I remember anxiously waiting up on Friday nights for the end of the local news broadcast on WTVT Channel 13. That’s when my favorite program would air…Shock Theater. I would fight sleep in order to watch the scary double feature which might include classics such as Frankenstein, The Wolf Man, The Mummy, Dracula, etc. My love for these films still lives nearly 50 years later. Here is a video I put together featuring many of the monsters that entertained me then and now. Just click on the “Monsters in the Closet” link above the photo. Happy Halloween.
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.
Tony Zappone was a very young photagrapher when he got the opportunity of a lifetime. Days before John F. Kennedy was assasinated, he visited Tampa, FL, and Mr. Zappone was there to capture some timeless images of one of the most beloved presidents in U.S. history. The following paragraph’s are Big 13.com’s account of this special moment in time:
“The day was sunny, mild and clear…somewhere in the mid-70’s. It was perfect Florida weather and excellent for taking pictures. If it was slightly cool in the shade, the adrenalin of JFK’s visit warmed the onlooker’s body to a comfortable temperature. Despite the lack of any serious humidity, Kennedy, apparently a quick change artist, switched his suit three times during his five-hour visit. An aide carried extra clothes in a bag that remained undetected by the press and spectators. He made the changes of clothes in the helicopter on the way to Al Lopez Field, after his appearance at the International Inn and in an anteroom behind the speaker’s platform at Ft. Homer Hesterly Armory.
Air Force One, the official plane of the chief executive, set down precisely on schedule at 11:24 that morning. Members of the local press were taken by bus to the tarmac and assumed their positions atop a flatbed truck loaned for the day by the Florida Steel Corporation. Things were fine until the national press corps stormed out of Air Force One to join us on the truck and more or less took over. I learned the game really fast and edged them off to the side like I owned the place.
Less than a minute later the man I had wanted to see in person for so long walked out the tail exit and down the stairs. Kennedy looked exactly as I had seen him many times on TV, in films, in magazines and in the newspaper. The leader of the free world was just as “bigger than life” in person as I had imagined him to be. He carried a hat in his right hand and hardly let go of it the entire trip. JFK was in Tampa without his admired first lady Jacqueline, who stayed in Washington to care for other business.”
View this moment in Tampa’s rich history, alongside many other memorable images. Visit Tampapix today, and watch the I Remember Tampa video, as you click through the countless links that lead to the sources of each picture in the video. And don’t forget to visit the Tampa Natives Show website, too, where there are archived episodes specifically dealing with WTVT Channel 13, Tony Zappone, and various other topics dedicated to remembering Tampa’s colorful past.