcasting and WTVP becomes WAND 1965-77
  Page 3
The Years of Rebuilding 1978-1985
  Page 4
The ABC Years 1986-2005
  Page 5
WAND Becomes an Affiliate of NBC, Digital Years 2005-present

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WAND, Channel 17, Decatur, Illinois: Part 2

The LIN Broadcasting Years and WTVP becomes WAND (1965-1977)

This page is still under construction and is missing some items....check back soon, as I hope to have it all completed very soon!

WTVP grows up, becomes colorful, expands and gets a new name under a new owner

On December 23, 1965 Frederick Gregg Jr., President of LIN Broadcasting, announced the future expansion of WTVP.  The announcement also came with the announcement of the ownership change of WTVP to the Nashville, Tennessee based company on December 15, 1965.  The purchase price was listed as $2-million.

The $800,000 expansion plans would involve a power increase of almost “five fold” and a doubling of the height of it’s tower.  The plans also included the conversion to a color TV studio and color broadcasting which would begin during 1966.  The W-70-AF translator wasn’t included in the briefing, but according to the Urbana Courier, “others familiar with the station’s capabilities feel it can be eliminated.”

In late 1965, WTVP was stated as having a Grade B signal over 45% of Champaign-Urbana.  With the tower/antenna and transmitter upgrade, it was felt that WTVP would have a Grade A signal over the Twin Cities.

In February 1966 a press release read that all TV owners should be able to receive ABC programming from WTVP by May of that year.  The final engineering plans were completed and submitted to the FCC for approval.  WTVP Station Manager Len Carl stated that the station upgrade would include a new 1-million watt transmitter to be located near Argenta, Illinois.  Some communities, which would now be included in the coverage area, were to be Melvin, Loda and Rankin to the north, Ashland to the west, Danville to the east and Mattoon to the south.  It was also revealed on February 10th that WTVP would become WAND on the following Monday.

The plans began for building of a tower and transmitter that would eventually be destroyed by an ice storm.  That weather-related event would ultimately bring down the 1,135-foot structure during the late 70's...more on that later.

In the meantime, the Macon County Zoning Board approved the construction of the tower and transmitter building on a one-acre tract of land located 2 miles northeast of Oreana, Illinois before the final FCC approval was granted.

WAND news in 1965 featured Bob Billman anchor, Loren Boatman(weather), Bill Wohlfarth(sports), Phil Allen(weekend-weather/sports), Greg Liptak(reporter-weekend anchor) and Bob Schneider(reporter-farm).

The news theme was "Communication Exchange."

WAND sponsored "The Houswife Club" in which viewers could win prizes and such.  You had to send in an entry, like the one pictured from newspaper ads published at the time.  They also asked for reception reports with the actual entry, although it wasn't included in this representation.  Also, note the logo for LIN Broadcasting, the new owner of Channel 17, now called "Magic WAND."  The Feb 20, 1966 newspaper ad in the Urbana Courier is below....

WAND Technical Improvements

Before the new transmitter and tower were installed, WAND went on line on July 1st, 1966 with a new film chain with color capabilities, and color VTR’s.  It seems that WTVP had capabilities to broadcast the network in color as early as 1965.  Live studio color broadcasting was still being planned for October of 1966, several months in the future.

In August of 1966 construction was begun on the new tower for WAND.  Weather delays continued to plague the construction schedule for the new high-powered facility.  By August 16th, the tower concrete forms began to be placed and readied for the foundation of the tower.  The construction of the new concrete block style transmitter building was underway as well.  Stainless, Inc. was the manufacturer and assembly contractor for the tower (being the same company, which built the WILL-TV/FM tower just a few miles to the northeast of the WAND tower).

Schedule of Programming on WAND, Channel 17 for the week of March 5-11, 1966
Saturday,  March 5, 1966

6:30 am  Senator Douglas-Report
6:45 am  Senator Dirkson-Report
7:00 am  Farm Report-Bob Schneider
8:00 am  Texan-Western drama (syn)
8:30 am  Cartoons-subjects unknown (syn)
9:00 am  Porky Pig (ABC-color) cartoon
9:30 am  Beatles (ABC-color) cartoon
10:00 am Casper (ABC-color) cartoon
10:30 am Magilla Gorilla (ABC-color) cartoon
11:00 am Bugs Bunny (ABC-color) cartoon
11:30 am Milton the Monster (ABC-color) cartoon
12:00 pm Hoppity Hooper (ABC-color) cartoon
12:30 pm American Bandstand (ABC) music variety
1:30 pm   Sergeant Preston (syn) Canadian western
2:00 pm   Wells Fargo (syn) western
2:30 pm   PBA Tour (ABC) bowling
5:30 pm   News, Weather, Sports-local news
6:00 pm   Zorro (syn) western
6:30 pm   Ozzie and Harriet (ABC-color) sit com
7:00 pm   Donna Reed (ABC) sit com
7:30 pm   Lawrence Welk (ABC-color) music
8:30 pm   Hollywood Palace (ABC-color) variety
9:30 pm   Death Valley Days (syn) western
10:00 pm News, Weather, Sports-local
10:30 pm Movie "Dragonwyck" (1946) Gene Tierney, Walter Huston, Vincent Price

Sunday, March 6, 1966

8:00 am This is the Life-religion
8:30 am A.A. Allen Revival-religion
9:00 am Beany and Cecil (ABC-color) cartoon
9:30 am Peter Potamu (ABC-color) cartoon
10:00 am Bullwinkle (ABC-color) cartoon
10:30 am Discovery 66 (ABC) children documetary
hosted by Frank Buxton
11:00 am  ABC Scope (ABC) Vietnam Report
11:30 am  Faith for Today (syn) religion
12:00 pm  Directions 66 (ABC) religion
12:30 pm  Issues and Answers (ABC) news interviews
1:00 pm  Pro Basketball (ABC) 76ers vs. Celtics
Wilt Chamberlain leads the 76ers against
Bill Russell and the Celtics. Chris Schenkel anmd Bob Cousy report
3:00 pm  American Sportsman (ABC-color) Rip Torn and Burt Reynolds go duck hunting
4:00 pm  March of Time (ABC) documentary
5:00 pm  Texan (syn) western
5:30 pm  News, Weather, Sports-local
6:00 pm  Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (ABC-color) sci-fi drama
7:00 pm  FBI (ABC-color) crime drama
8:00 pm  Sunday Night Movie (ABC) "The Glass Menagerie" (1950) Jane Wyman, Kirk Douglas
10:00 pm News, Weather, Sports-local
10:30 pm Movie- "Body and Soul" (1947) John Garfield

Monday-Friday,  March 7-11, 1966

6:00 am  Survey of the Arts (syn) education
6:30 am  Farm Show-local-Bob Schneider
7:30 am  Kartoon Kampus (syn)
8:30 am  Romper Room-local
9:00 am  Movie
10:00 am Supermarket Sweep (ABC) game
10:30 am Dating Game (ABC) game
11:00 am Donna Reed (ABC) off network syn sit com
11:30 am Father Knows Best (ABC) off network syn sit com
12:00 pm Ben Casey (syn) medical drama
1:00 pm  Nurses (ABC) serial
1:30 pm  A Time for Us (ABC) serial
2:00 pm  General Hospital (ABC) serial
2:30 pm  Young Marieds (ABC) serial
3:00 pm  Never Too Young (ABC) serial
3:30 pm  Captain Scotty-local-children
4:00 pm  Davey's Locker-local children
4:30 pm  Where the Action Is (ABC) music
5:00 pm  Soupy Sales (syn) comedy
5:30 pm  Leave it to Beaver (syn) off net syn
6:00 pm  News, Weather, Sports-local

Monday, March 7, 1966

6:30 pm   12 O'Clock High (ABC) war drama
7:30 pm   Legend of Jesse James (ABC) western
8:00 pm   Shenandoah (ABC) western
8:30 pm   Peyton Place (ABC) serial
9:00 pm   Thin Blue Line (ABC) news speical
  (pre-empted "Ben Casey")
10:00 pm  News, Weather, Sports-local
10:30 pm  Nightwatch-Movie "Slave Ship" (1937)

Tuesday, March 8, 1966

6:30 pm  Combat! (ABC) war drama
7:30 pm  McHale's Navy (ABC) war comedy sit com
8:00 pm  F-Troop (ABC) western comedy sit com
8:30 pm  Peyton Place (ABC) serial
9:00 pm  Fugitive (ABC) drama
10:00 pm  News, Weather, Sports-local
10:30 pm  Nightwatch-Movie "Mr. Peabody and the Mermaid" (1948)

Wednesday, March 9, 1966

6:30 pm   Batman (ABC-color) adventure
7:00 pm   Patty Duke (ABC) sit com
7:30 pm   Blue Light (ABC-color) drama
8:00 pm   Big Valley (ABC-color) western
9:00 pm   Long Hot Summer (ABC) drama
10:00 pm  News, Weather, Sports-local
10:30 pm  Nightwatch-Movie "Caught" (1949)

Thursday, March 10, 1966

6:30 pm   Batman (ABC-color) adventure
7:00 pm   Gidget (ABC-color) sit com
7:30 pm   Double Life of Henry Phyfe (ABC-color) sit com
8:00 pm   Bewitched (ABC) sit com
8:30 pm   Peyton (ABC) serial
9:00 pm   Viet Nam (ABC-color) news special
  (pre-empted "The Baron")
10:00 pm  News, Weather, Sports-local
10:30 pm  Nightwatch-Movie "Letter from an Unknown Woman" (1948)
Friday, March 11, 1966

6:30 pm   Flintstones (ABC-color) cartoon
7:00 pm   Tammy (ABC-color) sit com
7:30 pm  Addams Family (ABC) sit com
8:00 pm   Honey West (ABC) crime drama
8:30 pm   Farmer's Daughter (ABC-color) sit com
9:00 pm   Jimmy Dean Show (ABC) variety

10:00 pm  News, Weather, Sports-local
10:30 pm  Nightwatch-Movie-double feature
"Ghost of Dragstrip Hollow" (1959) and
"Hell Squad" (1958)

Network programs are indicated  with (ABC)
Network color programs are indicated with (ABC-color)
local programming originating from the WTVP studios are in italics

(TV listings from TV Guide, from the Doug Quick Collection)

Recollections of "Davey's Locker" and "Captain Scotty" on WTVP/WAND

During the 1950's and especially during the 1960's, local television included many local kids shows which would feature a unique host, a panel of local kids, games which allow kids to win prizes and a stable of four to five minute cartoons. At WTVP/WAND during the 60's there was at least "Space Angel," " Dick Tracy's Crime Stoppers," along with "Davey's Locker" and "Captain Scotty."

Davey's Locker and Captain Scotty were created and hosted by Dr. John Douglas Davey. His son Jon Davey, who is now a professor at a Midwest university passed along some information about the life of Dr. Davey.

Dr. Davey was born in Northern Rhodesia where his parents were missionaries there. He later was educated in Wales and graduated from Swansea College before moving on to Canada. He served in the Canadian Air Force during World War II, then went to seminary school.

After marrying he and his wife and family lived in Pennsylvania, New York, Texas, Oklahoma and Illinois.  Jon tells of attending six different grade schools.  Jon described his father's voice as having a deep resonance similar to James Earl Jones with a “touch of (an) English accent and a great cutting vocabulary.” His son also tells of him going “back and forth between being a pastor and radio/TV/Newspapers.”

Also at WAND he anchored the Noon newscast for a time but that was after he had already established himself as a kids show host and according to his son the move “didn't work."   After his time at WAND, he ended up at WMIX radio in Mt. Vernon, Illinois where he was station manager. He later returned to preaching, which took him to Hot Springs, Arkansas where he, Dr. John Douglas Davey passed away in 2002.

So, the search continues to find any material, pictures or any TV show artifacts and souvenirs from any of the WAND kids shows. If you have any memories, personal photos your parents might have taken at the WTVP/WAND studios or any photos which would show the set, the host and kids, they would be a terrific addition to this website. You'll notice right now, there are none.

Pictures can be scanned and sent via e-mail to me. Digital pictures of objects can be taken, scans of any printed material can also be sent via-email. Please go through your collection! Don't let this exiting time of local television disappear! Of course you would be given contributor status.

I would also like to hear the story of your experience as a child participant. I'm looking forward to hearing from you soon!

Send me an e-mail at the address on my home page!

ABC Shows on WTVP or WAND from 1965-1967
"The Green Hornet"
"The Big Valley"
"A Man Called Shenandoah"
"The Monroes"
"The Patty Duke Show"

"McHale's Navy"
"Peter Potamus"
Sunday Morning
"American Bandstand"
"12 O'Clock High"
"Never Too Young"
"The Fugitive"
"A Time for Us"
"Hoppity Hooper"
Saturday Morning
"Blue Light"
"Bugs Bunny"
Saturday Morning
"General Hospital"
"ABC Wednesday Night Movie"
"Beany and Cecil"
Sun Morning
"ABC Sunday Night Movie"
"Lawrence Welk Show"
"Stage '67"
"The Avengers"
"Valentine's Day"
"Ben Casey" daytime and prime time
"Peyton Place"
"The Flintstones"
"Jimmy Dean Show"
"Amos Burke"
"Porky Pig Show"
Saturday Morning
"The Legend of Jesse James"
"Father Knows Best"
"Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea"
"Hollywood Palace"
"Love on a Rooftop"
"Bullwinkle Show"
Sunday Morning
"The King Family"
"Where the Action Is"
"Ozzie and Harriet"
"Donna Reed Show"
Daytime and Primetime
"The Felony Squad"
"The Pruitts of South Hampton"
"Farmer's Daughter"
"The Dating Game"
"The FBI"
"Iron Horse"
"The Beatles"
Saturday Morning
"The Rat Patrol"
"The Double Life of Henry Phyfe"
"The Nurses"
"The Rounders"
"The Time Tunnel"
"The Addams Family"
"Honey West"
Saturday Morning

Syndicated and Local Shows on WTVP or WAND from 1965-1967
"Romper Room"
"The Texan"
"Tales of Wells Fargo"
"Soupy Sales Show"
"Leave it to Beaver"
"Sergeant Preston of the Yukon"
"The New Breed"
"The Detectives"
"Death Valley Days"
"Deputy Dawg"
"Hopalong Cassidy"
"Piccadilly Palace"
"McHale's Navy"

"Twilight Zone"

This is a collection of ABC promos for Friday and Monday night programming along with promos for Shindig, Bewitched and the Sunday Night Movie.

(from You Tube)

Here is a collection of the news shows for ABC for the 1966-67 season. 

(from You Tube)

The actual transfer of the 16mm film with the 1967 ABC Fall Preview is not good, but even with the low quality transfer (showing the 16mm film on the wall to be video taped) its a great look at what the network was featuring for its new season.  Gary Owens was the narrator.

(from You Tube)

The Avengers was one of my favorite shows of all time.  Here is series of promos for the British imported series.

(from You Tube)

ABC had much success with its broadcast of movie nights.  Here Hollywood features were presented on two separate nights, each night got great ratings as at the time, most of these films weren't seen since they left the theater. 

(from You Tube)

ABC began to reach younger viewers during the late 1960s, a move which would pay off ten years later when ABC led the ratings race.  With its use of rock style music on promos, it targeted viewers from the 18-34 demo.  One such program was The Invaders...similar to The Fugitive it was a continuing on going quest to get the world to believe we were being invaded by aliens from outer space. 

(from You Tube)

(far left): "Magic WAND Television" an obvious use of the call letters of Channel 17, but later dropped.  The use of the Metromedia "17" contiinued for a few years with various fonts being used for the call letters of WAND.

(All images below from the TV Guide Collection of Doug Quick)

WANDs New RCA Antenna is a Monster

Further information on the subject of the antenna comes from the WJJY-TV web site.   The WAND antenna along with the antenna of the ill-fated Jacksonville, Illinois station were manufactured by RCA.  The WJJY-TV antenna was slightly larger because of a higher power level but wasn’t used until August of 1969.  According to the site listed above “to gain such incredibly high power levels, WJJY-TV utilized an experimental antenna manufactured by RCA and only three were ever constructed.  Because the station operated on channel 14, the lowest possible UHF frequency, the physical dimensions of the radiator elements were very large making the antenna the most massive ever constructed for the commercial UHF market.”  “WAND-TV in Decatur, Illinois purchased the second smaller unit.  The third antenna remained unsold and stayed on the ground at the RCA test facility in Camden, New Jersey.  No one trusted such a large, heavy antenna.  Those fears would later be realized.” 

“The complete antenna (for WJJY-TV) was so massive that it had to be manufactured and shipped in three separate sections on three separate trucks.  Each part was lifted to the top of the tower individually and stacked by the tower riggers.  The average antenna weight for a UHF antenna at that time was between two and nine tons.  The RCA “Vee-Zee” panel antenna weighed in at 26-tons, not counting the transmission line, radome covers and mounting plates.”  The story of the antenna for WJJY would come to an end the same weekend as the story of the new antenna for WAND.  The story of the tower failure on the day before Easter 1978 is coming later on this site.

ABC began color broadcasting in 1961  and each program was proceeded by this 10 second color introduction.  It was the ABC version of the NBC peacock.
It wasn't until 1965 that WAND passed network color, then became full color in 1968.

WAND becomes a Big Central Illinois Broadcaster

On October 3rd of 1966, WAND General Manager Len Carl announced that the new WAND transmitter and antenna was to be operational on Wednesday, October 5th.  It was also stated that the translator for WAND, W-70-AE would be taken off the air from it’s location in Champaign, since it was projected that WAND would throw a class A signal into the Champaign-Urbana area. It also appears that after tests were conducted about the signal strength of the new transmitter and antenna, that the translator would be moved to Danville.  Channel 70 would be used to “fill in” the signal to a populated area which was located just inside the coverage area but had a questionable ability to receive the signal from channel 17.  Channel 70 was able to get a class A signal over Danville along with the channel 17 class A signal over Springfield, Decatur and Champaign-Urbana.  The achievement gave WAND the ability to pitch it’s 100-percent class A coverage area to buyers of national and regional advertising.  This was necessary in order for the station to maximize potential households reached and hopefully WAND’s ratings.  This new situation would increase the chance to pick up it’s share of that all important advertising market.

There was a delay in the initial broadcast from the new site, but it was only for a couple of days.  On Saturday morning, October 8th, 1966 at 6:40, WAND began to broadcast it’s 2-million watt signal from it’s new tower and transmitter located near Argenta, Illinois.  Reception reports were favorable for the most part from all over the area.  The only exceptions were complaints from viewers in Decatur, who failed to compensate for the new transmitter location and to re-direct their antennas toward the new broadcast site.

At Least WAND is on the Air

Central Illinois experienced an ice storm on January 26th of 1967, which caused the collapse of the newly constructed 1,335 foot tower of WICD between Homer and Fithian, Illinois (See WICD).   This may have coincided with an ice storm which affected WAND as well.  I remember an ice storm, from about that time, which took WAND off the air with a power failure and/or damage to the stations studio-transmitter microwave link.  WAND scrambled to return to the air with a temporary arrangement which caused them to abandon their studio and move to the newly constructed transmitter building at the tower near Argenta, Illinois. I assume either that location had power, or a back up generator was used to keep the station on the air.  Unfortunately, there was probably no switching equipment, or a network feed to keep the station with the look of normal programming.

Instead, the engineering staff had wired in a camera, maybe a studio camera, along with a couple of microphones wired into the transmitter to broadcast on-going news news and ice storm reports and weather from inside their transmitter building!  WAND also used a 16 mm movie projector to show movies, cartoons and syndicated programming on the wall of the building and simply stuck a mike in front of a speaker of the projector.  The shows were “video jocked” by on-air staffers, of which I remember Bob Billman and Bill Wohlfarth doing at least one shift.  The two VJ’s would sit at a table with chairs and when it was time to go back to “programming” you could hear the projector start up and the studio camera would pan up to the wall and then focus in on the projected image of a movie, or whatever program on the wall. 

This was the arrangement for at least a couple of days as the station would show countless old westerns, cartoons and other movies and programs which came from the WAND film library.  I also remembered being disappointed when the station regained power and once again resumed normal broadcasting.  I was so impressed with the way the staff handled the situation and the ingenious way they solved a problem which would probably take most stations off the air during that period of time.  I wonder how stations now would handle such an event, as most wouldn’t have a library of programs to air in case of an emergency.

The WAND General Manager Merry-Go-Round

The names of the various General Managers of WAND seemed to change quite often during it’s history.  As told earlier, the first GM, Howard“Harry” Cowgill(1953-1954) was replaced by Steve Pozhay(1954-1959).  Pozhay was followed by Bob King(1959-1965), LenCarl(1965-?), Fred Grezy(?-1969), and Decatur native and Channel 17 veteran, Jack P. Kussart who also earned the title of Vice President(1969- ).   His appointment was announced on January 26th of 1969 by Martin Ackerman, President of LIN Broadcasting.

The Turbulent era of the late 1960's and early 1970's

In seems that a WAND reporter reported more unrest than what the Champaign mayor thought it should have.  Champaign Mayor Virgil Wikoff in a letter to the FCC asked for an investigation of WAND’s coverage of the “recent racial problem in Champaign.”  He wrote that WAND issued a false news report on May 2nd, 1970, then failed to make an adequate retraction on that alleged false report.  He noted that WAND showed film of disorders taken the previous day and stated that “helmeted troops were patrolling the city, tear gas was being used and that there were unconfirmed reports of grenades being used.”  Wikoff said that by the time the report was made, that it was calm in Champaign-Urbana. 

The incident did draw National Guard troops into Champaign a few days after the incidents to deal with disturbances on the University of Illinois campus, but the Guard was not activated during the night in question.  The mayor said he called WAND and had the story read to him as it was broadcast, then called the news director at home to complain.  Mayor Wikoff said he, “received no satisfactory explanation for this irresponsible report.”  After his phone calls, WAND, according to his letter did another news report about an hour later stating that everything was now calm in Champaign, but did not retract the previous report that aired during the newscast.  Wikoff complained “none of the news reports were true, the situation was calm and relatively quiet that night, as both the other TV stations(WCIA and WICD) were reporting.”  The reporter in question was not named in the letter, nor was the news director. 

This incident would also cause problems for WAND at the next license renewal time.  In December of 1970 most of the other broadcast properties in the area had automatic renewals of their three year licenses, but the permit of one central Illinois TV station was held up.  The license to operate WAND by LIN Broadcasting was delayed because of the letter that Champaign Mayor Wikoff filed with the commission earlier that year.  It was reported that the FCC contacted both Wikoff and WAND for an explanation.  The Mayor explained at that time, he had decided to let the matter drop, although he didn’t get “satisfaction” from either WAND or the FCC.  In a press release from the station it later says, “the matter was cleared up” and the FCC would take action soon on the renewal.  The licence was later renewed for another three years.

(Above): WAND news ad from 1968 with at top left, Bob Billman, right Jim Clayton, 2nd row left: Loren Boatman, right: Bill Jones, 3rd row left: Fred Straub, right George Thompson, bottom row left: Lowell Davis, right: Don Shroyer. 

thanks to Bruce Frey for his contribution

Local News Re-expands to fill out the week

By mid 1966, local newscasts were being listed in time slots which previously were being filled with syndicated programming.  The last year of Metromedia ownership eliminated all weekend newscasts and reduced the lengths of other weekday and weeknight newscasts.  Now under LIN  Broadcasting ownership, the trend was noticeably stopped.  As was indicated by the number of ads promoting local news on WAND, a new emphasis on local news was beginning to take shape.  The black and white broadcasts of local news would join those other local stations already broadcasting in color.   WICS, WICD and  WCIA had already begun broadcasting of its local news in color.

Bob Billman was news director and main anchor at WAND

(photo courtesy of Carol Barnes and WAND)

Jim Clayton was also a WAND anchor and reporter.  He also served as the voice of the station voicing IDs as well as even some commercials.

(photo courtesy of Carol Barnes and WAND)

WAND Joins the Ranks of the Colorful

It appears that sometime between January and June of 1968, WAND was finally able to broadcast local productions in color. 
For the first time local news was broadcast in color along with local productions like "Romper Room" and whatever public affairs programming was produced by the station.  Up to that time only network programming was passed to the new WAND transmitter to be broadcast in color.  The ABC schedule of color programs had grown considerably in 1968 to include most daytime programs including the daytime serials.  The only black and white programming was the off network syndicated shows which ABC included in their daytime lineup. 

The addition of color cameras in the studio and the stations film chain along with other support equipment made it possible.  LIN Broadcasting was pumping some big bucks into the operation during the years of 1966-68.  Along with the new broadcast tower and massive antenna, a transmitter which allowed the station to broadcast at a million watts of power, studio equipment (including cameras) which allowed for color local broadcasts it was pretty evident that the multi-million dollar investment exceeded the initial cost of the station paid by LIN.

With those major investments, WAND, Channel 17 was now a central Illinois player in local television.  It's coverage area would be near that of WCIA but still less than that of WICS/WICD.  The important central Illinois cities  would all be covered with a near city grade signal.  Decatur, Springfield and Champaign-Urbana would all get a maximum signal, while a strong B-grade signal would cover Mattoon-Charleston, Danville and other near fringe towns.

ABC Shows on WTVP or WAND from 1968-1970
"Land of the Giants"
"Music Scene"
"The New People"
"One Life to Live"
"Spider Man"
Saturday Morning
"Make Room for Grand-Daddy"
"Dream House"
"The Avengers"
"The Odd Couple"

"American Bandstand"
Saturday Mid day
"Dick Cavett Show
Daytime and Prime-Time
"Jimmy Durante presents the Lennon Sisters Hour"
"That Girl"
"Happening 68-69"
Saturday Mid day
and "It's Happening"
Weekday afternoons
"Courtship of Eddies Father"
"The Immortal"
"The Newlywed Game"
Daytime and PrimeTime
"The Partridge Family"
"Room 222"
"Guns of Will Sonnett"
"Peyton Place"
"Harold Robbins' The Survivors"

"Young Lawyers"
"The Flying Nun"
"Johnny Cash Show"
"George of the Jungle"
Saturday Morning
daytime and prime time
"Barefoot in the Park"
"Fantastic Four"
Saturday Morning
"The Adventures of Gulliver"
Saturday Morning
"The Mod Squad"
"ABC Sunday Night Movie"
"Garrison's Gorillas"

"Judd for the Defense"
Saturday Morning
"The Brady Bunch"
"General Hospital"
"Dark Shadows"
"Let's Make a Deal"
"The Joey Bishop Show"
Late Night
"The Invaders"
"It Takes a Thief"
"Nanny and the Professor"
"Love American Style"
"Fantastic Voyage"
Saturday Morning

"Dan August"
"The Ghost & Mrs. Muir"
"Here Comes the Brides"

"Marcus Welby, M.D."
Syndicated and Local Shows on WTVP or WAND from 1968-1970
"King and Odie"
Weekday Mornings
Weekday mornings
"Romper Room"
Weekday mornings
"Gilligan's Island"
Weekday afternoons
"Truth or Consequences"
Weekday afternoons
Saturday afternoons
"Sherlock Holmes"
Saturday afternoon
"Suspense Theater"
Saturday afternoon
"Debbie Drake"
1960s graphic not available
Weekday afternoon
"Dennis the Menace"
Weekday afternoon
"I Love Lucy"
Weekday afternoon
"Strange Paradise"
Weekday afternoon
"Big Valley"
Weekday afternoon

ABC 1968 Fall Preview

(from You Tube)

ABC News 1968 Election Coverage Clip

(from You Tube)
ABC 1969 Daytime Preview
"Meet us in September"

(from You Tube)

ABC 1969 Fall Preview Part 1

(from You Tube)

ABC 1969 Fall Preview Part 2

(from You Tube)

ABC 1970 Fall Preview

(from You Tube)

(Above):  The Dick Cavett Show premiere from March of 1969

(from TV Guide and the Collection of Doug Quick)

(above and left):  Are various co-op ads with ABC and the local stations for the 1969-70 ABC Television Season.

(All ads from TV Guide are
from the Doug Quick Collection)

In spite of the constant turnover of staff at most local TV stations through the country, one thing remained constant at the central Illinois TV stations WCIA and WTVP(WAND), and that was the role of the nightly weathercaster.  In the case of WAND it was long standing meteorologist Loren Boatman.  The veteran Decatur teacher and weatherman was the first to occupy that position at WTVP in 1953 and he continued through most of the 1980's.  His relatively dry but no-nonsense presentation was right on and just what the market needed during the early years.  His marking pen was his trademark as he drew the position of frontal boundaries and wrote current temps of cities across the country.
(pictures courtesy of WAND)

In 1969, the WAND anchor/news team consisted of the following: (left to right, top): Jim Clayton, Lowell Davis, Loren Boatman-weather, (middle row): unknown, Fred Straub (bottom): Bill Wohlfarth-sports, Bob Billman(anchor).

Jim Clayton was a reporter as was Fred Straub.  Jim Clayton was also the voice of the station, with promos and identification, but also did some commercial voice overs as well.

He would go on to anchor after Bob Billman left the station.  Bob Billman was previously a news anchor for WDZ-radio in Decatur.

Publicity photo courtesy of the
Bob Wilcott Collection

Children's Progamming.... A Romper Room Remembrance from 1971!

Supplemental Information:  These pictures were contributed by Patty Spain-Smith who appeared on WAND's Romper Room in Apirl of 1971.  She is pictured above in the yellow dress. 

She says, "I would have been 6 years old.  It's so disappointing that there aren't tapes of this somewhere!  I would have loved to have been able to show my kids how I was a "TV superstar" for a day!"  

The Romper Room teacher was in all probability "Miss Jean" who was also featured in a Romper Room TV Guide ad in the early 1960's as well. 

(thanks to Patty Spain-Smith for her contribution)

More Children's Programming.....or is a syndicated game show enough?

In January of 1971 local TV stations and their affiliated networks were faced with an FCC ruling which required networks to give more time back to the local stations so they could program more educational programming or more children’s programming.  Barry Geohegan, WAND’s General Manager at the time, in a press release told of the plan by ABC to give up 9:30 to 10 PM Thursdays, 8:30-9:30 PM Saturdays and 6 - 7PM Sundays to the local stations to air local programming, ideally for educational or children’s programming, but certainly something with a local flavor. 

NBC gave up the 6:30 to 7 PM time slot Monday through Saturday for the local stations.  CBS was undecided on the issue.

The plan as stated by Geohegan was to redistribute some network programming to allow for a showing of a feature film on Wednesday evenings to fill the time.  He said that, “people go to the entertainment programs as opposed to the educational” and that WAND didn’t have the resources to do local programming as was the original plan set forth by the FCC.  He said that most stations would fill with reruns, movies, special syndicated shows or programming from other networks.  Ultimately, he was right, as no local stations filled the time on a regular basis with any local productions, and certainly no educational or children’s shows.

The economics of the local stations prevented the production of local programming, while ABC in particular was suffering from an advertising slowdown and reportedly embraced the cutback in programming as a cost savings.  The reason for the ad slowdown was the elimination of cigarette advertising in January of 1971.  This sent the networks reeling from the loss in revenue, and probably hurt the ad sales of local TV as well, as many companies bought ads on local stations as well.

Popular ABC Shows on WAND from 1971-74
"ABC Movie of the Week"
"All My Children"
"Mod Squad"
"Alias Smith and Jones"
"The Smith Family"

"Marcus Welby MD"
"ABC Sunday Night Movie"
"The FBI"

"Happy Days"
"Lancelot Link"
Saturday morning
"The Rookies"
"Dick Cavett Show"
Late Night
ABC Monday Night Football"
"The Brady Bunch"
"Room 222"
"The Immortal"
"Movie of the Weekend"

"Kung Fu"
"Six Million :Dollar Man"
"Make Room for Grand-Daddy"
"American Sportsman"

Syndicated Shows airing on WAND from 1971-74
Jeff's Collie" AKA
Weekday mornings
Weekday mornings
"Mr Ed"
Weekday afternoons
"Daniel Boone"
Weekday afternoons

ABC 1971 Fall Preview Part 1

(from You Tube)

ABC 1971 Fall Preview Part 2

(from You Tube)

ABC 1972 Fall Preview Part 1

(from You Tube)


ABC 1972 Fall Preview Part 2

(from You Tube)

ABC 1973 ABC Saturday-Sunday
Children's Shows Preview Promo

(from You Tube)

ABC 1974 Fall Preview

(from You Tube)

Is anyone watching????   Late Night Programming Changes in the mid 70's

By 1974, ABC wasn’t quite in the ratings basement, as that era saw NBC with that honor.   But the 1973-74 season didn’t find any of ABC’s programs in the top 10.  In fact the highest rated ABC show “The Six Million Dollar Man” which landed in 11th place.  The only other ABC shows in the top 25 were Happy Days(#16), Monday Night Football(#19), Tuesday Movie of the Week(#21), The Streets of SanFranciso(#22), The ABC Sunday Night Movie(#24) and The Rookies(#25).  The tally saw CBS with 14 shows in the top 25, while ABC had 7, NBC had only 4.  It was definitely was one of CBS’s great years.  These network numbers can also be translated to just how the local ratings puzzle came together as well.  Even though, now virtually all of the market could receive all three networks, the local news audience of the Decatur area still belonged mostly with WAND, with WCIA being the second choice.  While probably, most of the prime time viewing went with the network leader CBS and WCIA.

The late night, though, belonged to NBC’s “The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson” with still a strong local audience for the programming of WCIA.  WCIA during the early to mid 1970's was airing a late movie under the heading of “The Late Show” with various nightly themes.  ABC was trying new things with it’s post late news time period, but unfortunately, wasn’t gaining much ground or audience for WAND.  After the years of Les Crane, Joey Bishop and Dick Cavette, ABC tried diversity with a lineup of talk shows with Dick Cavett or Jack Paar, but also reruns of the ABC Movie of the Week, variety shows entitled Let’s Celebrate, The Roger Miller Show and even Truman Capote hosted an interview show with prison convicts.  ABC’s late night package was called “ABC’s Wide World of Entertainment.” 

During the Spring of 1974, T.J. Vaughn, a former director at the station, who was now the Program Director announced a programming strategy which would put WAND back into a competitive situation with the other local stations.  He said that the ABC late-night lineup wasn’t “doing the job” of bringing viewers to the late night.  He also admitted “the ratings aren’t that good.”  It was very likely that WAND had virtually no audience after their local newscast.  So, that program strategy could bring back what made late night TV viewing popular from the very beginning of Channel 17 with the return of the “Nightwatch” late movie.  Vaughn expected the movie to capture a “bigger slice of the ratings.”  More on that in a later section....

Norman Lear makes waves on ABC and WAND

At the premiere of Norman Lear’s “All in the Family” on CBS in 1971, TV grew up.  But, sometimes the audience didn’t.  ABC premiered a new sit-com also produced by Norman Lear based on an award winning off-Broadway play, Hot-L Baltimore.  The show brought all kinds of racy dialog and sexual innuendo to prime-time TV.  The characters included a strange combination of off beat people who lived in a dilapidated hotel in Baltimore, Maryland.  The show was to premiere at 8 PM on Friday, January 24, 1975 on ABC and WAND.  Viewers of the station on that night instead saw alternative programming.  Program Director T.J Vaughn had to release a statement that the show was deemed unsuitable for WAND’s prime time audience.  A decision was made to delay showing the new ABC series until the next night,  Saturday at 10:30.  The management of WAND previewed the first two episodes of the new series on closed circuit from the network and said, “the language was not good and the subject matter would be difficult to explain to a child.”  The decision to air Hot L Baltimore on Saturday night was made because kids stay up to watch the Friday night “Creature Feature” movie, and Saturday night didn’t normally consist of an audience of children.  Ultimately, the ratings of the series did it in, as it ran it’s last network episode on June 6th of 1975. 

WAND gets beaten not TO the Curb.....but by CURB

The precedent of WAND being rather sensitive to what would be questionable programming came from two different sources.  First of all, Decatur is home to a very strong religious community.  The early schedules of WTVP and WAND were weighted very heavily with religious programs either nationally produced or local.  Weekly shows about and for the Decatur churches were a part of prime-time during the 1950's, Revivalists Oral Roberts, A.A. Allen, Rex Humbard and others have always been a part of at least Sunday morning programming.  Later in the 1970's, Jim and Tammy Bakker’s The PTL Club ran in late night and early mornings.  The FourSquare Church was the original license holder of a cable channel during the 1970's and 80's in Decatur, and eventually developed WFHL, Channel 23, a full powered station which later would become a PAX net affiliate before being sold to ACME Broadcasting and made into the market’s WB affiliate in the late 1990's.  The religious community had an extraordinary strong voice in Decatur and central Illinois broadcasting.

WAND was also getting a barrage of protests by a newly formed citizen’s group, Citizens Urging Responsible Broadcasting(CURB).  The spokesperson of the group, who ironically had the same last name as a rather famous X-rated movie star of the mid 70's, Mrs. Adrainna Lovelace.  In an interview which appeared in the Urbana Courier, she said she, “became upset over the X-rated movies being shown in the home and protested to both WAND and WICS.”  She formed a group to protest to the FCC and to the stations as well as sponsors.   She didn't specify which X-rated movies were showing up on either stations schedules.  The only rather questionable movie which ever ended up being scheduled in central Illinois was a late night airing of "The Magic Christian" which starred Peter Sellers, Ringo Starr and Raquel Welch.  How much of the original movie presentation was edited, is unknown.  This movie wasn't listed specifically.

She was asked about the option of just “tuning out” the offensive programming, and she said, “When you pay $500 for a set, you have the right to see decent programs in the home.  I don’t want to sit and watch people taking off their clothes, and going to bed in my living room.  I feel ths is an invasion of privacy.”   I guess no one made the argument the other way to her, that if some one pays $500 for a set, you should be able to watch what you want....”

It appears though, she wasn’t offended by the amount of violence on TV as she continued, “I feel violence is handled more humanely on the detective shows.  What I am primarily objecting to is the dirty movies.”  The group also made statements about the local TV stations airing X-rated movies.  Since, no central Illinois TV stations ever aired an MPAA X-rated movie during the 1960's and 70's, one can only assume she based that statement on her own ratings criteria.  Also, based on what she describes as being offensive, the daytime dramas, even in that era, would have been considered X-rated in her judgement.  Others in CURB included the co-chairs Dwight Cribe and Mrs. Margaret Cognace.  The newspaper story said the group would continue to monitor programs on Channel 3, 17 and 20.

WAND and Religion

Religious programming was quite common on WAND during the late 1960s through the 1980s.  From the early 60s shows like "This is the Life" to "Faith for Today" and even the filmed faith healer/revival series from "A.A.Allen."   WAND would fill much of the Sunday Morning time with religious TV shows.  Later in the 70s shows like "Revial Fires, " "Oral Roberts" and "Directions" would air.  During the mid to late 70s "Christian Viewpoint," "Get All Excited," "Rex Humbard," "Good News" plus the broadcast of local church services would fill out the schedule on Sunday.  Even Sunday nights after the local news would be filled by "The 700 Club."  Later in the 70s the now imfamous "PTL Club" would be scheduled during the early mornings on weekdays before Good Morning America.

Most, if not all of these shows were actually making money for the station as they were the product of religious organizations which would pay for their TV hosts to beg for money to support whatever mission they represented.   WAND lost many of these shows in the 1980s after the sign-on of WFHL(TV), Channel 23 in Decatur.  It was originally owned by the Foursquare Gospel which was a collection of local churches.  WFHL was an outgrowth of the local cable channel outlet which was home to the group before their TV station went on the air. 

Jerry Slabe

Jerry Slabe

Jerry Slabe is pictured from the mid 1970's.  His broadcast history began in Wisconsin and Illinois radio, eventually becoming part of the staff of the ill fated WJJY-TV in Jacksonville, Illinois before moving to WAND in Decatur.  He eventually made the move to WCIA where he remained until the ownership change from Midwest TV to Nexstar.  His leaving brought quite a controversy to WCIA.  See the History of WCIA for more details.

(Publicity photos courtesy of the Bob Wilcott Collection, Carol Barnes and WAND)

(Left): WAND studios and tower at South Side Drive in Decatur from 1968.  Even though the tower/antenna would no longer broadcast the signal of WAND, the station continued to service and light the tower with a cross at Christmas time for many years.

(above): The WAND studios pictured from 1977, almost ten years after the picture at left. 

Personalities of the mid 70's....

Jane Bigelow was the Illinois State Capitol Reporter for WAND during the mid 1970's.

(Publicity photo courtesy of the Bob Wilcott Collection)

The graphic at right, was from a publicty shot or slide for air which promoted the WAND news at 5:30pm.  Some explanation for the time of 5:30pm: all of the other local stations at the time were broadcasting local news at 5 and 6pm.  This would put WAND between the other local newscasts which would allow viewers in Springfield and Champaign to watch their own stations local news and still see the WAND local news. Pictured is an unknown floor director with
anchor Jerry Slabe.

(Courtesy of the Bob Wilcott Collection)

WAND News Notes from the 70s

By 1976 the news theme was “Bring the News into Perspective with Scene 17.”  The main anchor continued to be Jerry Slabe with Jeff Beimfohr (sports), Loren Boatman (weather), Jane Bigelow (legislative reporter-Springfield) along with Dan Medina, Lance Standstead, Don Bradley, Lynn Fellows and Dan Bowman.  The News Director was Dick Westbrook.  It appears that a change was on the way by 1977 as Jerry Slabe was making plans to make a move to replace out-going Paul Davis as main anchor at local competitor WCIA.

In September of 1977 the employee roster included the names of Bob Cashen as Anchor, who previously was at WPTA-TV in Fort Wayne, Indiana, where he was the morning and weekend anchor.  The Peoria native was also a news director at KVIQ in Eureka, California.

From a 1976 TV Guide, pictured left to right is Jane Bigelow, Loren Boatman, Jerry Slable(in a  leather sport cool is that!) and Jeff Beimforh.  WAND was then "Scene 17." 

Jane Bigelow was moved from her Illinois State House Legislative Reporter position to that of a Producer.  Also, A former radio newscaster John Wingate, joined the staff during the fall of 1977 as well.  He was formerly with WJBC/WBNQ radio in Bloomington, Illinois.  It was also at this time that reporter Jane BigelowScott Lynn Betzelberger was named Sports Director of the station.  He was a graduate of SIU-Edwardsville.  Meanwhile, Perry William Ergang was named reporter for WAND.  He was a native of Highland Park, Illinois and a U of I graduate.

(above):  TV Guide ad from 1977 listing the weekday nights "Nightwatch" movies. 

(from TV Guide and the Doug Quick Collection)

(above):  The Peter Marshall Variety Show was a weekend late
night show on Satudays in 1976.

(from TV Guide and teh Doug Quick Collection)

ABC Shows on WTVP or WAND from 1975-77
"Swiss Family Robinson"
"Rich Man, Poor Man"
"Laverne and Shirley"
"Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries"

"Good Morning America"
"Barney Miller"
"The Bionic Woman"
"Welcome Back Kotter"
"Starsky & Hutch"
"$10,000 Pyramid"

"What's Happening"

"Wonder Woman"

"Donny and Marie"
"Streets of San Francisco"
"Harry O"
"The Feather and Father Gang"
"Dog and Cat"
Syndicated Shows on WTVP or WAND from 1975-77

"Star Trek"
Saturday afternoon
and Saturday Night
"Space 1999"
Saturday Night
"Bozo's Big Top"
still seeking photo
Weekday mornings
"Mike Douglas Show"
Weekday afternoons
"Andy Griffith Show
Weekday afternoons
"Family Affair"
Weekday afternoons
Weekday evenings
"The Lucy Show"
Weekend filler
"The Virginian"
Saturday afternoon and
Sunday late-night
"Jungle Jim"
early Saturday morning
"Love American Style"
Weekday late night
"The Muppet Show"
Saturday evening
Weekday evenings
"The Lawrence Welk Show
Saturday afternoon
"The New Mickey Mouse Club" Weekday afternoons

ABC 1975 Fall Preview Part 1

(from You Tube)

ABC 1975 Fall Preview Part 2

(from You Tube)

1976-78 Commercials including ABC promos
This is a collection of commercials and promos.

(from You Tube)


ABC 1976 Monday Night Football Intro
from October 18, 1976

(from You Tube)

ABC 1976  "Paul Lynde Halloween Special"
as broadcast in October of 1976

(from You Tube)

ABC 1977 Fall Season Promo
"Still the One"

(from You Tube)

ABC In Ratings Lead

A TV Guide note in November of 1976 described ABC as "once the perennial doormat of evening programming, is (now) the clear-cut leader."  ABC was in the ratings lead since the Spring of 1976.  NBC, which dropped into third place in 1975 had returned to number two, while CBS, the once proud leader of the prime time ratings race for over 20 years fell to number three.   ABC had 33.9-percent of teh audience, while NBC had a 31.4-percent share and CBS had a 29.2-percent share. 

The network introduced 22 new shows for the 1976-77 season but by November of '76, only two were considered to be successful.  They were "Charlies Angels" and CBS's "Alice."  "Charlie's Angels" was already the number two show of the season with an audience share of 49-percent.  ABC had already cancelled "Mr. T and Tina." 

The WAND news set with staff from around 1977.  Included in the picture left(left to right) is unknown, Loren Boatman(weather anchor),
unknown, George ?, Dick Westbrook(News Director), Dan Medina?(Main Anchor), Jane Bigelow and unknown.
Names of that era include John Wingate,
Scott Lynn Betzelberger,  Perry William Ergang, Dan Medina, Lance Standstead, Don Bradley,
Lynn Fellows and Dan Bowman.  Help me match names with me via e-mail.

The picture at right is with Loren Boatman and Bob Cashen.

(Both pictures courtesy of the Bob Wilcott Collection)

Note: You Tube Videos are subject to change and may be discontinued at any time without notice

Sources and Contributors:
Bob Lee for most of the network and syndicated screen grabs
Carol Barnes
Bob Wilcott
Patty Spain-Smith
Bruce Frey
Professor Jon Davey
and WAND
TV Guide, copyright by Triangle Publications

PAGE 3 Next....

The History of WAND, Decatur, IL
  Page 1
The First 10 Years of Channel 17 as WTVP 1953-64
  Page 2
LIN Broadcasting and WTVP becomes WAND 1965-77
  Page 3
The Years of Rebuilding 1978-1985
  Page 4
The ABC Years 1986-2005
  Page 5
WAND Becomes an Affiliate of NBC, Digital Years 2005-present

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updated 12/26/2016
web master:  Doug Quick
copyright 2001-2016  Doug Quick