There are days when we hit the CBC History jack-pot. One of the days was in January 2016 when John Harris and I were digging through one of the boxes filled with old corporate papers in his office. Lo and behold we discovered what looked like a larger and heavier-than-usual record album. The label referenced the ground breaking ceremonies of WRAL-TV. Eureka! Bingo! Wahoo! We had just found the audio transcription disc of the live WRAL-FM broadcast of the ceremonies.
We carefully removed the large 16 inch disc from its brown paper sleeve and held it like it was the holy grail of WRAL. It was as close to an Indiana Jones experience – without the whip, snakes, and jumping over mine shafts – we could get. The disc did contain some rather hairy, fuzzy mold spots that would have to be dealt with by real audio archeologists, i.e. audio restoration specialists.
Audio Mechanics, located in beautiful downtown Burbank, got the nod for the job. After they received the moldy disc, the following email was sent to us by Bob. Those who are audiophiles will appreciate the tech-talk.
We spent a couple hours on it because it has a couple gnarly mold spots on it. We spent quite a bit of time cleaning it, but still the mold didn’t completely come off. The first picture is before cleaning, and the next two are after. It took me six tries, but by carefully adjusting tracking force and anti-skating, we were able to get the stylus to track through the mold. Ultimately editing three of the takes together to make a final complete take. The rest of the disc sounds good and needs only minimal restoration.
Audio Mechanics worked their groovy magic and emailed the digital file to us last week. It sounds marvelous.
We are familiar with the iconic picture of the rainy ground breaking ceremony featuring AJ Fletcher and NBC television star Dorothy Collins turning the soggy soil under a tent, but we didn’t know what was said; now we do.
Even with dismal weather, hopes were high about Channel 5 becoming a part of the community. At the ground breaking ceremonies we hear Fred Fletcher, VP of Capitol Broadcasting Company, introduce George Geoghegan, VP of Wachovia Bank and Trust, who served as Master of Ceremonies. Other speakers included Charles Campbell, President of the Raleigh Chamber of Commerce and Wesley Williams, Secretary of the Raleigh Merchants Association.
Dorothy Collins, NBC star of “Your Hit Parade,” noted that the anticipated day of WRAL to sign-on would be Saturday, December 15, and that her program would be part of the debut since her show airs on Saturday evening as well. Obviously she was a promoter as well as a singer! She also expressed “I hope this station goes on forever and ever.”
You can listen to the 10 minute dedication ceremony posted on the CBC History website by clicking: http://history.capitolbroadcasting.com/media-assets/ground-breaking-of-wral-tv-studios-oct-17-1956/
Thanks to Corp’s Pam Allen for this capcom story. Pam Parris Allen is a former WRAL newscast producer/director who now works as a researcher and producer on the CBC History Project.