'Eyewitness News' finds home in Temple archives

Posted: September 26, 2007

Almost 30 years of Eyewitness News is coming to Temple.

CBS3 will donate its vast archive of more than 20,000 videotapes to the university's Paley Library, CBS3 president Michael Colleran and Temple president Ann Weaver Hart are to announce today in a joint news conference.

The tapes date from 1977 to 2004 and feature coverage of such seminal Philadelphia moments as the MOVE bombing in 1985; the Phillies winning the World Series in 1980; and the visit of Pope John Paul II in 1979.

They lead off with the 6 and 11 p.m. newscasts of Jan. 2, 1977. Beverly Williams and Roy Weissinger coanchored, with Glenn Brenner on sports and Bernie Herman on weather. The big story: the Mummers Parade.

Housed in Paley Library's Urban Archives, the tapes will be available to students and area residents over the next six months, according to Temple librarian Larry Alford.

Alford labels the historical cache as "a very big deal" that "significantly extends" the depth of the Urban Archives' 20th-century collection for the Delaware Valley.

Eventually, all the tapes will be digitized, but it will require raising more than $1 million, he says. CBS retains copyright and ownership rights, Colleran says.

Whether the videotapes went to Temple or anywhere else, something had to be done at CBS3 because of their sheer volume, Colleran says.

The seemingly endless stacks, which included 15 years of local Evening Magazine, were overflowing into the halls at CBS3's 35-year headquarters at Independence Mall.

As the station began preparing to relocate to Spring Garden Street earlier this year, it was determined there wasn't enough room to store the tapes in its new 120,000-square-foot home, Colleran said.

In addition, "we're not an archival facility," Colleran said. "You need temperature control. At some point, the stuff would probably disintegrate. Temple will provide the preservation."

This isn't CBS3's first major gift to Temple. When the station moved from its Walnut Street studio to Independence Mall in 1972, the company donated the building to Temple, which used it as a Center City campus for many years.

Contact staff writer Gail Shister at 215-854-2224 or gshister@phillynews.com.

Read her recent work at http://go.philly.com/gailshister.

comments powered by Disqus