50 Years of WTAE

There’s something about the month of August. Kelly and Demetrius as well as many of my friends werer born this month. Also born this month? A television station: WTAE-TV in 1958.

Tonight, we celebrate that conception 50 years ago with an hour-long special which airs this evening at 8pm. Produced by Rich Cook and hosted by Sally Wiggin, the show tells the story of WTAE from how it began in the late 50’s to its present day form and function. In between, an hour of memories, moments and nostalgia sure to remdind you why you fell in love with WTAE in the first place.

It’s hard to believe it’s been 50 years. Just think when this station started Ike was President, gas was much less than $1 a gallon and Pirates finished 14 games over .500. But I am reminded everyday about where this station has been over the past five decades. When you enter the lobby, there are pictures of the locally produced programs from years gone by, the newsroom from the 1970’s and Sally at Kennywood in 1980’s.

I am proud to be a very small part of this history, a history that I am reminded of juist about every day. Whether it’s a viewer telling me about the days of Paul Long and Adam Lynch, or people sharing with me their tales of the exploits of Myron Cope, we are not far away from this station’s past. In many ways, viewers passion for WTAE resembles that of the love of Pittsburgh sports. I mean where else but here can a viewer see those old promo spots ( the “Diner” spot for instance ) and then think they were meant to let viewers know Don Cannon was coming back to Channel 4.

Now I doubt myself or any of the current crew will be remembered quite like Joe DeNardo, Paul Long, etc. ( although I’m sure Sally has punched her ticket into the WTAE Hall of Fame ). It’s just a different time. No longer is WTAE one of only three choices for TV viewing. We live in the age of internet, cable and the digital world. However, we are playing a role in writing a new chapter in this station’s history. We are about to broadcast in High-Definition and I know in the past I have helped out in producing new programming both on the air and on-line.

In the end, I’m proud to have played a small part in this 50 years of broadcasting. I don’t expect to be in the 60th anniversary show ( unless I’m still working here ) and don’t need to be part of my nostalgia parade. I’m just happy that I have been able to help the tradition of community broadcasting going. A tradition that began before I was born and will certainly continue ( in a slightly different form ) when I move on.

Happy Birthday WTAE!

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