The Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia is a federally recognized, state chartered charity. We are a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation serving Philadelphia since 1962.

Frank Stone
Newsletter Editor

Annual Evening Banquet
Bala Golf Club
Friday, November 20, 2009

Reception at 6 pm
Dinner at 7 pm
Payment in advance required
Member only: - $70 each
Everyone else - $90 each
Tables of 10 - $900 per table

Join us for a festive and memorable star-studded evening in celebration of our 2009 Person of the Year and the Hall of Fame inductees in support of the Broadcast Pioneers scholarship program. Early indicators are this year's banquet is headed for a sell out. Don’t be left out. Make your reservation now by sending your check to Broadcast Pioneers, P.O. Box 2886, Bala Cynwyd, PA 19004. That's the only way you can reserve.

The 2009 banquet will take place at the beautiful Bala Golf Club, 2200 Belmont Avenue in Philadelphia! Just minutes away from Channels 6, 10 and 17 and the radio stations in Bala Cynwyd. This banquet is sure to be another historic evening highlighting the careers and accomplishments of legends in our industry. Be a part of history in the making, so you can say, "I was there!"

Our Person of the Year is:

Bill Wright, Sr.
July 21, 2009
Photo by Broadcast Pioneers Board Member Bob Kravitz

Bill Wright, Sr., former WIBBAGE "Good Guy" & WPEN jock

Our 8 inductees into our "Hall of Fame" will be:

Elliot Abrams, Accu-Weather's Senior VP, mornings on KYW Newsradio
Joanne Calabria, VP of Public Affairs for CBS 3 and the CW Philly 57
Renee Chenault-Fattah, co-anchor of the NBC 10 News at 11 o'clock
Mort Crim, former "Eyewitness News" TV Anchor on KYW-TV, Channel 3
Gene London, former Philadelphia TV Children's Celebrity and Host
Al Meltzer, sports director/anchor and play-by-play on Channels 3, 6, 10 & 17
Irv Ross, Channel 6's very first Director of Engineering, there for 50 years
Lisa Thomas-Laury, 6ABC "Action News" Co-Anchor and Reporter

We will also be inducting 12 persons into our "Hall of Fame" posthumously. They are:

Joey Bishop, nationally known comedian from South Philly
Jay Cook, former Program Director & Boss Jock at WFIL, Famous 56
Hugh Gannon, former sportscaster for WCAU (Radio & TV) and Prism
Powers Gouraud, the ol' nightowl, who ruled the airwaves in the 30s & 40s
Florence Hanford, Philly's pioneering TV chef who started in 1947
Wally Kinnan, the Weather Man, the city's well loved meteorologist
Siani Lee, former news anchor on WCAU, NBC 10 and CBS3 (KYW-TV)
Tony Mammarella, the producer for ABC-TV's "American Bandstand"
Jack McKinney, the telephone talk show host on both TV and radio
Jack Pyle, air personality extraordinaire for Philadelphia broadcasting
George Thomas, former announcer for the WCAU broadcast stations
Long John Wade, the pleasing voice of WFIL, Famous 56 and WIBG Radio

(Left to right) Jack McKinney and Alvin Green
Painesville, Ohio
June 1, 1963

Tickets are on sale now. Members can buy a ticket for themselves at $70. For spouses, friends and everyone else, tickets are $90 each. This annual banquet/fundraiser benefits our scholarship program. In April 2009, we awarded $12,000 (funds were raised at last year's banquet) in scholarships to area communications, media and broadcasting students. Cash bar throughout the evening and valet parking available plus plenty of free parking on the top lot. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO BE A MEMBER TO ATTEND!

Indications are this year is going to be another blockbuster SELLOUT! Be sure to make your reservations NOW by sending in the reservation form and your payment. This is an event you don't want to miss. The banquet is a consistent memory maker, bringing together broadcast legends past, present and future! If you want to be part of this history making event, be there! The room will be filled with the movers and shakers of Philadelphia broadcasting. It's a WHO'S WHO of Delaware Valley Radio and Television. The Reservation card is available here! Not sure what to expect? Check here! Don't miss this one, or your friends will tell you about it.

Visit Our Website Often -


On Wednesday October 21st, Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia presented the “Stone Age Dick Clark,” Ed Hurst with a Rock and Roll Songfest. It all took place at the beautiful Bala Golf Club.

Ed’s guests were Danny & The Juniors, Billy Harner, Kenny Jeremiah (of the Soul Survivors), Billy Carlucci (of “Billy and the Essentials”) and Nicky DeMatteo. Included was a tribute to Jim Nettleton, one of the original Famous 56 Boss Jocks, who passed away earlier in the month from cancer. Live on the phone was Broadcast Pioneers member and former Boss Jock George Michael. Jim’s son, Todd Nettleton also said a few words.

It was an amazing afternoon of 21 great songs and lasting memories. The audience was continually on their feet clapping to the beat, dancing and cheering as the “hit songs” brought everyone back to their teen years as we re-lived the ageless hits of these famous performers who electrified and energized the room and the nation.

Special thanks to Pioneers member and sound expert Dave Michaels for keeping it all together and providing everyone the opportunity to “hear” the historic performances and the ageless commentary of Ed Hurst. Also, kudos go to member Bill Gellhaus who records each of our lunches for our DAP, Digital Archival Project.


“Thanks to the Broadcast Pioneers, we keep the 45’s alive.” Tom Lamaine

“One of the best programs ever, and that includes the WIBAGE reunion.” Bill Wright, Sr.

“WOW! I felt like I was 15 again.” Mike Nise

“A fabulous afternoon.” Paul Big Bear

“ I think this is great. Everybody’s staying and having such a great time…they love it.” Nancy Boyd (Server Bala Golf Club)

“Great show, can’t get it any better. Gerry did a hell of a job.” Billy Carlucci

“This is the best damn luncheon I’ve ever attended. This is what our luncheons are really all about.” Tom Moran

“It was glorious, like stepping back into history.” Nicky DeMatteo

“The finest Pioneers luncheon we’ve ever had. The place was jumping.” Ed Hurst

Did you know...

Broadcast Pioneers member Bill Wright, Sr. and his daughter, Kelly
WABT-TV, Channel 13, Birmingham, Alabama

The Philadelphia market has had many hosts of children's programs. There was Sally Starr, Captain Noah, Pixanne, Gene London, Chief Halftown, Happy the Clown, Uncle Pete Boyle, Rex Trailer, Buckskin Billy, Wee Willie Webber, Carny the Clown and Sawdust Sam just to name a few.

Well, there's one name that's missing from that list and he's Bill Wright, Sr. We all know that Wright was a very popular kids' show host in Birmingham, Alabama on Channel 13, WABT-TV. He ruled the market in the mid-fifties.

His kids' show experience started in radio as "Cousin Bill" on the "Miss Anne and the Comics" radio program. Wright was also doing MC work live at the Mickey Mouse Club at the Alabama Theater in downtown Birmingham.

Cousin Cliff Holman at far left with Bill Wright, Sr. in the center
WABT-TV, Channel 13, Birmingham, Alabama

Wright's program was entitled, "Uncle Bill's Fun Shop" and had kids in the live audience. In the show's opening, "Uncle Bill" arrived at the station in a 1921 Model T Ford called "Bouncalot." It was purchased at a nearby used car lot for $300 and was also used for Bill's personal appearances.

Shortly after "Fun Shop" came on the air, they did a second show at noon called, "Snicker Flickers" where they played old silent comedies. There was piano music in the background played by Professor Huel Murphy and Bill did the narration. He did the show for about two years before returning to radio at WBRC, which was owned by Storer Broadcasting. Wright did the morning radio program and then in the afternoons, he did TV on "Uncle Bill and Spooky." He did the broadcasts for about a half year and then came to Philadelphia to work for the Storer station here, WIBG.

(Left to right) Bill Wright, Sr., and Bill Wright, Jr.
WABT-TV, Channel 13, Birmingham, Alabama

But that's not the end of the story. "Uncle Pete Boyle," a beloved figure in Philly television was hired by Channel 12, WVUE-TV when Storer Broadcasting took over the station. When the television station was sold to Storer, WIBG Radio was tossed in to "sweeten the deal."

Bill comes to Philly and becomes a huge success on WIBBAGE with friends Joe Niagara and Hy Lit. They ruled the Philly radio airwaves.

While radio was making a ton of money for Storer, they were losing their shirts on the TV side. In a belt tightening move, Pete Boyle was let go by Channel 12 and replaced by someone Storer already had on the payroll, Bill Wright, Sr.

Wright did a Philly version of his successful Alabama show, "Uncle Bill's Fun Shop." Besides appealing to the teenage and young adult market when on the radio , Bill now had a TV vehicle for the teenyboppers. Harry Haas, former President of our organization, was one of Bill's camera operators.

The show last about a half year and by then, Storer had decided that they just couldn't make any money running an independent television station in Philadelphia. Even though it was licensed to Wilmington, the station had studios in Suburban Station in Center City Philly. Storer turned their TV license back to the FCC and "Uncle Bill" and everything else on WVUE-TV simply disappeared when they went off the air.


On Saturday October 24th, we held our 8th annual Broadcast Pioneers Symposium hosted by CBS 3/The CW Philly 57. Sixty-seven college students experienced first hand the workings of a major market television station. We had a distinguished panel of six experts in the field of broadcasting with the event moderated by Chairman of the Board of Broadcast Pioneers, Bill “Wee Willie” Webber. Extra special thanks to Joanne Calabria, Vice-President of Public Affairs for the CBS Television Stations Group.


We mourn the loss of Broadcast Pioneers member Richard Boone who passed away on October 7th. He will be missed by family, friends, fellow members and his former co-workers at WPVI-TV.


For the eighth straight year, Broadcast Pioneers Vice-President Kal Rudman has provided a complete hot meal for police and fire personnel at an Eagles game. Kal has some high level assistance with the help of the Fire Commissioner and Police Commissioner handing out the food. Kal says, “It’s become a tradition… We make sure everybody gets fed…and they don’t have to stand in a concession line or search for other alternatives.” A recent letter to the Philadelphia Inquirer said, “I’m glad somebody besides the family cares about our husbands, sons, …” Keep up the good work, Kal!

Broadcast Pioneer member Elaine Skypala (former producer of Captain Noah and His Magical Ark) has checked in to tell us about a “huge retirement party at Memorial Hall/Please Touch Museum for their retiring CEO Nancy Kolb. Captain and Mrs. Noah had a constant flow of well-wishers stop by their table for photos. Practically every adult in the room had been a viewer of the show and had fond memories to share. A few of them said they were still waiting almost 40 years later to see their drawing shown on the “Send Your Picture” segment.” Thanks for the news, Elaine!

Watch a Captain Noah "Send Your Picture" segment from 1993!

After a 37-year relationship with WSNJ Radio in Bridgeton, NJ, Broadcast Pioneers member Jonathan P. Casey has moved to WVLT, Cruisin' 92.1 FM as News Director and talk show host. Plans are in the works to resume his popular music shows and his “Legends Show” which has included interviews with many members of the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia. Jonathan is no stranger to 92.1 FM. He did afternoon drive there in 1978 when it was WDVL. Best of luck Jonathan. Have Fun!

Broadcast Pioneers Secretary Carol Leebron’s son David, who is Rice University President, was presented with the Ambassador of Exploration Award (which was presented posthumously to President John F. Kennedy) by Johnson Space Center Director Mike Coats on October 10th during half-time ceremonies at a Rice vs. Navy football game. The Kennedy family has selected Rice University to house and publicly display the award at Fondren Library. During a speech at Rice University on September 12, 1962, President Kennedy called for a national initiative to go to the moon. Congratulations Carol and President Leebron. What an honor!

As a follow-up to his performance at the October luncheon, member Kenny Jeremiah and the Jeremiah Hunter Band will be performing at Harrah’s Casino in the Eden Lounge in Atlantic City on Tuesday, November 3rd and Wednesday, November 18th, from 8 pm to 11:45 pm. More at:


The Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia is pleased and proud to welcome nine new members this month!

(Left to right) Don Lancer and Meg Bowden
WOLF Radio, Syracuse

Don Lancer began his broadcast career in 1964 at WIFE, Indianapolis, Indiana, moving to WOLF in Syracuse and then to WKBW, Buffalo, New York and on to KYW Newsradio in Philadelphia in 1970. Don has been described as the “dean” of KYW Newsradio serving as business and financial editor for more than a quarter century. He has won several awards including AP Award for first place in public affairs in major markets. Listen to a complete 1971 KYW Newsradio, Don Lancer newscast.

Skip Clayton started in the business in 1962 at WRCV Radio along with stops at WPBS Radio, where he was music programmer and producer of Jack Pyle’s “Saturday Night Big Band Wagon,” WRCP Radio as Music and Public Service Director and KYW Radio. For the past 12 years, he has hosted “Racing Wrap” on WBCB Radio, member Merrill Reese's station in Levittown.

Lawana Scales began her television career 37 years ago at WCAU-TV in Human Resources for 12 years before moving into programming at NBC 10. She has received numerous awards including 9 Emmys, 2 Telly Awards, National Parent Choice Award, 2 Angel Awards and 6 PAB Awards. A sampling of her many productions include the Longwood Gardens Holiday Magic Special, Broadway Philly Style, and annual specials produced in conjunction with the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Melanie Capoferri started performing as a child in local theaters in 1962, and solo appearances on the Gene London Show over several years. She is a professional soloist/vocalist and has been a private instructor to Broadway professionals such as Hugh Panaro. Presently she is on the musicians board with the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and conducts a variety of workshops.

Vibiana Bowman Cvetkovic started in the industry in 1998. She is a highly regarded educator at Rutgers University (16 years) focusing on areas of research, writing and communications. Among the extensive list of publications she has authored include: "The Rise and Fall of Television" and "Satellite Television Broadcasting: Timeline." Currently, she is Reference Librarian and Web Administrator at the Paul Robeson Library, Rutgers University, Camden. She will soon author her Ph.d thesis, “The History of Television.”

Hillary Hickmott Baker began in the business in 1979 as a high school intern at WIFI, 92 FM. While attending Temple University, she worked for SUNNY 104.5 and then she went on to other Philadelphia radio stations including WFLN and WXPN. Currently, She is at WHYY (TV and radio) where she is a manager and is responsible for the stations' corporate underwriting.

Ken Jeremiah is a legendary performer and recording artist. His career dates back to the 60’s as lead singer for the “Soul Survivors,” receiving a gold record for their hit, “Expressway To Your Heart.” He has toured with the Beach Boys & Buffalo Springfield, Smokey Robinson & The Miracles plus Flip Wilson. TV performances include the Joey Bishop Show, The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, the Hollywood Pallace, Hullabaloo and American Bandstand. Most recently, he became co-host of WKTU's Oldies “Jammin' Sunday Night” with Broadcast Pioneers board member Mike Brooks.

Don Hurley a retired Atlantic City police officer, started in the business in 1994 as Talk Radio Host on WFPG, Atlantic City. He moved on to Suburban Television with a live cable talk show. He continued as a radio talk show host and in 2005 became host of “Classic Rock Memories” on WIBG Radio in Ocean City, NJ. Most recently, he is producer for Ed Hurst's "The Steel Pier Radio Show," WIBG Radio at the shore.

Nicky DeMatteo was singing at age 6 and received his first break at age 9 when he auditioned for the Horn and Hardart Children’s Hour, won and became a regular with the show for five years. He performed on the Arthur Godfrey show for a short time when it was discovered he was only 15 and not the required 16. Nicky began recording with many records over the years. They were given major local airplay, thanks primarily to WIBG powerhouse Bill Wright, Sr. Nicky performs Wednesday nights at Ventura’s restaurant in Voorhees, NJ.

Corrections: Last month we welcomed new member Monica Avery. An error in her bio stated that she started in the business in 1965. She actually began in the industry in 1994 and was pleased to let us know she wasn’t born until 1972! Also in our new membership directory, we identified the handsome young broadcaster speaking to Harold Stassen as Allen Stone, however, it was, in reality, Alan Scott.

A hearty WELCOME to each of our new members. We hope to see you at upcoming Broadcast Pioneers luncheons! By the way, that sets an all-time high in membership, now at 354. Each month, we keep on breaking the old records.


(Left to right - back row) Ava Gardner & Frank Sinatra
(front row) Broadcast Pioneers member Steve Sacks
November 7, 1951

Broadcast Pioneer member Steve Sacks has shared a little known story. Steve tells us that it was 58 years ago (November 7, 1951) when a historic event took place at his parents' house in West Mt. Airy, a quiet, private location, out of the “Philadelphia” spotlight. Turns out Steve’s father, Lester and his uncle Manie were good friends of Frank Sinatra. Steve was 11 years old at the time. Among the many guests at his home were Frank’s mother Natalie and father Martin. The ceremony was held in the living room with a buffet following, and Frank Sinatra and Ava Gardner were married. Due to limited space this is the short version. To hear the complete story, talk with Steve, the details are amazing!

Last month we reported on the passing of “Mr. Movie,” Steve Friedman. We heard from Broadcast Pioneers member Bobbie Shaffner who was a faithful listener of Steve’s “Movie Night.” Both Bobbie and Steve were fans of the late Van Johnson. When Van Johnson passed away at 92 (last year), there was an outpouring of nostalgia for him. “Mr. Movie” picked up on this and was taking calls. Shaffner was one of his last callers, on what was to be his last broadcast, Saturday September 12, 2009. She tells us, “Steve sounded so up and natural, it is now hard to believe he is gone.”

Special thanks to Broadcast Pioneers member David Custis who provided CDs at the October luncheon of “Honor Roll Hits” hosted by Joe Niagara (a member of the Broadcast Pioneers) from June 23, 1958 and promos for "Your Hit Parade” and “Billboard” Radio programs. Dave has an amazing library of music that is unmatched! If it exists, Dave has it! Thanks Dave!

Our Chairman of the Board, Wee Willie Webber, has some late breaking news for us. Beginning Monday, November 9th, his WHAT Radio program expands to two hours and will be heard Monday through Friday mornings from 10 am to 12 noon. That's twice as much Bill Webber. Does that mean he's now 13 feet tall?

Our Person of the Year for 2009, Bill Wright, Sr. will be the guest this Saturday, November 7th on the "Remember When" broadcast on WPHT Radio from 11 pm to 1 am. The hosts are Broadcast Pioneers members Steve Ross & Jim Murray.

Member Karen Scioli (Stella from Saturday Night Dead) informs us that she has all 141 of her television shows on the original tape masters. We have been promised that we will be able to archive all the programs in a digital format as part of our DAP, Digital Archival Project. Saturday Night Dead premiered on KYW-TV 25 years old last month. Watch the show's opening!

Please note that our next luncheon, Wednesday, December 16th, will feature Broadcast Pioneers member John Zacherle, who turned 91 years-old earlier this year. Make plans to be there. Watch excerpts from Shock Theatre on Friday, March 7, 1958 on WCAU-TV.

It's important that you keep us up to date with your contact information. Last month, we mailed out our new 2009 - 2010 membership directory and a bunch of them have been returned because of incorrect mailing addresses (mostly because the member has moved and didn't tell us). We also need a valid e-mail address so you can continue to receive this newsletter. Current phone numbers are also necessary so that if your address and e-mail are not correct, we can call you for the latest contact info. During these hard economic times, we are doing everything we can to keep our costs down (so we don't have to raise dues, luncheon prices and/or banquet ticket prices). This organization belongs to you. Please help us keep our costs down.

A final thought...

“It's impossible to reach good conclusions with bad information!”

Mort Crim

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