Ed Hedden, Ph.D

[ Editor's note: This photo of Ed was when we got one of the original Batman costumes from ABC and tried to make good use of it. We shot some ID's and even a Burgeron's Kentucky Fried Chicken commercial with it. But we needed someone who fit the costume and would agree to wear the tights. Ed, our artist, agreed. So we have a number of photos of "Batman" Ed Hedden in the files.

Ed has been in contact and says he will be in Huntsville and attend the reunion. I look forward to Ed sending a few stories to go with the photo.

Ed has now earned his Doctorate and thus entitled to add the "Ph.D" to his name. I am sure he is proud of this accomplishment. - end ]

Hi all,

As Art Director at WAAY-TV from November of 1965 to September of 1969 I had the pleasure to experience the wild transitional days of television. The least of which was going from black and white to color. There were many events that still seem like they happened only last year. I vividly recall Tiger Terrell Whitakerıs go-cart entrance taking out one tripod leg of the brand new Plumbicon camera that I was operating. The deafening silence, the gasps, and Cactus Gay running out to check the condition of his new toy. The thing was very heavy especially from the back side and leveraged position. I remember doing everything that I could to keep the camera from smashing onto the concrete floor. Fortunately a bent lens frame was the only damage. By-the-way no one was interested in my condition at the time.

In later years, at the PBS station in Illinois that I retired from, we built a Big Bird costume. The experience at WAAY-TV wearing the Bat Man outfit cured me of ever getting into another costume. I can still smell the BO and will never forget how hot and uncomfortable that experience was. The broadcasting facilities must have tripled in size during those years. There was constant construction, new equipment, and moving. Who can ever forget Sonny Limbaugh telling his wild tales about doing everything. The most repeated story was how he would come in early in the morning, start the transmitter, set up the news set, turn on a camera facing the spot where he was to sit, rip the latest news from the wire, go to the control room and bring up the camera on an empty set, than walk in, sit down, and read the news.

His exit stories were just as interesting. All this was live television during those years and everything that could go wrong did at some point. The talent was amazing at cover-up and recovery. Talent at PBS was just as interesting and difficult. Some of the strangest people in the world work in television. I recall one disgruntled sales person spending his last night inserting four letter words into all of the commercials that he had made. It was a real mess re-cutting them the next day. We produced a film representing the hundred year history of men's clothing. In college it had been explained to me that at sixteen frames per second no one could distinguish a single frame. I had also read a book called "Subliminal Seduction" so two Play Boy center fold pictures were included. One near the beginning and a different one near the end. When the advertisement ran the second day some irate preacher called MD and the film was reviewed.

The order was to splice it out immediately. It was tempting to leave the second picture in but we cut it as well. I donıt think anyone ever knew about the second frame. Itıs still a mystery to me how anyone could have seen a single frame. I still have a few copies of the many slides that were made. If I can locate them Iıll donate them to the cause.

The artist (sign painter) that proceeded me {Howard Troutman} was from Paducah, KY only eighty miles south of Carbondale, IL which became home for thirty years. I think MD III thought that all artist were sign painters. The order came in to paint the News Hound on the tail of the company airplane (see the Cessna 172 in the history section), another experience that will never be forgotten. With a little touch-up from another sign painter it turned out OK. The whole Smith family were avid art critics and seldom did a week go by without some change to the on-air artwork produced. MD IV was a great supporter and bailed me out of tight spots many times.

The availability's chart that we produced was a big hit and was adopted across the country. Itıs too bad that we did not copyright it. Eating lunch at the country store next to channel 19 was another fond memory. The Lamar low carb diet event was an important lesson learned. Having rocks rip through the top of my MG from blasting at channel 19 was interesting. They were always trying to catch up to channel 31. Over the years Iıve missed the many good friends and exciting times that we had at WAAY-TV. I look forward to our reunion.

Ed Hedden
Troy, AL

© 2003 Smith Broadcasting, Inc. [update 8-14-2003]