YouTubers help keep Winnipeg television history alive

Does “Teen Dance Party” or “Uncle Bob Swarts” bring back fond memories for you? What about “Chiller Thriller”, “Bo and His Buccaneers”, “Around the Country”, “Kids Bids”, “Cinema Six”, “Reach for the Top” or Gordon McLendon’s editorials? If you were a fan of these shows, or if you ever worked for CBWT, CJAY/CKY, KCND/CKND, 13 MTN or public access TV, share your memories and rants in the comments section or send me an e-mail at mcdougak@mts.net or theviewfromseven@gmail.com

(Updated July 6, 2011)

Before consolidation started sweeping across the Canadian television industry in the ’90s, television was very much a local business. Many stations were locally owned, had a strong local branding strategy, and developed a loyal following in their communities.

Like the newspapers, a community’s TV stations were both a part of local history and eyewitnesses to it. Unlike newspapers, there were no practical means of creating a local television archive readily available to the public.

That’s beginning to change, however.

YouTube, the popular do-it-yourself broadcasting site, is home to a growing collection of television nostalgia retrieved from aging VHS and Betamax tapes that have been gathering dust for years.

The most prolific local collector of these bits of television history is RetroWinnipeg (a.k.a., Jason), who has been steadily building a valuable local television archive since launching his site in 2006. With clips dating back to 1979, his site is sure to bring back memories to those of us who grew up in the ’80s and ’90s.

RobAtSea also maintains a great archive of more than 400 videos, also dating back to the late ’70s. His collection comes from various TV markets across Canada and the U.S., but includes some network and local material that will look familiar to Winnipeggers.

Also be sure to check out jaworskij‘s archive of old footage from CBC, CKND and various Winnipeg cable channels, including the crazy old days of community access television when anyone with an idea — no matter how half-baked — could get themselves a prime-time television slot.

And if you grew up watching Archie and His Friends, the popular local children’s show that ran for years on CKY, you’ll enjoy seeing the late “Uncle Bob” Swartz again on two sites: Archiewood and the Bertminator‘s site.

If you or anyone you know has old video kicking around of local broadcasts from the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s, share it with the rest of us — especially if it’s from CJAY-TV (1960-73) or KCND-TV (1960-75), as even small bits of archival video from these stations would be considered a phenomenal find. There are a lot of Winnipeggers out there who would love to see it.

Winnipeg television history:A Sampler


c. 1980: Sisler High School faces off against River East Collegiate on the CBC Winnipeg game show, “Reach for the Top” (Source: keener32)

 

1983: Sylvia Kuzyk delivers an evening news update on CKY-TV, looking a bit tired or perhaps subdued. Followed by a commercial for K-Tel. (Source: RetroWinnipegTV)

1986: CKY’s Gloria Lowen anchors the Sunday late night news, followed by Rod Black’s Sports Sunday. Includes commercials from the era and a look at the weather.  (Source: RetroWinnipegTV)

’80s: Commercial for Eaton Place (now Cityplace) Shopping Centre. It was once a fairly popular and successful mall, as difficult as that might be to believe! (Source: RetroWinnipeg)   

1980: CKND promo for a cheesy disaster movie called “The Plutonium Incident”. And if that’s not your cup of tea, there’s always the sentimental drama, “To Race the Wind” (Source: RetroWinnipeg

1988: It’s time for the weather on 13 MTN with meteorologist Ron Thompson. Thompson was based at sister station CKX Brandon, and delivered his forecasts on MTN using a (then) state-of-the-art reversible microwave relay link. (Source: jaworskij

 

Late ’80s: At one time, virtually anyone could get their own program started on Winnipeg’s community access channel, which aired on cable channel 13 from 1975 to 1986 and channel 11 from 1986 to 2006. Little did Myrna and Henrietta Neudorf know that their appearance on the channel, singing “Go Tell It On the Mountain” would eventually become a worldwide YouTube hit. (Source: drbpony

Late ’80s: More community access programming. What the hell?!   (Source: drbpony

1960 or 1961: A locally produced game show called “Lucky Seven” on CJAY Winnipeg, hosted by Al Johnson and sponsored by Old Dutch Potato Chips (Source: Archiewood)

c. ’60s or early to mid-’70s: The legendary Bob Swarts was fond of bringing a menagerie of animals on to his daily children’s show — some of which provided moments of hilarity for adults as well. Some of this video might date back to the CJAY days. (Source: Bertminator)

1974: Audio recording of a local public service announcement on KCND-TV, promoting the Cavalier County Hospital Benefit Dance in Langdon, N.D. TonyHill55414’s YouTube channel contains the only known surviving recordings from the former Pembina station. (Source: tonyhill55414)

1979: Polo Park, as it looked 30 years ago (Source: RetroWinnipeg)

1985: A promo for CKY News about a problem that is still with us 24 years later, followed by a very `80s opening to WDAZ Grand Forks’s 10 p.m. newscast. Kathryn Bursch is still working as a journalist at a Florida station, Jack Sand is now a magician and comedian for hire, and Dan Clites is now a reverend at a church in Minnesota. (Source: PsychoJason)

1987: CBC’s 24 Hours newscast, covering the opening of Portage Place — an effort at downtown revitalization that would later be regretted as a mistake. (Source: jaworskij)


c. Mid-’90s: MTN Pulse News update, with anchor Tom Njegovan (a.k.a. Tom Negovan) being upstaged by some guy with a bottle on his head! Njegovan has done well in his career, having moved on from Portage la Prairie to a much more prestigious job at WGN-TV in Chicago.  (Source: dsnitris2007)

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About theviewfromseven
A lone wolf and a bit of a contrarian who sometimes has something to share.

13 Responses to YouTubers help keep Winnipeg television history alive

  1. mrchristian says:

    Great post ! If not for a couple of dedicated individuals this stuff would have been lost. Eventually archives will have to catch up and start preserving this stuff as more of our history (news, entertainment, maps) goes video / digital.

  2. mrchristian says:

    May I do a shameless plug ? On This Was Winnipeg there’s a video collection. More long-format vids collected from around the ‘net that might be of interest http://thiswaswinnipeg.blogspot.com/2009/02/manitoba-history-videos.html

  3. theviewfromseven says:

    Thanks, Christian!

    One of the great things about seeing hundreds of clips being digitized is that it’s more than just nostalgia for our generation. For students and researchers of 100 and 500 years from now, these clips will offer an incredible amount of insight into 20th and 21st century life and attitudes. They’ll probably laugh at how people dressed in these times, and find our attitudes and technology quite outdated by then, but still find it all quite fascinating.

    Now’s the time for universities and libraries to start building a video record of our times for future generations to refer to, including those that you link to on your site. Because of digitization, they finally have the ability to build a collection that would retain its quality for ages and that would take up relatively little space.

  4. Rob says:

    Hello, I am not exactly a fan of nationalizing LOCAL TV .. so I enjoyed your story and questions about my memories of the old days of local television, and especially the mention of KCND-TV.

    When we got cable in 1974 I kind of fell in love with KCND-TV Channel 12 (for some reason the channel 12 logo was very cool!). I should add that my dad’s bedroom TV had only local stations, but he got channel 12 by installing an interior “Channel 12 Antenna” (remember those anyone?) sometime in ’71 or ’72 but we werent allowed to use his TV. My younger brother used to sneak in there and watch reruns of “Lost in Space” at 6 PM while my dad was working evenings. Sometimes my dad called us to his bedroom to watch “Chiller Thriller” at 10:30 PM Saturday night. To this day, I don’t know why my dad wanted KCND in his bedroom .. and we didn’t get it downstairs (until we got cable, that is).

    The other thing that I thought was very cool on KCND-TV was the analog clock during the “Goodmorning” show while I was getting ready for school. And of course the KCND jingle .. “K C N D – TV – channel 12” with the music.

    Awhile ago, I was in contact with someone who used to work at KCND and he said he had some videotape of station jingles, news, etc. However, unfortunately I believe he passed away, I cant remember, sometime within the last few years. William Jack Moelker was his name. I don’t recall seeing him on KCND and he may have left before we got the station via cable. I only discovered his name about 10 years ago while searching for KCND stuff. We exchanged emails, but eventually there was no more communication. Does anyone know if he was also involved with trains?

    Does anyone have KCND audio or video that they can email or snail me? I’d be happy to send a money order to pay for postage and time used in making this. I don’t know why I want this .. just something to be nastolgic about I guess. I have downloaded some KCND stuff from a website I used to pay for (Newspaperarchive.com).

    Thanks again – ROB.

  5. Joseph S Collins says:

    Hi i don”t know if i am at the right place but iam looking for a show that was canceled back in the early 80’s. It was a kids show and i believe there was only two episodes filmed it never aired due to the popes visit to Winnipeg i would love to see this if you could find this for me i would love it thank you

  6. Hans Prins says:

    Hi, I’m Dutch; lived -as a young kid of about 12- in Winnipeg for about three years. I’ve wonderful memories of the Winnipeg tv then. I remember Al Johnson, Bob Burns (teen dance party) In the Netherlands (Holland) then there was only one tv-station (for the whole country) I hope that local Winnipeg people who have more information about Winnipeg and especially the tv in those days, will put that on the internet. I attended Sisler High School as my last school. Pictures of the school in those days would be wonderful. Also I wonder if there is more info about the Calvin Christian School (principal was mr Harris and also one teacher called Mr Breedveld [from origin Dutch] ) from those days. (the early sixtees). Pardon my English–it faded away a bit through the years.
    Greetings, hans

  7. theviewfromseven says:

    Thanks for your note, Hans. There is also more information about Winnipeg TV in the ’60s at Fifty years on air for two Winnipeg broadcasters.

  8. theviewfromseven says:

    A note received by e-mail from Diane Higdem (dhigdem@hotmail.com) on Dec. 1, 2011:

    Hello!

    Many years ago, my dad was hired by KNOX TV in Grand Forks, and was later
    assigned to be the station manager at the soon to be station, KCND in
    Pembina. He is now 79, and suffering from Parkinson’s. My mom, who he’d
    married in 1956 while in Grand Forks, died last May. Dad’s having a rough go
    of it, and in several recent conversations, he revealed an interesting
    story: when he was going to college and needed a job, he applied to KNOX TV
    out of Grand Forks in 1955. He married mom (whose dad was Police Chief in
    Grand Forks, Richard Jagd) in 1956, and in 1958, when KNOX decided to
    provide television to Canada, which at that time, depended on the BBC for
    TV, a satellite station in Pembina was created, KCND TV. Dad was transferred
    there to be the station manager. He helped design and oversaw the building
    of the station, including channels below the flooring (which was comprised
    of 8″ square metal plates) to accommodate the cords for the cameras and
    such. He also spoke of the tower that at that time was the nation’s tallest.
    He was quite good, and regularly commended for his work as a camera man at
    KNOX, but as a station manager, he didn’t do so well, and was fired in 1960.
    While at KCND, he and several of his crew had worked up a deal in which
    Barney’s Ball Lake Lodge in Ontario would trade out a trip to their fly-in
    access only lodge for fishing if dad would create a segment about the place.
    Film clips were made, and then voice-over was added.

    Now, as he is getting older and more debilitated by Parkinson’s, he said
    that his life would come full circle if he could go back to Barney’s.
    However, the original lodge and buildings no longer exist (although there is
    another one on the lake that goes by the name Ball Lake Lodge.) My two
    brothers and I would like to present him with a gift of a fishing trip to
    the existing lodge, along with his best fishing buddy from Montana. Along
    with that, we are looking for memorabilia that tags along with his time at
    KNOX and KCND. We have an old black and white of him behind the camera, but
    that’s all. I have found some old postcards online, as well as matchbooks,
    but would really like to find more personal items; most importantly, that
    clip he did at Barney’s. Is it even possible that it is stored somewhere?
    Or, perhaps, some archived paperwork or pictures of him from KNOX. anything!
    His name is Melvin Gene Higdem, and goes by Gene.

    Thanks!-

    Diane

  9. Rob says:

    I just found an advertisement put in by KCND-TV in the Winnipeg Free Press dated Saturday January 14, 1967 on page 35. It was advertising the fact that KCND-TV had a new show starting Monday Jan 16 called “The Good Morning Show.”

    The title of the ad reads “What Do You Think?” which doesn’t really mean anything until you read the ad…promoting the fact that they will play music, show the temperature and of course the analog clock. 7 AM to 8:45 AM.

    I wish there were some pictures of the actual TV screen of that show and the analog clock!

    So I should ask .. what do you think? 🙂

  10. theviewfromseven says:

    Interesting. Sounds like the local version of the weather channel I saw on a northern Minnesota cable system back in the ’80s: a camera that swiveled back and forth between a clock and various weather instruments, possibly with music playing in the background.

    I wonder if it was a Winnipeg or Pembina production? And if it was the former, how they got the signal from Winnipeg to North Dakota? Intercity microwave, or a leased telephone circuit, perhaps? That would have been from just a few months after McLendon took over; his modus operandi was to purchase financially troubled stations and then turn them around by investing heavily in programming and technology.

  11. Nick says:

    Does anyone remember a show out of Winnipeg in the mid to late 70’s that was called something like the “Tree House Club”? It had a Guitar playing host who had a Mary Tyler Moore hairstyle, but it was that weird 70’s bleach-blonde color. I want to say it was a Christian show. I know it was out of Winnipeg because at the end of the show they told you to send them mail at Winnipeg, Manitoba (and being a little kid in Corvallis Oregon, and not yet knowing Canadian geography, this was such an exotic name).

    The show was very boring and in fact we always knew we had got up too early for Saturday morning cartoons when this show was all that was on, and we would have to trudge through this show to get to something good. I think the fact that it was so boring had made the search for it so hard.

  12. Rob says:

    I don’t remember a show called “Tree House Club” because of this reason: that show was probably on KCND-TV from Pembina, ND but we didn’t receive it until we got cable in 1974, and that show was probably off the air by then. However, my dad had a channel 12 antenna in his bedroom from 70-74 but we weren’t allowed in his bedroom. As normal kids we did sneak in when he was at work lol, and sometimes my dad & I watched Chiller Thriller on Sat night in his bedroom.

    As I mentioned KCND came out of Pembina, ND, but they also had offices on Portage Avenue. Most of the commercials on KCND were from Winnipeg businesses, so I wonder if that’s the reason why you remember at the end of the show they were telling you to send them mail at Winnipeg.

  13. theviewfromseven says:

    I found this: a page on TVarchive.ca dedicated to The Treehouse Club. The comments submitted by others sound very much like what you have described. It was produced by CKCO in Kitchener, Ont. starting in 1971, and was still airing on CKCO until at least 1981 according to another site.

    At that time, Canadian TV stations were expected to produce many hours per week of local programming as a condition of their licence. Children’s shows were popular because they could be sold to other stations throughout Canada and even the U.S. without losing any of their relevance, and thus earn a bit of money for the station.

    I’m not sure why there would have been a Winnipeg address, as Winnipeg is nowhere near Kitchener. But there was a Winnipeg-based company at the time called K-Tel Records (legendary for their yelly ads). If they produced an accompanying LP set for The Treehouse Club, it’s possible that the show might have ended with a sales pitch for kids to beg their parents to send money to a Winnipeg address.

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