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Early Television Stations

Gordon Williamson (Don Williams)

Williamson appeared on the show Hoppity Skippity in the late 40s and early 50s

The following was apparently written by Williamson in about 2006


Sixty years ago during October 1946, Leslie G. Arries Sr. , general manager for DuMont Television in Washington, began building the production staff that would soon take W3XTG into television history. As WTTG on Channel 5, it became the first FCC-licensed commercial TV station south of the Mason-Dixon Line. With that authorization, production-oriented personnel would replace the engineers who had subbed as announcers and producers during the year-long building program.

First to be hired to face the cameras were Bob Wolff, as a full-time employee and Gordon Williamson, as an evening announcer, producer and director because an early schedule could conflict with his AM radio activities. He was known to listeners as Don Williams, on morning AM radio and was the voice of Thompson's Dairy on other shows.

October was a frantic month because the high-tech engineering of the time was transforming an almost year-old experimental station into a hoped for income stream as the second anchor in the envisioned DuMont Television coast-to-coast network. WTTG would bear the initials of the electronics genius, Dr. Thomas T. Goldsmith, station designer and directing project engineer.

Soon after commercial certification by the FCC, Wolff produced and hosted Washington’s first sponsored sports program -- in fact, the first sponsored any kind of program -- a daily recap and sports summary supported by the Southern Venetian Blind Company. That was the start of a distinguished career in sportscasting over the past 60 years starting as play-by-play announcer with the Washington Senators and the Minnesota Twins. Wolff went on to do All Star Games, the World Series and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. He is the recipient of the coveted Ford F rick Award for Excellence and is still active, doing commentary from Madison Square Garden. He also has DVD commentaries and interviews available on line.

Williamson originated the promotional slogan, ‘WTTG, Washington’s Window on the World," which has been adapted for use by stations all over the country. Because there has been so little accurate information on what really happened he is writing a book and is offering pages to anyone who can produce interesting and accurate information. The book tells about several of his “TV firsts" and the unbelievable problems they had to overcome to broadcast the first live television of a hearing from Capitol Hill; the first ice show, “Ice Capades” from Uline Arena; the first televised Olympic Games in 1952 from Oslo, Norway, and others.

He was the originator of The Moppet Shop children's show on WTTG and still owns the character of Hoppity Skippity, which he originated. Williamson left DuMont in the mid-‘50s and eventually worked with the Washington Evening Star Broadcast Group until 1971.
ln the mid-‘70s he operated an advertising agency in Winter Park, FL, and in 1989 began environmental lectures throughout Florida. ln 1993, along with Dr. Leon F. Bouvier, professor at Old Dominion University, he co-founded Floridians for a Sustainable Population, a social action environmental organization.

Recently he has been involved in film production and narration. He is an honorary member of the Florida Association of Broadcasters, a member of the Florida Pioneer Broadcasters and in 1996 was honored as Florida Pioneer Broadcaster of the Year.
He spends his time searching for accurate WTTG information over the span of 60 years and is seeking survivors of the early days when work was his vacation and his vacation was work.