In one of our newsletters, we ran a clip of Action News reporter Hank Sperka speaking briefly with Pope John Paul II in 1979. Friends of Hank said that moment was his finest hour and one of his favorite moments.
Hank Sperka passed away on Thursday, June 3, 1999 at the age of 75 in Florida when he was living at the time. He previously resided in Villanova when he was working at WPVI-TV (and WFIL-TV).
Born in Newark, NJ, he spent his entire TV career at Channel 6. He reported hard news, did some anchoring, reported on the Philly Mummers Parades and we'll all remember him as the Sidewalk Gourmet.
Sperka was originally going to have a career in banking. After his graduation in 1952 from Dartmouth College with a degree in Economics, he did work on Wall Street as a Bank Loan Officer. However, he was looking for something more and decided to study acting at New York University during the evenings. He hoped to work in radio, especially drama.
He got his first taste of broadcasting during the Second World War when he worked a radio operator while stationed in the South Pacific.
Finally, in 1956, he decided to leave banking to work full-time at a New York radio station. During the mid-sixties, a friend told him to apply at WFIL-TV. He did and got a job offer.
When retiring from WPVI in 1986, he and his family relocated to Palm City in Florida where Sperka could enjoy the sun. He enjoyed playing tennis, painting, the piano and current events.
On Friday evening, November 22, 2013, Hank Sperka was inducted into the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia's "Hall of Fame."
From the official archives of the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia
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