North Carolina People with William Friday was a long-running interview show UNC-TV produced starting in the early 1970s. Politicians, authors, actors, musicians, athletes – names big and small and all imminent and impressive Tar Heels in one way or another – would sit down with UNC president Bill Friday for a nice chat and a half hour of simple conversation. It was a broadcast mainstay for decades until Friday’s failing health and eventual passing in 2012 ended the series. I believe there was talk of continuing the show with another host (don’t hold me to that – if talks occurred, even on a casual level, I was never involved personally) however that never transpired. Good thing, too, as Friday’s soft-spoken approach to interviewing seemed impossible to duplicate and who would want to try to fill those shoes anyway?
This glass paperweight was made in celebration of the show’s 35th anniversary circa 2005. It’s a fantastic memento of UNC-TV history and a lovely reminder of a show we proudly broadcast for over 40 seasons. I was lucky enough to work on the show as a student (mostly running camera) and I’m happy to have been a part of this wonderful program.
There are so many technical aspects regarding television production that even someone like myself, a lifelong broadcasting veteran, has a hard time keeping track of the many devices and transmitters used to make the programming we air arrive in your homes and on your devices. For years, I’ve seen a small (small being relative) tower next to our building in the Research Triangle Park yet I’ve never been completely certain what it was. I snapped a picture and showed it to a member of our engineering staff. The reply I got: back-up microwave tower. It was erected in 1996 after Hurricane Fran demonstrated some gaping holes in our backup system. It’s a pretty impressive sight, as are most broadcast towers in my opinion. (BTW that’s our primary tower in the background.)
All month long, UNC-TV has been celebrating the PBS Nerd in all of us with trivia during our live fundraising breaks and on social media. The revels were punctuated by this display of huge stereotypical nerd glasses in our lobby.
I’m a big fan of pin on buttons and have amassed quite a few in my time with UNC-TV. Here’s one of my favorites – a Reading Rainbow badge that I picked up at a convention or as a giveaway from some PBS Kids source. (I’d like to say my best pal LeVar Burton gave it to me but I’ve found it best to make your little white lies at least halfway believable.)
In February, UNC-TV got a new address. We didn’t move – we just got a new address. Essentially, our scenic driveway here in the Research Triangle Park officially became “UNC-TV Drive” and, thus, our mailing address changed. It’s nice to have our very own street, so I took a pic of the new sign…
Our Rootle Kids Crew has recently moved to some very cool digs and the new work area is, as you might imagine, filled with all sorts of kid-friendly décor. Plush toys, books, posters, cardboard standups – all of these are on display. Since it’s a Mister Rogers themed week, I snapped a pic of the only piece of Neighborhood memorabilia I could see…
The book is called A Trolley Visit To Make-Believe written by Fred Rogers himself (illustrated by Pat Sustendal). You’ll note a few of the Neighborhood of Make-Believe residents riding the magical transport – although I’m not sure why King Friday and Queen Sara would leave Prince Tuesday at home. The book was published by Random House in 1987.
Another shot this week from the archive photo collection I discovered. This one’s from Festival ’90 – the first on-air fund drive in our current (then brand-spanking-new) building in the Research Triangle Park. Pictured is former UNC-TV staffer Audrey Kates Bailey and a bevy of hardworking phone operators. Maybe you called in to make a pledge during this fundraiser. Maybe you were one of the many volunteers who helped make it a success. Regardless, it’s a fond memory for those of us who were part of it.