Growing up with WBAY-TV

WBAY has become a second home for many of us
70 years of history, stories, and people working for our viewers every day
Published: Mar. 17, 2023 at 7:24 AM CDT
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - 70 years ago, on March 17, 1953, to the theme of “Gone With the Wind,” WBAY made history as the first television station in Northeast Wisconsin and only the second one in the state.

A lot has changed in seven decades, but one thing has not: Our mission to bring you the information you need.

For many in today’s WBAY family, this station is a part of their earliest memories.

“I grew up watching Channel 2 and WBAY,” Action 2 News This Morning anchor Tammy Elliott says, “and now to be here as part of the team, I mean I’m incredibly honored. We have such a strong tradition, amazing journalism and passionate people.”

“Station I grew up with,” Action 2 News evening anchor Bill Jartz seconded. “There was no doubt about it, grew up as a kid the noon show was must-see TV. We grew up on a farm, and you shut up during the noon show because that’s when the farm markets were on, and it was just the station and I still think it’s that way.”

And it’s all thanks to the station’s pioneers -- both those on-air and behind the scenes worked at WBAY for decades.

“Len Ihlenfeldt, who was a guy that worked with the Packers and worked here. Rex Marx, Chuck Ramsay, Les Sturmer was a guy, Bobby Nelson. If I had five dollars for every time somebody said, ‘How’s Bobby Nelson?’ before he passed away, I’d be a rich, rich man,” Bill says.

As the first station on the air in Northeast Wisconsin, WBAY’s history is unmatched -- and we hear that often.

“When you say you work for WBAY, people are like, oh, legacy station, ‘I’ve always watched that,’ ‘I grew up watching that,’ and now I’m getting to the age where people are saying to me, ‘I remember watching you when I was younger’ and now they have families of their own, so it’s coming full circle,” Action 2 News evening anchor Cami Rapson says.

Like many of our predecessors, WBAY has become a second home for many of us -- a family-like feeling on the air and off.

“What you see on television, we are real, and behind the scenes all of us together, people who work in production and sales and marketing, photographers, we’re all together,” Tammy says.

“People who were here 10 years ago, 20 years ago, 30 years ago, I mean, I came up with a lot of you guys, you were at my wedding, and that’s just crazy to me to see people and you have families and now your kids are off on their own. It’s kind of cool because we keep people, which is part of our legacy,” says Cami.

A legacy now spanning seven decades.

And while a lot has changed technology-wise and with the tools we use to gather the news, other things have not.

“A much faster pace, but I think we still have that tradition, we still have those values, and that has stayed original, to its core, we are who we are, and this tradition has carried on at WBAY,” Tammy says.

Bill says, “I’ve always felt, and from my perspective, I’m just trying to carry on a tradition of those people before me -- the Chuck Ramsays, the Les Sturmers, Joe Schmit, guys like that, Bobby Nelson -- that kind of blazed the trail for us to be where we are. We’re the second TV station on in the state of Wisconsin, and we kind of set the standard. People learned how to do television, how to watch television through us, and we continue on that tradition, we continue that legacy. My job is just don’t blow it, simple as that.”