Wednesday, September 26, 1984 was a sad time for Philadelphians. It was the day that Broadcast Pioneers member John Facenda died.
Facenda was the dean of anchors in Philadelphia. His smile was as warm as his voice. When he delivered the news on WCAU-TV, you knew he was talking just to you. Even if you had never met John Facenda, you knew him.
The 24 hour news voice of Philadelphia, KYW Newsradio had a half-hour daily program at 4:30 pm called "Reporters' Roundup" hosted by Broadcast Pioneers member Bill Bransome. On that day, the subject was John Facenda. The clip is exactly as aired that day, commercials and all. You even hear Broadcast Pioneers member John Brown do two Shadow Traffic Reports and Broadcast Pioneers member Dick Covington doing the Station Identification at the beginning of the audio.
On this program, you'll hear Dick Paisley, member of the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia and former General Manager of WRCV Radio. You'll also hear Broadcast Pioneers member and former KYW Radio engineer Ralph "Bud" Galow. Broadcast Pioneers member Larry Litwin was a reporter during this time period at KYW Newsradio. He spoke with Broadcast Pioneers member Vince Leonard live from Arizona. Then, we hear from Broadcast Pioneers member Jack Whitaker, who did the sports on Facenda's WCAU-TV newscasts until Jack went to CBS in New York. Finally we hear the voice silenced that day, John Facenda. The voice was gone but the memory of this warm individual will live on forever in the hearts of Philadelphia.
Broadcast Pioneers member and anchor of Reporters' Roundup, Bill Bransome e-mailed: "John died on September 26, 1984. I had seen him the previous weekend at Fitzgerald Mercy Hospital. I knew he was terminal, but his passing came as a shock. I was really not prepared to talk about it on Roundup, and came close to breaking up. We had been good friends since my days at WCAU-AM. As you know, after his departure from Channel 10, he went on to great fame with NFL Films. He was a stickler for pronunciations, as I always was, and used to call me up at work when he would hear me say Nolette for Simon Nolet, a former Flyer, or minUScule for minuscule!!! We used to compare pronouncers over the phone. We never did agree on conSUMMate as the adjective. I think the people at NFL Films probably convinced him it was CONsummate. ...It was a sad day for me."
Broadcast Pioneers member Bud Galow (he's the engineer heard on the program) e-mailed: "The Reporters Roundup was a 5 day a week show that was as I remember was aired at 4:30 pm. The street reporters would come to the Studio and Bill Bransome would kind of M.C. the whole mess. I think the day Facenda died, Bransome would have been the main person having worked with John at 'CAU. I also had the pleasure of working with John for a few months. He was one of the kindest gentlemen I had the privilege of working with. One time management told some crews that they were being left go two weeks before Christmas but would be rehired after the new year. Facenda tried to help the crew out over the Holidays with money. Most of us did not take his cash. We came back about January 15th as if nothing had occurred."
It's 4:30 pm, Wednesday, September 26, 1984. The station is KYW Newsradio in Philadelphia. The newscaster was Bill Bransome. There is no one more professional in our industry than Bransome. However, if you listen carefully, you can hear his voice shake. Bill managed to control his composure throughout the broadcast, but it was rough going, he told us.
From the official archives of the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia
Audio & Photo originally donated by Broadcast Pioneers member Bill Bransome
Tape used to make clip was recorded by KYW Newsradio at their studios
Used with the permission and authority of KYW Newsradio, member Roy Shapiro, General Manager
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