THE 10 O'CLOCK NEWS
March 13, 1967 - July 5, 1968 (Half Hour)
July 8, 1968 - February 23, 1979 (One Hour)
Bill Jorgensen was the founding and longtime anchor of New York City's FIRST PRIME TIME ONE HOUR WEEKLY NEWS BROADCAST premiering format on July 8, 1968. It began as a half hour News Broadcast anchored by Bill Jorgensen on March 13, 1967.
When WNEW-TV began producing 10 O'CLOCK NEWS with Bill Jorgensen at the helm, no other commercial television stations had a prime time newscast. The New York Times television critic Jack Gould described the newscast as "a thoroughly professional news summary" due in part to "Mr. Jorgensen's durably pleasing style and demeanor. He suggests authority without affectation."
On March 13, 1967 Channel 5 launched the first prime time newscast in the tri-state area, just a few months after sister station WTTG in Washington D.C. became the first station in the United States with one. Since then, a lot has changed but there are still a few constants like the seemingly eternal question, “It’s 10 p.m. Do you know where your children are?”
In 1967, channel 5, then called WNEW-TV, had been an independent television station for eleven years since the disbanding of the DuMont Network where it was the flagship station. The station was owned by Metromedia, which obtained the majority of the network’s assets, including the DuMont Tele-centre on East 67th Street that served as the home for channel 5.
Metromedia tapped Bill Jorgensen, a reporter for WEWS in Cleveland to anchor the newscast in either Washington or New York. Jorgensen decided on New York after he had heard some in the industry say that the news couldn’t compete against entertainment programming. In the newscast’s first year, it was competing against programs from the networks such as The Big Valley, The Carol Burnett Show, The Dean Martin Show and I Spy. The neigh sayers were proven wrong and the plucky little newscast without all the resources of a big network behind it did quite well against the entertainment competition and quickly expanded from a half hour to an hour.
In December of 1969 John Roland joined the station and a little less than ten years later became Jorgensen’s successor after he moved over to WPIX in 1979. When Roland took over the anchor chair, WPIX’s Action News (later Independent Network News) offered the only 10 p.m. competition for news in the city. In other parts of the country 10 p.m. newscasts were popping up on independent stations after seeing the success in New York.
The 10 O'CLOCK NEWS on WNEW TV followed a talk show hosted by Merv Griffin and was followed by a local talk show hosted by Alan Burke, and then followed with The Les Crane Show when The 10'Oclock News was a half hour broadcast. This line-up rapidly built a substantial audience.
After a twelve year successful run Bill Jorgensen left WNEW and The 10'OClock News and was succeeded at by John Roland, who anchored his first broadcast on March 14, 1979. Jorgensen who quit after his Feb. 23, broadcast left the newscast without an official anchor replacement for two and half weeks. Roland who had previously been a featured reporter and co-anchor became the new anchor.
Bill Jorgensen's signature signoff was "I'm Bill Jorgensen, thanking you for your time this time 'till next time."
NOTE: Bill Jorgensen had it written into his contract at WNEW that he was the only one who could use a TelePrompTer, and this meant that when he was debriefing a reporter on set, the reporter would have to constantly look at his notes. By contract, Jorgensen would always look steadily into the camera, projecting an air of power and confidence. He warred bitterly with station management, including Ted Kavanau, then news director, who says Jorgensen "was a difficult guy, very moody, hardly talked to anybody, but when you turned on that camera, he performed brilliantly. He had a voice that was like fate reaching out to you."
ON THIS BROADCAST: Joined in progress, Rolland Smith, National White House correspondent for Metromedia television (WTTG), and staff hire on the 10 O'clock News for a short period of time in 1970, reports an investigative analysis commentary questioning the actions and timeline of Senator Edward Kennedy related to his movements and apparent activities before, during and after the tragic auto accidental death of Mary Jo Kopechne who was a passenger in Kennedy's car on the evening of July 18, 1969.
Questions Smith poses during the final seven minutes of this joined in progress report, and also heard statements by Senator Edward Kennedy recorded and integrated in this report during his press conferences include:
-How did Ted Kennedy know that Mary Jo Kopechne was dead when he walked away from the accident site?
-Why did Kennedy walk over a mile back to the party from which he and Mary Jo just left after the accident and not to anyone one of a few close by homes near the site of the accident?
-Why a 10 hour gap in time before Kennedy called the police?
-Was it possible that Mary Joe Kopechne was still alive when Ted Kennedy left the scene of the car submerged in the water?
-Why once Kennedy returned to the party no doctor was called immediately?
-How did Kennedy manage to swim a challenging 300 feet swim back to his hotel room after all Ferry service was closed for the night, after 1am?
-Why was there no immediate questions by authorities of those people who attended the party?
-Why were all of those who attended the party off the island before the investigation began?
-Why was there such a quick "closed case" stated by Edgartown Police chief Dominick Arena whom we hear stating as such at a press conference.
Included in this investigative report by Rolland Smith is his interview with Metromedia Television News grip, Jack Loubat (?) who test swims the same swift current that purportedly Senator Edward Kennedy states he swam, only to conclude that it is very challenging feat and very difficult to accomplish.
The news continues with a report on Edward Kennedy's immediate pollical future at stake, and a separate news story concerning the New Haven railroad battle ahead related to fare proposed hikes. A segment filmed at a public hearing is covered with Westchester congressman Ogden Reid objecting to the proposed raises. A counter point of view is expressed by a railroad representative at the hearing.
Rolland Smith's earliest broadcasting job was for Metromedia Television, where he served as White House correspondent for WTTG. Metromedia would later transfer him to New York, where he would become co-anchor of WNEW-TV's 10 PM newscast.
Smith departed Metromedia for CBS in the Fall of 1970, and instantly became a reporter and anchor for WCBS. In 1973 Smith was named co-anchor of WCBS' evening newscasts, a position he held for 13 years. His 11 PM co-anchors included Dave Marash (1973–1978 and 1981–1982) and Vic Miles (1978–1979), before Michele Marsh joined him for the balance of his run with channel 2. Starting in late 1975, he was teamed with Jim Jensen on the 6 PM newscast, a partnership that remained until Smith's departure from the station in 1986.
THIS TWELVE MINUTE EXCERPT TELEVISION AUDIO AIR CHECK REPRESENTS THE OLDEST KNOWN EXTANT BROADCAST RECORD, IN ANY FORM, OF THE "10 O'CLOCK NEWS" WHICH HAS BEEN 99% WIPED (ERASED, "LOST," DESTROYED), REFLECTING ITS FIRST DOZEN YEARS ON TELEVISION (1967-1979).
NO KNOWN BROADCASTS OR EVEN EXCERPTS OF THE "10 O'CLOCK NEWS WITH BILL JORGENSEN" EXISTS OR IS ARCHIVED AT THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS, UCLA FILM & TV ARCHIVE, PALEY CENTER FOR MEDIA, VANDERBILT UNIVERSITY NEWS ARCHIVE, OR THE ARCHIVES OF WNEW METROMEDIA.
ONE ENDING OF THE PROGRAM AND CREDITS CAN BE FOUND ON YOU TUBE (62 SECONDS), AND ANOTHER VERY BRIEF PROMOTIONAL OF THE SHOW.