Tom Buckley on what to do with broadcast “stuff” that you find but can’t identify, or don’t know what to do with ~
“You would contact me, my email is email@example.com. Most of the material we get are from talents, sons and daughters, people around in the business. They have stuff maybe in the closet. ‘I don’t know what this is.’ . . . A lot of that. There’s people, there’s stuff all around.”
Andy Ockershausen: This is Andy Ockershausen. This is Our Town. I have an opportunity to talk to a man that knows more about radio and TV than I do, which is spectacular because I’ve been around a lot longer.
Tom Buckley: That’s a stretch.
Andy Ockershausen: He and I both share that ability to remember things. Tom Buckley, welcome to Our Town. I’m so pleased that you and I can chat about what has been our lives, this Washington Broadcast.
Tom Buckley: Thanks. Happy to be here Andy. I know when Andy called, I was thrilled to be on the show, because when Andy calls, you can’t say no. You have to be here and hopefully share some knowledge and get some other sources. People that hear this, because we’re always looking for new material, and that’s the thing. It’s the hunt to find this stuff.
Andy Ockershausen: Always.
Video Tape in Broadcasting | Allen B. DuMont (WABD) and Thomas T. Goldsmith (WTTG)
Tom Buckley: Julian Barber. You remember Julian Barber?
Andy Ockershausen: Oh yes.
Tom Buckley: Julian Barber who was the lead anchorman at Channel 9 in the 60s. His son called me out of the blue. He had all kinds of two-inch video tapes that he made. At his own expense, had them digitized. They were just terrific.
Andy Ockershausen: Julian Barber was a great anchor, great anchor on Channel 9.
Tom Buckley: We’ve got a show called City Side, which was a public affairs show and a half hour show with Wright Patman, a congressman from Texas. There’s two Channel 4 seven o’clock newses from 1971, which were really a hoot.
Andy Ockershausen: Where do you have them, on video tape?
Tom Buckley: No. Video tape now, we just have them on MP4s.
Andy Ockershausen: I got it. I don’t know what that is, but …
Tom Buckley: Two-inch video tape, because we’re racing the clock. There’s very few places that you could actually get transferred anymore. It costs several hundred bucks an hour to get that done.
Andy Ockershausen: That video tape was bought by Chuck Percy. Chuck Percy worked with a big video company. Did you know that, in California? Then he became a US Congressman. His daughter married money. Married a Rockefeller. We get video tape very late at Channel 7 because the boss that we had at the time said, “We’re not going to buy it yet until we find out if this thing as perfected is going to work.” It’s a true story. They eventually did it, but he was convinced. He was right. There’s going to be something better than video tape, but it took forever to get it. That’s what Ken is doing now. There’s no tape here as you can see.
Tom Buckley: Right, it just goes on servers. There’s no tape. The first tape machine, as far as we know in Washington, was Channel 5.
Andy Ockershausen: Oh yeah . . . Then it was an engineering guy, right? They were WTTG men, Tom somebody.
Tom Buckley: Thomas T. Goldsmith who was the R & D
Andy Ockershausen: The engineer, right?
Tom Buckley: Our engineer …
Andy Ockershausen: A technician.
Tom Buckley: … in charge of research and development for DuMont, for when DuMont started, it was WABD in New York, which was Allen B. DuMont and WTTG in Washington, which was Thomas T. Goldsmith. They named it after him, the R&D guy. He was very . . .
Andy Ockershausen: . . . engineering oriented organization, correct?
Tom Buckley: Right. I’ve got a picture of that thing being loaded off the truck and it’s Milt Grant, Ms. Connie, I think Captain Tugg and everybody is, “Hey, we got a video tape machine.” That was the Raleigh Hotel.
Andy Ockershausen: Oh yeah.
Tom Buckley: Right, because …
Hoppity Skippity | Pick Temple | Jimmy Dean | The Deacon, Andy Griffith
Andy Ockershausen: We had a guy here that worked for Channel 5. He played in a rabbit costume called Hoppity Skippity. He was a salesman here at WMAL.
Tom Buckley: Hoppity Skippity. I have a . . . Is he here still around? Is he still around?
Andy Ockershausen: No he died. Jules Huber.
Tom Buckley: Yeah, Mortons used to sponsor that. I have a Hoppity Skippity button.
Andy Ockershausen: Where your growing up as I did with the television, with … What’s the guys name that had the horse?
Tom Buckley: Pick Temple?
Andy Ockershausen: Pick Temple.
Tom Buckley: Pick Temple, his son gave us all of his files. Pick Temple’s files are now sitting over at the Library of American Broadcasting over in College Park. I’ve got a lot of Pick Temple clips. The Pick Temple story, he was on all three stations. He started with us, went to 5, then went to 7. When I was a kid, I was on the Channel 7 version, like in the early 60s.
Andy Ockershausen: He brought the kids into the studio? Had a dog and a horse as I recall.
Tom Buckley: Lady was the dog. In 1957, he was the highest paid person in broadcasting.
Andy Ockershausen: Is that right?
Tom Buckley: He was on the air every day for an hour, 90 minutes on Saturday. Giant Food bought the whole contract . . .
Andy Ockershausen: Giant spent it all, I knew that.
Tom Buckley: $250,000 in 1957 dollars, that would be about 2.2 million today.
Andy Ockershausen: Nobody’s doing that now.
Tom Buckley: Yeah, nobody’s doing that today. The things that they-
Andy Ockershausen: Kid show.
Tom Buckley: Kid shows. It was little games, gun games, and target games and western things.
Andy Ockershausen: Oh god, my memories you’re bringing back now. Hoppity Skippity, I never thought of that for years. That existed because people did their own thing then. I remember that we did something, as you pointed out, with Jimmy Dean. It was a live, daily music show with Jimmy Dean picking and singing. He’d have guests on and they brought a guy in from North Carolina one time. He was going to do a thing about football. I said, “This guy, he’s going to die.” I heard this saying. Guess who it was? The star of Mayberry . . .
Tom Buckley: Andy Griffith.
Andy Ockershausen: The Deacon.
Tom Buckley: The Deacon, Andy Griffith.
Andy Ockershausen: He was the Deacon Andy Griffith. He appeared on our show at Channel 7. Nobody had any idea who he was. You had Andy, Arnold, people like that, but you had to do that to stay alive, because the networks couldn’t do it. We were doing local stuff as they did on all the local station. Sometimes it moved around, but you also follow radio very closely. You’re in a TV business.
Tom Buckley Gets Started in Broadcasting at Hayfield High School, Fairfax, Virginia
Tom Buckley: Right, well when I was in high school, Hayfield High School, in 1970 and Fairfax county. It was the biggest school on the East Coast. Had a quarter of a million dollar TV system. It …
Andy Ockershausen: Really? On campus?
Tom Buckley: Yes. All the science labs were wired with TVs, great big 25 inch RCAXL100s. Then we had this science lecture room which was a university electric room. There were like 15 or 20 TVs in that and remote controlled cameras for science experiments and all that stuff.
Andy Ockershausen: Sounds like a sports bar almost.
Tom Buckley: Of course, never used it once for that. We took it over and we did weekly news shows. We did high school sports. It was like SCTV. We just goofed around.
Andy Ockershausen: Just around campus?
Tom Buckley: Right. It was just …
Andy Ockershausen: It seemed only on campus.
Tom Buckley: Right, right. When we wanted to build a radio station, because Steve Drepperd and Big Don O’Brien, as the guy who was all over the radio and TV in Washington and Baltimore. Steve now, is a radio guy up in CBS Baltimore. He was running the Terps Network and the Orioles Network and did the Ravens Network for a while. They were these two radio guys, and I was the TV guy. We would cold call stations. We had to get equipment to build this stuff. We would cold call stations and we went over to WEAM, gave us a board, FAX over …
Andy Ockershausen: These are all high school kids.
Everywoman and Panorama – Early 70s TV Shows
Tom Buckley: Right, high school kids, gave us all this equipment. WEEL gave us some. We got some equipment from WRC. That was our entrée, so we just started hanging around the radio stations. We would hang out at radio stations. Then, as I was saying earlier, in the early 70s, we’d take the AB&W bus in from Virginia and the 12th from Pennsylvania, and then catch the DC transit to come up Wisconsin. Everywoman was a live TV show at that point, with Rene Carpenter and JC Haywood. We’d go and just see that, so you could hang around the Channel 9 studio. That was 11 o’clock. Then you’d go down the street to Channel 5 to see Panorama, because that was a tremendously big show in the 70s.
Andy Ockershausen: Oh yeah, it’s been around.
Tom Buckley: They did a half hour …
Andy Ockershausen: They had a lot of talent on that. Maury Povich got his start on that.
Tom Buckley: A half hour news show, and then it was on for three hours and then a two and a half hour talk show.
Andy Ockershausen: Right.
Tom Buckley: It was John Willis who came from KTTV out in LA, so he knew all the Hollywood people. Barbara Howar I think was a female person on that point.
Andy Ockershausen: She was on the show.
Tom Buckley: Like you say, that’s where Maury got started.
Andy Ockershausen: On the air, right.
Tom Buckley: He was doing sports. I think he was doing 10 o’clock sports.
Andy Ockershausen: I used to kid him. He’s making $1.75 an hour. He would do news in midday and stay all the through the day and then they did news at 10 o’clock at night. My friend who came from Los Angeles put that 10 o’clock news on and put on Panorama too.
Bob Bennett – Pioneer in Broadcasting
Tom Buckley: Bob Bennett.
Andy Ockershausen: His name Bob Bennett.
Tom Buckley: Bob, sure. Yeah.
Andy Ockershausen: He died recently. Really broke my heart.
Tom Buckley: Right. I just saw it, because he went up to Boston and made a big hit out of CVB.
Andy Ockershausen: He put that on the air.
Tom Buckley: Yeah. Legendary guy.
Andy Ockershausen: We had such a great time and everything that Bob brought into Washington to do, he’s the one who started automobile advertising, because he went to Ourisman or somebody and said, “I’m going to give you a months worth of free television. You come in and record the spot, we’ll schedule it and run it to prove to you and prove to the market that TV works for car sales.” He’d done it in Los Angeles. Boom. Ourisman? Of course. You always get your way.
Tom Buckley: at Ourisman Chevrolet, yeah.
Andy Ockershausen: You share so much with us and that’s important. You’re still in the business, so you see it up close and you’ve seen the changes.
“. . . almost everything is computerized now. It’s a lot less fun.”
Tom Buckley: Oh gosh, yes. It’s tremendous changes. That’s why I say, we used to have tremendous studio crews, three-man cameras. It’s computerized now. It’s a director and one button. The cameras are, the audio is, almost everything is computerized now. It’s a lot less fun.
Andy Ockershausen: What do they call them, robots? No people, but there’s cameras walking around, moving around.
Tom Buckley: That’s what the management … because the robots came in when we moved down the street in 1992. They say, “Well the robots don’t call in sick.”
Andy Ockershausen: Who was the first one on the market to get that?
Tom Buckley: I think we were.
Andy Ockershausen: Is that right?
Tom Buckley: I think we were. Yeah.
Willard Scott and General Sarnoff
Andy Ockershausen: We were talking to somebody we had on the show about Willard Scott and a great story about, they had a big battle between NBC and CBS as they was going to do it in color. DuMont said they were going our way. They had these showings and Willard was there and he got to spend some time with General Sarnoff.
Tom Buckley: Right.
Andy Ockershausen: The General Sarnoff, who was in charge of an RCA, everything and the networks and all that. They had a chance, many years later, to hire Willard. We wanted him to leave, because they had ignored him over there at Channel 4. He said, “I’d love to go. I’d love the opportunity, I’d do it in a minute.” He said, “But I can’t leave General Sarnoff.” He said, “I’m loyal to NBC and he is the image of NBC.” It’s a small story, but great. We’re going to take a break now. I don’t want to steal your story.
Tom Buckley: No, we’re going to talk about color TV when we get back.
Andy Ockershausen: I’d love to. This is Andy Ockershausen and this is Our Town.
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Announcer: You’re listening to Our Town.
Andy Ockershausen: This is Andy Ockershausen, and Our Town, we’re talking to Tom Buckley who is a historian of some repute, because I made it a repute. He’s still in the industry with Channel 9. He’s seen this market grow and what is the changes and we’re so delighted to have him to talk about, the good old days are now, Tom, you know that? These are the . . .
Tom Buckley: They always tell you that, yeah.
Andy Ockershausen: Those were great days, but these are the best.
Tom Buckley: One of the things, when I was visiting Channel 5 in the 70s, they let us sit in the control booth, Lou Iacovello the director. The audio guy says, “Kid, you don’t want to get in this business.” It’s not like I wasn’t before. You don’t want to do that, no. Going back to color, when you were talking about color in . . .
Andy Ockershausen: Yeah, how’d you start it?
How Color Came to TV
Tom Buckley: DC was a hot bed for color tests. In 1949, there was actually three competing color systems. There was the RCA system. There was the CBS color wheel, which was a field sequential system. There’s a third one that everybody forgets about called CTI, that was …
Andy Ockershausen: Was that DuMont?
The RCA Color System and CTI
Tom Buckley: No, it wasn’t . . . It was another, third competing company that didn’t go very far. The local stations were doing all the tests. For the FCC in Laurel, it was like RC did the RCA system. WOIC at that point, which was the original Channel 9, was doing the color wheel tests. 7 did the color tests for CTI. CTI had problems with flicker, could never get it right. They dropped out. Then it was the two systems, then it was RCA and CBS. Actually, the CBS one was actually approved. That was going to be the law of the land, the system …
Andy Ockershausen: For color television.
CBS – The Color Wheel
Tom Buckley: … for color television, which the color wheel, but the problem was, it wasn’t compatible with black and white. You’d have to go out and buy a whole new thing and the spinning wheel.
Andy Ockershausen: You needed two sets.
Tom Buckley: RCA sued and it went back and forth and back and forth. Then RCA eventually won, and then their system won out. The last color CBS broadcast, was a 1951 University of Maryland football game.
Andy Ockershausen: Is that right?
Tom Buckley: Yeah, that was the last color wheel test. That was one where they opened up the line to Dayton and Chicago and Detroit. That was going to be in one of the first color programs and it was going to be the last one, because that didn’t go anywhere.
Andy Ockershausen: I remember vividly, WRC was in the hotel at the time and …
Tom Buckley: Sheraton Park.
Andy Ockershausen: … was done at Sheridan Park, and they would have VIPs come in and they’d give them all the song and dance. My brother was in the communication business, so he was wired into it. I went up there with him one day to see this thing. I didn’t know what was going to happen, but I’m watching color. I said, “This is not as what I thought it would be. I thought it would be a lot sharper,” but that was the beginning of it. They’re still testing it and they’re still going. That’s where Willard fell in love with General Sarnoff.
Tom Buckley: There’s another 7 connection to that, John Harter. John Harter’s father was somehow involved in the CBS . . .
Andy Ockershausen: Our John Harter?
Tom Buckley: Yes, because there’s a series of shows on Vimeo called Out of the Past that Lee Shephard does with local broadcasters, and has been doing them about the last 10 or 15 years. He told that story, of his dad working on the CBS color wheel tests. I haven’t talked to him yet to find out all about that yet. That was interesting.
Andy Ockershausen: Is any of that old equipment still available?
Tom Buckley: Oh yeah, no. There’s an early television museum …
Andy Ockershausen: A library somewhere?
Tom Buckley: Yeah, no, there’s an early television museum equipment outside of Columbus Ohio. They’ve got a couple of working CBS color sets. It looks terrific..
Andy Ockershausen: Really? The wheel.
Tom Buckley: The wheel. The wheel stuff looks terrific. I believe they have one of the first RCA color sets. I think it’s a CTC100. I believe they have that too. You can see a lot of that stuff around. There’s various sites around the United States that have old broadcast equipment.
Saving and Sharing Old Broadcast Equipment for Posterity
Andy Ockershausen: What is the gentleman’s name that we know who does a lot of stuff about DCRTV?
Janice Iacona Ockershausen: Dave Hughes?
Tom Buckley: Dave Hughes, yes. I do. I’ve had lunch with him several times.
Andy Ockershausen: You should be a great source to him, because he’s writing all the time.
Tom Buckley: I put a lot of his stuff and the photo gallery and all of that stuff that I sent out, is stuff that I sent him.
Andy Ockershausen: He keeps it alive too in a somewhat under the spotlight, but he’s there.
Tom Buckley: I’ve put tons of stuff on Facebook.
Andy Ockershausen: Oh do you?
Tom Buckley: Yeah, just on my Facebook feed.
Andy Ockershausen: . . .can take it of course, because they’re vulnerable.
Tom Buckley: I’m finally working on my website. I’m trying to get my website up, because all this stuff is around, so we want it all in one place.
Andy Ockershausen: You got to have that.
Tom Buckley: I get complaints. Not everybody’s on Facebook and they can’t see it because I’ve rescued, when the station has tried to throw stuff out several times. Like In the 78 swap, they throughout a whole bunch of old stuff that was sitting downstairs in control room 13. It was like old photos from the 40s, old press releases from WOIC. I brought one here too. I’ve got an original WOIC press release from 1949.
Failed Mutual Television System – WOIC Press Release from 1949
Andy Ockershausen: On Channel 9.
Tom Buckley: On Channel 9. Interesting thing on here, if you look at the bottom …
Andy Ockershausen: Roger Mudd was the anchorman.
Tom Buckley: Okay, we’ll get to that in a second. First, they were the CBS affiliate, and the mutual broadcasting system affiliate. Mutual television never got off the ground.
Andy Ockershausen: Now I know that.
Tom Buckley: The idea was that us and Channel 9 in New York, WOOR, was going to be the linchpin of the mutual television system. They were going to have all these stations, but the problem was, there weren’t any long lines capacity. They couldn’t get enough cables to do it and the thing never happened. Roger, going back to Roger Mudd, you know Don Richards, right?
Andy Ockershausen: Yes.
Roger Mudd Replaced Don Richards
Tom Buckley: Don Richards was the big anchorman in the 50s on Channel 9. The problem was, he was just the staff announcer. He wasn’t a news guy. CBS complained, because they were doing all of the work, writing the news. Then here’s pretty boy announcer, he’s getting all the credit. They said, “Okay, you have to change that. You have to either become a news guy or go back to being an announcer.”
Even though he was supposedly Eisenhower’s favorite guy, he was really popular all over the world really. He said he would make more money just being an announcer. He enjoyed performing and doing that. He gave that up, and that’s when Roger Mudd came up from Richmond and replaced him.
Walter Cronkite Local Anchorman During Korean War
Andy Ockershausen: One the air. There was somebody else involved in that mess at the time. Walter Cronkite was doing the 11 o’clock news the first time I saw him, on Channel 9.
Tom Buckley: Walter was the first 11 o’clock anchorman. He came to Washington in 1950. He was working CBS, because CBS owned us and we were the CBS bureau. All the CBS shows came out of that.
Andy Ockershausen: Did they own just part of it or the whole thing?
Tom Buckley: No, half of it.
Andy Ockershausen: Okay, yeah.
Tom Buckley: It was 55/45, the Post and CBS. Walter was going to go cover the Korean War. He was supposed to go overseas in 1950, but his wife was pregnant and they decided, “No, we’re not going to send him over, maybe get killed with a pregnant wife at home.” He said, “We got to have him something … I guess you can do the local news.”
So he became the local anchorman and it was a tremendous hit because he was doing war briefings at the Pentagon. Then they had a cut out map of Korea, and he would explain troop movements and stuff. It was tremendously big. Yeah, Walter lasted until 54 when they took him up to New York to do the morning show.
Andy Ockershausen: He was so popular. We’re talking to Tom Buckley with a fountain of information. We’re going to keep tapping into it. This is Our Town and this is Andy Ockershausen.
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Announcer: You’re listening to Our Town with Andy Ockershausen, brought to you by Best Bark Communications.
Andy Ockershausen: This is Andy Ockershausen with Tom Buckley. We’re talking about the good ol’ days of Our Town, but the good ol’ days are now, Tom. We have lived and seen so much, and you’ve been involved in this industry for many, many years here. You’re very fortunate, as Janice and I say, every day, to grow up in this business.
Tom Buckley: Oh yeah.
Andy Ockershausen: It’s been amazing and thank God she has found some way to keep me involved. I love every minute of it, and I’m delighted talking to you, because we share so many things. Even though you were younger, I lived through those things at WOIC and what happened over there and what happened at WRC in the basement. It’s just been a wonderful, wonderful life to be a part of broadcasting.
TV Broadcast History – From mid-70s
Tom Buckley: I would have liked to get maybe five years earlier, but I got there in 75. We were still doing film. The video tape was just coming in at that point, but television was just tremendously big. Local news had taken off, and we were doing tremendous numbers. The eye-witness news team was amazingly popular. Channel 9 was like doubling the other two guys combined.
Andy Ockershausen: Oh, that’s incredible.
Tom Buckley: That was the place to be. It was Max Robinson, Gordon Peterson, JC.
Andy Ockershausen: Gordo.
Tom Buckley: Maureen.
Andy Ockershausen: Glenn when he came.
Tom Buckley: Glenn, yeah. Of course, there was Warner.
Andy Ockershausen: Yeah.
Tom Buckley: Once you become tremendously big, then the idea, the outside man wants to break it up. You say, “You got to get this guy out of town. He is too popular.” I was wondering if you had something to do with that. Yeah , yeah of Warner. So Roone Arledge calls, Warner Wolf is going to be the next Howard Cosell.
Andy Ockershausen: Right, their going to put in on baseball. ABC had just gotten into baseball.
Tom Buckley: We had some back and forth. We wouldn’t let him go. He threw a couple of on-air fits, because he was the end of the show. He would come on and do two scores and say, “That’s it for sports.” Finally, we let him go to New York. He goes to New York, kind of bombs. He did Monday Night Baseball.
Andy Ockershausen: Absolutely.
Tom Buckley: He did the 76 Olympics, didn’t really pan out. Went back to local news, went back to the-
Andy Ockershausen: He did really good in New York.
Tom Buckley: Did great in New York. He went back to-
Andy Ockershausen: Local, WCBS.
Tom Buckley: He was at WABC at first.
Andy Ockershausen: Oh he did?
Tom Buckley: He went to WABC first and we have another DC connection coming here. WABC, tremendous hit there. He was a tremendous hit there. The weekend sports guy at WABC, was George Michael.
Andy Ockershausen: Oh was he? Or right he came up from Philly.
Tom Buckley: George had come up from FIL and to come up to be the night guy at WABC, the most listened to in the nation, music radio 77. He was the top 40 jock, and he was starting to do …
Andy Ockershausen: that’s the Pop . . .
Tom Buckley: … hockey stuff, the voice of islanders.
Andy Ockershausen: His boss, who I knew very well, he was doing something for the Jets, like color job for the Jets.
Tom Buckley: Yeah.
Andy Ockershausen: His boss, Hal Neal, sent me a tape on him and said, “Would you consider this guy for the Redskins.” I said, “No, he’s terrible. We don’t want him. He’s a disc jockey, keep him . . .” George never forgot that. He always was pissed off at me about that. But, I meant it. I said, “He’s an ABC guy, but too bad. We’re for Washington . . .
Tom Buckley: It’s a different thing. What works in one market doesn’t always translate.
Andy Ockershausen: Right, but then he got a great job with TV and George took off. It was George and Glenn.
Tom Buckley: Right. Glenn was here first, and George came down second. George was essentially doing Warner’s act updated with more satellites. They spent a ton of money on satellites and equipment.
Andy Ockershausen: That was before cable. What was that show called? Sports Machine.
Tom Buckley: Sports Machine.
Andy Ockershausen: We all watched that. That’s the only thing they had on Sunday night. Now, you can get that 24/7.
Tom Buckley: Right. That was a big deal. That was where it started out as Sports Final. Sports Final, and you had the Sports Line.
Andy Ockershausen: George did a great job. He produced the hell out of that show and worked like a dog.
Tom Buckley: They had two-inch tape machines. They hid it and then all this stuff. Of course, it would take six seconds for the thing to lock up. It was a one-inch machine punched in.
Union Influence on Broadcasting, Then
Andy Ockershausen: NABET wouldn’t let him touch that.
Tom Buckley: Yeah. That was a tremendous deal. It was syndicated all over the country. The NBC stations loved it. It was just one of the many big stuff that came out of DC.
Andy Ockershausen: We had a huge problem with a weather guy named Louis Allen, who started on Channel 9.
Louis Allen – Meterologist – Woodles for Washington
Tom Buckley: Well, he was on 7 first. Washington’s only professional weather forecaster that used …
Andy Ockershausen: A meteorologist that was a problem.
Tom Buckley: He had his own company. Used to do the Woodles for Washington.
Andy Ockershausen: He drew on the board, he drew. Well the fight was, NABET had said, “That board is electronic. It’s got lights on it, and therefore, it’s under our jurisdiction, and he can’t clean it.” He had to have a technician go and clean it for him. It was a big fight.
Tom Buckley: Yeah no, it is. Back in those days …
Andy Ockershausen: You couldn’t change that. I don’t blame NABET. They were worried. They said, “This is creeping management and that the talent is now working on …” Eventually, we did it to run their own boards. We had a tough fight with that. Felix Grant wouldn’t do it.
The Union Influence on Broadcasting, Today
Tom Buckley: Well today, they cut their own stories now, editors and stuff like that.
Andy Ockershausen: Yeah, they do everything.
Tom Buckley: They sit in the backseat of a car and a laptop and cut their own stories.
Andy Ockershausen: Channel 9 is IATSE right?
Tom Buckley: No. We’re IBEW.
Janice Iacona Ockershausen: IBEW yeah.
Tom Buckley: IBEW, because I was secretary of the local for six years.
Andy Ockershausen: Yeah, Janice had the big party.
Janice Iacona Ockershausen: No, that was Local 26.
Tom Buckley: Local 26 is . . . yeah. We have WETA, us, 2 and 11 in Baltimore and CBS network.
Andy Ockershausen: Do you?
Tom Buckley: Yeah, IBEW. It’s fairly big.
Andy Ockershausen: The whole CBS network?
Tom Buckley: Yeah.
Andy Ockershausen: Wow.
Tom Buckley: The whole CBS network.
Andy Ockershausen: That’s big time.
Tom Buckley: We do a lot of stuff with them still.
Broadcasting in Today’s World
Andy Ockershausen: What do you look forward now to having the transition, as we’re talking about it, they’re getting rid of people. That’s like banks now. Now banks don’t have any people in them, but they don’t want you to come to the bank.
Tom Buckley: No, no human interaction.
Andy Ockershausen: Some day, they’re going to have no people in the gas stations, and you’ll just pull in, get your gas and leave.
Tom Buckley: Yeah.
Andy Ockershausen: It’s a peopleless world.
Tom Buckley: Well that’s the way it’s turning out. We’ve said, “It happened in radio. That’ll never happen to us. TV will never …” Well as soon as it becomes feasible, yeah, it will. That’s what it is. The thing about television, and broadcasting in general, it’s all people. It’s personalities. People don’t turn you on to watch stories, they turn you on to watch people telling stories.
Andy Ockershausen: That’s true.
Tom Buckley: Yeah, it’s like I watch Channel 9 because I like Bruce Johnson or I watch Channel 4 because …
Andy Ockershausen: Well Bruce is a very good guy.
Tom Buckley: … I like Doreen Gentzler.
Andy Ockershausen: Bruce could be senior over there, isn’t he?
Tom Buckley: He is. He is.
Andy Ockershausen: I’ve known Bruce forever. Great guy.
Tom Buckley: He was there maybe two years before I was. I’m number two in seniority. He’s number one.
Andy Ockershausen: Oh my God. Well you lived through all those changes then and from The Post to DVM.
The Washington Post Co. – WTOP-FM and WTOP-TV – 1977
Tom Buckley: The Post to DVM. Quick story on that thing, how that happened, that was a concern about media ownership. There was too much …
Andy Ockershausen: Oh yes, I know that quite well.
Tom Buckley: … concentration of power. This is pre-cable days. It’s basically, they were going after newspaper broadcasting entities. The Post owned AM/FM TV …
Andy Ockershausen: The newspaper.
Tom Buckley: … and the newspaper, they gave away the FM to Howard University.
Andy Ockershausen: Gave it. None, zero.
Tom Buckley: As we all know, FM will never make money. Katharine Graham said that was one of her biggest mistakes, because it was hundreds of millions of dollars later.
Andy Ockershausen: The lawyers talked her into that.
Tom Buckley: The lawyers are the ones that talked her into the swap…
Andy Ockershausen: The commission didn’t make her sell that, that was her to protect herself.
Tom Buckley: The lawyers did scare her. They said, “Oh, you’re going to lose all kinds of money if they force you to get rid of this. You’d better go ahead and …
Andy Ockershausen: Do it now.
Tom Buckley: … do this deal.” You know Joel Chaseman? He was CEO of Post-Newsweek Broadcasting. He helped put on 13 at Baltimore. He didn’t know anything about it. He was CEO until Kathrine called him and said, “Well, we’ve done this deal with Detroit.” The Detroit evening news did a deal where they took Channel 9 …
Andy Ockershausen: Right.
Tom Buckley: … Post-Newsweek took Channel 4 in Detroit. That way, we’re clear.
Andy Ockershausen: I lived through the whole thing with her.
Tom Buckley: Six months later, the supreme court says, “You don’t have to do it.”
Andy Ockershausen: No, correct.
Tom Buckley: The deal is done and we’re screwed. Detroit never bothered us though. As long as they got the fat checks, that didn’t matter. We were always on our own.
Andy Ockershausen: Who owns Detroit now?
Tom Buckley: Well, Gannett.
Andy Ockershausen: Gannett does?
Tom Buckley: Gannett bought the entire evening news association.
Andy Ockershausen: I got it.
Tom Buckley: Then they got us back with everybody else in 1986. That’s when we switched from DVM to USA.
Andy Ockershausen: Right.
Tom Buckley: Now, we’re owned by TEGNA.
Andy Ockershausen: Sounds like a shoe company. TEGNA shoes on?
A Discussion on Dynamics of Newspaper and Broadcast Properties Ownership, and the Impact of the Internet on the Market
Tom Buckley: When newspaper and broadcast split and Gannett newspapers went under Gannett and then all the broadcast properties went under TEGNA. TEGNA ends up owning us now.
Andy Ockershausen: Well they’re all still afraid of media controlling ownership. That’s what shot down the Washington Star of course, because they had to divest.
Tom Buckley: All the money was in television and television propped up the newspapers.
Andy Ockershausen: Yeah.
Tom Buckley: That’s the same thing that . . .
Andy Ockershausen: It kept them alive. The radio. They put on a Tennis Tournament and we paid for it.
Tom Buckley: Right. It’s like the USA Today. We kept that thing going forever. Back in the 80s, that was a brilliant plan. Before the internet, we’re going to build satellite newspaper plants all over the United States of America so people can see this one sheath thing. Well the internet comes and just kills that entirely.
Andy Ockershausen: All the advertising . . .
Tom Buckley: Yeah. You’re talking about the market. It’s like when the pre-cable, VHF and the stations were just so dominant in town. Everybody watched everybody. Now the numbers, like you say, I’d kill for a two.
Andy Ockershausen: We had a terrible problem in this market, at one time. I got involved in it because I was on an NAB board and we were involved with AM/FM. That this FM, we’d better start promoting it, because it’s getting … Remember the U’s? You had to adjust them.
Tom Buckley: Right, UHFs, yeah.
Andy Ockershausen: I said the same thing was going to happen.
Tom Buckley: You had to get converters and you had to dial all over and it’d take you forever to get it.
Andy Ockershausen: A lady called me that owned a 250 watt radio station at Dupont Circle with her husband. Her name being Cathy Hughes and said, “We’ve got to do something to protect AM. Protect the AM,” because FM was changing the marketplace. For a while, we got to help FM. Then everybody turned their backs, said screw that. They’re killing us. They’re killing the broadcast business.
Tom Buckley: FM was not going.
Andy Ockershausen: It was going nowhere.
“The rise of FM killed all the AM. . .”
Tom Buckley: They were just simulcasting AM. Then they changed the rules and said, “You couldn’t do that. You had to put regular programming on.” The rise of FM killed all the AM . . . . WASH came on and was essentially MAL on FM. It was full service MOR.
Andy Ockershausen: Absolutely.
Tom Buckley: They had Eddie Gallaher came over.
Andy Ockershausen: Eddie Gallaher.
Tom Buckley: When we went old news on TOP.
Andy Ockershausen: Duckman?
Tom Buckley: Duckman, all of those guys, Jerry Clark. That was a tremendous personality oriented station, all that stuff.
Andy Ockershausen: They had a great game plan.
Tom Buckley: The radio guys that I was hanging around with, like PRW in Manassas and WEAM, we wanted to get on PGC. PGC95.5, that was the big FM stereo rock and roller. You would actually have jingles, “Stereo 95.”
Andy Ockershausen: Tom, you’re such a fountain of information. I hope somewhere you write all of this down or record it or do something, because our class is graduating.
Online Resources for Broadcasting History
Tom Buckley: That’s true, and you’re going to talk to me all about the early days of Channel 7 eventually. Yeah, what we’re trying to do is gather all this stuff on one space. I’m working on a website. It’s iondc.tv. It’s not up yet, it’s just a placeholder, but I’ve got some people working on it. I want to get right …
Andy Ockershausen: What a value that’ll be to the industry.
Tom Buckley: If you just friend me on Facebook, TomBuckley9 on Facebook, you can see all the pictures. I’ve put up years of Channel 9 pictures from the early 70s, from the 40s, from the 50s, from the 60s.
Andy Ockershausen: Wow.
Tom Buckley: There’s all kinds of people in the business that have various expertise. Like my friend Bob Bell, he’s the kid show expert in town, knows all about the kids shows. He has a website called kaptainkidshow.com, with a K, kaptainkidshow.com. There’s other people, like preserving radio. Lee Chambers has got one, called amandfmmorningside.com, which is old PGC air checks. Guys from 98wrc.com, Skip McCloskey and Mike Berry. They’re streaming radio like it used to be. Loo Katz . . .
Janice Iacona Ockershausen: Yeah I saw that, yeah. Hound …
Tom Buckley: Houndradio.com.
Janice Iacona Ockershausen: Hound Radio, yeah.
Tom Buckley: He’s doing news. He’s got Sean Hall doing news with him. He’s got Arch Campbell going to be doing stuff. That’s getting ready to launch.
Andy Ockershausen: Oh my God.
Tom Buckley: There’s all kinds of stuff that’s up there ready to go.
Andy Ockershausen: We’ve had Arch. Arch is a very dear friend in the early days.
Oral Histories of Days Gone By in Broadcasting
Tom Buckley: I didn’t mention the oral histories I don’t think. I do oral histories with a lot of people. Me and a friend, James Snyder, and we go around and interview all these old broadcasters for three, four hours at a time. We used to do it at Channel 9. We’ve done Arch. We’ve done Count Gore de Vol.
Janice Iacona Ockershausen: You did Ed Walker. I saw that you did him.
Tom Buckley: Ed and Mac. We did them together. Mac McGarry’s snippet here, he’s the guy that signed off the Trans-Lux studio for the last time for WRC. He signed off the Sheraton Park for the last time.
Andy Ockershausen: Is that right? He did both?
Tom Buckley: He did both of those before they went over to Nebraska. One quick Nebraska, the oldest surviving video tape is the dedication of that building in 1958. When Eisenhower went over there and it was Sarnoff’s kid that hit the button and made it go color. That was before the color standards actually …
Andy Ockershausen: The Broadcast House?
Tom Buckley: No, it’s …
Janice Iacona Ockershausen: Channel 4.
Tom Buckley: Channel 4.
Andy Ockershausen: Oh, Channel 4, yeah.
Tom Buckley: Channel 4 on Nebraska Avenue.
Andy Ockershausen: When did Broadcast House come online?
The Broadcast House – 40th and Brandywine
Tom Buckley: The one floor building was built in 1949. It was one studio.
Andy Ockershausen: 40th and Brandywine.
Tom Buckley: 40th and Brandywine. Then in 54, that was the first building designed for AM and FM and television broadcasting in Washington. That was in 54. That was when we got the three studios. Radio was up on the third floor. That was a palace. Eddie Gallaher was the one that opened that up. That’s on Vimeo. The opening of Broadcast House is on that. We also just resurrected, real quick, Channel 5s from 1964. The old production manager had the reel at home, a two-inch video tape. We got it digitized. Kluge is there. Instead of opening a ribbon, they cut a two-inch video tape. You see the studios and that’s been where the Kings of Kids shows. You see Ms. Connie Studio.
Andy Ockershausen: What a library.
Tom Buckley: Then Captain Tugg and Countdown Carnival. Then the Three Stooges.
Andy Ockershausen: Herb Davis Show.
Tom Buckley: Herb Davis was on 20 a lot. Herb Davis was another big one, easy radio, easy communication.
Andy Ockershausen: He was on 5 for a while. Well Tom this has been so, so important that we’ve had this conversation, because you’re such a fountain. I hope people will know how to contact you.
To Donate Broadcast Memorabilia – Contact Tom Buckley
Tom Buckley: Right. You would contact me, my email is firstname.lastname@example.org. It’s E-Y-E-O-N-D-C. Most of the material we get are from talents, sons and daughters, people around in the business. They have stuff maybe in the closet. “I don’t know what this is.”
Andy Ockershausen: There’s probably a lot of that.
Tom Buckley: A lot of that. There’s people, there’s stuff all around. Gil Cowley, does that ring a bell? Art director at 7 in the early 70s. He has got a bunch-
Andy Ockershausen: I remember that name, yes, yes.
Tom Buckley: He has a bunch of stuff. He’s moving-
Andy Ockershausen: We had the bowling alley.
Tom Buckley: Yeah, it was championship bowling. He’s got a bunch of stuff in his house that he’s getting ready to move to West Virginia, so I’m getting together with him in the next couple of weeks to salvage this stuff.
Andy Ockershausen: You’re going to go broke Buckley, until you get a sponsor.
Tom Buckley: Well, I’ve been waiting for my genius grant to come through, but I don’t know why it hasn’t.
Andy Ockershausen: Maybe we could tap in to Ernie Baur. He knows where all the money is.
Tom Buckley: Well he does, yeah. The problem is, having to work for a living gets in the way. I need to be just doing this full time, but I can’t afford to at this point.
Andy Ockershausen: It’s your life now.
Preserving Archives from TV Stations
Tom Buckley: Yeah, it kind of is. I was on the NATAS Board of Governors and involved in Gold and Silver Circles. I’m working to figure out how we’re going to preserve the archives from all the TV stations. I’ve been working with WETA the last couple years. Washington in the 90s, they’re doing a special, flashbacks. We provide most of the video on that. I did Washington in the 80s with them. The problem is, when somebody calls and needs information, they don’t know who to contact, and now they’re contacting me, and I’m trying to figure out who’s got what.
Andy Ockershausen: Lay them over.
Tom Buckley: We’ve got everything that has been on our air since about 1976.
Janice Iacona Ockershausen: Do you have space at the NAB or anything like that, in their new building?
Tom Buckley: No, no. A lot of this stuff is over in Maryland, at the Library of American Broadcasting in College Park. They have the pre-1964 PBS stuff. They’ve got Arch’s files. They’ve got Godfrey’s files. Papers and memorabilia and tapes goes out there. Station material, like stuff people can see, logos and mike flags and stuff like that, we go out to Bowie, the National Capital Radio and Television Museum, and that’s out there. You can go and see old TVs and radios. They’ve got a lot of Harden and Weaver stuff. There’s some Harden and Weaver cut outs and the Harden and Weaver sailor hat. I just gave them some Channel 9 stuff. You want to see the stuff from the stations.
Janice Iacona Ockershausen: We have to go over there. Andy and I have to go over there.
Andy Ockershausen: Yeah, we’ll go to the library. I’d like to see that.
Janice Iacona Ockershausen: Me too.
Andy Ockershausen: Yeah. Anyway, this has been a fabulous conversation. You blow my mind with your knowledge, because you’re dropping names that I know so well. I would never have thought of, like Art Lamb, who was a very dear friend. He started Channel 5.
Pat Priest and Others Got Their Start on TV in Our Town
Tom Buckley: Pat Priest, does that name mean anything to you?
Andy Ockershausen: Not really. At least the AG was his foil.
Tom Buckley: Pat Priest was the second Marilyn Munster on The Munsters. Okay. She started on the Art Lamb show in the 50s as one of the girl singers. She was singing on that show and she was in town because her mother was the United States Treasurer under Eisenhower.
Andy Ockershausen: Oh my God.
Tom Buckley: They lived in Arlington. She wanted to break into showbiz in the worst way. After Eisenhower’s administration they went to Hollywood. She was Marilyn Munster for about two and a half, three years. I was going through old TV guides, because that’s one of the things that we do. This right here, old TV guides was a law firm, had leather bound volumes of old TV Guides.
Andy Ockershausen: Oh my God, that’s a history in itself.
Tom Buckley: Bob Bell, at his own expense, he bought the mall. It was well into five figures. We have this reference material.
Andy Ockershausen: What a reference material.
Tom Buckley: I was just going through it and there’s a full page for Art Lamb session on Channel 5 and Pat Priest. It kind of looked like her. I went around the internet and looked for it. Then, we find an interview that Count Gore de Vol did with her at some autograph convention seven or eight years ago. She tells her story about growing up in DC. There’s so many stories like that. Godfrey started out in DC and Jimmy Dean and all of these people that became national stars that were once local guys.
Andy Ockershausen: There are a million stories in the naked city.
Tom Buckley: There you go.
Janice Iacona Ockershausen: Give us your email address again.
Tom Buckley: Yeah, the email is email@example.com. It’s E-Y-E-O-N-D-C. If you just search TomBuckley9 on Facebook, you can find me on Facebook.
Andy Ockershausen: You’ll find Tom Buckley.
Tom Buckley: I’d send me messages. I’d give the phone number, but you know.
Andy Ockershausen: Nobody wants a phone anymore.
Rhea Feikin – Chesapeake Collectibles
Tom Buckley: Right yeah, nobody does. That’s true. I did a segment—another quick story—on Chesapeake collectibles. Rhea Feikin came down to my house and we did a segment on my TV collection and memorabilia and stuff. I’ve gotten some stuff from people who’ve seen me on that, from our old Channel 2 executive.
Andy Ockershausen: I bet Henry’s got stuff in his basement.
Janice Iacona Ockershausen: I’ll bet he does too.
Andy Ockershausen: We can pass it on. Buckley, you’re great. Thank you for doing this. Let’s keep hope alive. We’re going to do another series. I don’t know when we’re going to start it, but you got more information.
Tom Buckley: We could do some radio. We could do like the old days of AM radio and the Beltway.
Janice Iacona Ockershausen: It’s so interesting.
Tom Buckley: All of that stuff. I’m happy to come back any time.
Andy Ockershausen: I know you will, but you got all that knowledge to keep you going. We’ll see if we got some friends that got some stuff in their library.
Janice Iacona Ockershausen: Collections, yeah.
Tom Buckley: Yeah, so let’s rattle the cages and see what drops out. We don’t want it to be thrown away.
Andy Ockershausen: Buckley, you’re a good man, and this has been Our Town …
Janice Iacona Ockershausen: Thank you Tom.
Andy Ockershausen: … with Andy Ockershausen and the history of Radio and Television in our Nation’s Capitol.
Announcer: You’ve been listening to Our Town, season three, presented by GEICO, our home town favorite, with your host Andy Ockershausen. New Our Town episodes are released each Tuesday and Thursday. Drop us a line with your comments or suggestions. See us on Facebook or visit our website at outtowndc.com. Our special thanks to Ken Hunter our technical director and WMAO Radio in Washington D.C. for hosting our podcast. Thanks to GEICO. 15 minutes can save you 15% or more on car insurance.
Aubrey Brickhouse says
I was browsing to see if I could find information one Herb Griffith, Jr who worked in the late 1940’s and early 1951 or so at WTOP and then established an AM Station in Milford Delaware. He also brought along with him Borden Smith. Both are long deceased but I worked for them in 1964 -1966 at WKSB right after I got out of the Airforce.