The Daily Oklahoman from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma on November 12, 1967 · 258
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The Daily Oklahoman from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma · 258

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Issue Date:
Sunday, November 12, 1967
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WKY goes where the action is When Jane Jayroe, Oklahoma's own Miss America, decided to visit the troops in South Vietnam this summer, the reaction at WKY-TV was swift: "We'll staff the story." It wasn't the kind of project that would make money, or even cover expenses, and the WKY-TV management didn't spend much time t hinking about that part of it. It was something many Oklaho-mans would be tremendously interested in, and that's why the decision was automatic. WKY-TV got its reward vyhen the program its staff had produced on-the-spot in Vietnam went on the air. It got a whopping 52 percent of the audience. There was a time when WKY was the only radio station west of the Mississippi River. When WKY-TV came along it was the first television station in Oklahoma, and later it became the first independent station in the world to broadcast live color programs from its studio. The pioneering spirit is implanted strongly in WKY. That's one of the things that keeps it different, something more than just another station. When the next big development comes along in radio or television, it's a pretty good bet that WKY will have it first. Key people at WKY are so involved in public service on the job and in community activities outside their work that the two cannot always be separated. Take the Eye Bank story of 1957. History was made when an eye bank was established in just 90 minutes following an appeal for donors and a special half-hour telecast on WKY-TV, heard simultaneously over WKY radio. The WKY switchboard was jammed as more than 700 callers requested donor cards as soon as they could get through to Lions Club volunteers manning the telephones. By the following day more than 1,000 calls had been received. Now, 10 years later, the Oklahoma Lions Eye Bank set up that day-has been responsible for more than 1,000 eye transplants. Almost 35,-000 Oklahomans have signed cards pledging their eyes to the project. Joe Jerkins, program manager for WKY-TV and former president of The Village Lions Club, is president of the Oklahoma Lions Sight Conservation Foundation, Inc., sponsor of the eye bank. An even more dramatic breakthrough came in 1951 when WKY and WKY-TV put the nation's first tornado warnings on the air. Until then federal regulations prohibited any advance broadcast of tornado information. WKY went to work on the problem and got the regulations modified. WKY meteorologists have the authority to break into any program to provide severe weather warnings without taking time to clear the action with station management. Advance warnings are believed to have saved thousands of lives in the 16 years since WKY made it possible for the public to get them. The station's files bulge with letters from Oklahoma residents thanking WKY for saving their lives. Public service activities at WKY and WKY-TV cover a wide range. Here are a few examples: The "Oklahoma Heritage" series was perhaps the most ambitious programming task ever tackled by an independent television station. It had the twin goals of preserving on film the history of the state and of reawakening Oklahomans to their heritage. A series of television announcements brought tips from listeners which led to the preservation of priceless film which otherwise would have been lost. Last year WKY radio and TV won the Soil Conservation Society of America's annual merit award for consistent efforts in the interest of soil water conservation and especially for the sponsorship of the International Land, Pasture and Range Judging Contest for the past 15 years. The contest was started under WKY sponsorship in 1952 as the first such event in the nation. It now draws entrants from almost every state and a number of foreign countries every year. Outstanding WKY radio public-service projects recently have included a major campaign on behalf of Goodwill industries, for which the station won a commendation from the Governor's Committee on Employment of the Handicapped, and the "Oklahoma Remembers" announcements which salute Oklahoma's fighting men in Vietnam and has drawn thousands of letters. Some public service crusades last over the years. The highway safety program of WKY radio and TV, for example, has been marked by such activities as the driver improvement course, vehicle check month, WKY Safe Driver Award and a number of series on such subjects as "The Truth About Death," "Wanted for Attempted Murder" and the Black Flag project. Other campaigns arc short and dramatic. The recent WKY-TV project to sell prints of western paintings took in $10,000 in four weeks for the benefit of the Oklahoma Art Center. Public service broadcasts take up a considerable part of every broadcast day at WKY. Public service announcements valued at more than SI million were presented last year by WKY-TV. Special public service programs amounted to almost another 100,000 in value of air time alone. Those figures are running even higher this year. Special series last year included "Medicine and You," "Money and You" and "Creative Crafts." A sampling of special programs includes such varied subjects as "Tour of the State Capitol," "Oklahoma City Open Golf," "Meet the Candidates" and "Kiwanis Youth Show." 13

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