Celebrating WICU’s 60 years

On March 15, 1949 the new medium of television came to Erie, Pennsylvania when station WICU signed on channel 12.

Now the stations is celebrating 60 years of broadcasting with commemorative promos leading up to a 60th anniversary show in December. Meanwhile all of us here at P&T get to enjoy the look back.

Promos courtesy of WICU 12:

Promo #1:


Promo #2:


Promo #3:


I love this stuff…don’t you?!?!

29 Responses to Celebrating WICU’s 60 years

  1. Roger says:

    Great promos, Joel. Thanks for this post. I have memories of the Pappy show as a kid, always wanting to go to the studio for one of the shows (Skip Letcher, was it, who was Pappy?). Vance McBryde as the Atlantic weatherman with “a big hello to the folks in Kane”. Even some of the other news sponsors, such at National Fuel Gas, Halle’s department store, etc.

    It’s interesting that most all the memories of a TV station are centered around the live, local elements and not the network or syndicated programming. That truly defines the heart and soul of a broadcaster.

  2. PR says:

    It’s nice to see the Lilly’s finally recognizing the station’s history. Bill Knupp’s voice brings back a lot of great memories. Working with the professionals like Knupp, McGrath, McBryde, Csop, etc. made the job so enjoyable. WICU had lots of great folks over the years and they made Channel 12 the leader that it was for all those years. It’s a shame that SJL can’t get their act together and bring it back into the lead, but today it’s all about $$$ and not the viewers needs, or quality.

  3. The golden age of television…and to think that WICU began the same year I was born……I guess we’re both “pioneers”.
    thanks for grabbing these Joel.

  4. Tom Lavery says:

    Why was this not done back on the anniversary? Maybe the station took some heat for neglecting its history from some viewers and decided to commemorate the anniversary after all.

  5. Tim says:

    That is the $64,000 question, Tom. It does seem odd that the 60th Anniversary program isn’t going to be until December. Why not do it back in March when the station ACTUALLY turned 60???

    I just hope that the program (when it does air in December) will spend a good deal of time focusing on the station’s heritage and not spend too much time on the current staff. I guess I want it to be a nostalgia program and not an infomercial for 12 News and the current staff.

  6. the other max says:

    Tom..there may be some truth in what you say, but my bet is that with the move from 1220 combined with all the upheaval that was taking place earlier in the year, something like this was not a priority.

    And Tim…sadly, you’re probably correct in that it’ll end up being an informercial for the curent WICU with a slight nod to the past. The original special, if memory serves, was 2 hours. This will probably be cut to a half hour at best.

  7. tony v. says:

    I remember celebrating the 40th anniversary back in 1989. The station produced a special show with vintage footage and interviews with veterans from on-air and engineering.
    We even brought Jay Leno in for a “live” show at the Warner back when he was stumping for the Tonight Show slot. We hung out with Jay afterwards and he was very polite.

  8. […] Celebrating WICU's 60 years | Press and Tower :: News and … […]

  9. Tim says:

    I had the great honor of watching the TV-12 40th Anniversary special the other night at Mike Csop’s house. It was a fast paced 60 minute retrospective. A lot of great talent has walked through the doors at TV-12 over the years: Bill “Chilly Billy” Cardille, “Pappy”, Van Cantfort, Pete Sala, Dave Forsythe, Eric Johnson, Bill Knupp, Vance McBryde, Hyle Richmond, Ned McGrath, Shirley Ramsey, Bea Canfield, Ken Fanzini, Bob Lundquist, Art Ingram, Clarence Paoella, Mike Csop, etc. Wow! There was a lot of legendary talent at WICU both in front of and behind the camera…I hope I didn’t forget anyone?

    I dare say that the current management would be hard-pressed to duplicate the quality shown in the 40th Anniversary program. Although Mike Csop did tell me that someone from Channel 12 contacted him a few weeks ago (he wouldn’t say who) and asked for access to his archives…so you never know, it might just be a great program?

  10. Doug White says:

    As a long time past member of the WICU family I am very happy to see the past remembered by the present ownership of WICU.

    WICU has long and storied hstory in broadcasting that should never to be tossed away.
    I look forward to the anniversary show and offer any help I can to the producers of the show.

  11. Marci Watson says:

    My hubby recognized my curly hair in the promo with Pappy and the dance class….. I was in the back but it was definitely me!!! I have pics in my scrap book from that day!!! Thanks for the memories! Those were the days!! I’d love to put that clip on FB!
    Catherine Little’s Dance Class!!! How much fun we had with Pappy!!!

  12. I enjoyed some of the great moments on WICU TV 12 here in Erie PA. HAPPY 60TH anniversary WICU 12! I also remember ICU News “the hotline edittion”, and “the eleventh hour edition” news shows many years ago.Thanks for the memories.

  13. Roger says:

    Does anyone know when the 60th Anniversary show is going to be scheduled?

  14. Roger says:

    I’ll ask again, has the 60th Anniversary program been scheduled yet? The original September 30th post said: “Now the stations is celebrating 60 years of broadcasting with commemorative promos leading up to a 60th anniversary show in December.”

    Did this show get blown off, or have I missed the promos for it, or will it run in the Christmas-New Year week and they’ve not yet started promoting it yet?

  15. Tim says:

    I think I can answer Roger’s question. I know for a fact that Lisa Adams spent 3 1/2 hours last week at Mike Csop’s home in Spartansburg interviewing him and looking at Mr. Csop’s collection of WICU memorabilia.

    The show is still being worked on. I don’t believe a date has been set but I am almost 90% certain the show will run in December. I’d try for 100% certainty but these days there is no sure thing except death and taxes – LOL :)

  16. PR says:

    Son’t hold your breath, I will be really surprised if the show ever airs. Neither Brian Lilly, nor and his father, give a rats butt about WICU’s history or the impact the station had on Erie. As far as they are concerned WICU history started when SJL took over from the Lamb family. Anything before that time is unimportant. SJL continues to destroy 2 good stations with their ineptitude and mismanagement. 12 & 35 are just BL’s play toys.

  17. Diane Boesch says:

    I am very interested in the 60-year retrospective. My uncle, Don Lick, was one of WICUs earliest announcers. Among other assignments, he hosted a local talent show, Stairway to the Stars, during which local people showcased their talents. During the following week viewers (probably relatives of the contestants) submitted postcards naming the “talent” they deemed the best. I think I was six or seven years old (about 1949?) when I, too, competed. I sang “If I Knew You Were Coming I’d Have Baked a Cake”. No, I did not win but Mother thought that had to be because other contestants had larger families.
    Don Lick was a true talent of his own, with a sonorous voice, piano skills, and a rich rendition of “Old Man River”. He moved on to southern California sometime after 1958, and established many musical groups prior to his death in June 2009.
    His brother-in-law, Bob Berlin, worked with a fellow welder, (first name Judd) to construct an early boom to handle one of the cameras used at WICU.
    Please contact me if there is any way to secure information on this retrospective or the earlier one. I know Uncle Don’s family would be delighted.
    I have a black-and-white 8 X 10 photo of Bob Berlin posing on the WICU boom.

  18. John Kleiner says:

    “Garden & Farm” with Biron Decker was a Saturday staple for many years until 1979. An easy memory of the show is its theme song: “Stars and Stripes Forever”.

  19. Marilyn says:

    I remember Vance McBryde, Hyle Richmond and Dave Forsythe, Ned McGrath and Bill Knupp in the 60-70’s. That’s when you knew your newsmen and trusted what they said – not like today where all the faces look alike, and they all giggle and laugh too much.

    There was a carpet company somewhere on West 26th (near Brown Avenue, I think) who hired any variation of these guys above to do the most hilarious, SNL-type commercials that had my mother and I rolling on the floor laughing til we were crying – they were absolutely very funny doing the commmercials!

    I also remember once of the dark-haired guys (Knupp or Forsythe) flubbing some report on “trees and shrubs” and it came out “shrees and tubs” – and again we all burst out into a laughing jag!

    Lot of good memories with these guys, but you knew when they spoke, they had the facts. Right up there with Cronkite and Huntley-Brinkley. Hope they are all doing okay, if still around. Thanks for the memories, guys!

  20. JimGriffey says:

    Sad to say that only Hyle is still with us. I could be wrong, but I think he’s retired to Arizona.

  21. PR says:

    Yes Jim, Hyle retired to AZ after he won the age discrimation lawsuit **edit**. He was a great guy to work with. Working the county court house with him was like trying to follow a mouse in search of cheese. He knew eveyone and had hundreds of contacts. Those were to days when reporters were local and everyone knew them, not like today’s revolving door.

  22. Sylvester says:

    Hyle Richmond did not win an age discrimination lawsuit against the Lilly Family. Mr Richmond accepted a settlement offer out of court from Priscilla Lamb-Schweier the daughter of WICU founder Edward Lamb for $250,000.

    The Lilly Family did not purchase WICU-TV from the Lamb Family until 1996. Everything that happened before 1996 was under the leadership of the Lamb Family and Great Lakes Communications Incorporated.

  23. Handwriting on the Wall says:

    Billy Joel said it best in his song “Keeping the Faith” —-

    “You can get just so much
    From a good thing
    You can linger too long
    In your dreams
    Say goodbye to the
    Oldies but goodies
    ‘Cause the good ole days weren’t
    Always good
    And tomorrow ain’t as bad as it seems.”

  24. PR says:

    You’re correct. Couldn’t remember the exact details but rememebered that Hyle had filed a lawsuit. His removal was another one of those recommended by consultants that helped run ICU into the ground.

  25. Gomer Lesch says:

    I was production manager at WICU 1949-1950. Remember Don Lick’s program “I Hear Music,” with his singing, Milt Munn’s organ playing Also remember Mike Csop — a competent and level-headed chief engineer. Dutch Underhill was manager, Johnny Peck sales manager. Colin Male left the station for Columbus, and urged me to take his job in Erie. I was a WEBR, Buffalo announcer. After Erie, went to WFMY-TV in Greensboro, NC as program director. Now live in Bowling Green, KY.

  26. Jim Riede says:

    I started my career in television at WICU in 1978. I worked as an an cameraman and Technical Director. It was in the waning days of Vance McBryde, Hyle Richmond and Ned McGrath. My Director was Lisa Adams. It was only for a brief time, then I came to New York City. Now, many years later as a network Technical Director, I still look back with pride at my stint at Channel 12. I was proud to say I worked there then, and I am just as proud today.

  27. Dick Gillett says:

    I’m in my late 60’s and remember distinctly Dave Forsythe’s kids show.He dressed up like a bum clown and was famous for his eleventy seven number.He also hosted a horror show where they made his face and voive look scary.I loved those movies.

  28. Cal letcher (fallier) says:

    Those were the days,,my dad was skip letcher,,actually his name was Sydney,,my brothers birth name was skipper,,I have fond memories of hanging around wicu during the pappy show,,tv bingo,music for sunday on wicu radio,,I remember all the local celebs,Shirley ramsey,Lou zero,bill nupp,Ned mcgrath,hyle richmond,dave Forsythe,,unfortunately my parents divorced,,”skip” wasn’t much of a family man,,didn’t spend much time at home,,but I spent time with him at the station and when he would do personal appearances as pappy,,p a p p y,pappy that’s me,,lol,just thought I’d chime in

  29. Tim Kuryla says:

    I grew up on W 34th St, two blocks away from WICU. I was a neighborhood kid who played around the construction site. I was on Bill Cardille’s Kids mailing list. Being that close meant the WICU on early TV sets was not just on ch 12. I remember township school buses parked on State back to 34th. WICU would put extension cords on cameras so they could be put at the front door to catch those schools bands marching past. A very short Parade. During the Thanksgiving 1956 snow storm, WICU people dug a path to Hammonds Market (E 35 & State) so they could get food.

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