Friday, January 15, 2021

Charlie Harville spotlight in Greensboro Newspaper (1962)


Thanks to Mark Eastridge who passed this along to us. This was a notice about time changes of WFMY channel 2 (Greensboro) news and sports reports in February of 1962. 

A few years before Harville became so closely associated with professional wrestling in the area with his move to WGHP, he had some major wrestling mements, including interviewing NWA World Heavyweight Champion "Nature Boy" Buddy Rogers on his WFMY "Sports Final" show, the program mentioned in the newspaper piece above.

Harville would move to WGHP channel 8 in October of 1963 as sports director of the new station in High Point, NC (same Greensboro market), and would begin hosting Championship Wrestling in February of 1964. The program was a production of WGHP and was  syndicated to a few other TV markets in the Mid-Atlantic area as well before the consolidation of Crockett TV production and distribution to WRAL in Raleigh in 1974.

"Harville was as much an icon as the wrestlers for those of us growing up in the Greensboro/Winston Salem/High Point area in the sixties & seventies," Mark said in his email. 

Harville's show on WGHP promoted live events in that market, including the main towns of Greensboro, Winston-Salem, and Lexington, plus other spots shows in the area.  

For more on Charlie Harville's rich legacy in Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling, check out Wayne Brower's lengthy piece on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway: Charlie Harville: Remembering His Remarkable Journey.

Monday, January 11, 2021

Jay "Dude" Walker Appears on Starrcade 83

WWE Network Screen Grab

We're looking for more information on this fellow appearing with Bob Caudle and Gordon Solie on the Starrcade '83 closed-circuit extravaganza from Thanksgiving night 1983.

His working name on FM radio was Dude Walker. He was a drive-time DJ for G105 FM (WDCG), a top-40 radio powerhouse out of the Raleigh-Durham area in 1983.

Between early matches during the Starrcade '83 closed-circuit telecast, Bob introduced Dude to the audience and asked him what he thought about Ric Flair. Dude said he believed Flair would take the title from Harley Race that night since Flair was in his home area, and indicated that everyone at G105 was behind the Nature Boy.

Dude also briefly hosted some of the local promo interviews for Jim Crockett Promotions that were taped at the makeshift garage studio on Briarbend Drive in Charlotte in the fall of 1983 and through at least mid-1984. But that short stint makes him part of the historical roster of announcers in the Crockett studio era. (Edit: In some 1984 promo segments, wrestlers referred to him as Jay. So possibly his name was Jay Walker.)


We googled Dude Walker and came across several radio personalities with that name, which apparently must have been a thing in radio. Who knew? But none of them were our guy.

If you have any information on Jay/Dude Walker, we'd love to know more about him. You can contact us via the Contact Page on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway.



Some interesting tidbits about G105 FM and why there may have been a tie-in with Jim Crockett Promotions during Starrcade '83: 

They have had several formats over the decades including country and rock, but became a top-40 station in 1981 and became a 100,000 watt powerhouse in 1982 when they began transmitting on the WRDU-TV tower in Chatham County. 

They were one of the first stations in their market to operate a dual-city license with their primary market being Raleigh-Durham, but also with a special signal going into the Greensboro-High Point-Winston Salem market. During this era of the first Starrcade, they were one of the most powerful and popular radio stations in central NC and the Piedmont. 

This may have been why they partnered with JCP to promote the first Starrcade, given their reach and popularity across the immediate area around Greensboro.

They are still around, a top-40 iHeart radio station based out of Raleigh and licensed out of Durham, NC.

If you have any information on Jay/Dude Walker, we'd love to know more about him. You can contact us via the Contact Page on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway.

Thanks to those who have provided additional information, including Joe DiGiacomo.

An edited version of this article was also posted on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway on January 13, 2021.

Saturday, January 9, 2021

Bob Caudle and Jim Goodmon at WRAL

 

Weathercaster, newsman, and Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling host Bob Caudle and Capitol Broadcasting Corporation President Jim Goodmon taking part in a humorous 1976 promo campaign when Bob DeBardelaben took over for Caudle as Weatherman. (From the CBC History website.)

More on that campaign that also featured Blackjack Mulligan, Joe Murnick, and 1960s-early 1970s wrestling host Nick Pond can be found here:

1976 Weather Promo Has 5 Wrestling Connections

Monday, January 4, 2021

Promoter Pete Apostolou and Roanoke Wrestling

Pete Apostolou promoted many wrestling matches in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, both on Saturday afternoon TV shows on WDBJ-TV (Channel 7) and in live evening venues such as the old American Legion Auditorium, Legion Stadium, and Starland Arena, seen here. (Roanoke Times Photo)


The following is an edited from a much larger article from the Roanoke Times by Ray Cox, originally published March 11, 2018. We extracted info about longtime Roanoke promoter Pete Apostolou for historical purposes, fleshing out some great detail about the old TV tapings that took place at WDBJ channel 7 in Roanoke.  Take time to read Cox's entire article on the Roanoke.com website here.
 

Professional wrestling has a rich history going back many decades from coast to coast, up into Canada and down into Mexico. A fondly recalled footnote involved the many Star City bouts promoted by Pete Apostolou on behalf of Jim Crockett Promotions.

WDBJ-TV (Channel 7) carried live studio wrestling Saturday afternoons from 1957-67. Early years of the show were staged on the second floor of the offices that still serve The Roanoke Times. Beloved WDBJ weatherman Hal Grant handled ringside blow-by-blow and post-match interviews. Apostolou was the color man. [The shows] were usually preludes to live evening bouts at venues such as the old American Legion Auditorium. More on the Bolos in a minute.

Eventually, in 1965 Apostolou bought an old bowling alley between Salem Turnpike and Shenandoah Avenue, dubbed it the Starland Arena, and continued Saturday night shows there. Apostolou thus had “the perfect set-up where the guys could come in and do the live ‘All Star Wrestling’ TV and the Starland Arena show all within hours of each other,” wrote Dick Bourne at Mid-Atlantic Gateway.

Another perfect setup for these weekend productions was that the touring grapplers would stay at the former Ponce De Leon Hotel on downtown Roanoke’s Campbell Avenue, right across 2nd Street from the Times-World building. Thus the beefy stars of the Saturday beating and banging matinees could wake up from their naps and walk to work.

Retired Roanoke newspaperman Bob Adams recalled the bad old days of Campbell Avenue head-busting. “The wrestlers would come up to the third floor rest room, which used to be right next to the sports department, to use as a dressing room,” Adams said. “On the second floor, they hated each other. They’d come up to the third floor, and be laughing and talking.”

Apostolou would take down the results of the bouts and bring them up to the sports desk, where editor Bill Brill, moonlighting as a publicist, would write up the press release, Adams said. At other times, one wrestling magazine or another would call into the sports department for results. Peeved copy editors, with regular newspaper deadlines looming, were as likely to make something up as give an accurate report, Adams remembered.

* * * * * * * 

Here is the link to the original story on the Roanoke.com website which includes greater detail, plus references to Jimmy "Boogie Man" Valiant and a deep dive into the Bolos via Gateway contributor Mike Cline. Great stuff from Ray Cox! (And thanks for mentioning the Mid-Atlantic Gateway.)

WOYM: Who were those masked wrestlers of the early days of Roanoke television?
By Ray Cox | Special to The Roanoke Times Mar 11, 2018 

https://www.roanoke.com/news/woym-who-were-those-masked-wrestlers-of-the-early-days/article_ae4cf29e-59f6-593b-bf1f-31051e4c65cc.html

Thanks to Kyle Rosser for making us aware of this particular column. This Studio Wrestling article was also published on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway. 

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

NWA Champion "Handsome" Harley Race vs. Terry Gibbs in the Kansas City TV Studio


Relatively rare footage from the Kansas City promotion's studio TV show, hosted by Bill Kersten. We are told that this studio production was taped at KBMA TV 41, later KSHB 41. (Additional information always welcome.)

Thanks to Mike over at the Mid-Atlantic Championship Podcast (@midatlanticpod) for tipping us off to this video (always love seeing Harley Race with the Ten Pounds of Gold in the studio) and Tyrone Mendez for info on the location. 

More information on this Studio Wrestling website on Bill Kersten here.

Sunday, August 2, 2020

Mike LeBelle and Gene Kiniski (NWA Hollywood Wrestling 1968)

TV host (and promoter) Mike Lebelle interviews NWA World Heavyweight Champion Gene Kiniski on the set of the Los Angeles TV wrestling program, circa 1968. 

Mike Lebelle was the LA area promoter from 1966 - 1982, rejoining the NWA in 1968 and recognizing the NWA World champion. Previously under promoter Cal Eaton, the promotion recognized a WWA World Championship going back to the late 1950s when Eaton left the NWA.

The promotion was called NWA Hollywood Wrestling, and under LeBelle, was an innovator in closed-circuit broadcasts for wrestling.

According to Dave Meltzer at the Wrestling Observer, Mike LeBelle was the brother of Gene LeBell, and that the two spelled there last names differently, despite the legitimate relationship.

Thanks to William Murdock for sending this photo.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Missing "Big" Bill Ward


Charlotte News, April 23, 1974

In 1974, Jim Crockett Promotions consolidated all of its TV production to one central studio taping. In early 1974, wrestling was still being taped in three different locations each week - - WBTV-3 in Charlotte, WGHP-8 in High Point (Greensboro market), and WRAL-5 in Raleigh. The decision was made to consolidate everything to Raleigh.

Fans in the Charlotte and Greensboro areas were understandably upset to lose the show and the announcers they were familiar with. "Big" Bill Ward in Charlotte and Charlie Harville in the Greensboro/Winston-Salem/High Point/Lexington market were institutions there. And while Bob Caudle in Raleigh was quickly becoming the most beloved announcer in the area's history, it took fans some time to get used to those changes.

http://bookstore.midatlanticgateway.com