70 Years: Captain Jinks and Salty Sam

Published: Jan. 5, 2023 at 10:48 AM CST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

In WEEK-TV’s 70 years, two local personalities are revered above all other - the afternoon children’s TV hosts Captain Jinks and Salty Sam.

The show premiered in 1956 when the station purchased a package of Popeye cartoons and needed someone to introduce the cartoons. The first Captain Jinks was radio actor Hal Searles. When he left in 1957, he was replaced by WEEK Radio announcer Stan Lonergan. By 1960. it was decided a second cast member was needed. Weekend weatherman George Baseleon was tapped to be First Mate Salty Joe but the name was quickly changed to Salty Sam.

The characters became local superstars. Their show drew 76% of the viewing audience. They made personal appearances, marched in a huge number of local parades and visited local hospitals, bringing joy to the young patients. They even had fan clubs on local college campuses. If you were lucky enough to attend the show in person, you were the talk of your neighborhood.

The show went off the air in 1973. But in 1978, the SS Albatross returned to the airwaves with new characters like Bosun Joe, and others. In 1981, Captain Jinks and Salty Sam waved goodbye to the audience one final time and stepped into broadcast history. Today, those who enter the WEEK TV studio pass by two large portraits of the men who played such a big part in the memory of children growing up in central Illinois.