Broadcast Pioneers member Bill Webber hosted a kids program on WFIL-TV. His sidekick on the wire was Elmo Wiffleweather who brought Bill the weather. "Breakfast Time" ran for years on Channel 6. Of course, after this program had aired, Bill still had other duties which included radio DJ work, substitute announcer for Bandstand and normal TV booth announcing.
Breakfast Time started on WFIL-TV on Monday, March 18, 1957 (8 to 9 pm). Hosted by Bill Webber, he got the nickname "Wee Willie" (because he was so tall) from WFIL Radio personality Phil Sheridan's wife. Sheridan's radio program was on the same time as Breakfast Time so they would see each other every day.
The program aired cartoons from Bugs Bunny to Popeye. There were community announcements read each day and during the show's live era, "Elmo Wiffleweather" (seen in the picture) brought Bill the weather. Breakfast Time was one of the first local programs to be recorded on video tape. When this took place, Elmo brought Bill the announcements or other information instead of the weather. Bill Webber told us that it took longer to videotape the show than to do it live but the station had him on radio at night, so the TV show was taped.
A June 1957 advertisement for Breakfast Time said: Everybody's watching it! Breakfast Time with Bill Webber, Philadelphia's top-rated early-morning TV show. Monday thru Friday 8 to 9 am. 9 am to 10 am Saturday. WFIL-TV, Channel 6. It showed six cartoon figures: Porky Pig, Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Sylvester the Cat, Popeye and Tweety Bird.
An August 1958 advertisement for the program, showed Bill Webber standing next to a prop airplane propeller looking at a newspaper whose headline said "Watch Breakfast Time." The ad said: Get Off to a Flying Start with "Wee Willie" Webber. Monday thru Friday 8-9:30 am, Saturday 8:30-10 am. WFIL-TV, Channel 6.
Note in the early ad, the "push" was to the cartoons. In the ad a year later, the "push" was for Webber. Also, in the earlier ad, he was referred to as Bill Webber. In the latter, he was called "Wee Willie Webber."
In November of 1958, while Bill was on vacation, the show was hosted by Howard Ennis, known to TV viewers as "Sawdust Sam."
Stuart Kravitz, a visitor to our website e-mailed:
For me, some of the highlights of your web site included seeing Mr. Rivets, Willie the Worm and especially Bill Webber with Elmo Wiffleweather! Every time I hear Leroy Anderson's "Bugler's Holiday," I'm back in front of my TV watching Bill with Elmo bringing in the weather on a high wire just before having to walk to Carnell Elementary School (I'm from the Oxford Circle). Incredible. To this day, without question, because of its exposure on Breakfast Time, "Bugler's Holiday" still remains my all time favorite trumpet score. Always wanted to be able to play it myself, but found the 5-string banjo (and bluegrass music) just as challenging.
Jim Gray from Collegeville, Pennsylvania, a visitor to our website e-mailed: I recall that as Elmo departed the set on his unicycle he'd always say, "and he still owes me five bucks...."
Broadcast Pioneers member Bill Webber explained that Elmo said that every Friday morning. On that day, Bill would pay Elmo $5 for his work during the week. The photo above obviously dates from a Friday. As Elmo left, the audio technician would play an audio cut (called a "drop-in) of "and he still owes me five bucks." It was from some sort of record, Bill recalls. Webber mentioned that Elmo never appeared on the Saturday show as it was usually on tape.
Paul, a visitor to our website e-mailed:
As a child of the 50's, who remembers Wee Willie and Breakfast Time, I was wondering if anyone recalls the contest to name Elmo Wiffleweather before he was known as such. All I remember is Wee Willie reading out the name of the winner (of five bucks?) of the contest and Elmo being given his new moniker. Who won that contest and when was it?
We asked Bill Webber about this and he said that there was never a contest to name Elmo. In fact, Webber states that he is the one who gave Elmo his "handle."
Paul e-mailed again: Me thinks Wee Willie's memory is failing. I distinctly remember a contest to give Elmo a last name and Bill announcing the winner. (Maybe he didn't like any of the entries and made up his own.)
Mike Rossi, a visitor to our website e-mailed:
I was born and raised in Philly and watched "Breakfast Time" religiously. They had a thing going called "Alarm" or "Alarm Clock" or something, where a kid would write in about something that was going on in his/her life, and Bill would call them on air. I sent in a postcard telling Bill that I was about to get my tonsils out. The day I got home from the hospital, I got a call. Well, all I could do was grunt and groan and nothing I said was understandable. Bill talked to my mom, was very gracious and got me feeling pretty good. He called me a brave kid, for all the Delaware Valley to hear. I was a celebrity for a day or so, in my Somerton neighborhood. Beautiful memories of beautiful times and people.
Joseph Vendetti, a visitor to our website e-mailed:
At one point in the show, a mail-in offer was made to buy your own Elmo Wiffleweather. I ordered and received one. Unfortunately, my mother sold this along with some other treasures with her house when it was sold many years ago.
TV Time Periods
March 18, 1957 to November 1957 - 8 am to 9 am (daily)
June to September 1957 - 9 am to 10 am (Saturdays)
July & August 1958 - 8 am to 9:30 (daily)
August 1958 - 8:30 am to 10 am (Saturdays)
September 29 (first day in new time period) to November 1958 - 7:45 to 9 am (daily)
July 16, 1960 - 9 am to 10 am (Saturdays)
July 18 to August 5, 1960 - 7:45 to 9 am (Mondays & Tuesdays)
July 18 to August 5, 1960 - 7:45 am to 8:50 am (Wednesdays thru Fridays)
From the official archives of the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia
Photo originally donated by Broadcast Pioneers member Bill Webber
Researched and compiled by Broadcast Pioneers member Gerry Wilkinson
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