70 Years: Signing on for the first day

Published: Jan. 4, 2023 at 11:19 AM CST
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When WEEK-TV officially signed on the air for the first time on Sunday, February 1, 1953, it was a big day for the Peoria area. Even though there had not been a local tv station, some folks had already purchased a TV set and with the aid of a tower-mounted antenna, families would struggle to tune a signal in from Chicago or St Louis.

It was WEEK-TV that brought television to Central Illinois on that historic day. And the first face they saw might not have been as familiar as the voice they heard. Bill Houlihan was a staff announcer at WEEK AM Radio and was chosen to introduce the first TV program – the film “Stagecoach” starring John Wayne.

WEEK aired shows from three networks: NBC, CBS and Dumont. Because there wasn’t yet a way to air them live to the Central Illinois audience, they were broadcast on a one-week delay (that’s if the shows didn’t get lost in the mail!)

There was no such thing as videotape then. Shows and commercials were either on 16-millimeter film or they were done live in the studio. People were learning how to be TV broadcasters live while on the air. Local news, just like today, was one of the most watched programs. It was an exciting time for these pioneers for local television.

70 years later, WEEK is proud to continue to the way in broadcast excellence in Central Illinois.