WTVT's projection room
Ken Smith started Joe out as a projectionist and it wasn't
long before young Larry would come in to visit on Saturdays.
"I remember spending tons of hours at WTVT, when just about
everything was on film. When the
commercial breaks came up, Dad had to start this projector at a certain time and
then that one later. Sometimes the
film loop would get out of adjustment causing the picture to ride up in the
frame. Dad would stick a finger
into the guide and get the loop back in place.
One of the 'perks' of having a father who worked in TV was that we saw
the cartoons like 'Huckleberry Hound' and 'Quick Draw McGraw' before they were
shown on the air. "
Joe on a remote at the Florida State Fairgrounds
Channel 13's mobile unit was kept very busy and Joe went along for the ride as a floorman and production assistant. Jayne Boyd, a film coordinator and management trainee, contributed this remembrance of Joe on a remote:
"I recall when we televised an event starring none other than Dick Nixon and his wife Pat at a 1960 political rally in Tampa, Joe was sent running back to the remote truck to get more cable. It was OK when Joe was running AWAY from Nixon but when he returned on the double, he got tackled right in front of me by the Secret Service, who later explained to an upset Joe that "NOBODY runs TOWARD the candidates.
And I note you didn't include his nickname, which was used with warmth: 'Whisky Joe'..given to him because it was easier to pronounce than Wiezycki. He was not a drinker."
Joe prepares to take historic video
of Col. John Glenn's arrival on ship
Although his Dad had no previous camera experience and hardly ever shot family photos, Joe was trained to become a camera operator. His proudest moment came in 1962 during the recovery of John Glenn's space capsule, Freedom 7. Glenn was the first American to orbit the earth and the recovery was to be videotaped by the WTVT remote unit aboard the Navy's aircraft carrier Randolph. Joe was running a dolly-equipped RCA-TK-30 when astronaut Glenn stepped out of the recovery helicopter. As the CBS director shouted 'Have him wave at you Joe, that'a boy!!" Joe dollied into a gorgeous closeup of the astronaut, who waved directly into his camera.
The next year, Joe was directing a single-camera placed atop
the station's portico entrance to capture President
John F. Kennedy as his motorcade passed by along Grand Central
Blvd. (Nov. 18, 1963). John Sherry
operated the camera as the President's motorcade traveled en route to Ft. Homer Hesterly
Armory…a historic picture that became a moment in time when Kennedy was
assassinated four days later in Dallas, Texas.