Broadcast Pioneers member Harold J. Pannepacker
WPTZ, Channel 3
January 1, 1947
We have found this text in the files of the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia. It dates from June 6, 1951. We have not been able to determine what this was exactly. It seems like it was a speech or address that Penny made. Anyone know more about this? Please let us know, if you do.
WPTZ, Philadelphia, first went on the air on June 28, 1932. It was then known as Station W3XE, the experimental television station of the Philco Corporation. It was housed and operated in the Philco plant at C & Tioga Streets, Philadelphia.
The station was granted its original commercial license in September, 1941 (9-16-41), when the FCC first began issuing such licenses to television stations. WPTZ was one of the first stations in America to receive a commercial license. Call letters were changed from W3XE to WPTZ when the commercial license was granted.
Regular program service was begun on WPTZ, or W3XE as it was then called, two years before the station was granted its commercial license. This was in 1939. In the same year, the station became the first affiliate of the NBC Television Network. WPTZ used to pick NBC television programs off the air at its transmitter and rebroadcast them throughout the Philadelphia area. The Philadelphia area at that time had approximately 150 television receivers in use. The majority of these sets were in the homes of television manufacturing company officials, station executives and a small number in public places for demonstration purposes. Films and local studio shows, usually of the dramatic or demonstration type, comprised the program schedule.
Although the WPTZ commercial license was granted in September, 1941 and it issued its first rate card immediately afterward, it was in May of 1946 that it carried its first commercial such as we know them today.
World War II broke across America only three months after WPTZ had been granted its first commercial license and the station, like the few others then in operation, was forced to curtail its plans for commercial television. Since television receiver expansion was impossible because no companies were producing sets, WPTZ moved its operations to its transmitter site in Wynmoor, Pa., and confined it programming activities to films, a few shows from New York, and remote programs like football, parades, and sporting events in Philadelphia.
The first WPTZ rate card was released co-incident with the station’s getting its commercial license in September, 1941. It was not until February 1, 1942, that a formal printed rate card was released to advertising agencies. This, like the working draft preceding it, called for a time rate of $60.00 per hour, $30.00 per half-hour, and $15.00 per quarter hour. The card allowed for one hour of rehearsal time for each fifteen minutes of purchased program time. There were no time classes, charges being the same regardless of the hour of the day or night. Since most telecasting was confined to the 7:00 to 10:00 p.m. period, with the exception of football broadcasts and similar events, the lack of time brackets in 1941 was not the factor it would be under today’s television. It is interesting to note that the original WPTZ rate card made no provisions for one minute, twenty second or ten-second commercial announcements. Presumably the $1.00 per minute charge would have been pro rated had some farsighted advertiser questioned about using such announcement spots. No one did.
As a matter of fact, because of the war and the scarcity of sets, there was practically no commercial activity in television, and very little experimentation in television on the part of advertisers in the Philadelphia area, with the exception of the Atlantic Refining Company.
WPTZ began televising the Penn home games in ...1940 (10-5-40), when it presented the Penn-Maryland game, the opening clash of that season. It has presented every Penn game played at home since that time, the oldest continuous sports event in television. Atlantic Refining Company, which then as now sponsored the radio broadcasts of the Penn games, joined forces with WPTZ in 1941. Atlantic Refining supplied the announcers, spotters and incidental expenses, while WPTZ furnished the installation, equipment, crews and facilities to telecast the Penn games. Slide and announcement commercials were used by the Atlantic Refining Company during the games. There were, remember, only about 200 sets throughout the area at that time.
WPTZ, through its parent company, the Philco Corporation, arranged to have television sets installed in places where the public and the advertising fraternity could see the telecasts of the Penn games. Receivers were placed in such Philadelphia locations as country clubs, popular restaurants and taverns, store windows and advertising clubs. There, each Saturday afternoon during the fall, the public could see the Penn game and become acquainted with television as an entertainment vehicle, while potential clients could learn about it as an advertising medium. WPTZ, despite the limited television audience, televised the Penn games right through the war years and continued it association with Atlantic.
The WPTZ-Atlantic Refining Company cooperative venture was one of the first cases in television where a recognized advertiser joined with a station for experimental commercial telecasting. While WPTZ received no direct revenue for the Atlantic football games, the oil company did encounter several charges which otherwise would have had to have been paid by the station. Furthermore, WPTZ learned many of the commercial techniques which have today become standard practices in the industry.
In September of 1946, the Atlantic Refining Company signed as formal sponsors of the Penn games on WPTZ and the company still continues to sponsor Penn football on WPTZ exclusively. In 1947, Atlantic, which also sponsored the radio broadcasts of the Philadelphia Athletics and Phillies games, added WPTZ’s telecasts of the big league baseball games to its advertising schedule.
The WPTZ-Atlantic Refining Company association, by the way, is the longest unbroken station-client association in the television industry.
The first fully sponsored program on WPTZ was presented on May 29, 1946, by Gimbel Brothers Department Store, a client that still uses the station. The show was called “All Eyes on Gimbels.” It began at 8:01 pm and ended at 8:34. WPTZ’s regular custom in those days was to have an announcer outline the evening programs from 8:00 to 8:01. The fact that the show ran four minute over did not particularly concern anyone, since television in those days was not as conscious of the hour and half-hour station break or program termination as its radio brothers, today’s telecasters.
”All Eyes on Gimbels” was a two part program. Jane King, well-known local actress, presented the first segment from 8:01 to 8:11. She demonstrated and displayed merchandise on sale in the Gimbel Brothers’ store and talked about the store’s beauty shop service. The main commercial, if such could be called the case in this instance, was for Gimbel’s beauty shop service. Miss King, as well as several store models, was seen in a new Gimbel coiffure and viewers were invited to come to the store and have their hair styled by Gimbel’s experts. It is worth noting that although there were only 756 sets in the Philadelphia area at that time, May, 1946, Gimbels reported 23 customers came into its beauty salon because of the telecast.
The second part of the program, which ran from 8:11 to 8:34 featured Uncle Wip, the Gimbel Brothers kiddie character, and a group of his talented youngsters. The children sang and danced and displayed their talents. Uncle Wip sang and told stories to the kiddies in the audience.
The Philadelphia department store bears the honor of being the oldest, continuous sponsor in television in the country. During April of 1951 it began its 5th year of unbroken weekly sponsorship of “The Handy Man” program with a special program featuring WPTZ veterans, Dr. Roy E. Marshall, Roy Neal and George Skinner as guests of ‘Handy Man’ Jack Creamer. Creamer missed only one broadcast during the four and a quarter years span. He cut his hand preparing for the show two years ago and Skinner had to substitute for him. Dr. Marshall and Roy Neal were doing WPTZ programs at the time Gimbels first picked up sponsorship of the “Handy Man” and thus attended the anniversary party celebrating four consecutive years of sponsorship.
Programming at the time Gimbels sponsored the first fully commercial show on WPTZ was confined mostly between the hours of 7:30 and 9:30 or 10:00 p.m., with the late night being Fridays when the Madison Square Garden boxing bouts were televised, programs then ran to 11:00 o’clock. Gillette, then as now, sponsored the telecasts. WPTZ, which was one of two cities outside New York carrying the fights, carried the broadcasts on an experimental basis.
The fights then as now, were a strong television attraction. Films were used for the heaviest part of the schedule and locally produced plays carried the bulk of the live productions. WPTZ used to carry several of the shows presented by WNBT, New York and a Thursday night program was sponsored by Chase and Sanborn. In this case, WPTZ televised the commercial show receiving rates revenue from the client.
No programs were carried on Sunday and Tuesday evenings, now probably the best television nights in the week. WPTZ averaged about 11 hours of programming a week during its five day transmitting schedule.
Back in 1941 when WPTZ issued its first rate card, a sponsor was charged a bit differently than he is under today’s television standards.
In addition to the $60.00 an hour time charge, WPTZ had studio charges. These were $75.00 an hour for the main studio, $40.00 an hour for the small studio and the same charge for the film studio. Thus were a sponsor to present an hour, live commercial program, he would have paid $60.00 for time and $75.00 for use of the mains studio. These studio charges were pro rated at $45 per half-hour and $30.00 for fifteen minutes’ use of the main studio, and $30.00 and $20.00 for a half-hour or fifteen minutes’ use of the small or film studio. Remember, however, that a sponsor’s $60.00 time purchase also entitled him to four hours of rehearsal time. Today clients pay for all rehearsal time at WPTZ and most other television stations.
Studio equipment at WPTZ included two cameras, five microphone channels, turntables for auxiliary sound, and lighting equipment for simultaneous production from multiple sets.
Remote equipment consisted of a two camera pick-up, four microphone positions and auxiliary sound facilities, if needed. The film studio handled both 16mm and 35mm projection.
Production charges for sets, talent, script and film rights, etc., were quoted by program. Commercial time, then as now, was commissionable to recognized agencies.
Down through its 19 years of television WPTZ had led the way in many of the innovations that today are considered standards of the industry. The station was the first to demonstrate the 441 line picture back in 1937 and in 1940 it demonstrated the 525 line picture which the FCC later set as the standard.
In 1940, WPTZ televised the entire Republican National Convention which was held in Philadelphia. The station was on the air for a total of 62 hours during the week Wendell Wilkie won the Republican nomination for the Presidency. This was quite an accomplishment for a television station at that time. The republican Convention by the way, was the first remote program televised over WPTZ.
On May 25, 1944, WPTZ cooperated with WNBT, New York, in presenting the first successful light-of-sight television relay between New York and Philadelphia. Eddie Cantor, who presumably made his television debut last year, starred in the special dedicatory program that was fed from New York to Philadelphia.
The next year, April 17, 1945, saw WPTZ succeed in bringing the first television program ever televised from Washington, D.C. to Philadelphia. Paul A. Porter, the chairman of the FCC, Dr. Karl T. Compton, president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and chairman of the Research Board for National Security, and John Ballantyne, president of the Philco Corporation, participated in the history making program. A multiple relay television network developed by Philco was employed in making the event possible, quite an accomplishment at that time.
Back in August of 1941, WPTZ made a three camera, remote pick-up of a baseball game, probably the first time all the diamond action ever had been televised. Other highlights of WPTZ’s 1941 activity included the first telecast of Philadelphia’s six hour long Mummer’s parade and outstanding sporting events such as the Penn Relay games and television’s first indoor sporting events which originated from the Arena in Philadelphia.
From its earliest days in television WPTZ’s growth was guided by a group of Philco executives known as the program committee. Ernest B. Loveman, then advertising manager of Philco, headed this committee. Following the war, when television sets began to go into production, Loveman was appointed Vice President and General Manager of the Philco Television Broadcasting Corporation, operator of WPTZ, and assigned the task of developing the station in the commercial television field. This was in 1945. Loveman named Rolland V. Tooks assistant General Manager in charge of programs. The pair have directed WPTZ continuously since 1945.
Alexander J. Dannebaum, Jr., was named commercial manager of WPTZ in 1948. WPTZ is represented national by NBC Spot Sales.
Raymond C. Bowley, chief engineer, has been actively associated with the station since 1933. Several of the engineers at WPTZ also have long associations with the station, as do many employees in the programming and other departments.
From the official archives of the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia
Photo originally donated from the station archives of KYW-TV, CBS 3 in Philadelphia
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