Face the State Flashback

Face the State Flashback: Dick Bertel Leaves Channel 3 as WFSB is Born

dickbertel2.jpg

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.

dickbertel3.jpg

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.

constitution.jpg

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.

abc_nixon_121116_wg

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.

dickbertel4

bertel

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.

Jean  Dick Bertel 2005

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:

FACE THE STATE FLASHBACK.jpg

FACE THE STATE ANDREWS.jpg

Advertisements

6 replies »

  1. He was a prince of a guy, part of the all professional force that set a very high standard in a industry that was pioneering new ways each and every day.

    Like

  2. If memory serves, the Travelers sale of its broadcast properties was announced on the front page of The Hartford Courant on the same day that the Courant headlined the death of former president Lyndon Johnson. That late January, 1973 article cited Travelers’ desire to concentrate on its core business, insurance, as the reason for the sale. (It would take until March of the following year to close the deal and change Channel 3’s call letters. For years after the change in ownership, viewers would still address letters to WTIC-TV, so ingrained were those calls letters in the audience’s minds.) But I’ve always wondered if there were other reasons why the company decided to relinquish a radio station that they had started in 1925 and a TV station that they had been seeking a construction permit for since the 1940s.

    One theory: The network shows and changing tastes were becoming something that the staid Travelers did not want to be associated with. CBS programming went through a big change in 1971, and Hartford-born producer Norman Lear had started a trend of contemporary programs on the network that dealt with sometimes controversial subjects. The archbishop of Hartford resigned from Channel 3’s community advisory board after the station decided not to preempt an episode of “Maude” that dealt with abortion.

    On the bonus section of season 3, disc 3 of The Smothers Brothers DVD, Tommy Smothers includes a letter that WTIC-TV’s vice-president of standards and practices, Bob DuFour, wrote to the president of programming of CBS, hoping that the network would reign in “those clowns” from crossing the bounds of good taste. Mr. DuFour meant clowns in a derogatory sense, and Tommy Smothers kept the letter as a badge of honor because he loved tweaking authority. WTIC was one of the CBS affiliates that had an employee prescreen The Smothers Brothers Show on a closed circuit hook-up before the actual airdate. The bonus section of the Smothers DVD also includes a card that a Channel 3 director filled out after watching a show that was to air on the network the following Sunday. He noted on the card about four instances of objectionable material. This card was sent to CBS and ultimately to the Smothers brothers, and they kept it all these years.

    Whatever the reasons were for the Travelers to part with their “children”, WTIC-AM-FM-TV3, that company brought a great deal of professionalism and conscientious public service to those stations while they were the stewards. Thanks, Dennis, to you and station personnel for digitizing and showing the 16mm film and videotape from the Travelers-era archives. It brings back many memories when this lifetime Connecticut resident hears one of those original top-of-the-hour station identifications, “This is Channel 3, WTIC-TV, Hartford”.

    One of Channel 3’s anniversary shows had a brief clip of the Hartford Symphony Orchestra playing “The Broadcaster Suite” during the dedication and opening of Broadcast House in November, 1961. Might the archives have any expanded kinescope of that live broadcast, which I believe was partly hosted by Dick Bertel? Thank you.

    I’ll leave you with this piece of trivia. How did Bradley International Airport play a role in Channel 3’s history? According to a short article in Broadcasting Magazine from December 1, 1958 (page 5), CBS’ Dr. Frank Stanton phoned WTIC’s Paul Morency (the first person that you hear on Channel 3’s inaugural broadcast) and asked to meet him. Stanton got off of a jet at Bradley and – right there at the airport – made a deal with Morency for WTIC-TV to become a CBS affiliate. The agreement was done so quickly that Stanton was able to reboard the same jet after it refueled, and he flew back to New York with powerhouse Channel 3 lined up to begin carrying CBS programs on a Sunday in mid-November, 1958.

    Like

  3. to Lasley Jane Seymour from More why employees of your company like Jonny Litchinstein still working Jonny can’t be trusted he work for Otis Livingston from CBS he rob every person at more magazin Otis Livingston uses Jonny to rob Meredith corp don’t trust them

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s