narrative part of the this web page features excerpts from what will be
a much larger body of work. Progress is being made on a book
tentatively titled, "Central Illinois Television: The First Ten
Application for Local TV in Danville
application for a television station after the “Freeze” was filed
in May of 1952 by Lee Broadcasting Company for channel 10 to be
located in Quincy, Illinois. The applicant was already a broadcaster
as it had interest in the ownership of WTAD AM/FM.
in the same
month, on the other
side of the state in Danville, Illinois Northwest Publishing applied
for channel 24. The proposed television station would broadcast at a
power of 19kw with an antenna 416-feet high. The construction cost
was set at $215,000, with a first year operating cost of $300,000 and
was projected to produce revenue of $300,000 the first year. The
transmitter and antenna were both listed as being manufactured by RC
A. Northwest Publishing was owned by the Gannett Company, consisting
of the principals of Frank E. Gannett at 33% ownership. The company
already owned radio broadcast property at Rochester, New York (WHEC);
Hartford, Connecticut (WTHT); and in Elmira, New York (WENY). This
application for a television station would make it the second
application filed by Gannett. The first application was filed for a
station in Elmira, New York.
location of the
was to be 1500 North Washington Street in Danville, also the location
of the transmitter and studios of WDAN Radio. The address of
Northwest Publishing was 19 West North Street in Danville.
filing by Northwest Publishing
would make it mid-Illinois second application for a television
station. Applications by those in Champaign-Urbana, Decatur,
Bloomington and Springfield would follow. Many would follow in the
upcoming few months.
December of 1952,
the FCC granted
the permit for construction to begin on the Danville television
station to operate on channel 24. Unfortunately, it would be another
year before the station would go on the air. This also means that
even though it was the first to apply in the central and east central
Illinois market, it would be the last to go on the air!
24 becomes WDAN-TV and Work
February of 1953,
the call letters
of WDAN would be applied to the new Danville TV station. Channel 24
now had a name: WDAN-TV.
did take an
extraordinary amount of
time to bring the station to life, as many of the other central
Illinois station would build from the ground up and be on the air in
six months from the granting of the permit. With WDAN-TV, there were
many issues to be settled. Not the least of which was the
objections of neighborhood residents who were questioning the building
of a TV tower at the rear of the existing radio station. Many
were concerned about "radiation" from the TV transmitter/antenna
there. These concerns were apparently answered as plans to
the TV station would continue.
TV station would
have to be located
at the site of the radio station, but certainly the radio station was
not a facility set up for the required high ceilings of a TV studio,
or the required addition of equipment for a control room, film chain,
film editing and storage or even office and administrative offices.
revealed that the existing self supporting four legged tower would not
support the addition of a two ton 50-60 foot high antenna mast on
the vintage 1938 tower. A decision would be made to replace the
tower with a single guyed tower to support the television antenna
while a segment of the tower below a series of insulators would serve
as the antenna for WDAN (AM) Radio broadcasting at 1490kc. Documents
found at WDAN radio some years later would list the tower cost at
addition to the
studio/transmitter site would add a control room, engineering space,
one administration office, a film storage editing room, an announcer
booth, a drive through studio and an adjacent prop storage room. It's
assumed WDAN-TV would share much of its operation with WDAN
radio, such as sales, administration, employee lounge and even the
transmitter building was
constructed in 1938 to house the transmitter of WDAN Radio (then
operating on 1500kc). The brick structure was small, but included the
transmitter and a remote studio. In the late 1940's when the
operations of WDAN was moved from the magnificent facilities at the
Wolford Hotel in downtown Danville, the station moved into equally
magnificent studios at 1500 North Washington on Danville's near north
side. Those newly constructed studios were built around that
original brick structure leaving the rear of the original structure
as part of the rear exterior wall.
included a huge
showcase studio surrounded by a windowed hallway, a general managers
office, sales offices, administrative offices, rest rooms,
engineering room, news room and studios visible from the main
control room then located in the original transmitter room. Since it
was located in a residential area, it was constructed to blend in
with the homes in the area. It was, though, located along the side
walk running at the curb of Washington Street at the T intersection
with Woodlawn Avenue.
A scetch of the floor plan of the facilities of WDAN-TV as its attached
to the rear of the studios of WDAN Radio in Danville.
channel 24 to
WDAN, it became necessary to add the television facility to the rear
of the WDAN studios. Since the terrain was much lower at the rear of
the building, the high ceiling of the studio was achieved by
constructing of a ground level studio floor which put the elevation
of the studio several feet below that of the main control room and
the audio booth. That also allowed for two garage doors to be
installed to allow for automobiles to be driven into the studios for
the production of live commercials.
structure included, the addition of the television facility was most
obviously not built to the standards of the original 1948
construction of WDAN Radio. Walls were not plastered, but instead
covered with a fiber board paneling above a real wood horizontal
paneling rising about 3 to 4 feet above the floor which was likely
quite pricy for the time.
control room included
the transmitter and room for a couple of rack panels of additional
equipment. The film chain was in the center of the room with the
main control boards facing the window overlooking the studio. The
floor under the control room included a series of troughs in which
cables could be channeled. The floors of the control room, film
editing and storage and administration was elevated over the floors
of the original radio studios by 8-10 inches. A door with a step up
separated the master control of the radio station form the master
control of WDAN-TV.
June of 1953
it seems that the
construction would not be completed for the installation of the
television equipment so an extension for the applicable date was
filed with the FCC. Northwestern applied for the extension date of
February 10, 1954. At that time, many stations were delaying
construction for various reasons, most of which were equipment
delays, but some were actually holding on to their construction
permit to await the highest bidder. They would then sell their
permit for a huge profit.
under a great deal of
pressure from congress which was being made aware of such activity
and was cracking down on grantees by limiting the amount of time
requested by applicants. If no activity was being made on the actual
construction, the FCC would cancel the grant.
making much progress as
equipment evidently wasn't being ordered in the manner which would be
considered a realistic attempt of putting a television station on the
air. An appeal was made to the FCC to which they agreed to an
extension of the construction permit only from August 10 through
December 10, 1953.
(Left): The WDAN radio tower and transmitter building located
1500 N. Washington in Danville. The building would be later
surrounded by a new broadcast facility in the late 1940's.
picture was taken from the stationary used by the station and was
probably taken in 1938-39. (SeeWDNL-WDAN
The construction of the new guyed tower of WDAN Radio and Television as
the first tower section was hoisted in place. In the
was the original 1938 self supporting tower.
(all pictures from the Commercial-News)
to build and operate a television station would be less enthusiastic
than many other owners. The company seemed to have applied for the
channel 24 permit only to keep other broadcast competition from
obtaining the license. At the time, the media monopoly of Northwest
Publishing (the Commercial-News newspaper) and WDAN Radio was eroding
with the addition of WITY Radio. The additional radio station for
Danville was under construction in 1953 and would go on the air
November 23, 1953.
operate WDAN-TV merely
as an extension to its radio property, WDAN. There didn't seem to
be any plans to improve or expand its operation from the beginning. The
plan was apparently to do just enough to keep in on the air and
perhaps to enhance the viability of WDAN Radio.
share a general
manager and many key personnel from administration, sales,
programming and engineering. The station would not try to compete
with the daytime media of radio and would only operate during the
evening hours when it appeared the potential audience would be the
greatest. News, sports and weather broadcasts would utilize the
resources of both the newspaper and radio station. Any other local
programming would be hosted and produced by radio station talent and
the the sales department.
goal was to keep
low and then continue to keep operating costs low. Such a goal would
not be beneficial for the start up of the new television station or
for the viewers of the Danville area. While other stations during
the first few years was seeing the benefits of power increases and
improving facilities with newly developed equipment, WDAN-TV would
WDAN-TV station manager; Robert J. Burow, WDAN AM/TV general manager;
and John Eckert, WDAN-TV sales director.
(all pictures from Commercial-News)
Doan, WDAN-TV receptionist and continuity writer with Mary Samila,
right, Bob Erickson, announcer; Honore Ronan, WDAN-TV program director;
Gene Robinson, announcer
WDAN-TV technicians Ted Magin and Orville Neely examine the
generator of WDAN-TV. This may have been the piece of
which would bring a few headaches to the engineering staff at WDAN-TV.
Elwood Begley, WDAN-TV technician is at the controls of the
projector, part of the "film chain" of the station with announcer Larry
From left to right: Al Stelk, projectionist: Norlyn Dossey, engineer;
and Norlyn Dossey, engineer at the main video/audio control board
located in master control at WDAN-TV
From left to right: Harry Bell, gets an explaination of the Dage video
cameras from John Vance, engineer while E.W. Brown and Bryon Brown of
Bismarck look on. Mr. Bell and the Browns were there
the Danville area TV dealers and repairmen.
Bill Shoup, engineer explains the filterplexer, part of the transmitter
of WDAN-TV. Looking on is Joe Wright, Ralph Berry(in the
background); Ralph L. Berry and Kenneth Pribble(foreground) were there
as part of the group from the Danville area TV dealers and repairmen.
From left to right: J. R. Johnson, M.R. Walker Jr. and John Norman from
the Danville TV dealers and repairmen are checking out monitors used in
the WDAN-TV control room.
Left to right: Max Shaffer, station manager; Ted Magin, chief engineer
chat with J. Will Kelly of a Peoria television distribution firm and
Floyd Timberlake, a representative of RCA.
The WDAN-TV studio was constructed with two garage doors on opposite
sides of the facility to that vehicles could be driven through for TV
commercials. Bill Hunt, engineer is shown directing Bill
he drives a car into the building. This feature of the
studios was used famously by local vehicle dealer Jack McAleer of
McAleer Buick-Pontiac during the 1950's.
Walter Keen of Riverside, Illinois, a consultant working for WDAN-TV
and RCA checks and measures the channel 24 antenna's specs to make sure
its set to be lifted atop the new WDAN tower. The antenna
conform to the specs set by RCA testing labs after its manufacture.
The Commercial-News accounts of the antenna installation described the
winds that hampered the efforts of the Alpha Erection Company of Spear,
Illinois hired to install the antenna. Norlyn Dossey, left,
hand as Howard Burton of Peoria of the Alpha Erection
The antenna weighed 3,000 pounds and was 45 foot tall and would be
installed on top of the 397-foot tower.
of Westville and John Grunden of Danville install the tubing which runs
from the tower into the building which will connect to the filterplexer
will be installed with a protective cover protecting the tubing from
ice falling from the tower.
challenge for WDAN-TV was to convince what few TV set owners there were
that they should purchase a UHF converter and a UHF antenna to pick up
just one channel, Channel 24.
photo of the WDAN Radio and TV studios, probably taken sometime in
1953-54. The address is 1501 North Washington, Danville,
Illinois. It was built to fit into the residential
which was sprouting all around the original transmitter site of WDAN
Radio, which was built in 1938.
( Photo courtesy of
hangs in the lobby area.)
is the way the original WDAN
Radio and TV studios look in 2007. It's now the home of
WDNL(FM) and WRHK(FM). In 2007, the Vermilion County Bureau
WICD(originally WDAN-TV) was relocated back into the
The Bureau is located in the original TV station business
WDAN, WDNL and WRHK are owned by Neuhoff Broadcasting-Danville while
WICD is owned by Sinclair Broadcasting.
(Doug Quick photo)
all of these stations as he used to work at
WDAN/WDNL from 1977 to 1992 and 1994-2002. He worked for
WRHK) in 1993, and has worked at WICD from 1994-present.
FCC as stated
earlier would extend
the construction permit to December 10, 1953. It was not known if
the FCC would extend it any longer. The target date of WDAN-TV for
months was not known but by mid Summer of 1953 progress was being
made with the ordering of the necessary equipment to bring a
television signal to viewers in the Danville area.
Burow was designated as the station manager, a roll he held as
station manager of WDAN Radio. He came from the ranks of the
Commercial-News where he was a sales manager. Robert J. Burow became
and was an active broadcaster being newly elected to the Illinois
Broadcasters Association as president in October of 1953. Others on
the board of directors at that time were other very notable
broadcasters such as Harold L. Dewing of WCVS Radio. Mr. Burow was
also one of the major speakers before the group along side Merrill
Lindsay of WSOY Radio and WCIA-TV; as well as Oliver Keller of WTAX
Radio in Springfield and Sangamon Valley Television an applicant for
channel 2 in Springfield (see WICS).
my time at
WDAN/WDNL Radio which
is housed in the former WDAN Radio and Television station, staff
members would occasionally come across a memento from those early
television days. One such document contained an estimate of the
operating costs of WDAN-TV. Items included the expense of 5
engineers at $85 a week; 1 traffic “girl” at $45 a week; a film
“man” at $100 a week; and a production “man” at $125 a week. Other
expenses included film costs at $3,000 a month. I assume that
was for the purchase of film programming, TV series and filler travel
films, documentaries and such and for the shipping of the film to its
next station when WDAN-TV was done with them. Much of the film
programming listed in the later group would be furnished by sponsors.
The BMI/ASCAP charges would fall to around $1,000 a month, the
T. network line charges were $4,000 a month and other network charges
were listed at $1,000 month. Sales costs were set at $2,000 a month
and insurance at $300 a month.
half-hour show, $50/for a 15 minute show. I assume these were full
sponsorships of WDAN-TV programming such as syndicated half hours or
for movies. Spot rates were $25 a commercial “spot” and $15 for
a short announcement between shows.
broadcast day was
planned to run
from 6pm to 10pm with an increase to 3pm to midnight later. The
income goal was $11,200 a month. If there was any special
programming from ABC, it was assumed the station would air it beyond
its normal hours of operation. One example was the Army-McCarthy
Hearings occurring later. It's not known if WDAN-TV broadcast those
hearings. It's also not known if WDAN-TV broadcast the “Don
McNiell's Breakfast Show” which aired from 8 to 9am for one season
during the 1950's. The transmitter for WDAN-TV would go on around
9am and the station would broadcast a test pattern and 100cycle tone
until programming began at 3pm.
September of 1953,
WDAN-TV made a purchase of equipment from the Dage TV Equipment
Company for a total of near $12,000. The package would include
“lightweight gear” for about a third of the cost of competitive
equipment from other major manufactures such as RCA and General
Electric. The package included two cameras, two camera controls, a
switcher and a sync generator. The cameras used vidicon tubes from
RC A and cost about $345 compared to image orthocon tubes costing
$1250. The cameras offered resolution of 400-500 lines compared to
600 line resolution of the others. Dage was also located close by
in Beech Grove, Indiana.
shipped the RCA
1k transmitter to
WDAN-TV in mid September 1953. There were other construction
details to be worked out including getting FCC permission to relocate
the tower/antenna of WDAN a few feet and getting permission for the
mounting of the TV antenna atop the WDAN Radio tower. That
permission was granted by the FCC in late September of 1953.
November of 1953,
it was announced
WDAN-TV would become ABC affiliate number 169. That would at least
bring a potential revenue stream to the station along with providing
competitive programming to viewers. Affiliating with NBC or CBS
would have brought a much stronger schedule of programming to the
station, but both of those networks were already under contract with
the local VHF station, WCIA. NBC would choose to be a “part time”
secondary affiliate of a VHF station, rather than being a full time
affiliate with UHF Channel 24. It's possible that if an earlier
effort would have been made by WDAN-TV to court NBC before the last
minute decision by the network to attach to WCIA, Channel 24 may have
become affiliated with NBC. Affiliation with NBC would have insured
a much greater chance of success for the Danville television station.
for ABC and join
other central Illinois stations with part and full time affiliation
agreements. Along with Channel 24, WDAN-TV other ABC affiliates
included: WTVP, Channel 17, Decatur, WBLN, Channel 15, Bloomington;
WICS, Channel 20, Springfield; and WTVH, Channel 19, Peoria.
signals from New York by central Illinois television stations was a
major concern of stations in mid Illinois. For WDAN-TV it was easy! A
main A.T.& T. trunk coax ran just a couple of blocks away
under North Vermilion Street to a terminal in Danville from Chicago.
WDAN-TV would just tap into the line to receive ABC programming. The
addition of WDAN-TV to A.T.& T. television cable facilities
it the station number 239 across the country and Danville to be city
number 147 to receive network programming.
for yet another
extension to the construction permit past the already granted
extension of December 10, 1953. This time the FCC would only grant
an extension through December 28, 1953. That only meant that WDAN-TV
must be operational by that date!
(Above): The former WDAN Radio tower is toppled as it was replaced by
guyed tower of WDAN Radio and Television.
(from Neuhoff Broadcasting and WICD(TV))
(Above): This is probably
the first "recording" of an actual WDAN-TV broadcast. This
snapshot taken by Don Claypool
located in Oakwood, Illinois just west of Danville. The
pattern was used many times throughout the broadcast day to fill left
over time between programs which did not contain commercials.
This particular test pattern was sponsored by "Bud Electronic Supply"
of Danville. The test pattern advertised GE Picture
Tubes available at the electronic supply business. Picture
from early TV's were known to need
replacement after a
couple of years of use as they grew dim and lost the ability to
contrast between light and dark images. Usually, images would
begin to look "silvery," a sure sign of picture tube replacement time.
(courtesy of Don Claypool)
Goes On The Air!
spite of the
deadline being extended
to December 28, 1953, the engineering crew and staff felt even
greater pressure to finish the construction well ahead of the
Christmas holiday. The date for going on the air was set as December
19, 1953. The Danville Commercial-News in the months and days
leading up to the official sign-on would feature stories and pictures
showing the progress of the construction. By the time of the sign-on
the newspaper would publish a spread on behalf of its younger
television sibling, WDAN-TV. It would include pictures of its
initial staff including many of those from the radio station. Equipment
was shown during an open house to a number of TV repairman
from the Danville area and most importantly to potential advertisers.
At least one open house would host members of the Danville Area TV
Dealers Association. Those included Harry Bell, E. W. Brown, Byron
Brown, J. R. Johnson, M.R. Walker and John Norman. Also at that same
event was J. Will Kelly from a television distribution firm of Peoria
and Floyd Timberlake a representative of RCA.
sign-on a newspaper
account of what viewers would see was outlined in the Danville
Commercial-News. The article would read: “Forty-six programs
ranging from 15 minutes to two hours duration will be offered
Danville and area tele-viewers over Channel 24 during the first week
of operation of WDAN-TV, Honore Ronan program director, announced
scheduled to go on the
air at 3:30pm today with the test pattern and at 4pm the first
American Broadcasting show, “Super Circus” an hour program will
be telecast. The test pattern will run from 5 to 5:30 when the half
hour George Jessel Show will be featured.”
of Programming on WDAN-TV, Channel 24 for initial sign-on on Sunday,
December 19, 1953
Alll network programming from ABC
is highlighted and underlined
3:00 p test pattern
4:00 p Super
Circus circus performance
5:00 p test pattern
5:30 p George
Jessel Show variety
6:00 p You
Asked for It stunts
6:30 p test pattern
7:00 p Songs
for Christmas Christmas special
7:30 p Holy
8:00 p Walter
Winchell news commentary
8:15 p Orchid
Award weekly award show
8:30 p Jukebox
Jury with Peter Potter (ABC) kids quiz show
9:30 p sign-off
On December 19, 1953 WDAN-TV
on the air.
nearly perfect, except
for the times the station would broadcast a test pattern. It's
likely the test pattern was generated by focusing a camera on a
printed test pattern mounted on “tv board” and the camera was
“hot wired” into a “patch panel.” The patch cable would be
plugged in or removed to allow the direct broadcast of network or the
at the initial
sign-on was WDAN-TV was only able to broadcast the signal from ABC. The
station was not ready to broadcast from its own studio, or from
its own film chain. The station was not able to locally originate
locally produced programs because of equipment delays and/or
equipment wasn't able to be installed and operational in time. It
could have been the added pressure from a looming deadline imposed by
the FCC for having the station completed.
would be several
days before the
“rolling” video problem with the test pattern would be corrected. If
there were any local skeptics about the future of local
television broadcasting in Danville (and I assume there plenty) they
were certainly enjoying this flub.
later would report
that the piece of equipment had arrived which would allow for local
origination of programming had arrived. It's not known what that
piece of equipment was or from where it came and what manufacture
Day: the Newspaper Account
would report about
the first day of programming by saying, “Television made its first
locally-flashed appearance Sunday afternoon as Danville and area
viewers flicked their dials to Channel 24 at 4pm for the initial
network show to be be telecast on WDAN-TV.”
include accounts of
favorable reports from Danville and even telegrams from viewers
reporting reception in Paris and Champaign. The story also admitted
that modifications and adjustments “are continuously made.”
Neely, one of
the WDAN-TV staff
engineers explained that all of the equipment is new and when ever
that is the case, “bugs” show up. He also admitted that some of
the equipment hasn't arrived at the station yet and that construction
is continuing. According to the engineer, vacuum tube failures occur
in about 10 percent of the tubes during the first 90 days. It was
considered a period of equipment “break in” and after that most
of the problems would go away.
that despite the
good reports from area viewers, the trouble with the local test
pattern “is still plaguing the engineers.” The sync generator
was the cause of the problem, as it was unstable, causing the picture
ot roll when ever the test pattern was broadcast. Mr. Neely also
added that electrical problems with line voltage variation within the
building was probably also creating a problem with a
“picture....jump” during the broadcast of the test pattern.
of the early
days of WDAN would
include a sign-on at 6:15pm for the ABC News with anchor John Daly. One
exception would be the weekend broadcast of college basketball on
Saturday at 1:30pm.
"Super Circus" as presented on ABC in 1954. It's also likely
exact epidsode aired on WDAN-TV one Sunday afternoon. By the
Mary Hartline, was a big attraction to the show as dads would watch the
show with their kids!
You Tube and may be withdrawn without notice at any time)
Winchell" was known for many years as a news commentator, but in the
1950's his radio show would be adapted for TV, even though it setill
appears he's doing it just for radio. You might recognize his
voice as the narrator for ABC's "The Untouchables" beginning in 1959.
was also featured in an episode of "Happy Days" in the
"You Asked for It" would feature segments based on requests from the
viewers. This segment explains the electronic music creation as
featured on many of the sci-fi movies of the era.
Shows on WDAN-TV from 1953-1956
Ozzie and Harriet"
aka "Jukebox Jury"
as a Flash"
Mack's Original Amateur Hour"
Fran and Ollie"
Raymond-The Ray Bolger show"
or Secondary Network Shows on WDAN-TV from 1953-1956
1 WDAN-TV aired
which was provided by CBS via kinescope or film
It's been reported that WDAN-TV aired "Time for Beany" during some of
the cartoon time periods under the heading of "Comedy Time."
of Programming on WDAN-TV, Channel 24 for the week of January 15, 1955
Saturday, January 15, 1955
5:00 pm The Christophers-syn,
5:30 pm Western Theater-unidentified western series
7:00 pm Dotty
Mack Show musical variety starring Dotty Mack
8:00 pm Saturday
Night Fights boxing
8:45 pm Fight
9:00 pm Stork
9:30 pm The Late Show-unidentified movie
Sunday, January 16, 1955
2:00 pm Christophers- syn, religion
2:15 pm Weekly News Review- 2
2:30 pm Herald of Truth, syn, religion
3:00 pm This is the Life-syn, religious
3:30 pm What's
Box-local game show
4:00 pm Super Circus
5:00 pm The Living Word- syn, religious
5:30 pm Answers for
Americans public affairs
6:00 pm You
Asked For It
6:30 pm Pepsi-Cola Playhouse dramatic
7:00 pm Flight Number 7travelogue
7:30 pm The Big Picture
8:00 pm Walter Winchell
8:15 pm Horizons
(ABC) medical documentary
8:30 pm Pantomime Quiz
9:00 pm Break the Bank
9:30 pm sign off
Monday-Friday, January 17-21,
sign-on to 6pm
4:00 pm Matinee- unidentified film feature
5:00 pm Comedy Time- unidentified film feature
5:15 pm Almanac- local,
Honore Ronan and Max Shaffer
5:30 pm 3 Star
sports with Max Shaffer, Weather with Ralph Webber and News
Bill Houpt or Frank Williams.
6:00 pm Kukla,
Ollie kids, puppet show
6:15 pm ABC
January 17, 1955
6:30 pm Name's the Same
7:00 pm Tot and Teen
talent variety, hosted by Catherine Cromwell
7:30 pm Voice of
8:00 pm to be announced
8:30 pm Boxing
10:00 pm News Capsule-
10:05 pm sign-off
Tuesday, January 18, 1955
6:30 pm Hopalong Cassidy- syn, western
7:00 pm Film Program- unidentified program/source
7:30 pm Twenty
8:00 pm Danny
Thomas Show sit com, starring Danny Thomas, Jean Hagen,
Rusty Hamer, Sherry
8:30 pm U.S.
Steel Hour dramatic anthology
9:30 pm Stop
the Music musical quiz
10:00 pm 10 O'Clock Date- unknown
10:30 pm News
10:35 pm sign-off
Wednesday, January 19,
variety of programs
7:30 pm Stu Erwin Show
sit com, starring Stu
8:00 pm Masquerade
8:30 pm film program- unknown format, source
9:00 pm Wrestling
10:00 pm The Late Show- unidentified movie
Thursday, January 20,
syn, titles unknown
7:00 pm American Cowboyunknown
7:30 pm Soldier Parade
(CBS) kinescope of CBS program,
8:00 pm Banko-
local, game show
8:30 pm So You Want to
Lead a Band music contest,
9:00 pm The Late Show-unknown movie
10:15 pm News Capsule-local news brief
10:20 pm sign-off
January 21, 1955
6:30 pm Mark
7:00 pm Ozzie
and Harriet sit com, starring Ozzie and Harriet, David and
7:30 pm Ray
com, starring Ray Bolger
8:00 pm film program- unknown format/source
8:30 pm The Viseunknown
9:00 pm The Late Show- unidentified movie
10:20 pm sign-off
programs are indicated in
bold and underlined
local programming originating from the WDAN-TV studios are in italics
(TV listings from the Danville Commercial-News)
One year and one month after the initial
sign-on of WDAN-TV, Channel 24 would finally broadcast a local
newscast. It was described in the pages of the Danville
Commercial-News as being a "triple threat" of local news, sports and
weather and would air form 5:30 to 6pm on Monday, January 17, 1955
The local news would precede ABC's "Kukla Frank and Ollie Show" and the
ABC News with JOhn Daley at 6:15pm. Each local newscast would
include sports headlines and stories with Max Shaffer, followed by
local news anchored by Bill Houpt or Frank M. Williams of the
Commercial-News staff of reporters at 5:40pm. The weather
would be taken up by who the newspaper would describe as "veteran
weatherforecaster" Ralph Webber at 5:50pm.
Before the broadcast of local news WDAN-TV would originate "Almanac"
hosted by Mr. Shaffer and Honore Ronan at 5:15pm. Max Shaffer
would report top world news in brief and Ms. Ronan would have the
"latest word from the women's world plus interviews with local people."
of 1955, the half hour format would be reduced to
15 minutes and moved from 5:30pm to 6pm ahead of the ABC News with John
Daley. It was also the time, "Almanac" was dropped
"Birthday Parade." Its assumed Honore Ronan hosted the
of viewers birthdays and featured other local general interest stories
and interviews at 5pm. "Western Theater" would follow from
It seems as time went on, the roles of newscaster, weather-caster and
maybe even sportscaster would be shifted off to others on the WDAN
staff as it began in January of 1955. Pictured at the desk is
Bill Houpt and Frank M. Williams of the Commercial-News.
is sportscaster Max Shaffer and weather forecaster Ralph Webber.
(picture from the Commercial-News)
WDAN-TV, Channel 24,
Northwestern Publishing Company
1500 N. Washington
Facilities: Channel 24, Authorized
Radiated Power, Visual 19.1 kw; Aural 9.55 kw
Model TTU-1-B; Antenna RCA Model Type TFU-24BL Height
above average terrain, 410 ft. Above ground, 445 ft.
December 20, 1953 Hours of operation 5:00pm to
(correction: date is December 19, 1953)
Affiliations: Network ABC, Station WDAN
Everett-McKinney Inc. Washington Attorney, Dow,
RCA and two Dage Cameras, Two Holmes projectors, one 2x2 slide
projectors, News Service, AP Library, Thesaurus
Robert J. Burow, general
John Eckert, commercial manager
Max Shaffer, station manager
Honore Ronan, program
Orville Neely, chief engineer
Bill Dorn, production manager
information(including fringe area) 300,000, families 87,400, number of
Television Yearbook, 1954-55)
"Disneyland" ran on ABC
from 1954 to 1961 when it moved to NBC. Interestingly enough,
moved at the same time that WDAN-TV moved from ABC to NBC therefore not
missing a single episode. The ABC series consisted of several
rotating themes: Frontierland, Fantasyland, Tomorrowland and
Adventureland, all named for areas of the original theme
was the "Davy Crockett" segment of the Frontierland rotator which was
the big hit. It starred Fess Parker(later "Daniel Boone") and
Buddy Ebsen(later "The Beverly Hillbillies") which made a coon skin hat
a must have for youngsters in the mid 50's. The theme was
Bill Hayes("Ernie Kovacs Show" and later "Days of Our Lives") and was a
big top 40 hit.
were two "dog" shows popular in the 1950's. The first was
"Lassie." The second was "Rin-Tin-Tin" as seen on WDAN-TV and
from 1954 to 1959.
It starred Lee Aaker as Rusty, James BrowN, Joe Sawyer and Rand
Brooks....and of course "Rinny."
the Bank" ran on all three major networks during its run from 1948 to
1957. From 1954 to 1956 was on ABC and WDAN-TV. It
hosted by Bert Parks.
Note: The thumbnail photo shows a more recent vesion of
the Bank." An actual episode from 1955 is shown.
(All videos from You Tube, and individual videos may be unavailable at
any time. I try to replace them occasionally with new video)
very late 1955 it
appears that an
effort to save money would bring Northwest Publishing to filing for a
reduction in power for WDAN-TV. The former 19kw power output during
the stations first year would be reduced to 13.26kw. This reduction
in output wattage would save several thousand dollars a years in
operating costs, with out significantly reducing the signal in
Danville. It would also extend the life of the major
Meanwhile a number of local UHF TV stations were
seeking power increases and beginning to consider tower upgrades as
well as equipment to be able to broadcast their respective networks
in color. As a full time ABC affiliate, there was no immediate need
to consider an upgrade to broadcast color.
March of 1955,
WDAN-TV would apply
for the license to replace the construction permit it was operating
on since sign-on. It would be granted
of WDAN-TV was not
unique. By May of 1955 Broadcasting-Telecasting ran an article that
stated that 80% of all UHF stations would face bankruptcy....”unless
they find a financial angel or develop a cohesive cooperative means
to instill life into the total UHF picture.” Overall, not more
than 12 or 15 UHF stations were making a true profit and these were
in markets without immediate VHF competition. WDAN-TV had VHF
competition from WCIA in Champaign, WTHI in Terre Haute and WFBM in
Indianapolis. Other UHF stations were out of reach as their signals
didn't extend to the Danville market at that time.
Shows on WDAN-TV from 1957-1960
Ozzie and Harriet"
of Wyatt Earp"
Tunes and New Talent"
"Keep it in
with the Angels"
Frank Sinatra Show"
it to Beaver"
Guy Mitchell Show"
Patti Page Show"
With a Camera"
Shows on WDAN-TV Daytime 1958-60
Do You Trust"
Lind Hayes Show"
and Secondary Network Shows Airing on WDAN-TV 1957-1960
network series in station syndication
an Early Career Stop for Gene Hackman
notable celebrity who began his "show
business" career as a camera operator at WDAN-TV was movie actor Gene
Hackman (pictured left-courtesy of Danville High School-Wall of
Legend has it he was told that he should stay with WDAN
and not move on, because he could really work his way up the television
According to long time WDAN-TV sales manager, John Eckert,
was a studio crew member who would set up and arrange chairs, sets and
other studio gear for local programming. His exact
at WDAN-TV is not known for sure, but it's generally agreed it was
sometime from 1957-1958.
ABC Grows up
As you'll read with in the other histories of the mid Illinois TV
stations, the networks in those early days actually sold time on their
schedules to advertising agencies. Those advertising agencies
either produced their own programming or contracted out to other
producers the development of those programs on which they placed their
clients commercials. It was more of an info-mercial
and much different than today.
ABC had a large number of affiliates, but were mostly were with second
or third rate television stations. Most of which were UHF
stations, even in a large number of major markets. In central
Illinois ABC would end up being associated with all UHF
Even though most stations would not air ABC programming or that of any
other network when a purchase agreement was not made for the station to
receive network compensation, WDAN-TV appeared to be
Most other stations would replace those network shows with their own
sponsored syndicated programs or even in some cases other secondary
network programs. WDAN-TV appeared to air the network
anyway, probably because of the inability to purchase a large
number of syndicated shows to replace those network shows.
As ABC expanded its schedule, WDAN-TV expanded
own broadcast day
with the broadcast of “American Bandstand” and “Whom Do You
Trust?” In fact by the late 1960's, WDAN-TV would
its own version of “American Bandstand” called “Danville
WDAN-TV also began to air a number of the more popular ABC shows of the
era and certainly would benefit from their airing.
“The Danny Thomas Show(aka “Make Room for Daddy'),” “Twenty Questions,”
“Warner Brothers Presents,” “Wyatt Erp,” “Cheyenne,” “Maverick,”
“Lawman,” “The Rifleman,” “The Donna Reed Show,” “Leave it to Beaver,”
“The Real McCoys,” “The Rebel,” “Bourbon Street Beat,” “Adventures in
Paradise,” “Hawaiian Eye,” “The Untouchables,” “77 Sunset Strip” and
By 1959, the daytime schedule of
expand into the early
afternoon and the broadcast day of WDAN-TV expanded with it, at least
by 1960. The schedule would include “Love That Bob” at 1:30pm
be followed by “Day in Court,” “The Gale Storm Show” and “Beat the
Clock” at 3pm.
for a Change from UHF Channel 24 to VHF Channel 10
The changing allocation situation was sending shock waves throughout
the region. The possibility of the addition of channel 2 to
Haute, Indiana and a possible reassignment of channel 10 brought about
a flurry of applications for the allocation for areas cities like
Lafayette, Indiana by WFAM-TV. WDAN-TV applied for the channel to be
shifted to Danville, Illinois with an application filed in late March
of 1958. The FCC would reject both applications by early
Later Livesay Broadcasting Company of Mattoon would apply for channel
10 in June of 1958. This time, the channel would remain in
Haute and compete with WTHI(which had planned to move to channel 2
after the awarding of channel 2 in St Louis after being moved from
For its license renewal filing WDAN-TV had to publically disclose its
financial situation. It appeared in the October 27, 1958
of Broadcasting-Telecasting. It showed an earned surplus for
Northwestern Publishing Company as being $933,930.
included not only WDAN-TV, but also WDAN Radio and the Commercial-News
Assets were listed as $431,673; fixed assets of $475,052; intangible
assets of $360,581 and total assets of $1,274,277.
were listed as being $251,347. It appeared that even though
TV station probably wasn't a profit center, the other Northwestern
properties were doing well.
Sees Success by 1959
Even though it would be difficult to determine how much of the success
of ABC would translate to WDAN-TV, the network appeared to be closing
the gap between itself and the other major networks. ABC's
primary network affiliates had increased from 79 to 88 and brought ABC
coverage to 86% of the country. The network was increasing
daytime reach with “the largest block of programming ever started at
one time.” ABC was in 1959 covering the top 33 markets and
77 out of 100 markets. Commercial hours sold increased from
week in 1957 to 48 in 1958. In 1960 ABC expanded its daytime
schedule even further with programming beginning at 10am.
were looking up for ABC....but was it favoring WDAN-TV?
One of the first non-news/sports oriented
produced by WDAN-TV
was BANKO. It was developed by William-Stanley Productions of
Rockford, Illinois. It had already been
for six stations in six markets and had prospects for 20 more
stations. The show would include a local sponsor which would
distribute BANKO cards to customers or to people who went to the
business and requested one, as no purchase was
Similar to Bingo, it involved a studio audience as well as viewers at
home. The first ten people at home and a studio
would receive prizes from the participating sponsor.
"Banko" on WDAN-TV was hosted by WDAN-TV sales manager and WDAN radio
personality John Eckert. Mr. Eckert described the show as
operating similar to "Bingo" in that a board of rows of numbers under
the heading of each letter in B-A-N-K-O. Numbers were drawn
posted on the board, while a studio audience played along.
an audience member filled his/her card, they would shout "BANKO" to win
prizes from local sponsors. People at home would play along
cards obtained by the local sponsor. Hosting the show along
John was Darcy Frank, the daughter of a local businessman, Ed
Frank. Mr. Eckert remembered the sponsor of the show as Ed
Fonner's Dry Cleaners.
a legal challenge was made against the
BANKO concept in the
state of Wisconsin. The Wisconsin attorney general had the
opinion the William-Stanley product of BANKO violated the state's
lottery laws. That opinion was based on how WKBT in LaCrosse
conducted the show. That same opinion was also shared with
Sangamon County state's attorney in Springfield. This brought
about the dropping of BANKO from WICS there.
not known if BANKO was dropped by WDAN-TV, notes in
Broadcasting-Telecasting a couple of weeks later stated that WDAN-TV
had picked up “Shadow Stumpers” from Brent Gunts Productions.
silhouette guessing game may have replaced BANKO, then "Shadow
Stumpers" may have been replaced later by the local production
"What's in the Box."
"Almanac" was hosted by Honore Ronan and Max Shaffer and included a
presentation of world news by Mr. Shaffer. Ms. Ronan would
present news and material concerning women's issues and interviews with
local residents and personalities. This WDAN-TV feature would
at 5:15pm preceding the local newscast in 1955. It was later
discontinued as the local newscast was moved to 6pm and reduced to
15-minutes. It seems "Almanac" was replaced by
Birthday Parade "The
details of "Birthday
sketchy, but I think the names explains it well. Like the
birthday column in the newspaper, this 15 minute feature included the
names and birthday wishes of local viewers and perhaps local items as
well. It's assumed it was hosted by Honore Ronan. Tots and
Hosted by Catherine Cromwell, “Tots and Teen Time” also called “Teen
Time” featured the talents of local teenagers of the Danville
area. It was seen on alternate Thursdays at 9pm.
also included record pantomiming by the local group “Teen Tuners” and a
dance production by the Cromwellettes. Even though the
shows were considered entertainment, they were also infomercials for
the dance studio owned and operated by Ms. Cromwell. Local
The name of Max Shaffer for years in the Danville area represented
local sports. He spearheaded local coverage of high school
football and basketball on WDAN Radio for years. During the
of WDAN-TV he would also be the face of local high school sports on
local television. He would anchor the local sportscasts on
weekdays, as well as do radio play by play for WDAN Radio. He
would also host the post game sports scores on WDAN Radio and WDAN-TV
on late night Fridays and Tuesdays after high school basketball.
Game shows were all over the TV schedules during the 1950s' and early
1960's. “What's in the Box?” was locally produced and was a
advertising vehicle for Fonners Dry Cleaners in Danville. In
fact, the show was hosted by the owner of the business, Ed
Fonner. It would challenge local residents to bring
something from home to go into the box, and would be unknown by a panel
of station employees. They would ask questions and after
response, the contestant would rack up a few dollars cash or some
merchandise. The concept was similar to “Twenty Questions”
In 1959, WDAN-TV would broadcast “Danville Bandstand.” Like
other local television stations around the country, and like the other
local stations, WICS, WTVP and WCIA, WDAN-TV would begin to broadcast
its own local dance program, based on ABC's “American
“Danville Bandstand” would be hosted by WDAN Radio announcer Jack
Singleton. Invitations would go to local high school
organizations and other groups throughout the area. The
broadcasts would include representatives from the Danville Youth
Center, Oakwood High School, Schlarman High School and from the Teen
Center at the Elks Lodge Number 147.
The “Danville Bandstand” was sponsored each week by the local 7-Up
Bottling Company and Thomas Music Shop, a local music store.
local dance program aired on Thursdays, 5-5:30pm and would follow the
broadcast of ABC's “American Bandstand” on Channel 24.
(top left): The first of two
snapshots of an actual WDAN-TV broadcast.
This was "Danville
Bandstand" and this particular
show features Olav Christensen
singing live on "Danville Bandstand."
This was taken around 1960
before the station was sold to
Plains Television Partnership
and became WICD-TV, Channel 24.
left): Olav(right) is pictured
with the host of "Danville Bandstand" Jack
(photos courtesy of Olav Christensen)
For details on the early advertisers on
WDAN-TV, we asked former sales manager John Eckert to name a
His recollections include some of the Danville areas most well known
old businesses of the 1950's-60's. The list
Music Store owned by John Norman; Thomas Music and Gladys Thomas; Jules
Strauss a women's clothing store; Snider's Cotton Shop; The Fashion,
another women's clothing store; along with the major Danville Auto
Dealers, McAleer Buick, Barkman Chevrolet, Noble Motor Company (Ford),
Shepard Lincoln-Mercury and Taylor Brothers Oldsmobile Cadillac.
Frank Sinatra Show" aired from 1957-1958 on ABC. This variety
hour shown here is a "special" sponsored by Timex Watches and featured
the guests Dean Martin (from the Rat Pack), Bing Crosby and
others. Mr. Sinatra's back up was one of his best
Nelson Riddle and his Orchestra.
This particular installment was recorded on October 18, 1958 on the new
video tape medium. Incidently, one of the major developers of
video recording on magnetic tape was Bing Crosby and Ampex.
was produced by Disney and aired on ABC from 1957 to
It starred Guy Williams as Don Diego de la Vega (Zorro), George Lewis,
Britt Lomond, Gene Sheldon and Henry Calvin.
Henry Calvin had a hit record of the title song from the series in 1958.
from You Tube and may be withdrawn without notice at any time)
Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet" aired on ABC from 1952
1966. It began before WDAN-TV went on the air....and
long after WDAN-TV ceased to be.
This episode was from around New Years of 1959 and was a repeat of a
previous episode. It was produced with a new
It was sponsored by Kodak. Even though it was seen
from ABC on WDAN-TV, a self contained film version of the same episode
would appear later on WCIA containing the original commercials.
"77 Sunset Strip"
was the original in a long lineup of "hip"
detective series all produced by Warner Brothers for ABC.
one starred Efrem Zimbalist, Jr., Roger Smith, Edd Byrnes(as "Kookie"
who became a teenage idol), and Louis Quinn. Taking place in
Hollywood, it guest starred a bevy of other WB contract players of the
time and spawned a bunch of spin-offs including those listed
77 Sunset Strip ran on ABC from 1958 to 1964. It ended it's
after WDAN-TV became WICD-TV in July of 1960.
McCoys" was developed by Irving and Norman Pincus and
financed by Danny Thomas Productions. Originally turned down
this was the beginning of "rural comedies" having been blasted by the
critics, this became a long running hit for ABC.
It ran from 1957 to 1963 on ABC as a first run, but later
CBS, where it also ran in reruns. It starred Walter Brennan,
Crenna, Kathleen Nolan and during the final season Butch Patrick(The
Munsters). Obviously, it ran on WDAN-TV only through July of
the ownership/network change.
Patti Page Olds Show" was sponsored by Oldsmobile and aired on ABC from
September 1958 to March of 1959. It was a half-hour live
variety show. It aired on Wednesdays from 8:30pm CT from
September to November 1958. In December 1958 it was moved to
Mondays 9-9:30pm where it would air through March of 1959.
Here is a kinescope of the show.
of Programming on WDAN-TV, Channel 24 for September 6, 1960
That Bob off network syndicated to network sit com
in Court courtroom reinactiments
the Clock stunts, game show
Do You Trust game show hosted by Johnny Carson/Ed
Bandstand record hop hosted by Dick Clark
local, with host, Jack Singleton
5:00pm Danville Bandstand-part
5:45pm Cartoon Time- syn cartoons
News with Don Goddard
Flash Gordon-syndicated movie sci-fi serial
7:00pm Honeymooners-syndicated off network CBS sit com
western, starring Will Hitchins
10:00pm Alcoa Theater-syndicated off network drama NBC
10:30pm Ilka Chase Show-syndicated off network 15 min variety show CBS
progrmming is indicated in bold and underlined
Even after the purchase of WDAN-TV, Plains continued to operate the
station as an ABC affiliate for several months as most local
programming continuing as part of the regular schedule. This
occurring with this program schedule.
(from the Commercial-News)
WCHU, Channel 33, Champaign
inevitable Plains Television would have
to expand its footprint
in central Illinois. For Springfield expansion would involve a new
tower/transmitter which would come in 1958. That wasn't
huge area of east central Illinois became the new
wasn't enough that WCIA was infringing on the Springfield market even
with grade B coverage, as WICS didn't even touch
Champaign-Urbana. It fact it hardly touched
Television and WICS would need to add the households of
Champaign-Urbana, Mattoon, Charleston and Danville into its
That would require a second TV station, a full powered station located
in the back yard of WCIA.
On September 25, 1956 Plains Television applied for a full powered TV
station to operate at channel 21 which would have 200kw power output
from a tower/antenna of 650-feet. It would be located near
Heath, Illinois. This proposed station would have enough
to blanket both Decatur and Champaign with a city grade signal, with a
grade B signal for Danville, Mattoon, Charleston and perhaps even
This proposed station would never be. It was never acted on
unknown reasons, but it did begin an idea which would later become
Champaign-Urbana's first UHF station. Later the application
be changed to apply for channel 33.
As described in much greater detail in the History of WICS, channel 33
would not become a full powered TV station. Plains Television
along with the Balaban brothers were busy purchasing other broadcast
properties at the same time, so the lack of capitol probably wasn't the
cause of the downgrading of the channel 33 facility. Instead
building of a television station with “lesser facilities” would take
place in 1958-1959.
By “lesser facilities” the plan would downgrade the power output of
what would become WCHU from a proposed 200kw to 5.5kw, and instead of a
650-foot antenna, it would be more like 150-feet. All of a
the signal of this proposed east central Illinois property would
decrease from a 50 mile radius to 15 miles.
In November of 1958 the construction would
with a completion date
of April 24, 1959 when WCHU went on the air from the Inman
in Champaign, to broadcast the off-air signal of WICS, static and
all. More details of the shaky start of WCHU is included in
History of WICS.
for Champaign-Urbana, but not much more
Before WCHU, NBC programming in east central
Illinois was seen on
WCIA. Channel 3 had picked up a secondary affiliation with
network along with its primary affiliation of CBS. This would
monopolize the two strongest broadcast networks for WCIA.
would air an occasional NBC program such as “Dragnet,” “Grouch Marx-You
Bet Your Life,” “Colgate Comedy Hour,” “Your Hit Parade” and other
special events from 1953 to 1958. It was also
source of color programming outside of a very rare CBS color
presentation during that period. WCIA had converted to
color from network programming in 1955, now with the loss of NBC would
not be able to “show off” to central Illinois color TV viewers on a
This was also bad news to other east central Illinois NBC viewers.
Unless you lived in the very near proximity of Champaign, you would
lose NBC programming. It was also, temporally bad news for
who invested in color televisions throughout the entire area, as WCHU
would not broadcast NBC color until 1961. Realistically,
its likely the color quality was less than perfect, since Channel 33
would still be re-broadcasting the over the air signal of
That additional step in the broadcast chain may have distorted the
signal of WCHU enough to smear any kind of acceptable color
It's pretty obvious now that the lessening of the facility of WCHU was
a mistake by Plains Television. This would position the
as the weaker less relevant station in the market, a stigma which would
be attached to WCHU and later WICD for decades.
(Above): Urbana Courier newspaper ad promoting the news and
entertainment lineup of WCHU, Channel 33. It includes the
newscast of the "Dunkel-Eaton Report" as produced from the
studios of both WICD, Channel 24 in Danville and WCHU, Channel 33 in
WICD, Channel 24, Danville
Plains TV Enlarges it's Footprint Again
Nearby Danville had another UHF television
station. From a
competitive standpoint, it appeared that Gannett was not able to make
money from Channel 24. Costs were already reduced by a power
decrease when other stations were seeking power increases. In
spite of that, an attempt was made to at least maintain the status of
the station as a somewhat successful property, would take the station
into the late 1950's and the very early 1960's. Local
was still being produced, the daytime schedule was expanding along with
the daytime schedule of ABC. Syndicated programming choices
few as the purchase of that alternative program source added
It's unknown why Gannett didn't just turn it off and let it go
dark. Instead a buyer was found in the form of Plains
Television. The station would be sold to Plains for a minimum
price, then a lease arrangement would allow Channel 24 to stay at the
The plan was for Plains Television to add another east central Illinois
television station to its chain of WICS and WCHU. It would
satisfy those area NBC viewers who lost network service because of
Channel 33's lack of signal, and increase the number of households
claimed as being served by the signal of WICS.
The Sale of WDAN-TV
Earlier we asked the question; “Things were
up for ABC....but
was it favoring WDAN-TV?” We would never know the
Channel 24 would be be sold by the renamed Gannett Publishing to Plains
Television Corporation for a mere $75,000. As part of the
agreement, Plains would continue to lease the space at 1500 North
Washington in Danville for $1,500 a month. Plains Television
owned WICS in Springfield and WCHU in Champaign in mid Illinois and the
plans were to create a regional network of NBC stations utilizing the
signal of Channel 24.
With this edition of TV Guide from September 15, 1952, WICD, Channel 24
was now listed in TV Guide. WDAN-TV was never listed in the
(from TV Guide Collection of J.R. Evans)
July 28, 1960, the FCC approved the transfer of the license of
Channel 24 from Gannett to Plains Television. Along with the
transfer, the call letters of WDAN-TV were changed to
In late August of 1960, John Begue who had previously held various
positions in programming and sales at WICS in Springfield was appointed
station manager of WICD(TV). The national
Young Television Corporation was chosen to represent WICD to regional
and national advertisers.
Programming of WICD would be obtained by rebroadcasting the already
re-broadcasted signal of WCHU from WICS. Local programming
continue at least for a time with the continuation of a local newscast
and local commercials. The network affiliation would change
and ABC to WICD(TV) and NBC
24 was slightly less than a full power TV station, but had
nearly 3 times the power output of WCHU. It also included an
antenna atop a tower at near 400 feet, compared to the 50 foot mast on
a six story hotel. The signal of the new WICD would put at
a watchable signal of NBC programming into nearby communities of
Hoopeston, Paris, Georgetown, Catlin, Covington and
WICD would continue to originate at least some local programming
including local news, and local commercials. The big
was the re-broadcast of WCHU in regards to some locally produced
programming and syndicated programming from WICS. All in all,
was a logistical nightmare, even with today's
During the broadcast of St. Louis Cardinal Baseball from the Cardinal
network, viewers would often see station Id's run back to back because
of the slowness of local control room operators. Since the
baseball game was originated by KSD-TV, the station ID”s would air
like, “Your watching KSD-TV, St. Louis....WICS, Channel 20
Springfield....WCHU, Channel 33 Champaign....WICD, Channel 24
Danville.” After the many re-broadcasts from each of the
stations, you can only imagine the poor quality of video observed by
viewers of Channel 24.
John Begue was appointed station manager of WICD(TV) in Danivlle
(pictured above). Even though, WCHU was able to transmit a
signal as received from
WICS, WICD, Channel 24 was never able to transmit a color
WDAN-TV, WCHU(TV) and WICD(TV) Honor
Employees of each station
presented in no particular order are those
who have served at WDAN-TV, job descriptions/title,
Robert J. Burow, general manager, 1953-1960
Max Shaffer, station manager, 1953-
John Eckert, sales manager, 1953-
Mary Kay Doan, admin, 1953-
Mary Samila, office mgr, 1953-
Bob Erickson, announcer, 1953-
Honore Ronan, prog director, 1953-
Gene Robinson, announcer, 1953-
Ted Magin, chief engineer, 1953-
Orville Neely, engineering, 1953-
Elwood Begley, engineering, 1953-
Larry Burroughs, announcer, 1953-
Al Stelk, projectionist, 1953-
Orlyn Dossey, engineering, 1953-
John Vance, engineering, 1953-
Bill Shoup, engineering, 1953-
Norlyn Dossey, engineering, 1953-
Gene Hackman, studio crew, 1953-
Bill Houpt, news, 1955-
Frank M. Williams, 1955-
Ralph Webber, news, 1955-
Ed Fonner, talent, 1959-
Mildred Engle, sales, 1955-
Catherine Cromwell, talent, 1959-
Jack Singleton, talent, 1959-
LaVerne White, engineering, 1958-
W. E. Hunt, engineering, 1958-
Bill Dorn, production director, 1954-
Kay Shake, administration, unknown
presented in no particular order are those
who have served at WCHU-TV, job descriptions/title,
Work in progress....coming soon
presented in no particular order are those
who have served at WICD, job descriptions/title,
John Begue, station mgr, 1960-
James Snyder, engineering,
Wayne Cody, talent
Richard Donohue, engineering, 1960-68
Dave Boyer, engineering, 1960-2000
Work in progress....coming soon
a contributor to this site
list is by no means complete.... if you are or know a an
employee, sales, administration, programming, news or creative
services from any of the stations above ...drop me an e-mail.
Include that persons name, title or job description and approximate
dates of employees, if you know.
The Urbana Courier Newspaper
TV Guide® (1954-1959) from the Doug Quick Collection
Danville Public Library
Champaign Public Library
Urbana Free Library
The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network Shows
by Tim Brooks and Earle Marsh
Total Television by Alex McNeil
Bob Lee for the vast majority of program titles screen grabs
WICS, Channel 20, Springfield
Cindy Larson and others at WICS
above: 1. American
have 2 separate parts, one running from
3-3:30pm, then the second part from 4-5pm. 2. Do You
a young Johnny Carson with Ed McMahon
on a comedy quiz show.(see "Who Do You Trust?" above) 3. Woody
half hour hosted by creator Walter
Lantz. 4. Mickey
Show-from Disney 5. 15
of local news
followed by ABC news with John Daly, host
of CBS game shows like "What's My Line" It's unknown who the
news, sports and weather anchor(s) were. Anyone know for
sure??? 6. Circus
Braddack, who later changed his name to
his real last name of Dolenz. Mickey Dolenz was a member of
"The Monkees" during the late 1960's. His daughter is the
Amy Dolenz. Later in 1958, Circus Boy was replaced by "Leave
to Beaver." 7.
production 8. The Show
"O.S.S." is probably a
WWII documentary. The next
show "Navy Log" was a government produced documentary from WWII and ran
on ABC. 9. Stage 24
the theme title of
the nightly movie. It's
unknown what the movie was as it was not indicated on the program log. 10. Notice
lack of local
commercials. Many station breaks,
were filled with short promos or PSA's. Also notice that
breaks were only 30-seconds long!
program log above is now
property of the Vermilion