When someone mentions WDAY in Fargo, this picture comes to me immediately. After Judy and I finished our first big date, the Fargo South Prom, I took Judy to work at the station. She worked at the desk in the picture.
Every phone in the building connected to that switch board. You can see the lights and a plug for each phone. Even the dial (used to “dial” a telephone number) is obvious, right next to the coffee cup.
I was a technology geek (still am) and the switchboard fascinated me, and so did the beautiful girl whose mother you see in the photo. Both worked as telephone operators and knew everyone there. I visited quite often so got to know some of the on-air personalities. Fascinating people!
Television production was a strange and mysterious business (still is), adding to the fascination. Lucy’s letter this week describes just how exciting television was in the early days. The job must have been good, as she worked at the station for nearly forty years. The switchboard looks a little different now.
Television was so new when I started at WDAY. The noon news cast would be live. And Ken Kennedy would have news, weather, a lady on with recipe or sewing hints, etc. Then the markets, and music by Pat & Don or Pat + some soloist at the beginning evening shows would have an orchestra (at one time WDAY had a road show called “Hayloft Jam” and had an entire orchestra in their employ). At 5:00 Hildegard + Johnie Rogers or Mary Lou Dunkirk + the Texas Ranger would have 1/2 hour program.
All the colleges, high schools, social services, Future Farmers of America, Homemakers from all over ND + Minn would come to the afternoon show “Party Line.” Sometimes the floor men would have to put up one hundred chairs. Every one was so curious about TV production.
At Xmas time they had a Kiddy show and the studio would be filled with toys and they would be given away to the children. Jack Sand and Tom Hoff as a clown would entertain with magic.
TV has never been as interesting. Oh yes, I took care of all “Party Line” mail. Lots of it.