Happy birthday to – us! WPRI 12 turns 57 years old today.
As I related a year ago, WPRI came on the air as WPRO-TV on March 27, 1955, with the backing of the old Cherry & Webb clothing store. The station has had eight parent companies in the intervening years; our current parent, Providence-based LIN Media, has owned WPRI since 2001.
Last year at this time the oldest YouTube clip of WPRI was this groovy 1982 sign-on, but now the Wayback Machine has served up a short station ID from 1978 (plus the tail end of a spray creme commercial):
And here’s a terrific compilation of three station promos that aired on June 23, 1990, during a Saturday night telecast of “The Man With One Red Shoe” on ABC, our network at the time. The promos feature Walter Cryan, Karen Adams, the Bristol 4th of July Parade and Almacs – how Rhode Island can you get?
Have you ever wondered what a Nesi’s Notes New Year’s Eve TV special would be like?
Well, it would probably bear a resemblance to the commentary Ben Grauer offered on “The Tonight Show” as the ball dropped in Times Square on New Year’s Eve 1965. He manages to get in an increase in the payroll tax, the Dow Jones Industrial Average, a possible subway strike, the war in Vietnam and more (no pensions, alas):
[New York's] other senator, Roscoe Conkling, had seen his own affair—with the wife of a former governor of Rhode Island—splashed across the front page of The Times. (Admittedly, the affair made the paper only after the ex-governor threatened to shoot Conkling in a Narragansett clam joint.)
For the remainder of the 1965 season, the Judge simply painted over the dead grass and dirt in his outfield [at the Astrodome], mixed in some sawdust with it and called it grass, though it was essentially a sandlot. …
“I think he suspected all along that the grass wouldn’t work,” says Pool. “Artificial turf was developed in ‘64 through a Ford Foundation study that indicated city kids entering the Army had lower coordination than suburban and rural kids. The study concluded that it was because city kids had no play areas. The first artificial turf was installed at Moses Brown Playground in Providence. And Hofheinz had installed a patch at spring training in ‘65.”
Once upon a time, dairy farmers waged a spirited campaign against margarine, getting dozens of states to ban its sale or at least bar producers from dying it to look like butter.
With Wisconsin considering a loosening of its margarine law, the blog Sociological Images took the opportunity to retrace the history of the anti-margarine crusades – and dug up a vintage Kraft advertisement that shows Rhode Island was one of 26 states where the company was allowed to sell its Yellow Parkay margarine spread.
Guess the midcentury dairy lobby wasn’t a particularly powerful interest group here in the Ocean State.
Now that allthreearticles based on my interview Monday with Governor Chafee have been posted, a reader suggested it would be fun to see a word cloud based on the transcript. Great idea!
For the uninitiated, The New York Times offers a good definition of a word cloud: “It uses the text you type (or copy and paste) into a basic dialog box to create a poster-worthy, weighted visual representation — meaning the more a word is used, the bigger it appears on the page.”
So here’s a word cloud based off the transcription of my Chafee interview, creating using Wordle, a free service. This only includes the governor’s answers, not my questions, so these are his words:
Happy birthday to Gov. Lincoln Chafee, who turns 58 tomorrow.
To celebrate, Chafee’s staff surprised him at the State House this afternoon with a Heath Bar Crunch Cake from Gregg’s – purchased at the one in Warwick, natch.
The governor’s press office sent along this photo of him cutting the cake up in the gubernatorial suite:
Behind Chafee are, from left to right: Christine DiFilippo, an executive assistant; Brian Daniels, his director of policy; Deputy Chief of Staff Jamia McDonald (partially blocked by Chafee); and Donna Dell’Aquila, also an executive assistant. Photo was snapped by Samuel Lovett, a communications aide.
WPRI-TV 12 will celebrate its 56th birthday on Sunday. Don’t we look good for our age?
WPRI came on the air March 27, 1955 as WPRO-TV - apparently two years behind schedule after Rehoboth wouldn’t let us build a transmitter there and then Hurricane Carol destroyed the one we did build in Johnston, according to this insanely detailed Wikipedia article.
The station was started up by none other than Cherry & Webb – yep, the furniture clothing store. That’s not as strange as it sounds now; our august competition in Cranston was the brainchild of the venerable Outlet Company department store. TV stations were just another way to sell sofas and apparel, I guess.
WPRI has had a total of eight owners in the intervening 56 years by my count. Happily for us, the days of getting passed around are long gone; our current parent, Providence-based LIN Media, has owned the station since 2001, the second-longest uninterrupted stretch of ownership in our history.
YouTube is filled with nostalgic clips of local stations back in the day, so I thought I’d take a look at what they had for us. The earliest video of WPRI is this quite welcoming morning sign-on clip from August 1982, during our ABC affiliate period:
Even better, though, is this little ditty from 1984 shown at the end of the broadcast day that sings, “We’re with you on Channel 12!” surrounded by some extraordinarily cheerful ’80s people. Check it out:
I wonder where all those big cut-out “12s” ended up? Maybe they’re in a closet somewhere here in the studio. I want one.
But of course, what really matters here at WPRI 12 is the news. Here’s Walter Cryan and Janice Glynn kicking off the late news after the 1987 Academy Awards:
(For the record, my posting of these clips is entirely journalistic and does not represent any sort of statement or endorsement of them and their being put online by LIN.)
Update: Mea culpa – earlier I described Cherry & Webb as a defunct furniture store, but a trusted reader informed me it was a women’s clothing store. And he, of course, is right. I feel like I vaguely remember an advertising jingle they had?
Suitably chastened, and with the help of my Twitter followers, I boned up on my Cherry & Webb history. It had grown to 35 stores in five of the six New England states by the time it filed for bankruptcy in March 2000; its merchandise was liquidated shortly thereafter.
Interesting, too: Cherry & Webb was apparently a division of the Outlet Company until it was spun off in a 1982 buyout, meaning Outlet started up both the first two TV stations in Rhode Island, WJAR and then us. Here’s how the Projo described the company a few years ago:
Designed as an alternative to mall department stores, Cherry & Webb carries an array of designer-brand professional and casual apparel for women, as well as cosmetics and accessories.
Founded in 1888 in Massachusetts, Cherry & Webb was owned from 1963 to 1982 by the Outlet Co.
The chain peaked with 65 stores in the late 1980s, when it began closing unprofitable stores. Since then, it has gone through several ownership and management changes, and even name changes. For most of the 1980s and 1990s, it was known as Cherry Webb & Touraine, after it acquired the Touraine chain in 1981.
Rhode Islanders have a reputation for being provincial – if you weren’t born here you’ll never be a Rhode Islander, right? But maybe that’s not deserved.
Rhode Island has the 14th-highest percentage of residents with a passport in the U.S., according to a study by C.P.G. Grey, a London-based management coach. By Grey’s calculations, 54% of Rhode Islanders hold a passport.
That’s below next-door Massachusetts (63%) and Connecticut (59%) but way above, say, Oregon (43%) or last-place Mississippi (20%). Mississippi always seems to come last in these state-by-state rankings.
Here’s the full map:
You can see Grey’s full list and read about his methodology here.
I’ve been reading The Fix since Chris Cillizza started it up back when I was a wee collegiate, and it’s one of the sites on which I’ve modeled Nesi’s Notes, so this means a lot to me. I’d say more, but it appears my best work is limited to 140 characters.
Couldn’t pass up the chance to do a post with that headline. The WSJ’s point is that there wasn’t any booze there:
Reports of binge drinking in college have long made headlines. As more schools offer increasingly creative alternatives to shots and beer pong, they say they see noticeable declines in drinking. …
At Brown University in Providence, R.I., an alcohol-free “foam party,” a dance with the floor flooded with bubbles, draws about 600 students during Spring Weekend, a series of student-run events to celebrate the near-ending of the school year, when drinking is higher than usual, says Erin Hannen, a junior at Brown. …
At Brown University, an “Art Gallery Mocktail Party” at fall orientation for the past two years has drawn 20% of incoming freshman,” says organizer Halie Rando, a senior at Brown. Students viewed comical art exhibits, such as gym socks hanging from the ceiling, while meeting new, non-drinking friends, Ms. Rando says.
“Ernie D,” as he was known – shades of Pauly D? – was NBA Rookie of the Year in 1974 after a stellar season with the Buffalo Braves. (They’re now the LA Clippers.)
DiGregorio was born in North Providence and attended PC. He “helped revolutionize the concept of the fast-break offense,” according to his biography on the website of the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame (which apparently exists). But his career mostly fizzled out after that first year, and he retired in 1981.
Blogging will be light today while I work on special projects. And don’t forget – our “Dirty Little Secret” Target 12 investigation airs tonight at 10 p.m. on Fox and 11 on WPRI 12. Here’s a preview with Tim White from this morning’s “Rhode Show”:
If you want to be the next Michael Phelps or Usain Bolt, you’d better get on it – one leading expert on athletic performance tells The Boston Globe he’s calculated “that the end of almost all athletic improvement will occur around 2027.” In fact, he thinks most of it has already occurred:
In the sports that best measure athleticism — track and field, mostly — athletic performance has peaked. The studies show the steady progress of athletic achievement through the first half of the 20th century, and into the latter half, and always the world-record times fall. Then, suddenly, achievement flatlines. These days, athletes’ best sprints, best jumps, best throws — many of them happened years ago, sometimes a generation ago.
The expert - Geoffroy Berthelot, a researcher at Paris’ Institute for Biomedical Research and Sports Epidemiology – cites a number of factors that have pushed athletes to near the limits of human biology: better nourishment, improved technique, more strength training and steroids.
On behalf of all of us, I’d like to thank Monsieur Berthelot for giving all of us yet another excuse to skip going to the gym.
Though there are a lot of great Christmas songs, Irving Berlin’s simple “White Christmas” remains my favorite. Like some other classics of the genre – “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” and “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” come to mind – the song has a yearning quality, which may have something to do with its having been written during World War II.
Bing Crosby’s original recording of the song is the best-selling single of all time, according to the Guinness Book of World Records, and it’s still played regularly on the radio and in the malls. Massachusetts’ own Roy Harris had a nice essay about that in The Wall Street Journal last year.
To my mind, though, Bing’s best version of “White Christmas” isn’t the famous one with the orchestra – it’s the simple, stripped-down rendition he sings at the beginning of the 1954 movie of the same name. Thanks to YouTube, you can decide for yourself:
I won’t be blogging on Monday – I’ll either have the day off or be covering the snowstorm if necessary. (Let’s hope it’s the former, for all our sakes.) But I’ve prerecorded a few fun items for you, so check in if you can. Things will be back to normal on Tuesday.
This rather brilliant holiday YouTube video reimagines the Nativity story if it had taken place in our age of social media. It was created by Excentric, a digital marketing firm in Portgual, and has quickly gone viral since getting posted on Dec. 13, with nearly 5 million views for the original and millions more for mirror uploads of it.
I’m pretty sure my favorite part is when the Wise Men follow the Star of Bethlehem … on Twitter. Take a look.
No sacrilege intended, of course – in fact, CNN reports a number of churches have asked Excentric for permission to show the video to their congregations.
Anchor Rising‘s Justin Katz writes in to add some more context on those divorce statistics I highlighted last week. They showed Massachusetts as having the nation’s lowest divorce rate: 1.8 divorces per 1,000 residents.
Katz points out that Massachusetts also has one of the nation’s lowest marriage rates, which could skew the numbers. Here’s how he described it in a post back in 2004:
New Hampshire’s 2001 divorce rate was only lower than those of four of the ten Southern states, and Oklahoma and South Carolina would only be average among the Northeastern states. Nonetheless, [UConn professor William D'Antonio] is correct to note that Massachusetts had the lowest number of divorces per 1,000 inhabitants in 2001, at 2.4. Leaving out the flukish Nevada, Arkansas was at the other end, with 6.6 divorces per 1,000 inhabitants.
Of course, that year, Arkansas also had one of the highest marriage rates, at 14.8, compared with Massachusetts’ 6.4, which was the sixth lowest. That means that Arkansas gained 8.2 marriages per 1,000 inhabitants, while Massachusetts gained only 4.0. (For Rhode Island, the calculation is 8.6 marriages minus 3.3 divorces equals a 5.3 gain.) Little wonder that the 2000 Census found that 54.3% of Arkansas’s households were married-couple families, while only 49% of Massachusetts’ and 48.2% of Rhode Island’s were.
Congratulations to the married couples of Massachusetts, who apparently have stronger bonds than their counterparts anywhere else in the country.
There were only 1.8 divorces per 1,000 people in the Bay State in 2008-09, according to data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and compiled by WSJ.com. Washington, D.C., was second-place with 2.1 divorces per 1,000, followed by Pennsylvania at 2.3 and Iowa, New York and North Dakota, all tied at 2.5.
Rhode Island was in a five-way tie for the country’s 14th-lowest divorce rate, with 3.2 dissolved marriages per 1,000 people, the same as in Georgia, Nebraska, Ohio and South Dakota.
Matrimony fared the worst in Nevada – home of divorce-happy Reno – with 6.6 breakups per 1,000. Also on the high side were Arkansas at 5.6, Wyoming at 5.2, and Idaho and West Virginia, tied at 5.0.
I can’t say I know much about the nation of Slovenia.
Actually, I take that back – I can’t say I know anything about Slovenia, except that it’s in Eastern Europe. Wikipedia tells me it was part of Yugoslavaia before declaring independence in 1991, and has a population of about 2 million people. The capital city is Ljubljana, which I can’t pronounce.
But apparently we all know what it’s like to live in an economy sized like Slovenia’s – because according to this neat graphic by the folks at The Wall Street Journal‘s Real Time Economics blog, Slovenia and Rhode Island’s gross domestic products are about the same size. Here’s a screenshot:
Good for Rhode Island – we squeeze a lot more economy into a lot less space than Slovenia, or for that matter Vermont and Maine compared with Cyprus and Luxembourg. Also, it seems like I write about Eastern Europe on this blog a lot more often that you’d expect, huh?
Back in November 2007, when I was still a cub reporter at The Sun Chronicle in Attleboro, the managing editor needed to send one of us to cover the scene at Wrentham Village Outlets when it opened at midnight after Thanksgiving. As the youngest person on staff, I drew the short straw.
It wasn’t a terrible deal; I only had to spend a few hours at the outlets, and since I was allowed to file my story from home, I could skip going into the newsroom altogether on Friday.
And it seemed like a pretty straightforward assignment to begin with – go to the outlets, take in the crowds, interview a few bargain-crazed shoppers and call it a night. Piece of cake.
No, it’s not the latest Hollywood blockbuster. That was the scene at the Wrentham Village Premium Outlets early Friday, when thousands of people descended on the plaza for a midnight sale that kicked off the official Christmas shopping season.
For the second year in a row, most of the stores at the outlets opened their doors at 12:01 a.m. on the day after Thanksgiving. To entice customers, companies offered bargains billed as the season’s best.
Unfortunately, peace on earth and goodwill toward men were not much in evidence at the store that was busiest Friday morning: Coach, the leather-goods company best known for its handbags.
While writing about the Film & TV Office yesterday, I wondered whether it was really true that the hip 1956 musical “High Society” was filmed in Newport, as opposed to being set there but filmed in Hollywood.
Steven Feinberg, the office’s executive director, wrote in to tell me that indeed it is. Not only that, he said, but the late state Rep. Paul Crowley‘s father actually let MGM’s crew use his station wagon to secure the camera as they drove down Bellvue Avenue to film the opening sequence.
“High Society” was a remake of “The Philadelphia Story” with Cole Porter supplying the music, and featured an all-star cast including Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, Grace Kelly and Louis Armstrong. It’s not the only toe-tapping flick set in 1950s Newport, either; the classic “Jazz on a Summer’s Day” documents the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival.
And Feinberg’s e-mail gives me a good excuse to post the opening sequence he described – dig that Satchmo style: