WAVE looks back, celebrates 75 years of TV news

WAVE News celebrates 75th anniversary
Published: Nov. 20, 2023 at 8:47 PM EST
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - The invention of the television brought the world right into our living rooms as we all gathered around to watch everything from newsreels to live commercials touting the tastiest beer. In WAVE Country, WAVE was the first television station on air.

We are proud as we look back and celebrate 75 years of community involvement, a flurry of firsts and a commitment to getting you the news you need.

75 years ago, Nov. 24, 1948, WAVE “5″ brought television to the Bluegrass. We did not become the “news channel 3″ until the early 50s. That first program was a variety show of sorts with singers and comedians. The broadcast was in black and white.

WAVE’s first program director Burt Blackwell said years later that television was an adventure.

”It was a new element,” Blackwell said. “None of us had ever done this sort of thing before. It was Wednesday night, November 24th. We had a one-hour show to get on the air.”

One of the first news anchors at the time whose work later earned him status as a Louisville legend was Livingston Gilbert. Gilbert started as an announcer with WAVE radio in 1941. He was a newscaster and news anchor for WAVE radio and television for almost 40 years.

The news director at the time, Jim Caldwell says the transition from radio to television was monumental.

”We had a big adjustment,” Caldwell said. “We had unflappable newscasters. We would set their copy on fire. We would put women’s hats on their heads, but they’d never crack up. You couldn’t do that on TV.”

Something else about those early TV days, the commercials, like everything else, were live. In one commercial, the announcer Bob Kay pops the metal top of an Oertals beer and not only pours it, he has a drink as he exclaims how wonderful the product is and just how much it will change your life. Viewers fell in love with this new medium of communication and entertainment.

In those days, nothing was scripted, little was rehearsed. A live Opera was performed in the WAVE studios with no rehearsal but with talented artists who were ready for the show. Children’s shows were also included like The Magic Forest hosted by sports guy Ed Kallay with puppets Sylvester and Tom Foolery.

Those were the golden days of television. A new and exciting time for a medium that literally changed our world.