soon became a leader in childrens programming not just
in the local market but in North America. The networks werent
providing any childrens programming it all had to be
done locally. Again products were being sold to kids in a very blatant
manner regulations and rules on what could be marketed and
sold to children had yet to be developed.
Childrens shows produced in Windsor included Bozo the Clown,
Romper Room, Mr. Houdini, Jerry Booths Club House, Captain
Jolly and Poopdeck Paul.
Bozo, portrayed by Bob McNea, competed against Clare Cummings as
Milky the Clown on Channel 7. Milky worked in a plug for his sponsor
every time he did a magic trick and said the magic words Twin
Pines. Bozo the Clowns famous Treasure Chest of Toys
would roll across the studio floor and was eagerly sought by kids
who tuned in or participated in the live studio broadcasts.
Romper Room featured Miss Flora and live piano playing by Wally.
The show was a huge hit with the younger kids.
And Toby David as Captain Jolly.
David, who died at age 80 in 1994, started in New York radio in
the 1930s. He had parts in several NBC radio shows including Bob
Hope, Garry Moore, Jackie Gleason and the childrens show Lets
Pretend. He came to Detroit in 1940s, where his radio work
included reading Detroit Times comics on the air.
But David is most remembered for hosting the Popeye and His
Pals cartoon show during the 1950s and 1960s, which was among
the top-rated kids shows in the nation. His pals included
Whitey the Mouse, Sylvester the Seal, puppets Cecil and Stanley
and an off-camera Wihelmina the Whale who plotted constantly to
get Captain Jolly into the water.
Poopdeck Paul worked alongside Captain Jolly on Popeye
and Pals between 1956 and 1966, first as a weekend host and eventually
as a seven-day-a-week personality. But he became a local cultural
icon for something other than Popeye cartoons the limbo!
Between cartoons, he hosted limbo contests on the show, when limbo
(with a hit record by Chubby Checker) was the rage among grade-schoolers.
After the Beatles became big in 1964, he hosted a game in which
contestants were judged by their ability to lip-sync Beatles records.
He hosted miniature golf, football throwing, bowling and table tennis
competitions, as well. All of it was a hit with youngsters.
Robin Seymour: Hot commodity
Going to a Dance Party
to Percy Hatfield, a reporter with CBC TV since 1978 and CBC radio
since 1975, CKLW programming hooked you as a child, kept you
as an adolescent and then kept you coming back for more as an adult.
Local radio disc jockeys were keen to show teens the latest dances
on TV. Ed Mackenzie, Robin Seymour and Bud Davies offered programs
featuring local kids dancing the Chicken, the Stroll,
the Swim and a whole lot more. Bud Davies Top
Ten Dance Party was the first to launch a format that would
eventually morph into music videos and MTV.
Seymours Swinging Time, a dance party that was
a hot commodity on CKLW until 1968, predated the MTV era by almost
20 years. Entertainers performed live, including the
popular Motown Sound artists including as Stevie Wonder
and Diana Ross, and hot artists of the day, who lip synched
their hit songs, often to comical effect as their timing could be
Seymours career spanned everything from the big band era to
the British invasion. But he missed a beat somewhere when he predicted
that Elvis Presley was a sure loser, who wouldnt last
more than a year. Seymours television show featured
50 to 75 local kids dancing six days a week. Two were chosen for
each show to give yea or boo opinions on
Shannon, a popular DJ on the BIG 8 CKLW, tweaked the format with
a Johnny Carson-style teen talk show, but the kids just wanted to
dance and the show was a flop. The program is famous for an interview
with Alice Cooper, who pioneered shock rock with his
elaborate stage shows including snakes, guillotines and pyrotechnics.
Cooper decided in the middle of an interview that he wanted to rip
apart Bill Kennedys famous interview chair live on
the air! He had to be restrained but had the stunt occurred, it
would surely have gone down in TV folklore.
Big Time Wrestling
City wrestling fans watched the televised antics of local
stars like Dick the Bruiser, Bobo Brazil
and The Sheik on Big Time Wresting.
This live broadcast was hosted by the charismatic Lord Layton,
who often jumped into the ring and mauled wrestlers, a format
that has been perfected to mass success by the World Wrestling
Entertainment and Vince McMahon.
The Sheik kept his real identity secret, claiming at various
times to have been born in Tokyo, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and
Traverse City. He also claimed he made $10 million by making
the fans love to hate him. Wrestling fans ate it up and CKLW-TVs
Dick the Bruiser
TV Grows Up
new technology was rapidly moving TV into a new era. Colour TV sets
emerged as the new wave. Programming became more sophisticated
as the networks developed elaborate sets in giant studios or in
exotic locations. Local stations found it harder to produce local
shows and began to rely on network shows. The development of the
videotape meant that shows could be taped and replayed later with
greater control than film.
tried to keep up to the changing times. Despite the fact that the
station didnt own a mobile production facility, creative TV
engineers and technicians were able to produce programming on-location,
including The Bill Anderson Show live from Cleary Auditorium,
and commercials shot live on location.
Shifting to CBC
1974, the governing body of TV programming, the CRTC, ruled that
Canadians must own Canadian stations. RKO General sold the station
to Baton Broadcasting, which soon partnered with CBC.
the summer of 1975, the CBC acquired 100% of the station and the
call letters changed to CBET-TV.
promised more local programming. Due to a quirk in the CRTC rules,
a border protection rule meant that any program aired
by the CBC that was also broadcast by a U.S. competitor had to be
blocked in Windsor. If the CBC was airing Golden Girls
then the local Windsor had to substitute it with another program
so as not to compete with the Detroit affiliate that was running
the same show.
programming at CBET continued to flourish. Reach for the Top,
Agriscope, Sun Parlour Country, Around
Town, Bob Monks/ Inside Outside, on-site concerts
and sporting events were produced by a talented technical crew.
Windsor CBC-TV earned a well-deserved reputation as one of the best
production facilities in the country.
station also focused its energy on news programming, as a complement
to world-class journalism from Toronto with newly revamped The National
and The Journal. Local documentaries became a staple of the expanded
90-minute news coverage often airing nationally up
from only five minutes of news when the station began to air in
1953. Anchors Sue Presteidge and David Compton provided the station
with sky-high local ratings, and the news crew was considered one
of the finest in the country.
57 Channels and Nothing On
1984, the Federal government, under the newly elected PM Brian Mulroney,
drastically cut the CBCs operating budget. In a massive blow
to local programming, 63 jobs were eliminated. Year by year, the
station held on with limited resources, but local programming diminished
except for news.
local weekend news was eliminated and replaced with a regional report
fed from Toronto. Then the 11 oclock newscast was cut. Local
CBC Radio and TV were consolidated under one roof at the Riverside
the current local TV landscape continues to evolve. Moses Znaimer
of CITY-TV Toronto fame launched a satellite station in Windsor
in the 1990s the New WI to compete with
the local CBC news, although the New WI newscast is disingenuously
broadcast out of London (unknown to most viewers who think it is
a local newscast).
TV has unleashed more channels, as has satellite and digital TV.
VCRs and DVDs have allowed for program shifting (pay-per-view, if
for a shining moment, at the dawn of television, local programming
ruled our TV sets, or as an old station jingle used to pronounce,
The Best View in Town.
into a special broadcast of the history of CKLW-TV and CBET-TV on
September 20 at 7 pm on CBET-TV Windsor 9, cable 10.
History of Broadcasting in Michigan
WXYZ TV History: Detroitnow.com
The Detroit News: Rearview Mirror
CBC Television: Celebration 50 years