Happy Birthday to us - WEWS turns 70

CLEVELAND - WEWS, Cleveland's first television station, signed on the air December 17, 1947 with the Cleveland Press Christmas celebration starring Hollywood legend Jimmy Stewart.

The show aired from Cleveland's Public Hall.

There were probably more people at the show than watching at home as there were so few television sets in existence.

With those flickering images 70 years ago, the era of Cleveland television was off and running.

Watch a look back on the last 70 years from John Kosich in the media player above. 

When WEWS signed on, it was also the first TV station in Ohio. The firsts accomplished by WEWS were many: first station to broadcast a World Series, first to offer a college credit TV course, first live TV ENG (electronic news gathering) remote in Cleveland, first news helicopter in Cleveland.

WEWS is owned by the same company that signed us on the air in 1947, The E.W. Scripps Company. Our call letters honor the founder of the company Edward Willis Scripps. Scripps started his company in Cleveland with The Penny Press newspaper (later called The Cleveland Press) in 1878.

For our birthday, I've posted two videos to our video player.

First, 2 minutes of fun from News5's John Kosich. John looks back at the some of the highlights in the station's 70 years of history. Spoiler alert! The boxing kangaroo makes a brief appearance.

Second, a rarity, a contest entry of highlights from our 1970 newscasts. The production date was January 12, 1971. This gem is from Art Ritchie, son of longtime WEWS news director Garry Ritchie. Garry is our host for this 30-minute segment.

Some big WEWS names show up in this including John Hambrick, Dave Patterson and Gib Shanley.

Before we were News5, before we were NewsChannel5, before were were Eyewitness News, we were Newswatch. The opening animation is a salute to our weather radar, the first Cleveland TV station to have its own weather radar.

It is a time capsule of how news was done in 1970, so please view it through those lenses.

The state-of-the-art graphics of 1970 look like cave drawings given the amazing graphics of today's digital world.

Film, not video was how stories were shot for TV. We had seven film cameramen in 1970, today we have 20 news videographers using HD cameras.

There are some pretty dramatic segments which may raise a few eyebrows today, so please view them through the prism of 1970.






Print this article Back to Top