40 years ago this month, people were raving about a new sitcom called “Good Times,” and were eagerly anticipating the release of “the Great Gatsby” starring Robert Redford. Longtime Connecticut news anchor Dick Bertel was also signing off from Channel 3, although viewers didn’t know it until after the fact. In this Sunday’s Face the State flashback, we’ll take a look back at Dick’s last newscast, that aired on March 1, 1974.
Back then our call letters were WTIC, which stood for Travelers Insurance Company. That month, The Travelers was selling the television station and Broadcast House to the Washington Post, and our name would change to WFSB on March 8th, in honor of Frederick S. Beebe, who ran the Post’s broadcasting division. As part of the sale, Bertel’s Channel 3 career would come to an end. During the negotiations between the Travelers and the Post leading up to the sale, Bertel was offered a job with the radio side, WTIC AM 1080, and that’s where he went with their new owners, the 1080 Corporation.
In the newscast you’ll see at the link below, Bertel never says goodbye (he was told not to by management so as not to rattle viewers about the ownership change) but sportscaster George Ehrlich wishes him well on his “trip to Hawaii.” Always the consummate professional, Dick delivered the news on his final night as he did every night, effortlessly tossing to reporters and meteorologist Ken Garee. The lead story that night concerned opposition to a public transportation proposal, nicknamed “Tommy’s Trolley.” It was a people mover monorail type transit system proposed by then Governor Tom Meskill.
Dick’s last newscast was all local. There was no mention of the huge national story breaking that day: the indictments of the so-called “Watergate Seven,” which included some of President Richard Nixon’s closest aides.
Bertel worked at Channel 3 for 17 years anchoring the news, hosting specials and moderating Face the State. He anchored our radio coverage on November 22, 1963 (Walter Cronkite and CBS were handling TV duties) and anchored the first local newscast the weekend President Kennedy was assassinated.
After Channel 3, Dick worked for WTIC radio, which had split from its television sister in the ’74 sale. He later moved on to WKSS radio in Hartford, before heading to Washington to work for Voice of America until he retired in 2006. Dick is living with his wife Jean in Maryland. He’s 83 and tells me he is doing great.
The Washington Post owned WFSB for 23 years, selling us to the Meredith Corporation in 1997. Here’s more on when they sold us: https://dennishouse.tv/2013/08/06/the-day-the-washington-post-sold-us/
Also in the clip you’ll see At the link below, look for congressman turned news anchor Toby Moffett and former NAACP leader Republican Ben Andrews.
Watch the newscast right here: