Country Morning was an early-morning program on WRAL-TV in the 1950s and 60s.
The show featured lots of country music along with occasional farm news and weather reports. One of the popular musical acts that appeared on the show was “Brothers in Bluegrass.”
Country Morning was one of many WRAL morning shows from the early days of Channel 5. Other morning shows included Daybreak, Aspect and Good Morning 5 Country.
Ray Wilkinson tells stories of country humor through two ficticious characters he created named Cecil and Leonard. The stories are very short. You will see countdown leader separating the stories.
“Brothers in Bluegrass” provided country music for the morning farm news program called “Country Morning.”
“Daybreak” was a morning entertainment program that aired on WRAL-TV in the late 50s and early 60s.
The show featured local and regional musicians taking part in what WRAL promotional literature described as “an informal hour of country music at its best.”
Popular radio and recording personality Mike Hight was one of the band leaders on the show, but the best-known performer was Homer Briarhopper, who appeared on the show with his “Daybreak Gang” for many years.
Daybreak was a live studio program that aired each weekday at 6 a.m.
Mike Hight and the Daybreak gang entertain WRAL-TV audiences
“DAYBREAK with Homer Briarhopper” aired every weekday morning from 6:00-7:00. The morning was filled with country music, farm updates and good times. This program was taped on June 7, 1973 in Studio A at WRAL-TV.
Daybreak Show promotional flyer
Dialing for Dollars was a television and radio program format that allowed attentive viewers and listeners to win money and prizes if they knew the correct answer to a question posed by the program host.
At WRAL-TV, Dialing for Dollars programming was hosted primarily by Bob DeBardelaben, who went on to fame as the primary weather anchor on the Action News 5 broadcasts.
The Dialing for Dollars game was often conducted during a movie. During periodic commercial breaks, the host would appear to provide the day’s winning information and then make phone calls to random numbers in the region. If the person answering the phone was watching the program and knew the correct answer—the prize was won.
DeBardelaben gained early popularity as the Dialing for Dollars host, appearing in the studio with a telephone and large prize wheel. He hosted the program until 1976, when he moved into WRAL’s weather department full time.
Before his days as the Biggest Name in Weather, Bob DeBardelaben hosted the Dialing for Dollars programming on WRAL-TV. Here he is handing out a check to one of the contest winners. Note the game wheel in background showing the count and amount.
Bob DeBardelaben hosting “Dialing for Dollars”
Mrs. J.T. Bailey of Apex poses with her check for $150 that she won as the first winner of Dialing for Dollars. This took place August 17, 1966.
“Good Morning, Charlie!” was an entertainment program on WRAL-TV featuring television newcomer Charlie Gaddy.
Gaddy joined WRAL-TV in September 1970 after gaining popularity on WPTF Radio’s “Ask Your Neighbor” program. The morning entertainment show was created to showcase his gift for conversation and singing abilities.
The program featured Charlie taking phone calls from viewers interspersed with interviews and regular entertainment from the host and visiting performers. Charlie was a talented vocalist and the program often featured him singing, sometimes with performer Joyce Hawley.
It was a half-hour live program airing at 9:00 a.m. each weekday.
“Good Morning Charlie” hosted by Charlie Gaddy. The show featured a variety of entertainment and information for viewers and a live studio audience. Country music entertainer Jimmy Dean (also famous for Jimmy Dean sausage) performed at the State Fair in Raleigh and dropped by the WRAL studios for an interview.
Charlie Gaddy on phone during “Good Morning, Charlie” show
Charlie Gaddy and Larraine Moore prepare for “Good Morning, Charlie” show
PM Magazine was a unique programming concept that spread across the country in the late 70s and early 80s.
As the name implies, PM was a “magazine” show that featured local hosts introducing stories produced at the local and national level. The story topics were uplifting, interesting, and fun, while the hosts were friendly and entertaining. For WRAL-TV, the mix of local co-hosts appearing in quintessential North Carolina locations proved to be a hit with viewers.
PM Magazine aired on WRAL from 1980 to 1987. The show was hosted originally by Susan Dahlin and Tom McNamara. When Tom left to anchor news in another city, Rick Williams, a WRAL news reporter, was tapped to join Susan.
WRAL Program Director Will Davis spearheaded the show’s launch before moving into other management roles at WRAL. Phyllis Parish served as story producer, associate producer, and later co-producer with Dahlin for the last two years of the run. A number of talented photographers worked on the show, including Jim Colman, Steve Craddock and John Avery.
One of the secrets to PM’s success was the format. It was developed by KPIX-TV in San Francisco in 1976 and was franchised by Group W Television in 1978.
PM Magazine was essentially a story-sharing cooperative made up of member stations across the country. Group W developed theme music and graphics and provided two six-minute story segments for all the stations to use each weekday. That formula ensured that no matter where the program aired, it would have a high measure of quality and style.
The only requirement the local station needed to provide was its own co-hosts plus one local feature for the cooperative each week. If a station had more production resources, it could substitute local features for national features any time.
Everything was shot on location, and the blend of local and national stories gave viewers an insight into interesting people and places across the country.
Former PM Producer Phyllis Parish remembers one of her favorite PM experiences: “One of my favorite NC stories focused on the loggerhead sea turtles at Bald Head Island. We camped out several nights waiting on a mama turtle to arrive. Late one evening, we saw this loggerhead dragging her giant body ashore to nest and bury her eggs. It was a sight I’ll never forget! We were real careful not to let our TV lights scare her from digging her hole in the sand, depositing 80+ ping pong ball sized eggs, then covering up the nest with sand before slowly heading back out to sea. About sixty days later, we traveled back to Bald Head and timed it perfectly, capturing the mama’s hatchlings as they scampered out of the sandy nest and headed toward the ocean! The national PM office selected this story to air nationwide and our team was thrilled. (Having a story ‘go national’ was like winning an Emmy!) This was one of those unforgettable experiences we captured on tape and were proud to share with PM’s viewers across the country.”
WRAL’s PM Magazine unit sometimes traveled out of state and even out of the country to find stories. The PM team visited the Florida Keys to swim with the dolphins and even flew across the Atlantic to produce features on the town of Durham, England.
Where are former hosts Susan, Tom, and Rick now?
After PM Magazine ended its run, Susan Dahlin remained with WRAL-TV as a producer and executive producer of documentaries and special projects. Now she is a successful local artist and entrepreneur.
Tom McNamara moved into television news and is a news anchor at KVOA in Tucson, Arizona.
Rick Williams returned to his journalistic roots in 1988 when he joined WPVI in Philadelphia. Rick was inducted into the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia in 2010.
PM Magazine was a weekly television program that was part local/part national. WRAL was one of many stations that participated in this story sharing cooperative made up of member stations across the country.
This particular episode aired September 29, 1987. It is one of the latter shows produced at WRAL. Susan Dahlin was the co-host along with former news reporter Rick Williams who replaced the original co-host Tom McNamara who accepted a news anchoring position in Arizona. In 1988, Rick – a native New Yorker, returned to his news roots at WPVI in Philadephia.
Vintage commercial and promos are included in this episode.
PM Magazine host Susan Dahlin and the production crew decided to explore outside of North Carolina, waaaay outside and explore Norway. Susan’s family roots run deep in that Scandinavian country. One of the segments featured Susan catching up with her Uncle Arne in Oslo, the capitol of Norway. Arne Dahlin is a very gifted artist, as you will see in this story. For those who know Susan, she is an accomplished artist too!
Enjoy this story about Susan and her uncle getting together after not seeing each other for 17 years.
Aired in 1989.
Former PM Magazine host Tom McNamara became a news anchor at KTVK in Phoenix, Arizona in the late ’80s. But he always remembered his friends back at WRAL-TV and the viewers in Raleigh. Tom sent this Christmas greeting and an update on what was happening in life in Arizona.
Tom is now retired from working in television. His last position was with KVOA in Tucson, Arizona. He anchored the evening newscast for 18 years. Tom announced his retirement in December 2014.
Tom McNamara and Susan Dahlin were co-hosts of the daily evening program, “PM MAGAZINE” on WRAL-TV during the early ’80s. Tom eventually left WRAL in 1984 in order to pursue a career in news in Phoenix, Arizona. He became a news anchor at channel 3, KTVK.
Susan visited Tom in Phoenix and received a quick tour of the gorgeous area. (circa 1985)
Susan Dahlin became one of the most well known personalities at WRAL-TV. She is primarily known as the co-host of the popular program PM Magazine that aired in early to late ’80s. After PM Magazine she became an outstanding producer of many documentary projects that garnered national awards. Susan was also a spokesperson on behalf of Capitol Broadcasting Company for the development of High Defintion television.
Susan made herself known to WRAL in the most circuitous way possible! She was working for a radio station in Florida when she heard that WRAL was holding auditions for co-host of PM Magazine. She also heard of an opening for the same position at KFMB in San Diego, California. Even though the audition process had officially closed at KFMB, she few out – unannounced – and asked to be interviewed anyway. This is her interview tape.
Susan was a finalist at KFMB, but was not hired. She turned her attention to WRAL in Raleigh. She made contact with the station, WRAL expressed interest and asked for an audition tape. Susan asked KFMB to sent her interview tape to WRAL. As you can tell, this was a very ’round-about way to break into showbiz!
The KFMB tape arrived at WRAL. Management saw something unique and special in Susan that other stations missed. She flew to Raleigh for an interview. She got the job! Susan Dahlin and Tom McNamara became hosts of PM Magazine on WRAL.
You can listen to Susan Dahlin detail the whole story on this website by searching Susan Dahlin on the search box.
Pops in the Park is an annual Labor Day concert that quickly became one of Capitol Broadcasting Company’s signature community projects – a spectacular evening of music that proved perfect for television and radio.
In 1981, WRAL-TV and WRAL-FM formed a partnership with The North Carolina Symphony and began broadcasting the concert live on location. That first broadcast originated from Raleigh’s Pullen Park, but the event was moved the next year to a larger outdoor venue at Meredith College’s McIver Amphitheatre.
The live performances were simulcast in stereo on WRAL-FM, so audio quality was of extreme importance. WRAL producers and engineers spent weeks perfecting microphone placements, sound levels, camera-angles and in-depth knowledge of the musical score that ultimately yielded a first-rate broadcast.
Over the years the concerts have grown in popularity and attendance climbed steadily; by the year 2000, an estimated 40,000 people attended the concert. Many thousands who couldn’t attend the events in person watched on Channel 5 and listened on WRAL-FM.
WRAL news anchors and personalities have routinely hosted the festivities and guest musicians from around the state were given the opportunity to perform with the symphony, including WRAL’s resident composer/musician Bill Leslie.
Various attractions for children were added over time, including soccer contests, pony rides, coloring books, free balloons and registration for the safety-oriented “Ident-a-Kid” program.
Each and every year, Pops in the Park concludes with Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture” followed by a rousing rendition of “Stars and Stripes Forever,” complete with fireworks and simulated cannon-fire. It’s always a crowd pleaser that leaves everyone smiling.
In 2001, a final change of venue moved the concert from Meredith College to Cary’s Koka Booth Theater. The NC Symphony enjoys its Summer Concert Series at the Booth Theater to this day.
Enjoy this presentation of Pops in the Park in 2004 by the North Carolina Symphony. The location is Koka Booth Amphitheatre in Cary, North Carolina. “POPS” is a production of WRAL and UNC television. The musical theme for this performance is Irish.
WRAL Chief Meteorologist Greg Fishel served as emcee. Greg enjoys playing the tuba in his spare time. WRAL Morning News anchor Bill Leslie and the music group Lorica perform celtic inspired music composed by Bill Leslie.
Pops in the Park concert was free to the public and aired on WRAL and WUNC on Labor Day weekend.
Camera operator Leesa Moore and Floor Manager Ivan Ingram at 1984 Pops concert. The annual affair at Meredith College drew an estimated 18,000 spectators that year.
The North Carolina Symphony presents “Pops in the Park” concert.
WRAL News anchor Bill Leslie explains the relationship between the station and the symphony. WRAL began broadcasting “Pops in the Park” LIVE in 1984. This 2006 presentation of Pops in the Park features NC Symphony resident conductor William Henry Curry and Assistant conductor Joan Landry. The venue was the Koka Booth Amphitheatre located in Cary, North Carolina. The concert aired on WRAL-TV and UNC-TV.
The NC Symphony kicks off their 1994 performance season at Meredith College with a LIVE free concert called “Pops in the Park.” WRAL News Anchor Charlie Gaddy serves as host of the telecast with Maestro Gerhardt Zimmermann conducting the orchestra. The first few seconds of the telecast are not seen here.
1984 “Pops in the Pop” concert by the NC Symphony conducted by James Ogle on Labor Day weekend. LIVE simulcast on WRAL-TV and WRAL-FM.
Fred Fletcher, eldest son of CBC founder A.J. Fletcher, helped launch WRAL-AM in 1939 and soon made a name for himself as the host of a daily talk show called “Tempus Fugit.” Fred would entertain, inform and hold forth with a cast of characters that included his most memorable persona –the lovable “Fairy Tale Man.” During every show Fred would transform into a master storyteller to read the classics from the Brothers Grimm. He was the proverbial one-man-band who created his own sound effects and made up the voices of all the characters. Listeners young and old loved it, and before long “Tempus Fugit” was the top-ranked show in its time period.
Listen to volume seven of “Fairy Tales” as told by Fred Fletcher. These vintage audio recordings of live radio broadcasts are believed to have aired during the 1940’s decade.
Little Two Eyes 00:00 – 07:25
The Pink 07:28 – 15:30
Lambikin 15:32 – 21:27
Seven Ravens 21:28 – 27:00
Jack & the Beanstalk 27:01 – 37:08
Cinderella 37:10 – 44:40
Fundervogel 44:44 – 50:48
Turnip 51:15 – 57:45
Rowell Gormon is the multi-talented, creative genius who produced award winning commercials for WRAL-FM and served as the Production Manager for many years. Rowell might be best known for creating a puppet named “Zoot” who became a side-kick for FBI – Famous Bob Inskeep, during the morning radio show that aired in the late 70s and 80s. Rowell also provided various puppet characters for The Uncle Paul Show. He acted in an episode of “Sparks” that aired in July 1988.
Rowell continues to act and provides voices for top name brand companies and is a brilliant copy writer.
Rowell is interviewed by John Harris, Corporate Director of Special Projects.
Robert and Mary Bird, David Witherspoon and Fred Fletcher perform a Latin number for 1954 radio show
Fred Fletcher and Woody Hayes in 1954 production
Simple studio used for Fred Fletcher radio show in 1954
Teenage Frolics was a WRAL-TV music and dance program that is thought to be the country’s first regularly-scheduled television program hosted by an African-American.
The weekly program debuted on Channel 5 in 1958 and ran until 1982. It was hosted by J.D. Lewis, a WRAL radio and television personality who broke racial barriers and gained widespread popularity during a long career at Capitol Broadcasting Company.
Teenage Frolics aired live from the WRAL-TV studios at noon every Saturday. The show featured a studio audience comprised of African-American teenagers who sometimes traveled up to 100 miles just to take part. Former audience members say they practiced their moves all week to be ready to impress fellow dancers and the viewers at home.
Teenage Frolics was best known for its current music and dance. The program featured a house band led by local musician Irving Fuller, and on occasion nationally-known recording stars would drop by to promote their latest records. The show’s free-flowing live format also gave J.D. Lewis a platform for interviews with community leaders and nationally-known entertainers such as Lou Rawls and Isaac Hayes.
Teenage Frolics provided a window into black youth culture and music and gave African-American teenagers a sense of pride. The show also made host J.D. Lewis an institution in the community – a role model who gave black teenagers a chance to express themselves in positive ways. Lewis’ daughter, Yvonne Lewis-Holley, says people still approach her on the street and say that her father “…was the first black man they could see on TV who wasn’t pushing a broom.”
Teenage Frolics is often compared to “Soul Train,” a nationally-syndicated dance program featuring legendary host Don Cornelius. While Soul Train gained fame on a national level, it didn’t debut until 1971 — thirteen years after Teenage Frolics took to the air on WRAL-TV Channel 5.
Popular dance program that was made famous by JD Lewis. Early shows alternated between Caucasian and African-American participants.
WRAL dance program Teenage Frolics occasionally aired during the week. Although it was most often associated with J.D. Lewis, the show was hosted by others at times.
Lewis in his early days operating a camera for a WRAL-TV production.
WRAL legend JD Lewis hosting Teenage Frolics in Studio A.
Teenage Frolics host JD Lewis and house band leader Irving Fuller enjoying a laugh. Fuller and his band – the Corvettes – acted as the de facto house band on Frolics for many years.
Tempus Fugit, or “time flies” in Latin, was a radio and television show created by former WRAL President and General Manager Fred Fletcher.
The radio show began on WRAL-AM around 1940 when Fletcher – tired of having to fill in for morning announcers who failed to show up – took over the morning announcing shift at the station.
Fletcher entertained listeners with a variety of regular features, news, weather, music and fun. He also created special call-in segments like “Lost and Found” and “Trading Post” where listeners would swap items in an on-air exchange program.
The best-known segment on Tempus Fugit was the reading of a fairy tale each morning. The idea came about in late 1941 to entice children to listen to the show in hopes of luring their parents to the radio as well.
Fred Fletcher read the fairy tales live, doing all the different voices and sound effects himself. Within months, ratings went up and by 1945 Tempus Fugit was beating the NBC World News on WPTF-AM. Fletcher’s fame skyrocketed and from that point on he was known to one and all as “The Fairy Tale Man.”
Months after WRAL-TV went on the air in 1956, Fletcher moved his Tempus Fugit Show to television, where it lasted for several more years. The title of the show became the title of Fletcher’s autobiography, which was published in 1990.
WRAL’s dominance in ratings started right-off-the-bat after The Big 5 signed-on in December, 1956. According to then WRAL General Manager Fred Fletcher in his book Tempus Fugit, “By July, 1958 – a year and a half after sign-on – we
Host Fred Fletcher conducts an interview during live Tempus Fugit program at NC Farmers Market
NC Secretary of State Thad Eure guest hosts Tempus Fugit program on WRAL FM in 1951.
The case can be made that Andy Griffith owes his start in showbiz to Fred Fletcher. Actually, Fred Fletcher made that claim in his book Tempus Fugit. One thing for sure, Fred knew talent when he heard or saw it.
Listen to volume nine of “Fairy Tales” as told by Fred Fletcher. These vintage audio recordings of live radio broadcasts are believed to have aired during the 1940’s decade.
The Rat Catcher 00:00 – 09:30
Prince Hyacinth 09:36 – 17:12
Country Mouse, City Mouse 17:20 – 22:09
Brother Rabbit, The Whale 22:12 – 28:27
& the Elephant
Hansel & Gretel 28:28 – 35:48
The Fisherman and his Wife 35:55 – 43:36
Johnny and the Three Goats 43:31- 50:19
The Toad and the Diamonds 50:24 – 56:56
CBC has always known how to entertain audiences–on radio, on television, or in person. Here are some of the shows that did that job well: