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Thursday, January 17th, 2019
40 Years Ago Today

Here's Part 1 of a Channel 2 News Special Report, "Blizzard '79: Public Questions, City Answers," a call-in show hosted by Bill Kurtis and Walter Jacobson on WBBM Channel 2, from five days after the city was socked by a massive snowstorm that went up to 20 inches and brought everything to a standstill (and ultimately cost Michael Bilandic his job as Mayor). Also featuring Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) Chairman James McDonough, Streets and Sanitation Commissioner Francis Degnan, Fire Commissioner Richard Albrecht, and Police Superintendent James O'Grady. Includes:

Station ID/Promo for Dinah with a still of a motorcycle stunt

Channel 2 News Special Report bumper slide

Scenes of Chicago and environs after the big blizzard, with Bill Kurtis describing the aftermath (including the closure of O'Hare Airport), and referring to "the winter of Chicago's discontent," as introduction to this special program, "Blizzard '79: Public Questions, City Answers" (with title coming up on screen)

Dissolve to long shot of newsroom-studio (notice, at the bottom right of the screen, the Thomson TTV-1518 camera with Q-TV VPS-100 prompter atop the camera lens) as Walter Jacobson begins the introduction of this program's guests, starting with James McDonough, Chairman of CTA (Chicago Transit Authority) and Francis Degnan, Commissioner of the Department of Streets and Sanitation; then Kurtis introduces Fire Commissioner Richard Albrecht and Police Superintendent James O'Grady. As each person is introduced, Jacobson and then Kurtis describe the adverse effect the blizzard had on all services over which these men held authority, with pertinent video clips to illustrate the point.

The first question (from a woman complaining about half-empty buses not stopping for passengers waiting at stops) is posed by Jacobson to McDonough, who claims that the buses are over capacity due to being behind schedule (look for shots of vintage GM and Flxible "New Look" buses that were part of the CTA's rolling stock for years). Kurtis then reads a question from Anne Bangston (sp?) of Hyde Park to Degnan about plowing of city side streets; Degnan insist he's trying to keep the "main arterials" open, and bracing for another blizzard by Friday or Saturday; McDonough interjects about his own experiences at the time of the 1967 blizzard, and comparing the response of city agencies then and in '79. It was mentioned by McDonough, Kurtis, Jacobson and Degnan that the '67 blizzard started on a weekday, as opposed to the weekend start of the '79 blizzard.

Jacobson then moves on to Police and Fire, reading a question from Toby Silverberg of West Rogers Park on the issue of towing double-parked cars on snow-plagued streets; the first answer is by Police Superintendent O'Grady who insists that towing equipment is headed for the streets, followed by posting of "No Parking" signs by Streets and Sanitation. Jacobson then reads a question from Deanna (sp?) Lane of East Rogers Park about whether illegally-parked cars on side streets will be ticketed, and O'Grady explains the procedure of that aspect. Kurtis then questions Albrecht about what people could do to help the Fire Department in terms of fire hydrants and other equipment; Albrecht advises people to help clear lanes. Jacobson reads a critical question from a Mr. Odega (sp?) of the Northwest Side about removal of snow from schoolyards onto fire lanes. Kurtis then signals for a commercial break and invites others to call in.

Commercial: Comfortcale "Royal Family" by Cannon - with a night watchman checking the mattress (and its softness) up close - with 20% more cotton - "One Touch Is Not Enough" - At Wieboldt's

Commercial: Chicago Health & Racquetball Club - Join Now at '78 Rates - Rates increase midnight on January 31st (ending "Last Two Weeks" voice over tag by Jerry Harper?)

Commercial: H&R Block - "Come to H&R Block This Year, So Next Year You Won't Have to Say 'I Should Have Come Last Year'" - Also in Major Sears Stores

Commercial: Dristan - for all major cold symptoms - more than Contac, Vicks, Sinex or Bayer - "It's Better"

This aired on January 18, 1979.

WBBM Channel 2 - Channel 2 News Special Report - "Blizzard '79: Public Questions, City Answers" (Part 1, 1979)

Here's Part 1 of a Channel 2 News Special Report, "Blizzard '79: Public Questions, City Answers," a call-in show hosted by Bill Kurtis and Walter Jacobson on WBBM Channel 2, from five days after the city was socked by a massive snowstorm that went up to 20 inches and brought everything to a standstill (and ultimately cost Michael Bilandic his job as Mayor). Also featuring Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) Chairman James McDonough, Streets and Sanitation Commissioner Francis Degnan, Fire Commissioner Richard Albrecht, and Police Superintendent James O'Grady. Includes:

Station ID/Promo for Dinah with a still of a motorcycle stunt (voiceover by ??)

Channel 2 News Special Report bumper slide (voiceover by ??)

Scenes of Chicago and environs after the big blizzard, with Bill Kurtis describing the aftermath (including the closure of O'Hare Airport), and referring to "the winter of Chicago's discontent," as introduction to this special program, "Blizzard '79: Public Questions, City Answers" (with title coming up on screen)

Dissolve to long shot of newsroom-studio (notice, at the bottom right of the screen, the Thomson TTV-1518 camera with Q-TV VPS-100 prompter atop the camera lens) as Walter Jacobson begins the introduction of this program's guests, starting with James McDonough, Chairman of CTA (Chicago Transit Authority) and Francis Degnan, Commissioner of the Department of Streets and Sanitation; then Kurtis introduces Fire Commissioner Richard Albrecht and Police Superintendent James O'Grady. As each person is introduced, Jacobson and then Kurtis describe the adverse effect the blizzard had on all services over which these men held authority, with pertinent video clips to illustrate the point.

The first question (from a woman complaining about half-empty buses not stopping for passengers waiting at stops) is posed by Jacobson to McDonough, who claims that the buses are over capacity due to being behind schedule (look for shots of vintage GM and Flxible "New Look" buses that were part of the CTA's rolling stock for years). Kurtis then reads a question from Anne Bangston (sp?) of Hyde Park to Degnan about plowing of city side streets; Degnan insist he's trying to keep the "main arterials" open, and bracing for another blizzard by Friday or Saturday; McDonough interjects about his own experiences at the time of the 1967 blizzard, and comparing the response of city agencies then and in '79. It was mentioned by McDonough, Kurtis, Jacobson and Degnan that the '67 blizzard started on a weekday, as opposed to the weekend start of the '79 blizzard.

Jacobson then moves on to Police and Fire, reading a question from Toby Silverberg of West Rogers Park on the issue of towing double-parked cars on snow-plagued streets; the first answer is by Police Superintendent O'Grady who insists that towing equipment is headed for the streets, followed by posting of "No Parking" signs by Streets and Sanitation. Jacobson then reads a question from Deanna (sp?) Lane of East Rogers Park about whether illegally-parked cars on side streets will be ticketed, and O'Grady explains the procedure of that aspect. Kurtis then questions Albrecht about what people could do to help the Fire Department in terms of fire hydrants and other equipment; Albrecht advises people to help clear lanes. Jacobson reads a critical question from a Mr. Odega (sp?) of the Northwest Side about removal of snow from schoolyards onto fire lanes. Kurtis then signals for a commercial break and invites others to call in.

Commercial: Comfortcale "Royal Family" by Cannon - with a night watchman checking the mattress (and its softness) up close - with 20% more cotton - "One Touch Is Not Enough" - At Wieboldt's

Commercial: Chicago Health & Racquetball Club - Join Now at '78 Rates - Rates increase midnight on January 31st (ending "Last Two Weeks" voiceover tag by Jerry Harper?)

Commercial: H&R Block - "Come to H&R Block This Year, So Next Year You Won't Have to Say 'I Should Have Come Last Year'" - Also in Major Sears Stores

Commercial: Dristan - for all major cold symptoms - more than Contac, Vicks, Sinex or Bayer - "It's Better"

This aired on local Chicago TV on Thursday, January 18th 1979.

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This clip aired on Thursday, January 18th 1979, and is included in the following categories:

Viewer Comments

I wonder how painfully cold it got after all the snowfall was said and done. Usually the bigger the snow, the colder the deep freeze!
Comment posted by 70s80s on Friday, January 20th 2012 at 5:59pm.

TV critic Gary Deeb ripped into this program in the Tribune. He called the program "a video Nytol tablet." "The four city officials resembled wax figures. They droned on about how this storm wasn't nearly as bad as the great snowfall of 1967. Especially laughable were Francis "Bud" Degnan, commissioner of streets and sanitation; and James McDonough, chairman of the Chicago Transit Authority. Nor was it a particularly good moment for Channel 2 anchormen Bill Kurtis and Walter Jacobson, who let the hacks off the hook far too easily."
Comment posted by Phantom on Friday, January 20th 2012 at 7:26pm.

Degnan in particular seemed to fit the stereotype of what has been euphemistically called a "policy wonk," especially given a certain phrase he regurgitated over and over.
Comment posted by W.B. on Saturday, January 21st 2012 at 10:01am.

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This clip has been viewed 5677 times.
This clip debuted on FuzzyMemories.TV on Friday, January 20th 2012.
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