(Left to right) Richard W. Slocum, General Manager of the Evening Bulletin newspaper
G. Bennett Larson, Vice-President and Director of Television, WCAU-TV
Dr. Leon Levy, President and General Manager of the WCAU stations
unidentified camera operator
May 23, 1948

While WCAU-TV, Channel 10 in Philadelphia came on the air on March 15, 1948, the official opening of the station wasn't until Sunday, May 23, 1948. On that date, the station marked its formal debut with eleven hours of "special programs."

Over 1,000 people were at Channel 10's air-conditioned facilities in Center City at 1622 Chestnut Street for the event. Previously, the station was on the air "on an experimental basis" operating off of the station's CP or construction permit. The WCAU-TV signal went into Philadelphia homes by being transmitted from their 737 foot tower atop the PSFS building at 12th and Market Streets.

WCAU-TV kicked off its special programming at 1 pm with films and addresses from Bulletin newspaper and WCAU-TV leaders.

Richard W. Slocum, General Manager of the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin said on 5/23/48:

Today, we formally begin our television service and I can assure you that WCAU and its parent, The Bulletin, have gathered a staff of men and women whose purpose and desire are to bring you the finest, most interesting, wholesome and entertaining programs that it is possible to present.

Over the years the people have favored The Bulletin. They have made it the largest evening newspaper in America. What is more, they have given The Bulletin their complete confidence.

We are proud, and at the same time humble, that The Bulletin’s high standards make it a welcome visitor in every family, that it is respected for its fairness, and that the whole community relies on it for objective news gathering.

This is an honor, but it is also an obligation. The community may be sure that the same integrity and high standards, which have guided The Bulletin itself, will be the guiding forces in this new Bulletin service, WCAU Television.

WCAU-TV's President and General Manager, Dr. Leon Levy said:

Today marks another step in our continued advance. Unlike our earlier start, this time we have complete studio facilities, equipped with the most modern lighting effects and scenery, a transmitter containing the most advanced engineering design in the country, and atop the Philadelphia Saving Fund Building, the highest antenna in Philadelphia.

WCAU-TV, The Bulletin and the Columbia Broadcasting System combine to bring you the finest in programming, with a constantly increasing schedule of entertainment and education for every member of the family.

Other speakers included G. Bennett Larson, Vice-President and Director of Television and John G. Leitch, Technical Director of WCAU-TV.

On that Sunday, the opening programs included "The Children's Hour" hosted by Stan Lee Broza, our organization's first President. Another show was "The University of Pennsylvania's Forum" which was carried live over CBS-TV as part of "People's Platform." Channel 10 also broadcast the doubleheader from Shibe Park, a movie plus news, weather and sports programs.

The next day, Monday, May 24th, WCAU-TV began its regular broadcast schedule which included 28 hours of programs each week. It launched its regular programming lineup at 6:30 pm in what the station called "two years of planning, building and installing the most modern equipment."

A sidebar... On March 1, 1948, the Evening Bulletin in their TV listings section which was only two column inches long, listed WCAU-TV as being "on the air" from 8:30 am to 7:30 pm. There was no programming. They were airing only a test pattern.

From the official archives of the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia
Photo donated by Broadcast Pioneers member Gerry Wilkinson
Researched and compiled by Broadcast Pioneers member Gerry Wilkinson
© 2005, All Rights Reserved

The e-mail address of the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia is pioneers@broadcastpioneers.com