WTVT's St. Petersburg Studio


Looks great on paper...Channel 13's plans for a St. Pete studio

From the start, Channel 13 planned to have a satellite studio in St. Petersburg as promised in its application for a broadcasting license with the F.C.C.   But getting the Tampa studio up and running delayed any practical plans for a permanent St. Pete facility until the early 1960's.

The St. Pete studio diagram above was a very intriguing concept.  It was to be located on a triangular piece of property at the southwest corner of 4th Street and 83rd Avenue North.  Plans included a studio space of 34' by 50', two offices, an observation lobby, and a carport for the station's remote unit.  When a live telecast was scheduled from the studio, the remote unit would back into the carport and serve as the control room.  A 100 foot tower would beam the signal back to Tampa. This unique concept was never realized, most likely due to the logistics of moving the mobile unit to the St. Pete location on short notice.  

In 1963, Channel 13 opened a small studio and news bureau on the top floor of the First Federal Savings building at 4th Street and Central Avenue.  The studio was little more than an office-sized space but the camera could move onto a patio area for a panoramic shot of the bayfront. 

The photo below shows Channel 13's Tom Dunn with the Mayor of St. Petersburg, Herman Goldner, who is dedicating the studio.  In the background is the bayfront area and Albert Whitted Airport.



In 1965, WTVT finally got around to making good on the promise of a St. Pete studio.  Like its Tampa studio counterpart, the St. Pete studio was formerly a restaurant.  The photo below shows the property, at the corner of 2nd Avenue and Bayshore Drive (the road that leads to the Pier), under renovation.  The reconstruction cost $31,000 and additional color equipment brought the tab to $200,000.  Considering the waterfront location, the rent from the City of St. Petersburg was pretty reasonable...$200 a month.

Channel 13's St. Pete studio under renovation.  

St. Pete Studio complete with weather instruments.  

A permanent television camera was assigned to the studio, which featured a large window overlooking the water.  The shot featured a terrific visual behind the St. Pete bureau's anchorman...boats lazily bobbing in the harbor of the St. Pete Yacht Club.  

No, 15 year-old Mike Clark wasn't a newscaster during 1966...he was just sitting in!  
Note the neutral density material covering the window.  
The camera has a nice view of the news anchor and the boats at the St. Pete Yacht Club.

The studio was also an excellent place for staging a rooftop shot of the annual Festival of States parade.  By the late 70's, WTVT abandoned its St. Pete studio, and the property returned to being a restaurant.  

The St. Pete studio today has come full circle and is a restaurant again