THE STUDIO SWIMMING POOL
When a local sponsor asked WDSU-TV Program Director,
Stanley Holiday if it was posible to present a television program in which
YMCA and YWCA instructors could teach kids swimming and water safety. That
question led to the construction of a twenty thousand gallon swimming pool
in an area of the garage on the Toulouse Street side of the studio. The
pool also was used in other local programs, one of which featured a segment
with two Cajun gentlemen wrestling alligators in the pool. There was some
xcitement generated before that segment when a wire holding the mouth of a
uge alligator closed, snapped before the monster was lowered into the pool.
Once in the pool, one of the alligator wrestlers was able to re-wrap its jaws
closed until the live segment was to air.
SHARKEY BONANNO WITH POKE CHOPS AND KIDNEY STEW
Dixieland music filled the studo! Announcer Jack Alexander, seen just
above the cameraman's shoulder in the above picture, introduces Sharkey
Bonano and his Dixieland group. Sharkey made many appearances on the
WDSU-TV screen. He played his theme song "I LIKE BANANAS (BECAUSE THEY
HAVE NO BONES" by Chris Yacich - 1927) while the tap dancing legends
of the View Carre', Poke Chops and Kidney Stew, demonstrated their
rhythmic talents. At that time Sharkey and his group, drummer "Monk" Hazel,
"Chink" Martin on bass and clarinetist Lester Bouchon were regulars on
the stage at "The Famous Door" lounge on Bourbon Street.
A catwalk, shown in the above picture, surrounded the studio at a level
just below the suspended lighting grid. Both "A" and "B" sides of the
studio had a catwalk which led into the glassed in, second level, control
room on the Royal street side of the studios.
In a later program, Sharkey and his band were paired with Oscar
"Papa" Celestin, second from the right, and his Dixieland band. The announcer is Roger Wolfe, who hosted both
radio and television Dixieland music programs. Also seen in the above picture
are Jeff Riddick at the piano and Clarence Alphonse Picou, third from the
right in the Celestin group. Picou was famous for the clarinet solo in
Celestin's "High Society" recording.
WDSU-TV AND WDSU AM JOIN NBC OCT. 4, 1951
The Illustrated Press, a New Orleans Newspaper reporting news of Radio
and TV, announced WDSU joined NBC as of Oct. 4, 1951. The newspaper
forecast this merger 900 years ago according to the date on the banner. Look
at the enlarged image below.
THE NEWSROOM OF THE WDSU-TV ROYAL STREET STUDIOS
The newsroom/studio is shown as it was shortly after the station moved to
its Royal Street location. "Esso Reporter", Brandon Chase is cheking the
election returns boards while Mel Leavitt awaits his turn in his "Jax"
(Jax Beer) sports set. At that time sponsor identification on the set
was commonplace. A later FCC ruling outlawed the display of sponsor
dentification throughout the program. In the teletype room, Gay Batson,
Chief Announcer, gathers election results. Others involved in the election
returns program are announcer, Tiger Flowers, who also did news and sports
reporting (next to the teletype room), and two unidentified newsroom assistants.
News director Bill Monroe is at the desk in the foreground. Note the
sponsor id signs over the desks along he wall adjacent to the teletype
In another newsroom/studio setup in the above picture, News Director,
Bill Monroe, does some on-cam news analysis, Mel Leavitt follows with sports.
At the teletype room door is director Herman Liveright. Cameramen are (center)
Gene Porter and (right) Mel Price.The floor director is Ruppert Coponex.
Barely seen, on the extreme right edge of the picture, is the head of the
station accounting department, A. B. Suhor.
THE WDSU-TV VTR-Q (Videotape cue/slate)
The February 1964 issue of "Broadcast Engineering", the "bible" of the
broadcast engineers, featured the WDSU-TV videotape cue device designed
and built by Paul Yacich. The unit provided an electronic slate for
videotape programs and commercials and was one of the first of its kind in
the country. Asst. Ch. Engineer Edward Tong and Yacich wrote the article
for the magazine. The VTR-Q is shown in operation in Studio "B" in the
THE FIRST WDSU-TV COLOR CAMERA
Not exactly a camera designed for hand-held operation, the
WDSU-TV RCA color camera introduced the WDSU-TV celebrities in color to
viewers in New Orleans who owned color TV sets....all two of them! An RCA color
film chain was installed earlier and some local color slides and film
presentations had already been broadcast. The huge RCA camera was soon replaced
by GE color cameras....two in Studio "A", two in Studio "B" and two aboard the
second WDSU-TV remote unit.
THE NEW (SECOND) WDSU-TV REMOTE UNIT
The new Flexibus remote unit, under the supervision of
ngineering Supervisor Lou Yarborough was seen every where in Louisiana and
many other states in the country. The remote crew provided the technical
facilities for national network feeds.
During the segregation/integration
crisis in the south, the unit and crew faced great danger to bring programs
like the CBS Edward R. Morrow program from the mountain-top ranch of Winthrop
Rockerfeller, Winrock Farm near Little Rock, Arkansas, NBC news features in
Selma, Alabama, where one of the WDSU-TV news car traveling with the unit
was set on fire destroying thousands of dollars of film equipment and
threatened the life of WDSU-TV news photographer, Jim Tolhurst. Another
WDSU-TV news car, legally parked, was deliberately smashed into by a car
driven by an irate driver. WDSU-TV news photographer, Mike Lala, wasn't in
the vehicle but was ticketed for negligent driving.
MOBILE CAMERA PLATFORM AND (W/MICROWAVE TRANSMITTER)
A ONE_CAMERA REMOTE UNIT
In the remote van configuration the VW van saw service as
a live news pickup unit. As a camera platform, shown in the picture below,
it traveled with the Flexibus remote unit.
SOME OF THE VEHICLES OF THE CHANNEL 6 CELEBRITY CARAVAN
THE CELEBRITY 6 CARAVAN
To allow the viewers in areas surrounding the city of New
Orleans to see the WDSU-TV celebrities in person, a grand parade of WDSU-TV
vehicles filled with the stars of the New Orleans TV screen, visited many
of the towns in the WDSU-TV coverage area both in Louisiana and in
Mississippi. Towns like Thibodaux, Houma, Grand Isle, Franklinton and
Gulfport turned out thousands of people to see the "Celebrity 6 Caravan"
with Mel Leavitt, Terry Flettrich, Wayne Mack, Nash Roberts, Bill Slatter,
Ed Planer, Alec Gifford, Bob and Jan Carr, Pete Lauderman, Al Shea and
THE VTR VAN
The VTR van was one of the most important units of the Caravan.
While in each town visited by the Caravan, segments of the various WDSU-TV
programs were taped in the town. Mel Leavitt recorded his "Byline" show,
Wayne Mack did some sports interviews, Terry Flettrich did segments for
"Midday". Director Paul Yacich (with the VTR van in the pix below) was in
charge of the Caravans and directed all of the recorded segments.
The only time we failed to bring back recorded segments was when the Caravan
visited Keesler Field in Misissippi. While at a lunchtime meting with the
commander of the base, a young lieutenant came into the room and
hispered into the commander's ear. A look of shock came across his face and he
announced to us that the base was going on the highest level of alert. He
said: "My boss has been shot!" and immediately left. It was some time before
we knew he meant President Kennedy had been shot. It was a very sad Caravan
that returned to New Orleans.
WDSU-TV ORIGINATES COLGATE COMEDY HOUR FROM NEW ORLEANS
WDSU-TV crews brought their cameras into the popular Vieux
Carre' tourist attraction "Court Of The Two Sisters" to originate the NBC
"Colgate Comedy Hour". WDSU-TV announcer, Bob Nelson, who did a bit on
the show is shown in the above picture (left) along with TV star Gordon McCrea watch
singer Peggy Lee as she performs for the cameras. Sam Poplous, of the
WDSU-TV building maintenance department, is shown between McRae and Miss
WDSU-TV ENGINEERS HANDLE FIRST "OVERSEAS" LIVE TV PROGRAM
In 1956 the NBC-TV engineering department asked "Ma Bell" if
a live program, "Wide, Wide World", could be relayed from the Carribean
islands of Bimini, Cat Cay, and Gun Cay, and a yacht, owned by the Link
Aviation company, sailing in the waters near those islands. The answer was
that there was no facilities available at that time to accomplish that
When WDSU-TV Chief Engineer, Lindsey Riddle was asked if he thought it
could be done, he suggested assembling a full size television transmitter
on the island of Bimini and using a "beam" type antenna to relay the
program on channel 8 to Fort Lauderdale, about 65 miles away. Fifteen
WDSU-TV engineers went to the Carribean islands and assembled the
transmitter brought there aboard a converted Canadian
corvette along with regular TV cameras and two Canadian cameras designed
to operate underwater. Cameraman Joe Budde was with the group and shot
the pictures shown in:
THE FIRST "OVERSEAS" LIVE TV PROGRAM (Click HERE)
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For more New Orleans radio and television memories:
"NEW ORLEANS RADIO AND TV SHRINE"