Did you know. . .
Graphic originally donated by Broadcast Pioneers member RJ, Ron Joseph
that there a Channel 17 in Philadelphia before WPHL-TV? Well, there was. It was WPCA-TV. David Stanislaw, a visitor to our website, worked at WPCA-TV and was the step-grandson of Wayne Cody, who portrayed “Uncle WIP” on WIP Radio. He wrote to us:
Saturday’s Channel 17 News Anchor David Stanislaw
A couple of historical points that need clarification. WPCA-TV was not Philadelphia’s first UHF television station; it was the city’s first commercial UHF outlet. In 1957, WHYY-TV started broadcasting on Channel 35, and that was UHF. Channel 35 during the first few years mainly broadcast during the day, telecasting educational programs and courses to the children attending Philadelphia’s Public School System. The school TV sets had UHF converters (so that they could receive Channel 35). Of course, when the school day was over, the buildings were locked with the converters inside. So, it is also a true statement that hardly anyone in the general population had UHF converters on their sets or even knew what they were.
The “Uncle WIP” show started on radio in 1922. However, Wayne didn’t start to portray the popular kiddie host until ten years later. The program originated from the Gimbel Brothers Department Store. After Philco received their commercial television license for Channel 3, the call letters were changed from W3XE to WPTZ. During the forties, the station carried a television version of the popular radio program, “Uncle WIP” with Wayne Cody. The programs were different from the radio broadcast with radio originating from Gimbels and the TV show originating from the television station. Later, the TV show moved to Channel 10. There have been rumors (but never confirmed) that a few of the very early television shows may have originated from the department store.
Broadcast Pioneers member Ron Joseph, better known to millions as RJ, had a half-hour talk show on WPCA-TV called “Spotlight on America” weekly for two and a half years until the station went dark. He had young people talking about different vocations and guest celebrities from the Philadelphia radio and television family such as Dick Clark, Phil Sheridan, Mort Farr, Hy Lit, Joe Niagara and Frank Hall from WRCV.
The first year he broadcasted on Mondays at 8 pm, but the second year he moved Wednesday evening at the same time. It was a live broadcast for a total of about 140 shows. This was the first TV show starring Ron Joseph. Afterwards, there would be many more.
WPHL-TV came on the air on Channel 17 here in Philadelphia on September 17, 1965. It was owned then by Broadcast Pioneers member Len Stevens, but that’s a whole different story.
This regular monthly column is written and researched by Gerry Wilkinson.
RJ, Ron Joseph, a member of Broadcast Pioneers tells us that “RJ’s Disco Show” has started its second year on WZBN-TV, Channel 25. It’s on Sundays at 4 pm. While the station is licensed to Trenton, RJ tells us that some Philadelphians can also get the station over the air. Details here:
RJ'S DISCO USA ON TV STARTS ITS SECOND YEAR ON WZBN TV CHANNEL 25
RJ'S DISCO USA tv show starts its second year on WZBN TV channel 25 every Sunday afternoon at 4:00pm, broadcasting from chestnut hill right here in Philadelphia.
Here are instructions on how to receive WZBN TV CHANNEL 25 IN CHESTNUT HILL: