Another Third Wednesday Luncheon!
Wednesday, May 17, 2017!

How the local broadcast media
covered Three-Mile Island!

It was the best of the best!

Middletown, Pennsylvania
Nearest Town to Three Mile Island
March 1979

From a KYW Newsradio pamphlet:

The lush rolling earth of Central Pennsylvania sleeps, awaiting the dawn and the farmer's plow for spring planting. The broad and shallow Susquehanna River meaners through the countryside giving water to the cornfields and apple orchards.

This is land which has changed little over the decades. On the back roads, the Amish farmer is off to market before the dawn. The land is silent save for the rattle of his buggy wheels and the frosty breaths of his spirited horse. The earth is at peace.

But in the midst of the river sits an island which until a few years back was home only to birds and occasional fishermen. But now out of the dark rise four huge towers which provide cooling to two pressurized water nuclear reactors. In the pre-dawn silence one reactor is sleeping peacefully along with its neighbors. But the other is operating at full power.

Something goes wrong. Bells ring and sirens wail. Problems compound problems and with the rising of the sun word finally goes out. With catastrophic possibilities, the worst accident in the history of American nuclear power has begun.

WCAU-TV News Anchor Ralph Penza
March 1979

For two weeks, local broadcast outlets covered Three-Mile Island (TMI). What did it take to do the job? Were they in any danger? Our MC for the luncheon was member Jay Lloyd who covered the story for KYW Newsradio.

Our panel was (in alphabetical order):

Bill Baldini, former WCAU-TV reporter who covered Three Mile Island
Frank Goldstein, former WCAU-TV photojournalist who covered TMI
Marc Howard, former channel 3 and channel 6 anchor and reporter
Richard Maloney, former KYW Newsradio reporter who was there
Dick Sheeran, former KYW-TV reporter who covered Three Mile Island
Dick Standish, former Channel 3 reporter who was on the scene at TMI

In 2011, Broadcast Pioneers Board Member Bob Kravitz (who was a photojournalist for WPVI) wrote in our newsletter regarding TMI:

Remembering the night Vernon and I were in front of the Pennsylvania Capitol in Harrisburg. While wrapping up a story with a stand up, this strange white substance, looking like snow, fell from the sky. It fell for a couple of hours. This is when I was scared. The next day, no one said a word. To this day, I still don't know what fell onto us.

WPVI Photojournalist Bob Kravitz (on right)
Inside Three Mile Island
March 1979

It all took place at the beautiful and historic Bala Golf Club, 2200 Belmont Avenue (across the street from the state police) in the Wynnefield section of Philadelphia. Only minutes away from Channels 6, 10 and 17 and the radio stations in Bala Cynwyd.

Complete Video of the Luncheon

(video courtesy of Broadcast Pioneers VP Brad Seecof and Metramedia Broadcasting & Studios)

From the official archives of the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia
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