SYRACUSE -- Fifty years ago this September, "colorful channel 9" signed on the air for the very first time, from studios located at ShoppingTown Mall in DeWitt. To mark the occasion, the ABC affiliate is selling tickets for a "50th Anniversary Celebration" planned for next month at the SRC Arena in Syracuse.
Although the station's anniversary is September 9, (get it, 9/9 for channel 9?) the celebration is slated for Thursday, September 27. Tickets are on-sale now at NewsChannel 9's booth at the New York State Fair, and online through the Upstate Medical University Foundation office. Proceeds from all ticket sales will benefit the new Upstate Cancer Center.
Doors open at 5pm, with a meet-and-greet offered from 5:30 to 6:30. Former channel 9 personalities Mike Price and Phil Market are scheduled to appear, along with "invited Central New York newsmakers from each of the last five decades."
The major highlight of the evening will include a "live show" which will be recorded to tape and broadcast in prime time at a later date to be announced.
Clips from channel 9's archives will be shown, including the original sign-on, and parts of locally-produced programs like Baron Daemon, Bud Ballou's Dance Party, Romper Room and Open Line. The station will also pay tribute to some well-known reporters who are no longer with us, such as Nancy Duffy, Sheryl Nathans, Stormy Meredith and Red Parton.
Since the initial sign-on, channel 9's call letters changed to WIXT in 1978, and the station moved to its existing facility along Bridge Street in East Syracuse in the early 80s. When the station outgrew the building, sales, traffic and some other departments moved into an adjacent office building on Enterprise Parkway. In 2005, three years into being owned by Clear Channel, the call letters were changed to WSYR-TV, to match with the company's news/talk radio station. Although Clear Channel sold its entire television division to Newport Television in 2008, the WSYR-TV call letters remain in place.