WTVI (Channel 42) fires up the Wayback Machine for an hour on Sunday as it debuts a special on Charlotte history called
Hosted by retired WSOC (Channel 9) anchor Bill Walker, “Remember When” (8 p.m. Sunday) touches on several venerable Charlotte institutions – including Independence Boulevard’s evolution through the decades.
“It was brutalizing,” says historian Dan Morrill of the shopping strip’s pace. “It’s still brutalizing.”
Elvis Presley, Ric Flair and Billy Graham have something big in common, the show notes – they all filled the old Charlotte Coliseum, now freshened up by renovation.
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Four historic Charlotte broadcasters are also featured – Chatty Hattie Leeper, Grady Cole, Doug Mayes and Betty Feezor. Only Leeper is still around, and she’s as vibrant as she was when she took the microphone as a teenager at the old WGIV-AM.
WTVI hopes to produce other “Remember When” episodes as part of the station’s living history series, says Amy Burkett, Channel 42’s general manager.
Walker, who retired 11 years ago from Channel 9, uses props from the Levine Museum of the New South to introduce segments. For Independence Boulevard, he uses one of the greatest inventions ever hatched in Charlotte and taken worldwide – the orange traffic barrel.
Walker started in radio in Charlotte in 1968, and has lived some of the history covered by the show. “I’ve either been a customer or reporter at most of the places the show covers,” he says.
Other segments in the first episode are about Ivey’s Department Store, Dorothy Counts-Scoggins and the integration of Harding High, the Historic Excelsior Club, The Carroll School, the Double Door Inn, and What-A-Burger and other regional diners from the 1950s.