In the summer of 1956, Channel 13 was
sold to an out of state company, The WKY Radiophone Company, which was owned by
E.K. Gaylord and the Oklahoma Publishing Company.
Fariss recalls that "Tison's people kept it very quiet until the
sale was closed. I heard they sold
the place, and I was wondering what was going to be happening.
One evening as I was preparing the news, a fellow sat down on the corner
of my desk, stuck out his hand and
said 'My name is 'Buddy' Sugg. I
know you because I've been watching you from my hotel room.
My company has just bought this place, and I'm going to be running it. I like your work and I want you on my team.
What're you making?' I told
him and he said 'That's not enough…we'll take care of that.'
Just like that…in a few brief words.
Unfortunately, Landis, who was a nice-looking guy and had a good voice,
but was not a newsman, didn't fit into the plans of Gaylord."
Gaylord immediately began plans to
expand WTVT's facility. Personnel
were imported from the company's home station, WKY-TV, in Oklahoma City. A small fleet of news vehicles was also added to improve
WTVT's news operations. "That's
when Dick John was brought in as News Director and anchor of the 6p.m. news,
explains Fariss. "We put Tampa
on the map with news through the Gaylord organization. We took advantage of the
experience of the Oklahoma City people and we became number one. At this point,
I would also go out into the field. I
learned to work the Auricon sound camera, and was a one-man band."
WTVT's first News Director, Dick John (left) and Wayne Fariss
TV's early days included some 'Rube
Goldberg' type equipment to aid the on-air talent.
Fariss and Dick John used foot pedals hidden under the anchor desk to
signal the director. "We had
two foot pedals. The one on the
right was a buzzer to cue the control room to roll the film. There was an "X" on the leader in the projector
that was exactly four seconds from where the film started. When the anchor hit the pedal, they would roll the film and
four seconds later it was on the air. The
left pedal was a light that cued a commercial." Newscasters read directly off their scripts, attempting to
maintain eye contact with the camera. TelePrompTers
were not used on a regular basis at Channel 13 until the early 1980's.
WTVT news became a more professional,
well-oiled machine as News Director Dick John brought innovation to the 1950's
technology. "Dick saw the
potential of our TV news and ran with it," states Fariss.
"Before live coverage, we would go out and shoot a story, and send
the film back to the station by cab. The
reporter would stay on the scene and communicate to the anchor with his two-way
radio. We would pipe the reporter in from the two-way radio and onto
the air, so that he could report live while we were showing his film.
He would talk over the silent parts, and when a sound bite was called
for, we rolled it from a second projector.
It was unique and something that Dick thought of.
We were trying to make ourselves known so we tried everything.
When something big happened and we were on top of it, Dick and I used to
do the equivalent of the 'high five.' We won the National Headliners award for
our efforts." Fariss later
picked up four more Headliners Awards during his stint with WCKT in Miami.