Moving 9&10 News: A New Era Part 1

You can’t really tell just by watching 9&10 News, but we moved our station about a month ago.

Our set is the same, but literally everything else has changed.

Before we look to the future, we wanted to take a look back at our station’s history in part one of this special report, Moving 9&10 News: A New Era.    

When you’re in one place for 63 years, the roots you grow run deep.

The seed that has grown into 9&10 News today was planted among the trees on top of a very high hill in northern Osceola County. January 1, 1954, WWTV signed on, broadcasting to Northern Michigan from this spot, but the original studio did not last more than six years.

“I came on in the fall of 1960 and at that time we were channel 13. And within a few months we had a big fire out there and it just took the whole building down,” says Lowell Shore, 9&10 News chief engineer. “So RCA brought a truck in with all the equipment for a TV station and we were back on the air in two weeks.”

John McGowan says, “That was quite a place. And it had been added onto so many times, the way the building was organized sometimes didn’t make much sense, but that’s the way it goes.”

This was the place where so many familiar faces sat down to bring you the news: John McGowan, Guy Vandrjact, Donna Smith, Deanna Fene, Trish O’Shea, Bill Spencer and so many others you’ve invited into your home since 1954.

“Some of the best days of my broadcasting career, 20+ years were in that building. It was the people that made it. It was fun to come to work, to put out a good product with people that were in your same shoes,” says Sean Mahon, 9&10 news director.

Like so many others, TV 9&10 on top of what we lovingly call Mount Dighton, was news director Sean Mahon’s first job in television.

Working 1,700 feet above sea level means anyone working at 9&10 over the years faced an uphill drive.

“There would be times when we’d be snowed in and people would just sleep on a blanket or whatnot. We had some food stored. They could be in there for two or three days,” explains Shore.

McGowan says, “Really, I spent four nights there between the time I took the sports job in ‘77 to the early 80s. And considering all the nights I worked there, that’s pretty good. It was quite a challenge, and I was pretty lucky that in 43 years I never had an accident.”

Something that will not be missed by anyone, and one of the major reasons 9&10 News is moving, is the tower. Not the tower itself, but what often fell from it. Sometimes during a newscast.

“The ice on the tower forms and sticks to the tower and, if we get a thaw, that ice just drops like a rock off it,” says McGowan. “They built the walkway with the steel roof, probably I guess in the early 80s, but it was a nasty walk up from the parking lot when the ice was falling.”

Mahon adds, “The tower was the #1 issue. To have those ice chunks the size of small cars would come down during storms. Cars have been destroyed.”

 “If it’s quite thick it can do quite a bit of damage. I would say at least 100 windshields got replaced over the years, and some hoods and trunks on cars,” explains Shore. “Fortunately nobody got killed or badly hurt.”

Because of the ice and other reasons, after 63 years the time was right for a move, uprooting the station to begin a new era for Northern Michigan’s News Leader.

“It’s going to be a great place to bring news to Northern Michigan, to our viewers,” says Mahon.