Joe Pinner walked through the doors of WISTV at 9 a.m. Monday, May 27, 1963. That same night, he was on the 11 p. m. report covering sports. Fifty Years Later, “Papa Joe” Pinner, as he’s affectionately known, is still informing and entertaining the Midlands.
WIS-TV celebrated “50 Years of Joe” Pinner Thursday, May 30. At 8 p. m., WIS- TV walked down memory lane with “50 Years of Joe,” a retrospective special of the life and times of Joe Pinner.
The hour-long special featured highlights from Joe’s 50 years at WISTV, special tributes from colleagues past and present, a tour of Joe’s home, a one- on- one interview, and a reprise of the Mr. Knozit Show.
Special guests included MSNBC news anchor and correspondent Craig Melvin, “Entertainment Tonight” host Nancy O’Dell, and TV and radio personality Leeza Gibbons; former coanchors Susan Audé and Joe Daggett; “Carolina Today” co- host Jean Caughman Smolen; “PM Magazine” co-hosts Lou Green and Betsy Breckinridge; and many current WIS-TV personalities.
While instantly recognized by many as “Mr. Knozit,” Pinner has served the station in a variety of roles since joining WIS-TV in 1963 including sports, weather, anchor, and cohost. He remains active at the station as seen on most Fridays, thus dubbing him “Joe Friday.” In addition to a number of other awards, Pinner received the national George Foster Peabody award in 1967 for his work on The Knozit Show.
Beyond his service at WIS-TV, Pinner has long loved and served the Midlands community. His activism and philanthropy range from supporting the SC Philharmonic and the arts to education and the environment. A staple at various parades and festivals throughout the state, Pinner is often referred to as “Mr. South Carolina.” He has been awarded the Order of the Palmetto three times, from Governors Riley, Campbell, and Hodges.
Joe and his wife Peggy have two sons, Michael and Gregg, along with a number of grandchildren. They reside in Blythewood, SC.
WIS Television is part of Raycom Media, Inc., an employee-owned company and one of the nation’s largest broadcasters. Raycom owns or operates 46 television stations in 18 states. Raycom stations cover more than 12% of U.S. television households and employ 3500 individuals in full and part-time positions. Raycom Media is headquartered in Montgomery, Alabama.
Editor’s Note: This is the third of several features celebrating the 50th anniversary of The Columbia Star, formerly known as The Star- Reporter. Each highlights the stories that appeared during 1963, 1973, 1983, 1993, and 2003, and when possible, traces their history to today. This third installment will follow the events happening around the world and in Columbia in 1983. We hope you enjoy this walk down memory lane.
The year was 1983, a year of beginnings and endings.
In the entertainment world, Michael Jackson introduced the moonwalk on television while performing “Billie Jean” in front of a live audience at Motown’s 25th celebration. The final episode of M*A*S*H was aired, recording the highest ratings in television history, a record that stood until 2010. In another first, the members of the rock band KISS appeared on MTV for the first time without their makeup.
The first mobile phones were marketed, the first Hooter’s opened in Clearwater, Florida, and the first of many editions of Microsoft Word was released in 1983.
In sports, the New York Islanders won hockey’s Stanley Cup, John McEnroe was crowned 1983’s Wimbledon champion, and the Baltimore Orioles bested the Philadelphia Phillies to win the World Series. The NBA champs were the Philadelphia 76ers, and the Washington Redskins beat the Miami Dolphins in the Super Bowl.
In The Star Reporter, it was evident that, while lots of things remained unchanged, there was change in the air. The Richland County Driver’s License suspension’s list continued to dominate the front page, and school lunches were published, now ending each day with “chilled milk” as the beverage of choice. The past week’s weather and celestial timetable remained a fixture on the front page, and home delivery of the Star was still available, but the annual price doubled to an astonishing $10! The Star- Reporter was available now at 15 retail outlets around town.
Old Grouch continued musing on an occasional basis with somewhat obscure complaints, including this entry: “Strange, but we have never been able to elicit any comments on how the atmosphere tastes from the patrons of the dining establishments which stress atmosphere rather than food.”
Editorials were as candid as ever. In an editorial March 10, 1983, The Star- Reporter denounced the punishment meted out for drunken drivers, saying that “license suspensions do not seem to have the desired effect as witnessed by the repeat offenders whose licenses will sometimes be suspended for up to four years.” The editorial said that the newspaper “has long tried to do its bit to help in the problem by printing the list of suspen- sions weekly. We like to think this has deterred some alcoholics from getting on the road while under the influence.”
Another editorial in April denounced television reviewers as being “all wet” in their opinions about what makes a good show. It cited a television show called “A Foot in The Door” as being “the first bright spot in an otherwise dismal TV season.” IMDB has little to report about “Foot,” other than listing the cast, which included Diana Canova, Kip Gilman, Harold Gould, and Marian Mercer. The editorial called the show “good sophisticated comedy with sharp lines and good acting by all the principals.” However, it appeared the critics had the last word on “Foot,” as it only lasted six episodes.
As with previous decades, real estate transactions and reports on the estates of recently departed Columbia citizens dominated the front page. An entry in the January 6, 1983, issue laid out the finances of Ferrel McCracken Edens, including his car, cash, furnishings, and $1.25 million in interest in the estate of J. Drake Edens. But it wasn’t just impressive estates. The same issue detailed the estate of a person who left $6,699 and a ½ interest in a house valued at $29,800.
The STARWORDS saga
A deceptively simple entertainment vehicle that started in late 1973, STARWORDS, was prominently featured on the front page during 1983. STARWORDS was similar to a crossword puzzle, except it was partially filled out. Readers were instructed to complete the puzzle using the clues listed and send in their entry to The Star Reporter’s office. The puzzle even included a list of words that might be used as answers. The Star encouraged multiple entries, saying “The Post Office has ruled that all entries sent through the mails must be enclosed in a 20 cents envelope, so you may as well cram in as many mail entries as an envelope will hold.”
Seems simple! Not so much. The entire year of 1983 failed to find a winner. The prize cache stood at $1,900 on January 6, 1983, after The Star Reporter staff upped it another $100. The front page story revealed that 10 winners had split $17,800 in winnings since the puzzle started in July of 1973. But week after week went by with no winner. The lack of success was blamed on a variety of reasons each week. For example, during January, the bitterly cold weather (that week the mercury plunged once to 30 degrees). In February, the pot went up to $2,000, but still no winner as The Star Reporter staff speculated that entrants might have been too distracted by the circus coming to town to fully concentrate.
The pot went up to $2,100 in March, and then the Easter Bunny bumped it up another $100, but still not a winner turned up. Blame was placed on the circus coming to town, income tax blues, the rainy spring weather, distractions during graduation week, the steamy summer weather, Fourth of July festivities, and a myriad of other reasons. During this time, the reward money climbed, and by the end of the year, stood at $3,000 – with NO winner.
Each issue contained a detailed explanation (scolding) detailing each answer and the rationale behind it being the correct answer rather than the obvious one. Example: “ABUSE, not amuse. As suggested, you use words to ABUSE or revile people, but you could amuse them by clowning, mime, etc.”
Author’s Note: My husband and daughter, both crossword puzzle devotees, decided to prove how easy it would be to solve STARWORDS. I made copies of the entries, and even included the suggested words provided to readers. Neither of them even came close to conquering STARWORDS.
Is there an end to this saga?
I only had the archive copy through 1983, so more research will be done, and the winning entry and date will be published in the next edition of “50 years and counting.”
Familiar names in politics, business
In local politics, Richland County residents voted in January whether to reduce the number of council members from 11 to 7. Later that month, it appeared that the downsizing was successful as elections for the new 4-2-1 method would be instituted for the first time. Four council members would run in their districts, while two others and the mayor would run at large. Kirkman Finley defeated Barnett F. Goldberg for mayor, while E.W. Cromartie grabbed the District 2 position.
Business was booming for Columbia residents seeking a bargain when the 87th T.J. Maxx opened its doors March 17, 1983, in the St. Andrews Shopping Center on Andrews Road. “We believe in pleasing our customers by opening stores in convenient locations, by giving courteous, pleasant service, and by offering quality merchandise at low, competitive prices,” said T.J. Maxx President Ben Camarata.
Today, T.J. Maxx has more than 1,000 stores in operation and also operates the Marshall’s chain of similar stores, as well as Home Goods. A peek at their website reveals at least a dozen new stores opening at any time in the United States, Canada, and Europe. (But none in the Forest Acres or downtown area, sorry Maxx-inestas) There are now 20 T.J. Maxx locations in South Carolina, but it appears the Irmo-area store is now on Harbison Boulevard. The social scene
In social news, March 17, 1983, was a big day for Columbia as former University of South Carolina Basketball Coach Frank McGuire served as the grand marshal during the St. Patrick’s Day parade in Five Points. The event was a joint effort of the Five Points Merchants Association, the city recreation department, the Columbia Jaycees, and the East Columbia Optimist Club.
McGuire was quite the legend in the Columbia area. After he was named basketball coach at USC, the Gamecocks quickly achieved national prominence. According to Wikipedia, they went undefeated in the ACC in 1970, but were denied an NCAA berth when they lost the ACC championship game in double overtime to North Carolina State. In those days only one team per conference was guaranteed a bid. Their 25 wins that year remains a school record. The Gamecocks went independent after that season, and McGuire would then go on to take USC to three more NCAA Tournaments and two NIT tournaments as an independent. He retired from coaching after the 1979-80 season. To this day, McGuire is far and away the winningest coach in Gamecock history. The playing surface at the Gamecocks’ former arena is named Frank McGuire Arena in his honor.
Even without a big name like McGuire, St. Patrick’s Day in Five Points is now celebrated on a much bigger scale. This year, on March 16, more than 40,000 people flocked to Five Points for the festivities, which included a 10K and 5K Run and one mile walk, a parade, expanded family entertainment, enhanced food and craft offerings, a special shag area honoring our state dance, a kid-approved childrens’ carnival as well as 20 musical acts on five stages.
In other society news, the front page of The Star Reporter announced the South Carolina Watermelon Association had selected Mary Jo Smith as the 1983 Watermelon Queen. Smith, a USC student and a member of the Gamma Nu Chapter of the Sigma Chi Little Sisters, was set to travel across South Carolina during the summer and represent South Carolina in the National Watermelon Queen Pageant in Dallas, Texas, the following February.
The Watermelon Queen tradition is still going strong. The 2012- 2013 queen is Katherine (Katie) Taylor, 21, the daughter of Glenn and Debbie Taylor of Anderson, S.C.
The Star- Reporter published in May 1983, a picture of long-time member Gilbert J. Bristow presenting a specially bound book he wrote about the history of Shandon Baptist Church to pastor Dr. Dick Lincoln. The church was celebrating its 75th anniversary.
According to The Star Reporter, “Mr. Bristow used minutes of hundreds of meetings, the memory of fellow church members, and his personal knowledge gained during his 54- year membership, 45 of which he has served as church clerk.”
Today, Lincoln is still the pastor at Shandon Baptist, but that’s about the only constant at the mega-church. According to the church’s website, “growth in every area has been phenomenal: in November 1979, a second morning worship service was added; by 1988, the church was in three Sunday Schools and three worship services. In 1995, Shandon relocated to its current building at 5250 Forest Drive; in 1999, a new education building was added and a third service, a contemporary worship service began.”