The first television station in Ohio is 63 years old on Friday.
On Dec. 17, 1947, WEWS signed on the air bringing the Cleveland Press Christmas party hosted by Hollywood legend Jimmy Stewart to the few television sets in Cleveland.
We were the eleventh television station in the country in the pioneering days of sending pictures through the air.
The call letters for the station were derived from the initials of Scripps founder Edward Willis Scripps. The Scripps company has owned the station the entire 63 years.
Our original studios were on East 13th Street near Chester Avenue. It didn't take long to outgrow that facility, which also housed WEWS-FM (now WDOK), and new studios were built opening about a decade later. The facility at East 30th and Euclid Avenue has been our current home ever since.
The names of the WEWS people who have graced the airwaves over the years read like a 'Who's Who' in Cleveland television: Dorothy Fuldheim, Bill Gordon, Fred Griffith, Joel Rose, Jan Jones, Liz Richards, Wilma Smith, Ted Henry, John Hambrick, Tim Taylor, Dave Patterson, Gib Shanley, Don Webster, Paige Palmer, Nev Chandler, Paul Wilcox, Gene Carroll, Miss Barbara, Mister Jingeling and on and on with apologies to the dozens more not listed here.
I’ve put a few clips in the video player to reminisce about the our history:
First is a Ted Henry piece which played in our 50th anniversary telecast showing the very beginning of WEWS. It contains some fun film and fun facts such as the cost of a TV set being about the same as a used car.
The second clip is from the 35th anniversary show hosted by Fred Griffith and Wilma Smith. It features two original employees who went on to be managers at other Cleveland stations, Jack Moffitt and Betty Cope.
Betty Cope is best known as being general manager of WVIZ. She began her career at WEWS as a receptionist, but it wasn’t long before she would become a pioneer for women in broadcasting, directing and producing programs at WEWS.
The third and final clip contains some surprises: the last edition of The Afternoon Exchange, a piece from Captain Penny, and a segment from the 5oth anniversary special highlighting the Paige Palmer Show.
The Afternoon Exchange ended its run in 1982 and would be replaced by Live On Five. Hosted by Fred Griffith and Wilma Smith, this segment includes Don Webster in the newsroom. Look for a quick glimpse of Slim Whitman.
Captain Penny hosted a children's show for years. The Captain was portrayed by Ron Penfound. A frequent guest on his show was Jungle Larry animal curator at Cedar Point.
Paige Palmer hosted an exercise and fashion show tailored to the women in the audience. Paige was a remarkable woman dubbed the "First Lady of Fitness." She appeared on WEWS for 25 years. She passed away late in 2009.