Gene Crane
Grand Chance Roundup
CBS-TV, Broadcast originated live from WCAU-TV

Broadcast Pioneers member started his first children's program in 1949, "Grand Chance Roundup." It originated live from the WCAU-TV at 1622 Chestnut Street in Center City Philadelphia and broadcast live over the CBS-TV Television Network.

Keep in mind that this show came from Center City and thus all the horses, donkeys, mules and other animals had to be taken to downtown Philly, brought inside the building and then transported up to the correct floor via the elevator.

Gene told us the story that the horse was so large, Gene had to bend over forward on the horse in order to get through the studio doors. One time he forgot and almost got beheaded.

(Left to right) Gene Crane & unidentified male
Grand Chance Roundup
CBS-TV, Broadcast originated live from WCAU-TV

In 1949, a magazine that no longer exists today wrote:

Gene Crane, the roundup showman of "Grand Chance Roundup," Channel 10, 11:30 am to 12 noon, every Saturday, is an old cowhand who has seen a cow, but never roped a steer and isn't even interested in trying.

In fact, Gene's most frightening experience in life comes once a week, with clock-like regularity. As MC, it's Gene's lot to sit astride a white horse when the show opens each week. All through his opening announcements, he is as nervous as a hoss thief stealing a Texas Ranger's mount.

"I love animals, but I like them a little smaller, say "dog size," he states. "All that horse has to do is make one false move, and I won't be back in the saddle again."

Actually, for all his joshing about the rugged life, Crane set his sights early in life on the "wide open spaces." An Eagle Boy Scout with badges in forestry, woodlore and affiliated subjects as a youth, he entered the forestry school at Syracuse University and planned a life in the great outdoors. One day he auditioned for the student radio station as an announcer and was accepted. From that time on, the "open road" he longed for became the radio and television airwaves.

Early in the war (WWII), he enlisted as a private in the U.S. army, gradually working his way up to become officer-in-charge of a 10,000 watt Armed Forces Radio Station in Nagoya, Japan. In 1946, he was released from the service, holding the rank of first lieutenant.

Gene then went to Philadelphia and WCAU. There he announced and acted in documentary and dramatic shows, some of which were written and produced by Joan Meyers, who has since become Mrs. Crane.

Now a WCAU staffer, Gene has handled live, variety shows MCing notably the long-run talent contest, "Fame and Fortune," and appearing on "Charade Parade," "Man on Chestnut Street," and "Cinderella Weekend."

From the official archives of the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia
Photos originally donated by Broadcast Pioneers member Gene Crane
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