WATCH ABOVE: In preparation for Global Edmonton’s 40th birthday, Mike Sobel had a chance to chat with some long time alumni about their time working for the station.
EDMONTON — From SCTV to award winning newscasts, ITV — now known as Global Edmonton — has offered a lot of content to Edmontonians over the past 40 years.
As ITV/Global Edmonton celebrates 40 years on the air, what better way to look back than to ask a few people who have been at the station since — or nearly since — it began.
Luther Haave was one of the very first employees hired at ITV back in 1974.
“I showed up the first day the general manager was in town,” he says, “and I went down to see if they needed any help and the guy said, ‘I need a chief engineer, could you do that?’ And I said, ‘Well I don’t know.’ And we went upstairs and 20 minutes later he hired me.”
Des Spence wasn’t too far behind, signing on to work as a lighting guy with ITV just before the station hit the airwaves on Sept. 1.
“There was a lot of excitement about this station at the time. And I think everybody who came here really put sweat and heart into making a go of this station,” he recalls. “Very creative people we worked with and it was an experience I would never forget.”
A sketch comedy show produced at then ITV, SCTV starred big-name comedians such as John Candy, Joe Flahery and Rick Moranis.
“It was the most amazing time in television,” says Cam Kjellbotn, who recently retired after 38-and-a-half years with ITV. Kjellbotn came to Edmonton from BCTV and started his career in Master Control.
“It was really exciting because you got to be creative,” adds Wayne Noga, who retired from Global Edmonton this past Friday after starting as a cameraman in 1976.
“There were a lot of long, long days. One time I think we had time sheets that went from Friday to Monday. We just worked the whole weekend.”
READ MORE: Timeline: 40 Years of “Our” TV
They may have been long days, but the way these men remember them, they were fun.
“There was a couple times when Joe Flaherty was looking for some character, some sidekick he could use, so I got wrangled into some of his shtick that he was doing,” says Peter Wugalter, Global Edmonton’s broadcast operations manager, who started at ITV as a television assistant on May 20, 1980.
“I was in and out of all of these different skits. And back then we were all just having a good time, we didn’t know the success the show would have.”
Wugalter recalls one particularly exciting evening, after a long night of filming, when comedy legend John Candy invited the crew over to his house.
“We we all had drinks,” he says. “His wife was bringing us snacks. And we all formed a league after because of him. He was a great guy.”
Most memorable moments
While it may seem hard to pinpoint one favourite moment with 40 years of memories, these five men are quick to answer the question.
Being a sports fan, Noga’s most memorable moment is a no-brainer; it dates back to when ITV used to televise all of the Edmonton Oilers home games.
“It was Gretzky’s 50th goal in 39 games. It was against Philly, and a lot of the media went to Vancouver to do the story because they thought he would break the record in Vancouver. One of our script assistants said, ‘He’s scoring five goals tonight.’ And as he kept getting one, two, three the building was just electric, and I was between the benches with a camera and I’ll just never forget it.”
Wugalter remembers when wireless microphones made their debut at ITV.
“It was such an exciting time, wireless mics. Bill (Matheson) would always take the mic home, he would always forget,” he recalls with a smile. “I remember one day he phones me in the audio room and he says, ‘I’ve been singing to you while I’m driving home,’ and I said, ‘What are you talking about?’ He’s at his house now and he says, ‘Don’t you hear me? I’m on the wireless microphone!'”
Haave says his favourite moment was doing a show with Charles Aznavour on ITV’s In Concert Series.
“He was probably one of the biggest artists we ever worked with in terms of world-wide record sales.”
Also involving the In Concert Series, Kjellbotn recalls a Roger Whittaker concert at the Jubilee Auditorium. Having run into a technical difficulty, the world-class whistler was looking to fill time so he called Kjellbotn onto the stage.
“I walk out, centre stage at the Jube beside him, and he introduces me,” Kjellbotn explains. “And then he said it was my birthday and so 2,700 people sang Happy Birthday to me and it was nowhere near my birthday. And then it became, whenever they needed a fill, it was my birthday.”
Spence says his most memorable moment is all the community work done by the station and staff over the years.
“We did a concert for some seniors that we brought into the studio here. And all kinds of stuff. I did a free play called ‘Mugsy’s Merry Christmas’ with some old fellas,” he says. “And it ran for about five or six years every Christmas Morning.
“There are so many memories, those are just a couple.”