First With The News on Channel 13
Wayne Fariss was WTVT's first newsman
Wayne Fariss was personally hired by
Channel 13's original owner, Walter Tison, weeks before the station began
broadcasting. Fariss literally
signed the station on the air April 1st, 1955, and served for three years as a
news anchor and reporter during WTVT's rapid
growth in the field of television news.
"We did the news very
straightforward…this is it, folks…as unbiased as we could be…as objective
as we could be…and as truthful as we could make it," states Fariss, who
is now retired and living in South Florida.
"We became more sophisticated with each passing year, and it gave me
a tremendous background for going forward."
A native of Tampa, Fariss majored in
English and Speech while attending Boys High and Brown High Schools in Atlanta,
then took advanced courses to help pursue a career in broadcasting.
His first job was at radio station WDMG in the small town of Douglas,
Georgia. Fariss was young and green
but a fast learner, and within three months was back in Florida at Clearwater's
WCLE, and then across Tampa Bay to WDAE. "'Salty
Sol' Fleischman was already a mainstay there, along with Guy Bagli,"
recalls Fariss. "I used to
walk with Sol down the street for lunch, and it would take us twenty minutes to
walk two or three blocks because everyone in town knew 'Salty Sol.' And this was radio…forget about it when he went on TV.
He loved everybody and everybody loved him."
Fariss became chief announcer at Ybor City's WEBK, where he hired a young man just out of the service, Gordon Solie. "We didn't have a lot of money to work with at the time, so I put him under the G.I. Bill and the government paid part of Gordon's salary and we paid part. Gordon introduced me to my future wife, Betty Anne McCall. Later, Gordon and his wife were groomsman and bridesmaid at our wedding." Solie later hosted and produced "Championship Wrestling From Florida," a long-running program often videotaped through the facilities of Channel 13. (to see information on a biography about Solie written by his daughter Pamela, CLICK HERE)