Bob Lemon...

"Camelot to Sand Lot"

By Roger Lee Miller

If Jules Herbuveaux is credited for creating the Chicago School of television, then Bob Lemon must be remembered for the renaissance of WMAQ-TV. In 1954 the last of the major network shows moved to New York. By the mid 60s local programming was pared down to 30 minutes of news at 5:30 and a 15 minute newscast at 10:00. The TONIGHT SHOW started at 10:15 (Central Time). This early start was an option for affiliates. Being an O&O (owned and operated) station, we were required to air it. Lemon replaced Lloyd Yoder as general manager in 1965, and within two years our local programming started at 5:30 a.m. and ended with the MIDNIGHT NEWS. Many of these programs have been outlined earlier in this document.

Rich Samuels, on his Internet page, headlines Lemon as "The WMAQ-TV General Manager Everybody Loved." This perception was generally held. Those of us who worked with Bob remember him as kind, thoughtful, supportive, open and concerned with employees and their problems. Lemon used his office to provide help, financial and emotional, to troubled staff. To a person, we consider him the best of all general managers.

However, there was another side of Bob Lemon. For those of us who suffered at his displeasure, we found a much different man behind the closed doors in his 20th floor office. Lemon could be hard nosed, vindictive and even cruel - the quintessential NBC Vice President. He gave up his job in a scenario familiar to veteran NBC employees. A new job was created for Bob. (Even in a day when life was more formal, almost no one called him Mr. Lemon.) He was promoted UP and OUT. The small conference room was set up as an office for Bob. Mr. Lemon showed up for a while, and then he was gone.

Part of the Lemon renaissance must be credited to a man wearing a different suit of clothes.

Next: Father John Banahan

Introduction and main index to this site
WMAQ radio history | "Amos 'n' Andy" | "Fibber McGee and Mollie" | "The Breakfast Club"
Dick Kay | Television at the Merchandise Mart | 1970 television facilities tour | Channel 5 turns 20
The "Chicago School" of television | "Kukla, Fran and Ollie" | Dave Garroway | Mary Hartline
"Lights Out" | Sound effects | 1930 studio tour | WLS | "Empire Builders" | Barry Bernson
Floyd Kalber | The Queen of Love and Beauty | "Today's Children" | Staff announcers | Carol Marin
Ron Magers | Studs Terkel l "Chicago Tonight" | Channel 5 News scrapbooks |Roger Miller recalls
Zoo Parade | Clifton and Frayne Utley | Val Press | Len O'Connor | Johnny Erp | Bill Ray | Daddy-O
Experimental Television: 1930-1933 | Bob Deservi | Kermit Slobb | Ding Dong School | Quiz Kids
Bob Lemon | The Korshak Chronicles | KYW: The Chicago Years | WENR | O.B. Hanson | Renzo
Jack Eigen | Ed Grennan | The World's Best Cup of Coffee | Glenn Webster | Mr. Piano | Hawkins Falls
Chicago Television for Kids |
Radio Hall of Fame |The NBC News Night Report: 23 February, 1967
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