Joe Novenson
Photo from a newspaper type WFIL handout touting the expanded
ABC-TV News & the new WFIL-TV 30 minute News.

Joe Novenson passed away on Monday, September 14, 1981 at the age of 64. His obit said that he was best known in the trade as the producer of "American Bandstand" when it was on the ABC Television Network and originating out of WFIL-TV in Philadelphia. But probably when all is said and done, Joe will be remembered for his voice.

Novenson was a native Philadelphian. After being graduated from Northeast High, he, in 1936, went to New York City. There, he attended the Julliard School of Music. His desire was to be an opera star, to have a role with the Metropolitan Opera Company. However, by 1938, nobody seemed to want to employee him as a singer, a baritone. Needing work, he signed on with the National Broadcasting Company, NBC as a page. There, they offered him a chance to attend announcing classes ran by the network for its staff. Once in awhile, Novenson was able to move out of the page environment to be a prop man, a sound effects person or a bit player. However, Joe, who did have a great singing voice, never got to sing.

The next year, he received an audition at Mutual's affiliate in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. He got the job, and in just a few months received his first Philadelphia job back in his hometown. It was as a newsman at WDAS radio using the air name, "Barry Roberts." By 1941, he was working as a free-lance announcer on WCAU, a narrator on KYW and as an actor in a local soap opera broadcast over WFIL, the station that would be his home for the next 30 years.

When the Second World War came along, Joe signed on with the government. He was in the Army Air Corps and until the war's conclusion in 1945, he flew as a navigator-bombardier with the 12th Air Force, out of France and out of North Africa. He ended up as a first lieutenant.

After the service, Novenson was hired again by WFIL Radio as a staff announcer. Then he became manager of WFIL-FM and worked as a television producer for the fledgling WFIL-TV. He over the years held other posts at the WFIL stations including sales, public relations and as Public Affairs Director, a position he held until his retirement in 1971.

During the forties and fifties, he hosted the Philadelphia Inquirer's annual music festivals. In the late sixties when Jerry Blavat had a television show on WFIL-TV, the Geator had Joe record the well known opening for Blavat's radio show (not heard over WFIL Radio). It's the one about Blavat being the champion of soul music, voiced over the William Tell Overture. While producing Bandstand, Joe Novenson referred to himself as "just a hometown boy putting on a hometown show."

Member of the Board of Directors of the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia, Paul Norton e-mailed, "...I did the weather and he did the news early mornings in the late sixties... He was a great guy....."

From the official archives of the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia
Photo originally donated by Broadcast Pioneers member, Dr. Francis Davis

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