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Local News Our Commercial Demo Reel Meet the Team

By Dennis Lamb, KB8CYI


This is a look at the rich history of WLIO beginning with WLOK Radio,to WLOK Television, WIMA Television, and all the way to today!
This is a very extensive web page, a lot of scrolling...but it's worth it !!!


Please Standby

Our location at 1424 Rice Avenue is no stranger to broadcasting. Radio Station WBLY, started here in the early 1930's, then became WLOK in the early 1940's. Under the ownership of former Ohio State football great Lloyd A. Pixley, WLOK-TV, Channel 73, took to the air waves on April 18, 1953. It remained that way until December 8, 1954, when Northwestern Ohio Broadcasting Corporation, owned by George E. Hamilton and Robert W. Mack, acquired WLOK and on April 24, 1955 the call letters and channel were changed to WIMA-TV, Channel 35. A listing of the Television Stations from the Vane A. Jones "Summer 1958" shows WIMA Television along with the other stations on the air at that time. WBLY operated on 1240 kilohertz with 100 watts of power. Later, and FM station was added at 103.3 megahertz with 25,000 watts of power. If anyone has any documents, pictures or information on these stations, please let me know!

The station carried programming on the three major networks plus Dumont Television, switching completely to NBC in the early 1980's. WIMA also had the distinction of providing LIVE coverage from the home of Neil Armstrong's parents during the Apollo 11 moon mission in July 1969. The station provided coverage to all three networks plus world-wide satellite.
 On February 1, 1972 the station was purchased by the Toledo Blade and Midwestern Broadcasting of Toledo and the call letters were changed from WIMA to our current WLIO-TV. In October of 1982 Blade Communications Corporation bought out Midwestern Broadcasting and in so doing became the sole owner of Lima Communications Corporation/WLIO. In July of 1986 WLIO became one of the first TV Stations in the state to go to Stereo Sound. WLIO has also covered some LIVE events that has gained national attention, such as President Reagan's Lima "WhistleStop" in October of 1984, and then in April 1988, covering a rally for then-Vice President, soon-to-be President George Bush at the Civic Center, this being the first remote for our new Electronic News Gathering (or ENG, for short) van. Then in October of 1996, TV-35 carried a live rally for Republican Presidential Candidate Robert Dole, also at the Civic Center.


Morrie Lamb

Maurice J. "Morrie" Lamb, was one of people responsible for putting WLIO (then WLOK-TV) on the air back in April 1953. Morrie was the station's first Chief Engineer, from 1953 until his retirement in 1985, then as Consulting Engineer until his death in 1987. He oversaw many of the improvements through the years, such as the transformation from Black and White to Color, all the way up to the satellite technology of today. This picture was taken during the 25th Anniversary Open House, in May of 1978. Morrie is operating WLIO's second transmitter, a 12,000 watt General Electric TT-24A transmitter. Morrie was also a ham radio operator, (W8MXW), and operated on amateur radio for over 50 years.


WLOK 1953 Master Control

ORIGINAL WLOK-TV CONTROL ROOM.

This is what the WLOK Control Room looked like in 1953. In the background you can see the original 1 kW Transmitter. There is a sign just visable in the upper left-hand corner that states, "If You Can't Be Quiet, Leave Control Room". In the beginning, there was only a curtain separating the control room from the studio, so when a live show was going on everyone in the control room had to be quiet. 


Dan Bradford & Grover Blazer

George Hamilton & Robert Mack

From 1953 until around 1955 WLOK-TV operated with only one studio camera, a General Electric Black & White camera. Shown with the camera are cameraman Dan Bradford and Floor Director Grover Blazer. Grover became Traffic Manager and retired in 2001.

The Co-Owners of both WIMA Radio and WIMA-TV from 1954 to 1972 were that of George E. (Bruff) Hamilton and Robert W. Mack. The two of them formed Northwestern Ohio Broadcasting Corporation in 1954 when they purchased then WLOK-TV and changed the call letters to WIMA-TV. Mr. Hamilton, who died in 1971, was also a director and Chairman Of The Board of the First National Bank of Lima (Huntington Banks) and Mr. Mack served as the president of Lima Cablevision Company (Time Warner Cable) from 1972 until his death in 1976.


1957 Engineers

1957 WLIO ENGINEERING STAFF

Back Row: Harold Fogt, Douglas McDonald, Jack Lazar. 
Front Row: Royal Albridge, Morrie Lamb (Chief Engineer), Darrel Hunter.


GE Klystron

TV STATION INCREASES POWER.

On March 20, 1958, then WIMA-TV went on the air with greatly increased power. With the installation of a new General Electric 12 Kilowatt,TT-24A Transmitter, replacing the original WLOK General Electric 1 kilowatt transmitter. The increase in video power went from 16,000 watts to 198,000 watts and audio power from 10,000 watts to 105,000 watts. This greatly increased the area that WIMA was able to serve. It provided many households in West Central Ohio their first local news and entertainment from a "local" television station. At the time this transmitter was installed, the tower height was 300 feet, and the antenna was a General Electric helical. The original 1 Kilowatt transmitter was kept on as a standby. Shown installing one of the transmitters Klystron power tubes are; (left to right) Engineer Royal Albridge and Chief Engineer Maurice Lamb. 


Little League Game

WIMA-TV TELEVISES LITTLE LEAGUE BASEBALL

On August 8 and August 15, 1959, four of the top Little League teams in Lima appeared on WIMA-TV, LIVE from Telecast Field on the station grounds. Bill Frink, WIMA Sports Director handled the play-by-play, with George Cole on camera, director Grover Blazer and WIMA-TV Chief Engineer Maurice Lamb as Technical Supervisor. 


RCA TK-5 Cameras

STUDIO CAMERAS

From the late 1950's until 1968 the picture that came from the WIMA studios came from these cameras. These RCA TK-5 Black & White studio cameras were state-of -the-art for its time. They were replaced in early 1968 when the transition was made from black & white to color as the station purchased two Marconi studio cameras (these cameras were later replaced in 1970 with the RCA TK-44 cameras). 


Anchor Construction

In March 1964 WIMA-TV began construction of its new 500 ft. tower. In the first photo (left) Chief Engineer Maurice Lamb and Engineer Harold Fogt are shown putting in the copper straps for the ground system to protect the tower from lightning.

The second photo shows the first 100 ft. section going up, with the help of a "Lima" Baldwin-Lima-Hamilton. Before completion, the antenna was lifted off the old tower and hoisted up by cable to the new tower. This tower is still used today by WLIO Television, except that that original G.E. broadcast antenna has been replaced by an RCA (Dielectric) TFU-30JA antenna in 1986. The tower is adjacent to the studios and offices at 1424 Rice Avenue in Lima.


Bobo & Charlie

CHARLIE'S CARTOON CLUBHOUSE

Chuck started as a staff announcer in 1960. From 1963 to 1965 at 5:00pm, "Charlie" (Chuck Osburn) and "Bobo the Clown"(Denny First) entertained kids around the Lima area with the "Cartoon Clubhouse". Each day Charlie would fly in the day's cartoons and show them on the "Cartoonoscope", plus a multitude of characters would show up from time to time. 
Chuck Osburn went on to become the Program Director of WIMA Television, then to Station Manager of WIMA Television in 1971. Chuck left in 1976 and passed away in 2003.

Denny First works in Fort Wayne, Indiana, as a director at the NBC television affiliate, WKJG Television which is Channel 33 in Fort Wayne. 


Easter Straker
One of the most recognizable faces on WIMA and WLIO-TV was that of Easter Straker. Her show, Easter's Parade, kept viewers informed on local events from 1955 to 1984 on what was called the "Living Room Of The Air". Easter, who was born in Lima, came back from Chicago in 1948 as Program Director of WIMA Radio. She added her TV duties in 1955 when WLOK became WIMA-TV. One of the most popular segments of her show was the Birthday Chair, a throne on which children sit while being interviewed by Easter and as a special treat they would get to stick their hand into the Penny Jar for a handful of pennies and a sucker. The Birthday Chair is now on permanent display at the Allen County Museum. Easter was the driving force behind the Teddy Bear Fund, which provides teddy bears to children in Allen County hospitals. Among some of her guests were some noteworthy celebrities, such as; Vaughn Monroe, Eleanor Roosevelt, Phyllis Diller, Hugh Downs, Henny Youngman, and The Three Stooges. Easter retired from TV in 1984, but continued on radio, hosting a program on WCIT until her retirement in 1991. Easter passed away in April 1992. A scholarship fund was set up in her name at Ohio Northern University. The Easter Straker Scholarship Fund was established by the community and her friends. It is intended to be an annual award given to a communication arts student, preferably one pursuing a career in broadcasting. You can find more information on the scholarship program at the O.N.U. Scholarships page or by contacting Ohio Northern University at Ohio Northern University, 525 South Main Street, Ada, OH 45810-1599. Phone: 419-772-2000, Fax: 419-772-1932


Easter's first "sidekick' was a man by the name of Clif Willis. Clif began his career at WLOK Radio where he had a morning show, then went to WIMA Radio where he was assigned to be Easter's announcer when Easter's Parade debuted, on radio, in 1948, and was there when it began on TV in 1955 after WLOK-TV became WIMA-TV (The show aired on radio in the morning and then on TV in the afternoon). Their on-air realationship lasted for about 13 years. On occasion Clif would host the show when Easter was either under the weather or doing something else. For several years they would do a "tent show" from the Allen County Fair with Easter doing her usual interviews in the tent. Besides his duties with Easter, Clif hosted a short-lived show called "Here's Clif". After leaving WIMA in 1960, Clif went on to radio and TV stations for several years before finally settling down with his wife Carol in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He worked as an announcer at two radio stations there and is still in the "on-air-on camera" business by doing commercials and feature films. To this date, Clif has done some 652 commercials nationwide and five movies. He is also still active as and actor's coach.


Another of the early celebrities on WIMA-TV was that of  Sam Fitzsimmons. Sam hosted the show "For Kids Only" from the late 1950's to the early 1960's from 5-5:30PM. Sam always started the show by saying this, "Welcome to the Big Book of Fun Things to do for Kids Only". The set consisted of an actual book (that he stepped out of) that had 6 moveable pages. One of the main characters on the show was "gilly Galloub". After leaving WIMA in 1963, he went on to become the editor of the Van Wert Times-Bulletin. Sam passed away in 1987.


Charlie Osburn

Another popular celebrity on WIMA-TV was Chuck Osburn. Chuck came to WIMA in 1960 and stayed through the transition to WLIO in 1972, when he became WLIO's first General Manager, and stayed in that capacity until 1976. Chuck started at WIMA Television as an announcer in 1971 and hosted "Charlie's Cartoon Clubhouse from 1963 to 1965 and was Easter Straker's co-host on Easter's Parade from 1960 until 1975. Chuck was Station Manager of WIMA Television, then WLIO Television in 1972 when the station was purchased by Blade Communications, Inc. (present owners of WLIO Television).


Barry Patch - On Remote

On a remote shoot for the "Barry Patch", a local Saturday morning kids show. Shown here are (left to right):
Ron Blazer, who now works for Advertising Information Services in New York, and is also the brother of Grover Blazer, retired Traffic Manager from WLIO.
Adrian Cronauer, the same Adrian Cronauer, played by Robin Williams in the movie "Good Morning Vietnam"
Bruce Opperman, now the General Manager for WLIO and President of Lima Communications Corporation. 
... and Barb Blue. Barb was a singer at several local clubs like the Alpine, and the Milano Club on Market Street (which was distroyed in a fire July 29, 1996). Does anyone know where Barb is? 


RCA Film Chain

WIMA-TV MAKES TRANSITION TO COLOR

In 1967 WIMA started making the transition to color when it purchased this RCA TP-66 Color Film Chain. The film chain consisted of two 16mm film projectors and one slide drum. Images were projected on a series of mirrors to a camera. The TP-66 remained in service until early 1985 when video tape and electronic still store units became the broadcast standard. 
Shown installing the equipment are (L-R) WIMA-TV Chief Engineer Maurice Lamb, and Engineer Ray Cook. 


RCA TK-44 Cameras

WIMA-TV ACQUIRES NEW CAMERAS

In April 1970, WIMA purchased two "State-Of-The-Art" RCA TK-44 Color Studio Cameras. The cameras would remain in operation until April 1984.  Shown here trying out the new cameras are (L-R) WIMA Chief Engineer Maurice Lamb and Engineer Denver Burns.


RCA TTU-30D Transmitter

WLIO INSTALLS NEW TRANSMITTER, INCREASES POWER.

After several months of work, In January 1979 WLIO took to the air with a new transmitter. This RCA TTU 30D transmitter replaced the General Electric 12 Kw transmiter installed in 1958. This particular transmitter was pulled out of WPTD Channel 16 in Dayton, Ohio in October 1978. When brought to WLIO it was completely rebuilt and updated so that when it went on the air it was one of the most modern transmitters in use to that day. Then on October 1, 1979, after receiving FCC authorization, WLIO increased power from its current 202 kW to a full 516 kW, thus increasing WLIO's coverage area by approximately 27%. In early 1986 power was again increased from 516 kW to 661 kW with the new RCA (Dielectric) TFU-30JA antenna. The transmitter is still on the air to this day. You can see more of this by visiting the Engineering Tour page. 

WLIO INSTALLS NEW ANTENNA

In January 1986, after over 33 years of use, the original WLOK antenna finally came down. In its place, a new RCA TFU-30JA antenna was installed (this antenna was one of the last antennas to be built by RCA). The removal of the old antenna and the installation of the new antenna, plus transmission line took approximately a week to complete. Seen in the picture to the right is three tower climbers from the Stainless Tower corporation riding down on the old GE pylon antenna which was removed from service and replaced with a new RCA (Dielectric) TFU-30JA antenna. This increased WLIO's power to 661,000 watts visual, and 33,000 watts aural. At the same time, WLIO added stereo operations, and later transmission on the Secondary Audio Program (SAP) channel. 


FORMER NEWSCASTERS OF WLOK, WIMA AND WLIO

From 1969 to 1972 the Sports Anchor for then WIMA-TV was Denny Trease. After leaving Lima he went to Lexington, KY where he did the commentary for UK Basketball & Football games for WKYT-TV and was there for 8 years. From there he went to WDAF-TV in Kansas City and became the voice of the Kansas City Royals and was with them when they went to the World Series in 1980 and 1985. After working for WDAF for approximately 10 years, he started his own production company in Kansas City.

 

This trio were the ones who reported the news, weather and sports on the 6 & 11 o'clock News Journal from 1976-1977. They were (l-r) Keith Ward-News, Laura Lis-Weather, and Scott Clark-Sports. Keith started at WLIO in 1973 and then became the regular News Anchor in 1976 and remained there until 1977 when he went to WKYT-TV in Lexington, KY. After 9 years in Lexington, Keith went to WCPX-TV in Orlando, FLA where he made the switch from news to sports. Scott, a graduate of  Lima Senior, started in 1976 when he replaced Rob Bromley, who went to WKYT. He stayed in that position until 1978 when he moved on to Toledo then to WKYC-TV in Cleveland, from there to WRC-TV in Washington D.C. and then made the move to WABC-TV in New York City where he is their primary sports anchor, a position he still holds today. Scott often comes back to Lima and has assisted Ric Bratton with our annual St. Jude Telethon. We are not sure of the whereabouts of Laura Lis. Our last contact has her in the Toledo area.

   

1978 News Dept

1979 News Dept

1978 WLIO NEWS DEPARTMENT.

(L-R) Laura Lis-Weather, Randy Hartley (Weekend News Anchor), George Moyer (Weekday News Anchor), George Dunster (News Director), Antelle Haithcock (Weekend Weather), Scott Clark (Sports Director), Jeff Demas (Weekend Sports), Laurie Omness (Morning News Anchor). 

1979 WLIO NEWS DEPARTMENT.

(L-R) Leslie Rankin-(Weekend Weather), Randy Hartley (Weekend News Anchor), George Moyer (News Anchor), George Dunster (News Director), Antelle Haithcock ( Weather), Jeff Demas (Sports Director), John Damschroder (Weekend Sports), Laurie Omness (Morning News Anchor). 

If you have any pictures of WBLY/WLOK/WIMA/WLIO, or information which could be included on this Web Page, you can E-Mail me, or send letters and pictures to Dennis Lamb, WLIO Television, 1424 Rice Avenue, Lima OH 45805-1949. If you send pictures, please send by Insured Certified Mail or Federal Express. WLIO is not responsible for lost or damaged photos in transit. Give us 24 hours to digitize all photos for the web site, and we will return them at our expense by Federal Express, 2-Day Insured service. If you wish to contact me, you can also reach me at 419-228-8835 during the weekdays. Thanks for viewing the WLIO Television Station History page!

Dennis Lamb, KB8CYI,
Asst. Chief Operator, WLIO Television

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