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WEWS Photographer Harry Dorsey and Andrew Boggs, year unknown

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  • 1. Andrew Boggs, BA  |  May 4, 2010 at 2:14 pm

    On September 7th, 1927, an unknown young inventor became a television cameraman – he was also the inventor of an all-electronic television system who first imagine television as a fourteen year-old farm boy named Philo T. Farnsworth – and became one of the few inventors who became a David and overcame his Goliath, RCA in claiming its invention. Over many decades, for better or worse, television has become a centerpiece in world homes. Its power to change thoughts is unquestionable as well its thirst in gathering images in its electronic eye. From the time I saw my first color picture as am infant in 1953, I have been hooked on its changing images and the voices from its loudspeaker. I knew I wanted to be in television – all of it, from fixing its receivers to technically bringing images into homes, its writer, its talent, and yes, its cameraman – television became my best electronic friend – it was never far from my mind – and that’s how deep and important it was for me. WVIZ TV 25 signed on the air on February 7th, 1965. I remember that day because it was the first time a table model black and white TV was rolled into a Memphis Elementary School classroom. The teacher turned on the set which only showed monotone sparkles of static. A few moments later, a test pattern was thrown up on the screen and a teacher adjusted its fine tuning control. WVIZ TV 25 started its life at Max Hayes High School on Cleveland’s West Side under the direction of one time WEWS TV production staffer, Betty Cope. And what I didn’t realize as an elementary school student, that our paths would cross soon enough. My first foray into WVIZ TV 25 was towards the very end of its stay at Max Hayes. I was so driven to see behind the box as a youth to sneak a peek, and in the process, running into Fred Griffith. But this was my very short introduction, I would not enter the public television studios again until its move to the Cleveland side of Brookpark Road, a stone’s throw from Pearl. It was the late 1960’s and WVIZ TV 25 had quickly grown out of its high school quarters. A few of the students at the vocational school who participated at the infant station now found themselves at the forefront of Northeast Ohio public television. They were the experimenters, they didn’t follow the rules, they invented them. As for me, it was now Spring 1967 as I rode my English Racer bicycle to the new Brookpark Road facility, a brick two story structural warehouse. WVIZ TV 25 had been on the air at this facility for about a year. The first individual I met there was a director by the name of Ralph Giglimo, a robust gentleman who curly brown hair and beard to match. I had talked to him on the phone a day earlier, asking if I could be given an impromptu look inside. Thankfully, Ralph would allow me to be a ’fly-on-the-wall’ and my true introduction behind the scenes of educational tv – the magic begins! Most of used gear was donated by WEWS TV 5, WKYC TV 3 and WJW TV 8, along with some needed new equipment. Thus in the production studios it was not uncommon to see old broadcast television cameras of different vintages. Channel 25 broadcast it’s own shows, most directed at school audiences as its primary targets. However, WVIZ did have some grown-up shows with hosts like author Don Robertson (I’d work with him later at GCC Communications) who’s then ’claim to fame’ was a novel called ’Paradise Falls’, among the books he penned. But perhaps my best and most important WVIZ TV 25 connections were Dave Branchick (decades later I would first work with him at WERE Newsradio 1300) and Harry Dorsey, a thin young guy who had the best afro I’d ever see!-) He and Dave would teach me broadcast camera operations. Harry Dorsey is a great conversationalist, and at that time, we both loved the same thing, television broadcasting. Harry showed me everything and we became close friends at WVIZ TV 25, I spent a heck of a lot of time there with the guys. I’d meet and talk with Alan R. Stevenson who was then the station’s director of educational services – and yes, spent time with Betty Cope herself – she understood my enthusiasm for the art, and let me walk through its magic doors into the very heart of WVIZ TV 25. Harry and I covered all issues of that time – even the most sensitive thoughts could be intellectually exchanged without anger. I had and continue to have a great appreciation of Harry Dorsey – he also was one of my mentors in the art of broadcast television. When Don Robertson had ’Smoochy’ Bill Gordon on, it was Don’s last stand at the public tv station. Don and Bill discussed their individual involvement in mass media and towards the end, Bill Gordon suggested we all come up and give a standing ovation to Don as the minutes came to an end – me, in one of my prankish moods and all in good fun started throwing cushions towards the set as credits rolled, both Don and Bill took it humorously as well. Over the years our paths would cross as well. In the meantime, Harry Dorsey was leaving public tv into the foray and glamour of commercial television at WEWS TV 5. I still hung out at WVIZ, and Harry and I still conversed via telephone. Harry had become one of the station’s young videotographers. Harry was now chasing after video images in the field. It was now 1969 and Harry invited me to WEWS to give me a grand tour and the chance to talk with members of the recently established Eyewitness News Team with John Hambrick and a young Dave Patterson. Field news coverage with a sixteen millimeter film-on-sound cameras were slowly giving way to the new ENG (Electronic News Gatherer) cameras coming out of Ikegami and Sony. While they were more rugged than studio cameras in the field, and a lot lighter, they were still prone to breakdown. What I remember is the engineers really hated their Ikegami portable camera – it spent a lot of time in the shop. Harry and I still discussed different topics, including race relations, which for most people was still a pretty touchy subject between different cultures. However, Harry and I were good friends, and we were both eager to learn the others thoughts and opinions in intellectual curiosity. In the meantime, Harry would introduce me to John Hambrick, Dave Patterson (he had a really great looking yellow 1982 Ford Mustang at one point), Gib Shanley, Don Webster, and Dorothy Fuldheim herself. For me this was a very magical time indeed. Over time, we all went in different directions, me to college at Bowling Green State University, and later working on radio documentaries and eventually radio news at WERE 1300 AM. Harry stayed at WEWS TV 5 for at least another decade or two. Our paths would cross at a ’Festival Of Freedom’ 4th of July Picnic and Fireworks display in the late 1980’s (where the photo above was taken) at Edgewater Park – the afro long gone, but still a handsome guy, and our friendship still intact. And yes, though we’ve not had a chance to talk in decades, in my mind Harry Dorsey remains a good friend!-)

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