I remember Tampa back in the days when there were three major networks–ABC, NBC, and CBS–and viewers had very limited choices when deciding what channel they were going to watch. Usually, the decision came down to what your favorite programs were, or what movie was showing on any given day or night. That same principle applied to the morning, afternoon, and evening news, as well. Which family of newscasters did you prefer? Who were you more inclined to let into your living room. Here in Tampa, the choice was exceptionally hard to make. The 3 local stations were WLCY Channel 10 (ABC), WFLA Channel 8 (NBC), and WTVT Channel 13 (CBS). They were all equiped with popular and talented crews, and all handled the local news with optimum professionalism. But for me, Big 13 was the one I tuned into more often than not. There was Salty Sol, Andy, Roy, Hugh, Ernie, and a host of other familiar faces bringing us news, human interest stories, event listings, sports, weather, and entertainment updates on a regular basis. You could bank on the same faces, day in and day out, for years at a time, sharing their lives with you. You trusted them. You believed in the pinpoint accuracy of every word that came out of their mouths. And even though mind boggling technical advancements like remote contols and color t.v.’s were beginning to find their way into our homes, the news was still being delivered in a simple, straight forwartd, and figuratively speaking, black and white format. No tricks…no gimmicks…we relied on solid sources and they rarely proved us wrong. Those were the days: before the flood of channels and programs offering alternative points of views on non-newsworthy items invaded the airwaves; before the gossip columns that disguise themselves as newscasts started swaying viewers to their mindless mass communications chatter; and before legitimate newcasters compromised their standards of reporting to try to recapture the markets they lost to the soothesayers. Yes, those were the days, and they won’t be back again anytime soon. But if, by chance, you’d like to momentarily revisit the past, just to get a taste of how it was back then, you’re more than welcome to do so by clicking the following link to the May 17, 2012 archived episode of the Tampa Natives Show: WTVT Big 13. There are some very rare clips and photos featured in this episode. If you happen to be from the Tampa area, you will find them very intriguing. If not, it’s still fun to watch this look back at a time when you were guaranteed to be exposed to true broadcasting professionalism, familiar faces, and news you could trust.
One of my favorite spots to get away from it all is a park on the south side of Tampa. It’s called Picnic Island. This video contains some images that show why it is such a special place. Family fun and relaxation…that’s what I think of when I think of Picnic Island.