By Rick Banas of BMA Management, Ltd.
Gladys Minier’s copy of the news story that was written about her role as one of ten young women who pioneered the television industry in Chicago has yellowed over time.
The article about Gladys, who is now living in the Heritage Woods affordable assisted living community that BMA manages in South Elgin, Illinois, was published 35 years ago in the Family Living section of the Lerner-Voice Newspapers. It was written by staff writer Diane Jensen.
Gladys was living in Hanover Park and working as an advertising account executive for Lerner-Voice newspapers at that time.
The article’s insights into what the early days of television in the Chicago area were like are truly remarkable, especially in this day and age of instant communications round-the-clock.
- Gladys began working in television in 1942 for WBKB, the first TV station in Chicago.
- Her career in television began after she answered an ad that read “Wanted: Telegenic talented girls for technical work in TV studio. Mechanical experience unnecessary.”
- She was one of ten women selected to be WATTS (Women’s Auxiliary Television Technicians).
- Each of the WATTS were trained to be “Jills-of-all-trades,” learning about writing as well as how to be a director, producer and cameraman.
- Prior to going into television, Gladys had worked summers at the NBC radio institute of speech while attending Northwestern.
- In 1942, WBKB was on the air for just 15 hours a week, going on at 7 p.m. and off at 10 p.m. on weekdays. No television during the day or on weekends.
- There were no soap operas and no advertising. The station would open with news, followed by a variety show, drama and a hen cooking show.
- Radio broadcasters volunteered to be newscasters on TV.
- Gladys was responsible for originating news, medicine, entertainment, variety and sports shows.
- Since live broadcasts of sporting events were not yet possible, Gladys devised a way to simulate a baseball game using a miniature playing field she created and ticker tape audio sound. The first game that was broadcast using this method was an opening day game between the Chicago Cubs and the St. Louis Cardinals.
My, how times have changed.
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