A Joyful Celebration of WGAL-TV’s MileStone

Few businesses touch the community with such depth and breadth as WGAL-TV. We wake up with Regina and Christine to hear the current traffic tangles and learn what we need to wear to brave the day’s weather. Dining alone at home? We tune in to Susan and Brian as our dinner companions. In our comfy pjs, we wind down at night as Jere and Lori wrap up the day’s events. Sharing our bedrooms, kitchens and living rooms, these people are our trusted friends.

Current and former WGAL employees gathered in Excelsior’s courtyard for a shot for the ages.

And beyond our familiar friends on the News8 set are the behind-the-scenes professionals. The producer who never leaves the live newscasts’ on-air anchors and reporters panicked about what’s next; the videographer whose edits capture the heart of the story; the engineer in master control who avoids the dreaded “dead air.” Many of the station’s 120-plus-strong team recently gathered to celebrate WGAL’s 75th anniversary and and gave a nod to the station’s past, present and future. 

Dolled-up in gowns and dazzling dresses, tuxedos and business suits, the current WGAL team and its retirees were reminded of the unique position WGAL-TV holds in the nation’s television industry. Since its inaugural sign-on from the Queen Street studio in Downtown Lancaster on March 18, 1949, WGAL has been a pioneer, true to its original Conestoga wagon logo. It was the first Pennsylvania station to go on the air outside of Philadelphia. For many years, Lancaster was the smallest city in the country to have a television station. In 1981, WGAL was first in the market to establish a second newsroom in Harrisburg to provide greater coverage for its loyal viewers. 

To WGAL’s past, present and future! Kim Lemon leads the 171 guests in a heartfelt toast.

Another vintage shot: Channel 8’s very popular Saturday afternoon Dance Party. WGAL photo.

At the celebration, the station’s president and general manager, Cindy DeLuca, proudly described what WGAL’s legacy includes. “WGAL has been the number one station in audience delivery since its existence,” she said, then continued a more personal note. “The true definition of WGAL’s legacy is in the people and their values – past, present, and future. We approach our work with a sense of service to our viewers, to our business partners and to the community at large. We don’t just respond to change; we advance change for the common good of all people. We lead with respect – for each other, for our differences, for all members of the community and the individuals whose stories we tell every day. We show trust, integrity and sincerity in how we treat each other day in and day out, always striving for excellence and having each other’s backs.”

As retired news anchor and reporter Kim Lemon invited the crowd to raise a glass to toast the milestone, she encouraged everyone to “pause and reflect on what it took for us to be in this moment: the preparation, the determination and the good luck that brought us here. The interview, the chance encounter, the audition, the work.”

It’s a Channel 8 Dance Party, 21st century-style!

Acknowledging the memories of past WGAL alumni and industry innovators – including Nelson Sears, news director Ed Wickenheiser, and on-air personality Marijane Landis – Kim toasted “to the past television pioneers, the current team members whose day-to-day commitment to something greater than ourselves, and to the future – those waiting to become part of the legacy of excellence that is WGAL.”

During the guests’ countless selfies, joy-filled reunions and flat-out funny reminiscences of days spent shooting stories out in the field, a band was warming up for an after-dinner dance party. Revelers rocked, looking nothing like WGAL’s 1960’s Dance Party, when Susquehanna Valley high school students would come to the Columbia Avenue station’s Studio A to do the twist, pony and the mashed potato, a la American Bandstand. But the past was indeed present as the original “Channel 8 Dance Party” sign hung above this night’s dance floor, bringing a bit of authentic memorabilia to the event. 

A well-deserved night of congratulations to all who work to bring WGAL into our homes. We’ll be watching!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *