What do I remember the most about WJRT-TV12 in Flint?
Christopher Coffin...host of Theatre of Thrills that came on every Saturday night in the early/mid-60s.

But first...what about WJRT? How long has it been around?

Founded by Goodwill Stations, WJRT went on the air for the first time on October 12, 1958. The tower is located in Flint on 2302 Lapeer Road, where it has been ever since.

Even though WJRT was an ABC affiliate, it had to start producing local shows in order to stay on the air. Back then, all network affiliates had to come up with their own shows to fill time. That's why there were so many kid shows, cartoon programs, hosted movies, news that droned on, talk shows, puppet shows, game shows, bowling shows...whatever they could make up to fill all that air time.

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WJRT won the bid for their license by agreeing to produce fifty-five hours of local programming each and every week for a full ten years. Some of their local shows included:
Almanac
Bozo's Big Top
Colonel Gyro from Outer Space
Folkswingers
The Late Thrill Show

Mr. Magic
Rae Deane and Friends
Romper Room with Miss Margie
Theatre of Thrills
TV Bingo

“Mr. Magic” was actually Earl Frank Cady who took magic lessons in order to have this show. It lasted from 1960 until 1967 when it was discontinued and replaced by Bozo's Big Top. Bozo was also played by Mr. Cady until 1979!

Rae Deane and Friends was a puppet show like Kukla, Fran & Ollie with Cady also manipulating the puppets from 1961-1968.

And my favorite, Theatre of Thrills, hosted by that menace of the macabre, the Guardian of the Ghouls, Christopher Coffin. Coffin was played by Reed Farrell, who was one of WJRT's announcers. The show came on every Saturday night and lasted from 1961-1967, showing all the great old horror, monster, and sci-fi movies from the 1930s-1950s.

Thanks to the ABC-TV lineup during the 1970s, WJRT's ratings zoomed, making it Mid-Michigan's top-rated television station.

Once the ten-year agreement was up, WJRT didn't have to produce local shows anymore. It was a relief for some and disheartening for others, including the fans. By 1972, all the local shows were gone. No more kid shows, cartoon programs, Christopher Coffin, nothing. Except Bozo. Bozo remained for a handful of more years. Bozo's Big Top finally closed down in 1979.

Below is a short gallery of some WJRT memories...

MEMORIES OF WJRT-TV, FLINT

MORE VINTAGE MICHIGAN ENTERTAINMENT:

Michigan's Love of Vaudeville, 1900s-1920s

Hot Air Ballooning, Early 1900s

Michigan Parties