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Welcome to Central Illinois' On-Line Broadcast Museum. This website documents in detail the history of each of the viewable TV stations, past and present, across mid-Illinois in text, photos, and videos, as well as each station's current status. This site also includes some local radio history, along with automated analog formats, again told in pictures, videos, and text. 

Note that this website displays best on a full-size monitor, either on a desktop or laptop computer.

Use the "desktop" view if using your phone. You can zoom in on the page if needed.

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Doug Quick 
Radio/TV Broadcaster/Historian, Author, Webmaster
complete bio available here.

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Videos of the Week

You're probably aware of the "six degrees of separation" theory, which states that all people have six or fewer social connections away from each other.

 

This week, the Videos of the Week also show that it works on television. We start with "The Phil Silvers Show," make the connections to "McHale's Navy," then to "The Roaring 20s," and end up with "Happy Days" and "Airwolf."  I found a connection between the TV shows below and traced a couple of paths for you. 

Now, you try to determine a path starting with "The Phil Silvers Show" and go from there. I'll help you start with the connection to "The Munsters." Now take it further and connect it to, for example, "Hawaii Five-O" or some other show. 

These will be online through late Saturday, April 13th

The Phil Silvers Show (You'll Never Get Rich) (1955) CBS Pilot

The first pilot of "The Phil Silvers Show," or "You'll Never Get Rich," or "Bilko," as it was known in syndication later, was produced by Nat Hiken and, I believe, recorded at CBS in New York. Legend has it that the name Bilko was chosen from a real-life baseball player, Steve Bilko, a hero of producer Nat Hiken.

 

It was recorded live in the studio and kinescoped for viewing later by potential advertisers and studio executives. The first pilot is the only one available on YouTube. The second pilot show is unavailable. It's also yet to be discovered if this first pilot was ever broadcast. My guess is that it wasn't.

Fort Baxter, Kansas, is the setting for one of the first television comedies described as an outrageous military satire. It starred Phil Silvers as Ernie Bilko and Paul Ford as base commander Col. John Hall. Soldiers included Harvey Lembeck, Herbie Faye, Maurice Gosfield, Joe E. Ross, Allan Melvin, Billy Sands, and others. 

Nat Hiken utilized Joe E. Ross a few years later in "Car 54, Where Are You?" (produced in New York), which also starred Fred Gwynne and Al Lewis. Both Gwynne and Lewis would go on to star in "The Munsters."  One other producer of "The Phil Silvers Show," not listed in this pilot, Edward J. Montagne Jr., would also produce "McHale's Navy" and direct many episodes, including the full-length movies based on that series. Another cast member of the "Silvers" show was Billy Sands, who would later star as Harrison "Tinker" Bell in "McHale's Navy." Maurice Gosfield would also provide the voice of "Benny the Ball" on Hanna Barbara's "Top Cat."

The "Top Cat" animated series was based on "The Phil Silvers Show." In this ABC prime-time cartoon series, the character of Top Cat was similar to Bilko and was voiced by Arnold Stang, who did an impression of Phil Silvers. I will also note that Hanna Barbara produced another animated series based on another classic TV show, "The Honeymooners."  That animated show was called "The Flintstones," and it was also shown on ABC.

"The Phil Silvers Show" aired on CBS from September 20, 1955, through September 11, 1959. Years later, it was revived as a full-length movie starring Steve Martin, Phil Hartman, Chris Rock, and Dan Aykroyd in 1996. 

The Phil Silvers Show (1956) CBS Guest: Dick Van Dyke

One of the fun episodes of "The Phil Silvers Show" featured a Danville, Illinois, rising talent Dick Van Dyke. Unfortunately, the whole episode is not available on YouTube, but here is a segment of that episode as broadcast on CBS with Dick as "Swifty" Bilko.

Allan Melvin is prominently shown in this clip, who would later guest on "The Dick Van Dyke Show" as a friend of Rob Petrie, named Sol Pomerantz, among four other unrelated characters during the length of the series. He would also appear much later on "The Brady Bunch" as Sam, the butcher.

"The Phil Silvers Show" aired on CBS affiliates WCIA, WTVH, WMBD-TV, WTHI-TV, KHQA, and KWK-TV (later KMOX-TV).

McHale's Navy (1962) ABC Pilot

This series was one of my earliest (at eight years old) "must-see TV" shows going back to 1962. "McHale's Navy," as you see above, was born from Edward J. Montagne's experience in outrageous military satire with "The Phil Silvers Show." 

He even brought former "Silvers" co-star Billy Sands to star as crewman Harrison "Tinker" Bell. The real star was Ernest Borgnine, who was Lt Cdr. Quinton McHale, Joe Flynn was Base Commander Captain Wallace Burton Binghamton, and Tim Conway played the bumbling Ensign Charles "Chuck" Parker. Crew members initially were Carl Ballantine as Lester Gruber, Billy Sands as "Tinker" Bell, Gary Vinson as George "Christy" Christopher, Edson Stroll as Virgil Edwards, Gavin MacLeod as Joseph "Happy" Haines, John Wright as Willy Moss and Yoshio Yoda as P.O.W. Fuji Kobiaji. Bob Hastings was the Captain's aide, Lt. Elroy Carpenter.

This series went through a change right before the final season to boost the ratings of this much-loved series. The setting moved from the South Pacific to Italy. The main characters remained the same, but additional antagonists were added to complicate things for McHale and Captain Binghamton. Henry Beckman was Col. Douglas Harrigan, Simon Scott was General Bronson, Dick Wilson was Dino Baroni, Jay Novello was Mayor Mario Lugatto, and Peggy Mondo played Rosa Giovanni. 

"McHale's Navy" began as a severe episode titled "Seven Against the Sea" in an episode of the anthology drama "Alcoa Premiere" on ABC in 1962. Note that last week, I featured an episode of the same series featuring William Shatner. The link to that video is in the right column. 

The original concept was that of a drama, as McHale and his crew were stranded on the island base of Taratupa (the name also used in the TV comedy series). The Japanese bombed the island, destroying the base and leaving only 18 survivors.

The TV series included a name change to "McHale's Navy." The network and producers would change the show's concept to a military satire half-hour situation comedy. The pilot aired on October 11, 1962, airing for three seasons through August 30, 1966. It was seen across mid-Illinois on WTVP (later WAND), WTVH (Later WIRL), and KTVI.

On a personal note, the second time in 1972, I visited Universal Studios in California; I remember visiting a sound stage where a demonstration of rear projection took place. They just happen to show the bridge of the PT 73 (used in "McHale's Navy") with the rear projection of the depth charges exploding in the water behind. I got to stand on the bridge as the rear projection was shown!  Plus, I spotted one of the mock-ups of the PT 73 on the back lot, with paint peeling from that former PT boat prop. I took an 8mm film of the studio tour, but somehow, the film was lost. I continue to search for it, and if I find it, I'll post pictures from that 1972 tour.

The Roaring 20's (1960-62) ABC 

The link between "McHale's Navy" and "The Roaring 20s" is a week one, but a link nonetheless. Based on the popularity of "The Untouchables" and the Warner Brothers detective series' "77 Sunset Strip," "Bourbon Street Beat," "Surf Side Six" and "Hawaiian Eye" a companion show was created that took the role of the private eyes back to the 1920s. To relate that time shift from 1960, today we would have to make a show now that takes place in the 1980s!

Gary Vinson, who played George "Christy" Christopher, appeared right before his shift to "McHale." The Roaring 20s premiered on October 15, 1960, and aired through September 21, 1962. Gary Vinson played the role of Chris Higbee during that time on Roaring 20s and, three weeks later, was Christy on McHale's Navy!

The stars of "Roaring 20s" included Warner Brothers contract players Rex Reason as Scott Norris, Donald May as Pat Garrison, Dorothy Provine as Pinky Pinkham, and John Dehner as Jim Duke Williams. Rex Reason appeared on several, if not all, of the "current-day" PI shows, but as different characters. 

Gary Vinson remained frustrated with his roles, as leading man roles escaped him. He did appear on some early Warner Brothers series such as "The Alaskans," "The Tall Man," "Cheyenne," "Maverick," "Sugarfoot," "Colt .45," "77 Sunset Strip," and Hawaiin Eye." He also made appearances in "Ozzie and Harriet," "Perry Mason," "Bat Masterson," "Bachelor Father," and several others.

After "McHale's Navy," Vinson was a co-star on "Pistols 'n Petticoats." on CBS. He was a guest star on "The Virginian," "The FBI," "McCloud," "The Mod Squad," "Love American Style," "The Streets of San Francisco," "The Waltons," "SWAT," "Baa Baa Black Sheep," "Battlestar Galactica" "The Fall Guy" "The Incredible Hulk" "Boone" and "Barnaby Jones."

A week before his 48th birthday, on October 15, 1984, Gary Vinson committed suicide.

 

"The Roaring 20s" aired on the central Illinois ABC affiliates WTVP, WDAN-TV, WTVH, and KTVI.
 

Happy Days (1974-1984) ABC 

I've shown you one complex link ending with the above show, "The Roaring 20s," to "The Phil Silvers Show," and now I link "The Phil Silvers Show" to the TV series "Happy Days!" That's an easy one, going only one step!

In the "Happy Days" clip above, you'll see Cathy Silvers in white hot pants (not quite the standard dress in the 1960s). Cathy was the daughter of Phil Silvers. That completes the initial link from "The Phil Silvers Show" to "Happy Days." I told you it was easy!

You might also notice that Cathy's hot pants earlier were replaced by blue denim jeans later after the motorcycle accident.  Obviously, it's a little wardrobe continuity problem.

Plus, Dorothy Provine, one of the stars of "The Roaring 20s," was a star in one of my top three favorite movies, "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World." She starred with a massive cast of top comedians of the early 1960s, including Phil Silvers! That link completes the circle back to "The Phil Silvers Show."

"Happy Days" aired from January 15, 1974, through July 12, 1984. The show aired over central Illinois on WAND, WRAU, WBAK, and KTVI.
 

Airwolf (1986) CBS/USA 

Unfortunately, "Airwolf" episodes are not available on YouTube, but short edits of the episodes are. This is one such episode, edited heavily with action-paced music. Many scenes just show the helicopter flying over terrain. It's not too exciting and doesn't show the series stars in action, either. 

The original series aired on CBS from January 23, 1984, through July 26, 1986. The stars were Ernest Borgnine as Dominic Santini and Jan Michael Vincent as Stringfellow Hawke.

"Airwolf" was one of three helicopter-based series broadcast on three networks during the spring of 1986, including ABC's "Blue Thunder" and NBC's "Riptide." Why was there an incentive to develop TV shows around a helicopter? The previous summer, the movie "Blue Thunder" was making an impact at the box office of the local theaters. The movie was also based on the story of a super-helicopter. 

After being canceled by CBS during the summer of 1986, the producers sold the series to USA Cable Network the following year. The concept was similar, but to save on the original cast salaries, a new cast was hired by the producers, including the role of the brother of the original Stringfellow Hawke, St. John Hawke, to be played by Barry Van Dyke. It aired on the cable network for one season and co-starred Anthony Sherwood, Michelle Scarabelli, and Geraint Wyn Davies.

So, here's another link to "The Phil Silvers Show!" Barry Van Dyke is the son of Dick Van Dyke, who appeared in the episode of the "Silvers" show in 1956, plus the original "Airwolf" starred Ernest Borgnine, who also starred in "McHale's Navy" 25 years earlier in the early 1960s.

 

"Airwolf" would have aired on the CBS affiliates over mid-Illinois, including WCIA, WMBD-TV, WTHI-TV, KHQA, and KMOV.
 

(Source: YouTube and various posters and contributors.

They may be removed without notice)

Classic Radio

WCVS-1450 AM (1971) Steve West

I'm going to rerun this Classic Radio aircheck again this week. I hope you'll listen to it! 

 

This is an aircheck from WCVS-1450AM, Springfield, Illinois, from sometime in April 1971. It features the voice of Steve West before his move to WDBR in 1973. This recording is from the Rich Styles Collection.

Steve was the music director at WDBR when I met him in 1976. He taught me so much about music selection and processing. His voice work and delivery were impeccably smooth when Steve joined the staff at WDBR. I last talked with him in the very early 1990s when he was anchoring the afternoon news block at WTAX-1240AM. He passed away soon after.

 

See more about Steve and the history of WDBR here...... and WCVS-1450AM here

(Source: YouTube and various posters and contributors.

They may be removed without notice)

"Pictures on the Prairie: The 70th Anniversary of Central Illinois Television" by Doug Quick

I am a frequent contributor to the Prime Life Times monthly newspaper. You can see all of my columns in back issues at Primelifetimes.com.

My latest column is in the March edition of Prime LifeTimes. Watch this space for future articles.

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I hope to have a new edition of my book "Pictures on the Prairie: The First Ten Years of Mid-Illinois Television" e-book set for purchase sometime during the Spring of 2024.

Previously on Videos

of the Week...

If you've missed any of the "Videos of the Week" or "Classic Radio" recordings, you'll find them here. Unfortunately, there's no narrative to go along with each. You have to visit each week for that.

The Green Hornet (1966) ABC Van Williams

The Green Hornet (1966) ABC "The Ray is for Killing"

Batman (1966) ABC Guests: Van Williams, Bruce Lee

Batman (with Batgirl-1966) ABC Yvonne Craig

The Green Hornet (1948) Classic Radio episode

The Green Hornet (1940) Gordon Jones, Keye Luke

Batman and Robin (1949) Robert Lowery, Johnny Duncan

Camp Runamuck (1965) NBC

Hawk (1966)  ABC Burt Reynolds

The Dana Carvey Show (1996) ABC Dana Carvey

Davis Rules (1991) ABC/CBS Randy Quaid, Jonathan Winters

Ferris Bueller (1990) NBC Charlie Schlatter, Jennifer Aniston

Jack Benny Program (1950) CBS First Show

 

Oldest Surviving Video Tape Recording (May 22, 1958) WRC-TV

 

The Ford Show (1961) NBC Guest: Sheri Lewis

 

Johnny Midnight (1960) Syndicated Edmund O'Brien

 

ABC News (1971) Anchor Harry Reasoner

 

TV Commercials/Promos (1977) ABC

The Howdy Doody Show (1958) NBC

Popeye Cartoons (1938) WCIA Paramount Studios

The Three Stooges Film Festival (televised 1960s) WICS/WCHU/WICD

 

Hercules Cartoons ()1960s) WTVP(later WAND)

 

Bugs Bunny (1943) WICS/WCHU/WICD

Popeye Cartoons (1960s) WICS/WCHU/WICD

DIck Tracy Show Intro (1960s) WTVP(later WAND)

Dick Tracy Cartoon (1960s) WTVP(later WAND)

Space Angel (1960s) WTVP(later WAND)

Woody Woodpecker (1960) ABC/Syndication

Huckleberry Hound Show (1958-62) Syndicated

Deputy Dog (1960-62) CBS/Syndicated

Rocky and Friends (1959-64) ABC/NBC/Syndication

The Little Rascals (1922-44) Theatrical Features/Syndicated

King Leonardo/King and Odie (1960s) CBS/Syndicated

Candid Camera (1960) CBS Arthur Godfrey

The Martin Short Show (1994) NBC

The Avengers 1967) ABC

Fantasy Island (1978) ABC

The Name of the Game (1971) NBC Robert Stack

WIRL Radio 1968) Peoria VLJ

Way Out Intro (1962) WCIA

Aircheck (1987) WCIA

Reach for the Stars (1982) WCIA

The Hop Interview with Margaret Whiting-Part 1 (1964) WCIA Ed Mason

Weather Rewind (2014) WICS Joe Crain

60th Anniversary (2013) WICS

67th Anniversary (2020) WAND

Station Break/ID (1991) WAND/ABC

Aircheck SNL (1987) WICD/NBC

Sunrise Today (1998) WICD

Aircheck (1996) WICD

Commercial Reel (1980s) Doug Quick

Dave Shaul's 25th Anniversary (1987) WCIA

Schlitz Beer Commercial (early 1960s) Gene Robinson

The Hop (early 1960s) Ed Mason Interview

Paul Davis/Mr. Roberts (1970s) WCIA

WAND Aircheck (1982) ABC Monday Night Movie

WAND Aircheck (1982) Late Night Vegas

WAND Aircheck (1985) ABC during 45/85

6pm News (1986) WAND

6pm News segment (1996) WICS

6pm News segment (1997) WICS

WICS 60th Anniversary Logo Montage (2014)

70 Years of WICS (2023) Doug Quick Interview

Roundtable PA Program (1983) WICD

6pm News Segment (1999) Urbana Sweetcorn Festival

6pm News (2001) WICD

Sunrise Clips (1998-2002) WICD

Dick Van Dyke Show (1962) CBS Classic Episode

WKRP in Cincinnati (1982) CBS To Err is Human

Good Morning World (1967) CBS

NewsRadio (1995) NBC Pilot Show

Mary Tyler More Show (1973) CBS Walter Cronkite

Lou Grant (1977) CBS Pilot Show

The Green Hornet (1966) Episode 2

Goodnight Beantown (1983) Open/Close

WLS Radio (1973) John Landecker

The Man/Girl from U.N.C.L.E (1960s) NBC

The Best of Get Smart (1965) NBC Don Adams

The Saint (1967) NBC Roger Moore

Amos Burke-Secret Agent (1965) ABC Gene Barry

I Spy (1965) NBC Pilot

Mission Impossible (1966-1973) CBS

It Takes a Thief (1968) ABC Robert Wagner

Dangerous Assignment (1949) NBC Radio

TV Tidbits Vol 15 (1950s-70s) FredFlix

WKRP in Cincinnati (1980) CBS

American Bandstand (1969) Dick Clark

Love American Style (1969) ABC

Love American Style (1972) ABC

I Dream of Jeannie (1965) NBC Pilot

Alcoa Premiere Presents: Million Dollar Hospital (1963) ABC William Shatner

WCVS Springfield, IL (1971) Steve West

The Phil Silvers Show (1955) CBS First Pilot

The Phil Silvers Show (1956) CBS Guest:

Dick Van  Dyke

McHale's Navy (1962) ABC Pilot

The Roaring 20s (1960-62) ABC

Happy Days (1974-1984) ABC

Airwolf (1986) CBS

New Stuff on this Site

A newspaper story from 2/13/1966 was added to the WTVP/WAND page announcing the call letter change for the following day.  Also, an ad sponsored by WDZ Radio announces an appearance of the new WAND VP and general manager Len Carl. See both on the History of WAND page.

An ad published in the Broadcasting Yearbook in 1954-55 placed by the WTVH-Peoria national advertising firm has been added to a gallery on the History of WTVH.

Chicago finally has ATSC 3.0 TV that's broadcast from the WBBM-TV facilities. The only major network affiliate NOT broadcasting a Next Generation signal is WLS-TV.  Go to TV Now and Chicago to see the changes throughout the market. 

March 19, 2024-Thanks to contributor Tom Arbogast, who has spent hundreds of hours collecting interviews from the history of WWCT-Peoria (formerlly WWTO) we have added a link to his work and the many, many interviews he has conducted. See it all by clicking here.


Coming soon is a complete narrative on the history of the 1980s edition of WBLN-TV and its change into WYZZ. Be watching for it!

April 13, 2024-I updated the TV Today pages to show additional subchannel networks in Mid-Illinois listings. Check out Dr. Phil's Merit Street Media Channel, which has been added to the WYZZ subchannel 43.3.

April 13, 2024-I Updated the other pages of TV Today with new subchannels and movements.

 

Next Week on 
Videos of the Week

 

To Be Announced!

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Central Illinois On-Line Broadcast Museum and dougquick.com supports the work of the St. Louis Media History Foundation. 

Visit their website at:

stlmediahistory.org

 

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