Anyone who watched Twin Cities TV during the early 1970s remembers “Barry ZeVan the Weather Man!” Along with anchor Ted O’ Brien and sportscaster Tom Ryther, Barry helped drive Channel 5’s newscast “The World Today.” Whereas television weathercasts had been a somber, serious affair in this market (think Bud Kraehling), ZeVan was loud and attention-grabbing. His antics included “scribbling” on the weather map, poking his head up from the sides and underneath of the set, and of course, his daily mention of the current temperature in Bird Island. I remember asking my third grade teacher “Where is Bird Island?” and having her show it to me on the map. Barry’s unconventional approach worked very well. Shortly after this recording was made, “The World Today” became “Eyewitness News.” KSTP finally was able to beat arch-rival WCCO Channel 4 in the news ratings and became #1 in the market.
Audio quality of this exhibit leaves much to be desired. The recording was made by placing the pencil mic of my Spartan Atlantic portable cassette recorder next to the small speaker on my Wards Airline 9″ black and white TV. This explains the distortion and overmodulation. As a bonus, you even get the “buzz” that’s generated by the video signal! To top it off, the source tape is a cheap Audio Magnetics C-60 “bag cassette” and the recording gets cut off abruptly. As most of you know, I’m a real stickler for audio quality. But I decided to include this anyway because tapes of Barry ZeVan on KSTP-TV are rare. Back in those days, video tape was very expensive. In most cases, stations erased and reused their tapes, rather than save and archive them. This is why you don’t find many surviving examples of children’s programs or game shows from this era.
You can tell I’m excited about getting Barry’s weathercast on tape. Towards the beginning, you can hear me scream “Here’s ZeVan!”