Maine Seniors Magazine Celebrates 60 Years of TV5

Updated 2 years ago

In 1953 gas cost .29 a gallon, you could buy a car for less than $1,900, minimum wage was .75 an hour, and WABI-TV 5 signed on as Maine’s first television station. This year, we are celebrating 60 years of great TV. The current edition of Maine Seniors Magazine takes a look back at our station’s history. 60 years ago, the Hildreth family did something no one else in Maine was doing. ” Those were the glory days. Channel 5 was doing, they were doing live TV at the Main Street festival of every town in their coverage area during the summer,” said Rick Bronson. TV5 was Maine’s first TV station and for many people, it was more than that. ” I was sort of born at WABI,” said Bronson. Rick Bronson’s dad, Dick, was one of the pioneers of the station. ” He really became, more or less, the first general manager of the first TV station north of Boston,” explained Bronson. Even in the beginning, WABI’s mission was clear: local news, local programming, and family. ” He viewed the viewers as part of their family,” said Bronson, talking about his father. Russ Van Arsdale was a reporter for TV5 from September 1977 through early 1981. He remembers long days traveling to and from Augusta. ” When I started at channel 5, we were shooting 16 millimeter film, so you had to get back to the station in time to process the film and edit it by hand and then get it on the air,” said Van Arsdale. One of the most-remembered TV5 personalities from the past is Mike Dolley. You might know him as the guy who played Bozo and Santa. ” There are people that I run into who are my age and a little bit older that remember him reading their letter on TV,” said David Nealley. If you look back at the history of WABI, you’ll see a lot of familiar faces. ” Bud Leavitt was a big celebrity for WABI. He was their big outdoor sports guy,” explained Nealley. TV5 staffers got to rub elbows with some pretty impressive people, including Clint Eastwood, Walter Cronkite, and Dan Rather. ” When Dan Rather’s there with Gordon Manuel in the photo, I mean what does that say about that day and age,” said Nealley with a smile. David Nealley is the publisher of Maine Seniors Magazine. In the latest edition, WABI takes center stage. ” The nostalgia and the history of so much in Maine is a part of the publication and that’s why the WABI story was important for Maine Seniors Magazine,” said Nealley. Bronson and Van Arsdale wrote the articles in Maine Seniors Magazine. For Bronson, it was easy, he remembers when the studio was on State Street in Bangor. Bronson even went back recently to see what’s changed. ” The second and third floors haven’t changed since they moves out in ’62. Seriously, you could walk in there today and see the radio studios,” said Bronson. In the early days, TV5 was leading the way. The station sent a crew to Nova Scotia for the launch of the blue nose ferry to Bar Harbor. ” They went over there and did live television from Nova Scotia sometime in the early 50’s, back to Channel 5, the only television station in Maine,” explained Bronson. Sixty years later, the faces at TV5 have changed, but the mission is the same. ” To still dominate in the local market is a significant tribute to WABI and all it’s been throughout the years,” said Nealley. WABI TV5 is still about local news, local programming, and family. You can pick up a copy of Maine Seniors Magazine at many local stores. You can also sign up online to have it delivered to you. To find out more, click here.


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