Sunday, September 16, 2007

The Stopwatch Mystery

As you can tell by the title of this post, I was greatly influenced by the famous author and philosopher Franklin W. Dixon, who wrote such classics as, "The Mystery of Cabin Island," "The Hooded Hawk Mystery," and "The Mystery of Devil's Paw."

Anyway, the mystery begins with a note I got from Bob Bell, who in real life is Kaptain Kidshow, the creator and webmaster of that fantastic website about old time local kidshows on TV.


Hope all is well with you.
I have three items for discussion:
1) I noticed that someone who uses the name "denvertrakker" is selling his stopwatch on eBay. He describes the stopwatch as "my old Minerva stopwatch, bought new by me many years ago when I worked as a production intern at WTOP-TV in Washington (now WUSA, I believe). Engraved by me on the back with my initials and '11/64 WTOP-TV'" By visiting his "about me" page, I learned that his name is "Larry B."

So, I wrote to him, and the following exchange has taken place, so far:
Hello Larry B. ... I just wanted to check if you were aware of the fascinating blog that Lee Shephard writes concerning the golden years of WTOP-TV and Radio (basically, the years prior to 1970.) You can view it at the URL of lookoutlee.blogspot dot com (You will need to add the http, colon, two slashes at the top and the dot com at the end, of course.) Or, just Google the name Lee Shephard and WTOP. There is an annual reunion of oldsters every autumn. You could join-in if you wanted to fly east to attend the next gathering on October 16th. Cheers,
- sgge685

Dear sgge685,
Holy cow...can't think of anywhere I'd rather not be than back in D.C. I remember Lee, and Duke Struck, and Hal Shaw and a few others - but I'm sure they're long gone. Thanks for the info - were you there in that period (1964-1967)?
- denvertrakker

Hi again... No, I worked down the block at 4001 Nebraska Avenue for NBC in the 1980s, but never for Post-Newsweek. However, I have a web site celebrating DC kid shows, such as Ranger Hal, at KaptainKidshow dot com. In fact, I recently posted a short video from 1969 of Lee Shephard as Lookout Lee on Hal's program. You can find it at YouTube dot com. I sincerely suggest that you write an email to Lee Shephard and he'll fill you in on who has passed away (i.e. Hal Shaw) and who is still alive and kicking (i.e. Dave French) from your era at Broadcast House. If you'd like, send me your mailing address and I'll send you a DVD of the opening ceremonies of Broadcast House from February 1954. Best, Bob Bell

I'll provide you with the information to contact "Larry B." if he doesn't contact you first. I know that he isn't "Larry Beckerman". That was the first "Larry B" that I thought of!
2) Would it be too bold of me to invite myself to the "Thurmont '07" event? I promise I won't annoy the natives. I have exchanged many emails with you and with Tom Buckley, so it would be a chance to meet y'all. Say the word, and I'll send a $12 check to Doris Fausey, 13109 Beaver Terrace, Rockville, MD 20853-3303 Perhaps you can convince "Larry B." to attend as well, although he lives out in Colorado.
3) I don't recall hearing whether or not you received the DVD that I mailed you in May which featured the brief "Lookout Lee" color clip? If the DVD didn't reach you, please let me know. (BTW, I intend to add a black and white segment of the Ranger Hal Show to YouTube over the next few days.)

Bob Bell
p.s. I corresponded with Roy Meachum a few years back. He invited me to the Thurmont fete that particular year. Does anyone know about his present health (or if he is still among us?) I see his name associated on the internet with the "Frederick News Post" paper.

The natives will welcome you to our annual Thurmont luncheon with open arms! We'll all probably have a lot of questions for you, for example, how in the world did you come up with all that information about those old time kidshows? Your website is truly an amazing work of art!!

PS......Note to you natives: If you have any idea who Larry B. is, please let your loveable webmaster know.

(NOTE FROM YOUR SLIGHTLY AGING WEBMASTER: If you haven't read the original post, just below this, please read it (The Stopwatch Mystery) before you read Larry's confession.)

Larry B. has CONFESSED.

In a comment posted on this site a few hours ago, he spilled the beans. this is what he wrote:

"OK, I 'fess up...I'm the mysterious "Larry B." - last name Blumenfeld, worked at Channel Nine from Fall '64 to Summer of '67. Since this weird thing started because of the stopwatch, a few more old names have floated back to my consciousness. I remember Eddie Gallagher's interviews (that is the name, isn't it?) and trying to do my best for director Laird Simons. I can picture Duke Struck's uncle - the head of the news dept. - but can't remember his name. I'd love to be back east for your get-together - especially at The Cozy! - but, sorry, not a chance. Regards to all!"

Thanks for solving the puzzle Larry. Glad you remember some of us, although the news director was Ed Ryan, and he wasn't Duke's Uncle.-Lee

AND THERE'S MORE. This one comes from Mr. DC Memories:

"Roddy's aside about those "Bury WTOP" signs posted around Arthur W. Arundel's WAVA studios in 1969 was no joke. How many folks recall that Nick Arundel, with the help of VA. Congressman Joel Broyhill, inspired an official Federal Trade Commission investigation into the legality of WaPost-owned WTOP's shift from Talk Radio to an All-News format? Read about it here: (You'll need to scroll down to the third article.) When the station switched to all-news on Monday, March 10th, 1969, resilient Eddie Gallaher was initially retained as an anchor. The overnight Music 'til Dawn show was shifted to the FM side which didn't exactly mesh with their automated "Young Sound" format. Talker WAGE bought a Post ad to shout that they would gladly welcome WTOP's old audience."

Thanks D.C. I don't recall all of that. That was during the time period that many of us (approx.100 people) were in the process of being fired by Kathryn Graham via Larry Israel and his gang of thugs. I don't know what else to call a group of people who cleared out that many loyal employees in such a ruthless manner. I can't give you a "link" to read about that because the Washington Post never printed a Damm word about it. -Lee

Guess who checked in on our "Stopwatch Mystery"? Take a look:

Larry B may be thinking of Jack Jury who I believe was News Director after Ed Ryan left during that time, although Jack was not my uncle either. I am interested to see what he gets for the old Minerva stopwatch. I believe I still have one somewhere. Funny, that the 1st person who came to your mind was Larry Beckerman. I thought of him also.

Your mention of radio switching to an all news format made me think of Patti Searight. What happened to her?

-Duke Struck

Great to hear from you Duke. Thank you Larry B. for offering your WTOP stopwatch for sale on Ebay! Please let us know WHO bought it. -Lee

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