NewsPalm Beach CountyRegion C Palm Beach CountyWest Palm Beach


Family remembers WPTV's first News Director, Bill Gordon

Posted at 3:28 PM, Aug 22, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-22 19:43:08-04

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — These days, WPTV offers many different ways to share the news from our free WPTV mobile app, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

But 65 years ago, there was only one way WPTV news was available, and that was on television at 6 p.m. and 11 p.m.

SPECIAL COVERAGE: WPTV celebrates 65 years of broadcasting in South Florida

"It was harder, but probably more exciting," said Fran Benz, daughter of WPTV’s very first News Director, Bill Gordon.

Benz shared many of her deceased father’s photos and memories with WPTV on Thursday. From the very first sign on and set up of the newsroom, which included film cartridges and typewriters, to signed letters from names such as J. Edgar Hoover and former Florida Governor Claude Kirk.

"My dad was a newsman from the age of 12," said Benz. "He would go around the community and listen and then call the radio station and tell them what is going on."

As News Director, Gordon would visit police stations, school board meetings, county commission meetings, and many other beats gathering news. At the time, Gordon didn’t have technology or instant availability of disseminating that news.

Gordon would come back to WPTV and upload film, process it, then put together a newscast.

Benz said there was no one sided news. It was all objective and they saved the opinion for editorials that would air after the newscast.

In addition, the faces you saw in the newsroom were mostly men, and there was plenty of coffee and cigarettes.

"He drank lots of coffee, I think to keep going and he smoked a lot," said Benz. "In the newsroom, everyone smoked then inside. It was very different then."

Benz said even the way we get the latest news is very different. She said her Dad would work all day on a big story, like visiting dignitaries or government corruption, and viewers would see it that night, not on their phones in minutes.

"When they say breaking news, well it’s not breaking news today, not like it was then," said Benz.

Gordon’s daughter believes news was very different in her father’s day, but does like the instantaneous availability of news on your phone, app, and computer. It's something she believes her father would truly enjoy.