A flashback to the bicentennial, 40 years ago

COLUMBUS, Ga. – Forty years ago today our nation celebrated its Bicentennial. The day before, on July 3, 1976, WRBL broadcast a one-hour bicentennial special.

The last few weeks have been a labor of love for former News 3 Anchor Dick McMichael. He’s been delivering a historic set of DVDs to the archivists at the Columbus State University Library as well as the Columbus Museum. The DVDs contain a one-hour program that aired on WRBL forty years ago to commemorate our nation’s bicentennial. The program’s host was David Eisen, a young reporter and producer who Dick hired back in the mid 70s.

“I’m glad we were able to get this video thanks to David Eisen who was on the video. He actually was the producer and the anchor of that broadcast. And he’s the one that had saved the tape and sent it to us,” said McMichael.

Early on in the program Dick outlined what viewers had in store.

“Not only have we started off the weekend with live coverage of today’s Bicentennial parade in downtown Columbus, but we went out of town with our TV 3 cameras to bring you the other big events in Albany, Buena Vista, Eufaula and Opelika.  We were also at Fort Benning and Idle Hour Park in Phenix City,” said McMichael.

You have to remember in those days, news crews were shooting their stores on 16mm film.

“Just imagine, you had all of that shot on film, those distances, and we got it on the air at 7:00 and it took 30 minutes, at least 30 minutes, just to process the film,” said McMichael.

The reporters really had to hustle to get their stories shot and get their film back in time to be processed and edited.

“It was quite a challenge back then because staffs were smaller, but it showed what a few people can do very well,” said McMichael.

The special program also included a patented weather forecast by WRBL Icon Doug Wallace. Forty years later, in looking back on the Bicentennial special, Dick is even more impressed with how the finished product turned out.

“I think it’s a work of art, the whole program is a work of art…the way it all came together. It captures that day, and that was a really important day, the Bicentennial,” said McMichael.



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