WPSU travels down memory lane with Joe Paterno

September 01, 2009

Back in the 1960s, there were no 24-hour cable sports channels. No extensive game analysis, no sports news shows, no Big Ten Network. Penn State Football games may have received national television coverage a few times a year. However, Penn State Public Broadcasting, in partnership with Penn State Intercollegiate Athletics, offered a weekly television program starring Coach Joe Paterno. It was called "Joe Paterno's TV Quarterbacks" and it featured game highlights, player interviews and Coach Paterno's expertise along with his trademark sense of humor.

Penn State Public Broadcasting has exhumed the old football shows from the archives to create "Joe Paterno's TV Quarterbacks: A Retrospective," which will air on WPSU in September.

"'TV Quarterbacks' did a tremendous amount of good for us because it did give us exposure," Coach Paterno said in a recent interview. "WPSU featured it … and it was on at a good time and it was a comfortable thing for people to watch."

The show aired on WPSU-TV Wednesday, Sept. 9 as part of the September pledge drive. It will re-air several times throughout the fall months. Check local listings for dates and times.

The television show was created in 1965 and originally called "Wednesday Quarterbacks" during Rip Engle’s final season at Penn State as the head football coach. When Paterno took over as head coach the next year, the show was shaped in his image and took on his personality. Over the years, "Joe Paterno's TV Quarterbacks" gave Nittany Lion fans a chance to meet players of every level, from the All-Americans to the walk-ons. Legendary local broadcaster Fran Fisher hosted the show for 18 years. He made players feel comfortable with his laid back and personable approach.

"Penn State fans over the age of 35 will enjoy seeing old highlights and interviews with former Nittany Lion greats,” said Bill Amin, executive producer of sports at WPSU, "and younger viewers will notice that the legendary coach really hasn’t changed over the years.”

The special bond between Penn State football, WPSU-TV, and fans throughout the state was developed during weekly airing of “Joe Paterno’s TV Quarterbacks.” Paterno said, "[The show] made the kids look good ... It was a fun situation for the ones who did it, and I think the fans really enjoyed it and it helped the program tremendously."

WPSU serves central Pennsylvania with programming, educational services and community outreach. Its public media services produce, acquire and distribute programs that address local interests and reflect the diverse cultural, political, geographic and demographic characteristics of an audience within central Pennsylvania.


  • Joe Paterno in 1969.

    IMAGE: Penn State
Last Updated November 18, 2010