WPIX to celebrate 70th birthday with one-hour special, retro programming

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The year was 1948, the price of a stamp was 3 cents, a subway ride was 10 cents, and a gallon of gas was a whopping 16 cents when WPIX hit the air on June 15 as New York City’s first independent television station.

For 70 years, the award-winning PIX11, Tribune Broadcasting’s flagship television station, has been New York’s home for groundbreaking television. To celebrate the milestone, PIX11 will air “PIX11 Celebrating 70 Years,” a 60-minute retrospective special on June 16 at 4 p.m, and 11 p.m. ET.

PIX11 will also broadcast live from Levittown, NY (also celebrating 70 years) and air a classic programming block. Interstitials will run throughout the week of June 11, and will feature classic PIX11 footage, program trivia and fun facts.

PIX11 Celebrating 70 Years will look back at PIX11 from 1948 through today and relive some of the station’s most memorable broadcast moments. From the NY Giants to the Yankees to the Mets…from Cap’n Jack McCarthy to Officer Joe Bolton to Bozo the Clown…from Dawson to Buffy to Supergirl… From the PIX PIX PIX game to the “Yule Log,” “PIX11 Celebrating 70 Years” will track the station’s growth from a small independent station to the powerhouse it is today.

PIX11 Celebrating 70 Years Schedule:

Friday, June 15
5-9am PIX11 Morning News – Live from Levittown, NY
On Friday, June 15, PIX11 Morning News will broadcast live from Levittown, NY (also celebrating 70 years) for the newscast’s weekly Zip Trips (PIX11 takes Morning News on the road all summer, broadcasting live from 18 different ZIP codes in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut every Friday.) Carole Demas and Paula Janis, the stars of the classic 1970s WPIX children’s show The Magic Garden will be among the special guests.

7pm Yankees vs. Rays – featuring classic Yankees clips
On Friday evening, during the PIX11 Yankees vs. Rays baseball broadcast at 7pm ET, PIX11 will air classic Yankees clips featuring Phil Rizzuto, who worked in the Channel 11 broadcast booth for 40 consecutive years.

Saturday, June 16
Beginning at 2pm on June 16, PIX11 will feature a block of classic PIX11 programs including: The Magic Garden, The Jeffersons and The Honeymooners.

2-3pm The Magic Garden
The Magic Garden with Carole Demas, Paula Janis and Sherlock the Squirrel first aired on PIX11 in 1972 and ran through 1984, charming young viewers with their music and storytelling. WPIX will screen two episodes not seen in decades.

3-3:30pm The Honeymooners
From the Gotham Bus Company depot to the Raccoon Lodge, PIX11 has been home to The Honeymooners since 1958. WPIX will mark the anniversary with the airing of the fan favorite “TV or Not TV,” which is often the top pick on WPIX viewers’ choice marathons.

3:30-4pm The Jeffersons
The Jeffersons, which first aired on WPIX in 1981 and was a staple on the station’s schedule for decades, marks its return to PIX11 as part of the Saturday classic television block. PIX11 will present a fan favorite from Season 1 — “Mr. Piano Man.”

4-5pm & 11-12pm PIX11 Celebrating 70 Years
The 60-minute special will look back at PIX11 from 1948 through today and relive some of the station’s most memorable broadcast moments

Other retro programming

Interstitials will run throughout the week of June 11, and will feature classic PIX11 footage, PIX11 program trivia and fun facts including these PIX11 “firsts:”

  • PIX11’s first live broadcast began at 7:30pm on June 15, 1948 and ran 5 hours, 41 minutes. It was a star-studded inaugural with such entertainers as Gloria Swanson, Ed Sullivan and Arthur Godfrey stopping by the broadcast.
  • In 1948, PIX11 broadcast the first television coverage of both the Democratic and Republican National Conventions from Philadelphia.
  • With its motto “First on the Scene, First on the Screen,” WPIX is a pioneer in establishing conventions of television news coverage, and uses airplanes to cover news years before the dawn of the news copter.
  • In 1954, the New York Times praised WPIX anchor John Tillman for the innovation of reporting news from the scene, rather than the studio.
  • PIX11 aired the very first instant replay on July 17, 1959, a ninth-inning single against the Chicago White Sox had spoiled Ralph Terry’s no-hitter for the Yankees. WPIX sportscaster Mel Allen asked the director, Jack Murphy, to see the hit replayed on videotape.
  • In 1965, the station aired another first, this time the first colorcast of Yankees baseball.
  • PIX11 created the first “music video” when it began airing The Yule Log in 1966, with footage of the fireplace in Gracie Mansion set to classic Christmas car­ols.
  • In June 1980, WPIX launched its pioneering INN news broadcast. The Independent Network News brought network-quality news programs to independent stations around the nation. Long in planning, INN was launched just days after CNN, and 16 years before FOX News and MSNBC.

Where to see the special again as well as vintage programs on demand

The PIX11 Celebrating 70 Years special, four “Magic Garden” episodes, and other rare archival WPIX shows, including “Soul Alive,” will be available via PIX11’s connected devices app on Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV and Google’s Android TV. Simply search WPIX to add PIX11 on these services.

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