Former WFLA and WLCY sports director Dick Crippen was the
next presenter to name the recipient of an 'Ernie'. Crippen said that "the next 'Ernie' goes to a guy who
took brought credibility to a complicated subject.
And he got it right more than most guys today that have more
equipment…I think he also invented the idea of looking out the window!
Weather in this market affect an awful lot of people and I think it's why
myself and others always tuned in to Roy for the weather."
Roy Leep's 'Ernie' inscription reads "to Roy Leep, in appreciation
of his contribution to weather broadcasting and to the history of WTVT, Channel
13 in Tampa, Florida."
|Next up was former WTVT News Director and Anchor Ray Blush,
who spoke of the accomplishments of the next 'Ernie' recipient, Jule McGee.
"In his forty-plus years of working in television, I can't tell you
how many people Jule McGee has helped behind the camera and in front of
it," stated Blush. Reading
from the 'Ernie' inscription, "to Jule McGee, in appreciation of his
contributions to television news and to the history of WTVT, Channel 13."
"I don't know what a rookie's doing up here with all you pros,"
responded McGee as he accepted the tribute, "but I'm overwhelmed."
|A very special presenter was up next….'Uncle Bruce' Rodrick,
who had traveled from Minnesota with his lovely wife Marj.
For first time in 37 years, Rodrick appeared before an audience in Tampa
with his wooden pal 'Lil Mike.' Rodrick
and 'Lil Mike' presented an 'Ernie' to WTVT's classic children's host Mary
Ellen. "She was mighty pretty," said 'Lil' Mike.
"Where is she?" Rodrick
then introduced Mary Ellen, who accepted on video tape from her out-of-state
| "It was a wonderful time in my life and I appreciate all
the people who shared it with me," said Mary Ellen.
"There was Bob Olson, who hired me in 1957, Ken Smith, who took care
of production and brought us the talented 'Red' Koch and his characters 'Buggsie'
and 'Muggsie,' and Joe Wiezycki who became our director, Jack Cosgrove who
photographed our adventures, and many more.
I wish I could be there with you all…my best wishes to everyone at BIG
|Mike Clark explained that the next 'Ernie' would be for
former production Manager Ken Smith, who set a high standard for production at
WTVT. Mike told that audience how
he was hired by Jim Benedict, who was hired by Smith…and therefore…owed him
"Thanks for a great night," said Smith as he accepted the 'Ernie.'
Smith in turn was the presenter for the final 'Ernie' to
current production manager Jim Benedict.
"One of the best things that ever happened to Channel 13 was a guy I
recognized as a real TV guy...a broadcaster. He became a top director and
is one of the most liked, most respected folks who ever walked into a control
humble Benedict happily accepted his 'Ernie', saying "I
went almost 40 years without getting in front of a camera and I'm not going to
stop that tonight. Thank you very much."
Before closing the festivities, Mike sought volunteers to
become part of a committee to organize a larger, more inclusive reunion event in
two years…for the 50th anniversary of both WTVT and WFLA.
At evening's end, the entire group moved to a larger room for
group pictures taken by BIG 13's
photo editor Dave Morrison.
The BIG 13 reunion was a grand evening full of great memories
and comradeship, and one that we all hope will be repeated in 2005.
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