Fariss' draft number was
coming up for the Korean War. As he
was making plans to join the Air Force, a draft notice arrived first sending Fariss
into the Army for two
years. Because of
his prior experience in radio, Army brass assigned Fariss to help run the
military radio station in Ft. Jackson, South Carolina.
Fariss married Betty during his military service and started a family two
years later, eventually having three boys and a girl.
Upon Fariss' discharge in 1953, a
friend gave him the chance to go to WDEL-TV in Wilmington, Delaware.
He also was offered a position at the new WAGA-TV in Atlanta.
Fariss thought he could learn more at WDEL, which had been in operation
for several years, so he and his wife moved to the northeast.
"WDEL was an NBC affiliate and
signed on at 5 o'clock with 'Howdy Doody,' says Fariss.
"They had what was called the 'Junior Executive Training Program.'
What it really meant was getting the most out of you for the least amount
of money. I learned to operate
every piece of equipment in the television station.
After a while, I could look at the camera's lens and tell what kind of
shot they had of me. I would go on the air and do a 15 minute newscast, and
during the break I would run into the control room and run audio or change
slides. Then, after my program, I'd
direct the next fellow's segment. The
cameraman on my segment was often the sports guy. He'd put on a coat and do the sports. Everybody in the 'Junior Executive Training Program"
switched around and did everything."
The experience at WDEL would serve
Fariss well for the rest of his career. But
Florida was still home and Fariss traveled back to look for employment
opportunities in Tampa. In March, 1955,
Fariss learned that a new television station was starting operations in
met with the owner, Walter Tison. "Walter
knew me from Tampa radio. I went to
see him and it was like old home week. He
said 'I wondered when you were going to come back home. You ready to come to work here?
I'm starting a television station.'
I said 'sure' and that was it. I
went back to Wilmington, gathered my wife and three month old son and moved
And what were the
call letters of the new station? WTVT, of course!