Video Vault: Wilma Smith's first day on the WEWS Afternoon Exchange July 17, 1977

Smith had 36-year Cleveland TV career

CLEVELAND - By 1977 WEWS had a huge hit on its hands with The Morning Exchange and as old-time radio star Fred Allen once said, "Imitation is the sincerest form of television."

If the Morning Exchange was a hit, why not do an afternoon show? And so, The Afternoon Exchange (AX) was born.

Planning was under way in early 1977 to format and staff the program. Joel Rose would be one co-host, Fred Griffith would report from the field but a female co-host was needed.

WEWS management found a local girl, Wilma Smith, anchoring in RIchmond, Va. and picked her.

Wilma grew up in Garfield Heights as Wilma Porkorny, went to Saint Peter and Paul School and then to Garfield Heights High School. Wilma began as a weekend anchor alongside Bill Jacocks until the AX started.

Her first day the WEWS Afternoon Exchange was July 17, 1977. The Afternoon Exchange was a laid-back interview/entertainment show which aired from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. When the Cleveland Press closed in June 1982, the show moved to 5 p.m. and became a bit more newsy.

In September 1982, The Afternoon Exchange became Live On Five. Wilma continued as the show's co-anchor joined by Don Webster.

Thankfully, some of the first Afternoon Exchange was saved, 45 seconds-worth, so click on the video player to be transported back to Wilma's first day.

Enjoy.

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