WSYR Radio and TV
Mention the name E.R. Vadeboncoeur and it's his radio news broadcasts and Election Night commentaries that come to mind for many longtime Central New Yorkers. Long forgotten is that "Curly," as he was known to his friends, started out to be a newspaperman.
He got his first job on a newspaper after leaving Central High School and worked his way up to city editor at the old Syracuse Journal. When the paper merged with the Herald a few years later, he was offered a spot on the new Herald-Journal. Instead, he decided -- on the advice of his wife Orletta -- to switch to broadcasting by accepting another job offer at WSYR Radio.
The change made sense because Curly had been doing a Sunday night broadcast on WFBL called "City Editor" during his later years at the Journal. Soon after joining WSYR, he began doing noon-hour news and commentary every day. In the late 1940s, he successfully crusaded against a proposal for a city sales tax. (Years later, however, the tax became reality).
In an effort to help his listeners better understand what was happening overseas during World War II, Curly traveled to the Pacific for a month. He is believed to be the only war correspondent accredited personally by Gen. Douglas MacArthur. Several times, he risked his life by flying in bombers on missions out of New Guinea to get a better feel of war.
In the early 1950s, several years after he became general manager of WSYR radio and television, Vadeboncoeur gave up his broadcasts to become more involved in S.l. Newhouse's plans to expand Newhouse Broadcasting, which owned WSYR. The expansion included purchase of stations in Harrisburg, PA; St. Louis, MO; Birmingham, AL; and Portland, OR. Curly traveled weekly to Harrisburg and once a month to the others. He also was involved in the development of Newhouse cable properties.
Meanwhile, he continued to appear on television every Election Night, analyzing returns for viewers after being introduced as the "dean of Syracuse newsmen."
As a boy, Curly Vadeboncoeur earned money to support his widowed mother by bicycling prints of films from theater to theater. His interest in theater led him to join Murray Bernthal to create the Famous Artists Series in 1946. The two men also launched a concert series. The following year, they inaugurated the star-driven Famous Artists Country Playhouse in Fayetteville, later expanding to East Rochester and Watkins Glen.
Vadeboncoeur served as president of the Upstate Chapter of American Cancer Society, was awarded the Simon LeMoyne Medal by LeMoyne College, and chaired numerous Red Cross benefits.
Even after Newhouse sold off the television stations and then the radio stations, E.R. continued to preside over the Newhouse cable enterprises almost until his death in 1986.
--Joseph A. Porcello
|Last Updated ( Monday, 17 November 2008 01:26 )|
|"Good night, and good luck."
--Edward R. Murrow
WSYR Radio and TV
Club President: 1959
Fred Hillegas probably inherited some of his talent for news work, but he worked hard to become what many area listeners and viewers considered the top broadcast newsman in Syracuse.