Saturday, July 25, 2015

Ed Capral Profile

by Les Thatcher
from Mid-Atlantic Wrestling Magazine (Vol. 2 No. 3, 1976)


"Welcome ladies and gentlemen to Wide World Wrestling."

Ed Capral
The words are spoken and yet another program is being recorded in the studios of WRAL-TV in Raleigh. The tape machines are humming; the camera men are awaiting their cues; the director and engineers are giving instructions to the floor crews.

In front of the camera, however, away for all of this hustle and bustle stands a quite composed gentleman from Atlanta, Mr. Ed Capral. In a manner now familiar to wrestling fans throughout the southeast, Ed tells viewers what they are about to see. Then "Right after this word from our sponsor," cameras break away for a commercial and Ed makes his way to his desk where he will describe the action in a way that only he can.

All of this explanation sets the stage to answer the question "Who is Ed Capral?

Ed is one of the most experienced voices of wrestling beginning as a guest commentator 30 years ago. Ed was given the guest shot by Atlanta promotor Paul Jones and from that time has never looked back.

After attending the University of Georgia and serving a tour of duty in Korea, Ed returned to television where he would become the voice of Georgia Championship Wrestling for the next 20 years. Many wrestlers were to come and go but Ed remained vigile at his post.

In 1975 Ed joined Wide World Wrestling as the voice of this new program. Now the program is gaining popularity in the Mid-Atlantic area by leaps and bounds.

Ed may not go down in the annals of sports broadcasting history but his face and voice bring the same reaction from wrestling fans as Howard Cosell, Curt Gowdy, and Pat Summerall get from football fans.

"This is Ed Capral saying so long until next week." 

He wipes his face; shakes a few hands; packs his bag; and leaves for the airport for his trip back to Atlanta.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Sound Bytes: Joe Murnick Introduces Wahoo McDaniel


Joe Murnick was the local promoter for Jim Crockett in Raleigh NC, Norfolk VA, and other towns in the 1960s and 1970s. But he was probably more famous during that time as the ring announcer for Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling. 

Joe's voice and vocal style were unique and reminiscent of the classic old-school ring announcers going back decades. 

From time to time we'll post some of Joe's ring introductions as we come across them on audio tape archives. We hope they bring back good memories to those of you old enough to remember Mr. Murnick's smooth delivery. And for those of you too young to remember him, we are happy to expose you to one of the classic television voices in the history of Jim Crockett Promotions. 

JOE'S CALL - April 1976 - Wahoo McDaniel vs. Jim Lancaster




(This post mirrors a post on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway.)

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Tickets for Wrestling Tapings at WRAL in Raleigh





During the years that wrestling was taped at WRAL channel 5 in Raleigh (1959-1981), admission was free for the 300 or so folks that could be seated on the bleachers in studio A, but you had to write in for tickets.

Each week Bob Caudle would tell viewers the address in which to send request for tickets:





That was in the mid-1970s. It was so simple then, you didn't even need a PO Box number or a zip code. Just Tickets, WRAL TV, Raleigh, North Carolina. Later, they would add the PO Box 12000.

Over the years, the tickets changed in appearance. By the end of the run at WRAL, they were actually sending you a letter instead of tickets.



I'm not sure which I format I liked better! The tickets are very cool, but the letter I received in April of 1981 to attend my one and only taping at WRAL was very special for different reasons. It was on Jim Crockett Promotions letterhead and had the Mid-Atlantic and Wide World Wrestling logos at the bottom, as well as the logo for the other family business, the Charlotte O's baseball team.

All of the logos were in color, and I've always regretted not making a color copy of the letter. But color copiers were very rare in 1981, and even if you found one, the copy was very expensive to make.

I am fortunate to have been able to attend a taping at WRAL. Four months after my visit, in August of 1981, Jim Crockett Promotions moved the taping of the show to WPCQ-36 studio in Charlotte.

- Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway




For more on the three decades of TV tapings at WRAL, see this article on the Studio Wrestling website. : Television History: WRAL-5 Raleigh, NC

This article is mirrored at the Mid-Atlantic Gateway website.


Wrestling 101 (Excerpts)

by Wayne Brower
Excerpts from "Wrestling 101",  an article published on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway

My desire to watch wrestling was limited only by our television’s ability to receive the distant signals. In the early 1960s there was neither cable nor satellite TV available. Most reception was either through “rabbit ears” – with or without tin foil – or from a roof mounted antenna.

Growing up in Trinity, North Carolina did not allow for reception of numerous stations. The area programming of that time was from WFMY Channel 2 in Greensboro and WSJS Channel 12 in Winston-Salem. Neither broadcast wrestling. The best we could occasionally receive with ideal atmospheric conditions was WDBJ Channel 7 of Roanoke and Charlotte’s WBTV Channel 3.

Two events would occur that had a significant impact on my viewing habits. In October 1963 WGHP Channel 8 in High Point signed on the air. Shortly thereafter wrestling was held in their studio on Tuesday nights for broadcast the following Saturday afternoon. Next, my dad purchased an antenna rotator connected by wire to a control box that sat on top of our television. With a turn of the dial pointing to the preferred direction we now had clear signal access to the aforementioned stations, plus another wrestling provider, WRAL Channel 5 in Raleigh. Talk about sensory overload. And it was so much more interesting than anything I was being taught in school at the time.

. . . . . . . . .

In almost every conflict the heels would consistently create mischief and mayhem, all in cowardly ways or while holding an unfair advantage. The hosts of the TV shows would passionately describe the action, and often disagree with the cheater’s denials during their interviews. Nick Pond warned many bad guys that scores would be settled at Dorton Arena next Tuesday night. Big Bill Ward argued with manager Homer O’Dell, and told him that he and his team should be very concerned about facing the Scott brothers at Charlotte Park Center. Charlie Harville provided detailed results of matches in Greensboro where more often than not the good guys ultimately defeated the heels and from there would go on to the next challenge. Virtue and honor had been satisfied.


[ Read Wayne's entire article Wrestling 101 on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway. ]




For more information, history, and memorabilia related to the broadcasters mentioned in this story visit the Studio Wrestling website, part of the Mid-Atlantic Gateway.

For an in-depth look at the career of Charlie Harville, see Wayne Brower's excellent look at the NC Broadcast Hall of Famer: Charlie Harville: Remembering His Remarkable Journey

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Pittsburgh's Bill Cardille (1969)

This is one of the better and more lengthy profiles of a TV wrestling host that were a regular feature in "Wrestling Revue" magazine back in the 1960s and early 1970s. "The Man behind the Mike" was the name of the monthly feature, and in the April 1969 issue.

The show was called "Studio Wrestling" (you know we love that title) and was hosted by Bill Cardille on WIIC-11 TV in Pittsburgh.

Cardille was quite the character himself as you will learn in this great feature.

************

PITTSBURGH BROADCASTER LEADS AN INTERESTING LIFE
Chilly Billy - Nimblest Man on Camera!
Wrestling Revue - April 1969

Bruno Sammartino and Bill Cardille
Several hundred thousand calloused fans of Pittsburgh's Studio Wrestling relaxed in front of their television sets with sharp appetites, and maybe a fresh beer, for the debut of still another Masked Marvel.

If they realized that it was April First, the Marvel soon made them forget it. He brought them upright in their easy chairs the instant he strutted - arrogantly into the ring.

The Marvel was tormenting lovable Izzy Moidel, the big, easy-going referee. Izzy cowered under a slap and a kick. Then the reckless Marvel interrupted the pre-match instructions by roughing up his opponent, Ace Freeman.

Freeman is a respected veteran of countless matches and a number of Masked Marvels, and he wasn't about to take much guff from this one. After a brief flurry, he rushed the Marvel into a corner, locked him against the ropes, and yanked off his mask.

The camera darted in expectantly for a close-up. And the words "April Fool!" flashed under the famous face that exploded on thousands of TV screens.

And you could almost hear the collective, delighted groan—"Oh, no! Not that nut again!" For there, unabashed and happy with his deceit and grinning foolishly, crouched "Chilly Billy" Cardille, the commentator-host of WIIC-TV's Studio Wrestling.

Moments later, Cardille was back at his ringside microphone in a tasteful suit, a quiet tie, again darkly handsome and unruffled as a baby's brow. It was business as usual in his quiet corner of the madhouse. If he gave any hint of the recent zaniness, it was in a restrained smile.

Stunts like that one, along with his bright, knowledgeable commentary throughout the matches, have made Bill Cardille (pronounced "Car-dill") a great favorite on the Pittsburgh wrestling scene. He's helped make Studio Wrestling the top-rated local show on WIIC, Pittsburgh's NBC outlet. The show (Saturdays, 6 to 7:30 p.m.) goes into some 200,000 homes, said a recent Nielsen rating. It also plays before a packed house of some 300 at the studio, and they're not the same 300 each night. They're scramblers. There's a six-week wait for the free tickets.

Cardille and TV wrestling grew up, and down, together.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Charlie Harville: Remembering His Remarkable Journey (Excerpt)

by Wayne Brower
Exclusive to the Mid-Atlantic Gateway
from the Mid-Atlantic Gateway Archives

The following is an excerpt from the main article. A link at the bottom will take you to the conclusion on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway website.

In the spring of 1954 Jim Crockett spoke before an audience in the City of Lexington, North Carolina to publicize the debut of professional wrestling at the local YMCA gymnasium. He announced an agreement that he had entered with the organization whereby a portion of the proceeds would go towards funding the newly constructed arena. Crockett also told the assembled group about his plans for weekly shows if the initial matches drew adequate crowds.

Marketing the wrestling matches would be through advertisements in local newspapers, along with display cards in store fronts and on utility poles at strategic intersections. Since locally affiliated wrestling was not televised in the immediate area, Crockett described the need for a strong connection with the population in the Piedmont section of the state. He then advised the attendees about his new association with a prominent sports authority who would play a significant role in providing a major event atmosphere, while drawing sports fans not previously interested in wrestling. That prominent authority was Charlie Harville.

Charles Edward Harville was born December 15, 1918 in High Point, North Carolina. From an early age he had a tremendous interest in playing various sports that progressed into his college years. Not being as successful as he had envisioned in football, Charlie turned to baseball but failed to make the High Point College team. Showing his lifelong ability to overcome setbacks through trust in his own self-reliance, he would later tell a newspaper reporter that being cut during the baseball tryouts made him strive to succeed in his second ambition – being a sports broadcaster.

So while still in college, Charlie went to his hometown WMFR radio and boldly offered his services as a substitute play-by-play announcer for the Thomasville Tommies baseball games. The station manager was impressed by the articulate young man and decided to give him an opportunity in an on-the-job audition on April 28, 1938. The next day he was hired as their full time play-by-play announcer for baseball and football games.

World War II interrupted his career, but after an honorable tour of duty in the Army Air Corps, Charlie reemerged in radio working at stations in Martinsville, Virginia, Goldsboro, North Carolina and then LaSalle, Illinois. During his time at WLPO in LaSalle he created the unique closing phrase that would always end his future sportscasts: “That’s the best in sports today.”

In 1949 WFMY Radio in Greensboro provided an opportunity for him to return to his home area. The station had made the effort to broadcast the new medium of television and obtained the license to do so later that year. Charlie was selected as host of what is believed to be the first live local sports show broadcast in North Carolina. Almost fifty years later he would tell a staff writer for the Greensboro News & Record “It was a gamble on the part of the station. I practiced by pretending I was looking at a camera during my radio broadcasts. I had no doubt I’d succeed at it, but I didn’t know if it would go over with the public. I was surprised at the speed and breadth of its acceptance. By 1953 WFMY’s venture into TV was so successful that it closed the radio station.”

However, radio continued to be a significant part of Charlie’s career. Through the late 1940s and into the 1950s, he was a part of the Tobacco State Network that broadcast big four Atlantic Coast Conference basketball. For the next three decades he was the play-by-play announcer for numerous universities’ football and baseball programs, including East Carolina, Appalachian State, Virginia, Virginia Tech and Florida State.

* * * * * * * * * *

On Saturday night, May 1, 1954 Charlie Harville walked toward the ring, through the then record setting attendance of 4,300, for the first professional wrestling matches ever held at the Lexington YMCA. Neither he nor those in the arena knew that they were a part of events that would significantly impact him and wrestling in the region for the next thirty years.

Friday, July 3, 2015

"The Best of NWA Wrestling" with Johnny Weaver (1978)


Lots of folks remember that Johhny was a popular co-host of wrestling programs in the Mid-Atlantic area, first with Rich Landrum on World Wide Wrestling in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and then with Bob Caudle on Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling and NWA Pro Wrestling throughout much of the the 1980s. Not many folks may remember that Weaver briefly hosted his own wrestling show in the fall of 1978 called "The Best of N.W.A. Wrestling".

Originating from the studios of WCCB-18 in Charlotte, NC, Weaver would review tapes from the other Mid-Atlantic TV shows as well as special arena film, and would have studio guests there to offer commentary as well.

The program only lasted 13 weeks, and aired only in a few markets.  David Crockett conducting some of the interviews. Weaver had a different co-host each week, and they would review tape and film of matches both from the arena and also from previous broadcasts of Mid-Atlantic and World Wide Wrestling. Occasionally, tapes would be shown of matches from other NWA territories, usually from Florida or Georgia.

The studio was very small, and there was no ring set up for wrestling. There was a desk-set with an NWA logo behind it, and a separate interview set as well.

As a matter of trivia, WCCB was the original choice location for the weekly TV tapings when Crockett moved them from WRAL in Raleigh to Charlotte in 1981. That deal fell through, and the decision was made to move to the tiny confines of WPCQ-36 in Charlotte.

WCCB was located right next door to the old Charlotte Coliseum (now the Independence Arena/Cricket Arena).

MORE PHOTOS:






For more information on this program, including several photographs of Johnny on the set of his show, check out the following link on the Mid-Atlantic Gateway:

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Tony Schiavone on The Ross Report

WWE
Last summer, good ol' J.R. had Tony Schiavone as a guest on his highly ranked podcast "The Ross Report" on Podcast One, which can be found on iTunes and at PodcastOne.com.

There was lots of great discussion and of course the expected back and forth on the WCW days, but I was most interested in Tony's reflections on his early days with Jim Crockett Promotions and his days growing up in Richmond a fan of Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling in t he mid-1970s.

Tony was always one of our favorites, and although the main focus points of this Studio Wrestling site are the Mid-Atlantic television studios in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia, the WTBS studio in Atlanta was an important part of the studio wrestling history as a taping location for Crockett from 1985-1988.

When Tony began work for Jim Crockett Promotions in 1983, the weekly TV tapings had just moved out of the WPCQ Charlotte studios earlier that year. He was a regular fixture, however, in the make-shift studio on Briarbend Drive hosting many of the local promos over the next years.

Here are some one-minute excerpts from that August 27, 2014 podcast with Jim Ross:

On moving to Charlotte and how he got started with Jim Crockett Promotions:


On road trips to Richmond, Roanoke, and Greensboro as a fan in the mid-1970s:



We encourage you to listen to the entire episode at "The Ross Report" via iTunes or the Podcast One website, and to visit J.R.'s sponsors and to support his show directly.

Also visit J.R.'s website J.R.'s Place at http://www.jrsbarbq.com. You hit links to take you to the podcast there, buy some of J.R.'s outstanding BBQ sauce and check out J.R.'s very popular blog.