75-year-olds reflect on WTVR anniversary: 'We only got 3 channels'

Photos: PHOTOS: South’s First Television Station celebrates 65 years!
Posted at 11:58 PM, Apr 21, 2023

RICHMOND, Va. -- Saturday, April 22 marks WTVR CBS 6’s 75th Anniversary. Three quarters of a century and the South's First Television Station is still going strong in Richmond and surrounding communities.

When WTVR-TV began broadcasting in 1948, a first-class stamp was 3 cents, you could fuel up for 26 cents a gallon, the average income of a family was $3,200 and the minimum wage was $3.96 per hour.

President Harry S. Truman was re-elected in an upset over Thomas Dewey and CBS began network programming.

Some of the celebrities born in 1948:

  • Samuel L Jackson
  • Ozzy Osbourne
  • Phylicia Rashad
  • Billy Crystal
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In honor of the station's birthday Saturday, which is the same day as Ukrop’s Monument Avenue 10K, CBS 6 community anchor GeNienne Samuels caught up with six 10K participants who are 75 young — and strong.

Bill Kelly, Brad Armstrong, Delight Booker, Jay Henderson, Laura Schooley and Gwyneth Garrett agreed to take a stroll down memory lane and share what they remember most about the last 75 years.

What national news story do they remember?

Jay Henderson: “The Cuban Missile Crisis. Our neighbor was a pilot at McDeil Air Force Base. I remember my parents and they used to talk every night outside the house.

Billy Kelly also recalled the Cuban Missile Crisis. “The next thing is when John Kennedy was assassinated, I can still remember where I was. I was in a homeroom class in school. Those are things that stick with you.”

Both Laura Schooley, and Gwyneth Garrett also recall the assassination. Laura was in gym and Gwyneth, “When I was in ninth grade in algebra class, that's when John Kennedy was assassinated.”

And then, their memories stretched to every corner of Richmond, starting in 1954.

“I loved going to the baseball games. We had a team in town called the Richmond Virginians that was the farm club of the New York Yankees," Brad Armstrong remembered.

SPECIAL COVERAGE: WTVR CBS celebrates 75 years of broadcasting

WTVR CBS 6 75th Anniversary

Then in July 1958, a big change in transportation came to Richmond.

“I remember when Interstate 95 was opened, and that was huge. People got in line in their cars to be the first ones to ride on Interstate 95,” shared Gwyneth Garrett.

Next stop, Monument Avenue.

“I do remember when they put the Arthur Ashe statue up in the mid-1990s, I thought that was wonderful because I was a tennis player and I always admired Ash and, of course, his connection with Richmond,” Laura Schooley said.

In the late 1940s and early 1950s, many homes did not have TVs or were just getting their first big box.

Bill Kelly recalls, “We didn't have TV when I was that young. The way we watched TV, we went down to the local appliance store. The program I remembered was 'Howdy Doody.'"

Laura Schooley vividly has memories of her family’s first television set: “I remember it was a giant box about 3 feet by 3 feet by 3' feet. But it had a very small screen, approximately maybe 8 inches square. So it was this giant box with a very small screen…. We only got three channels. Two, four, six, which was CBS.”

Gywneth Garrett said she was seven when her family got their first TV: "It was black and white, three channels. I think later they came up with public TV also. I remember coming home when I was in seventh grade and watching 'American Bandstand.'"

Delight Booker enjoyed family night around the TV: “Television, of course, was in its infancy then. So it was exciting every night to have family gather around and watch TV together instead of everybody being in their own bedroom.”

Ever write an love letter to your favorite television crush? Well, Brad Armstrong did. “I was in love with Annette Funicello, as probably was every other guy my age. I even wrote her letters. I wrote her letters. One of those letters, I was 12 or something, and I wrote her a letter, said something like, I think I love you. Please write me back.” But Annette never wrote Brad back.

It doesn’t matter how young or old you are, one thing’s for certain. This community keeps getting stronger and CBS 6 has been there every step of the way.

Each person remembering different shows and personalities, like "CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite," "The Dick Van Dyke Show," "I Love Lucy," Mary Taylor Moore and Andy Griffith.

Delight Booker was embarrassed to admit but “when I was in high school, I came home every day and watched 'The Secret Storm.' That was a soap opera then. We’d go back to school the next day. We’d go back to school the next day and discuss what went on the previous day.”

She also remembered, “When the Beatles first came to America in, I guess it was '65, they were on the Ed Sullivan Show, and I bet every kid in America was around that TV set watching The Beatles.”

Photos: HOLMBERG: WTVR tower – a surprisingly gentle giant – turns 60

And then here at WTVR CBS 6, some of the standouts included “Ivan Schwartz with Sports,” Cheryl Miller and Meteorologist Tom Patton.

And of course, the iconic red and white CBS 6 tower.

"What I can tell you is that the CBS 6 tower has been part of the landscape ever since I can remember. When I wanted to figure out where I was, if I was driving around the western side of the city, it was a place. It was a way-finding place for me, and I loved that,” Brad Armstrong said. “But when I think about CBS 6, I think about the beginning of television because I was alive when television started and CBS 6 was the first television station anywhere around here.”

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