Glenn Ryle

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Glenn Ryle

Glenn Ryle in early 1980s promotional photo
BornJanuary 16, 1927
DiedSeptember 19, 1993(1993-09-19) (aged 66)
Cincinnati, Ohio
Occupation
  • Announcer
    *Children's show host (Skipper Ryle)
    *news/sports/weather reporter
    *game show emcee (Bowling For Dollars)
SpouseJacqueline
ChildrenSteve, Cheri
 
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Glenn Ryle

Glenn Ryle in early 1980s promotional photo
BornJanuary 16, 1927
DiedSeptember 19, 1993(1993-09-19) (aged 66)
Cincinnati, Ohio
Occupation
  • Announcer
    *Children's show host (Skipper Ryle)
    *news/sports/weather reporter
    *game show emcee (Bowling For Dollars)
SpouseJacqueline
ChildrenSteve, Cheri

Glenn Ryle Schnitker was a long-time television personality, announcer and children's show host in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Contents

Early life

Ryle attended Western Hills High School in Cincinnati during World War II. He left high school at age 17 to enter military service with the United States Marines. At one point in his service career he briefly participated in a War Bond drive with war hero Pappy Boyington [1].[1]

Following his discharge, Ryle was a civilian advisor for the Israeli military in the Middle East during the time when this territory was being created. On June 25, 1950 Ryle was recalled to active duty with the start of hostilities in the Korean War. He served in Korea slightly longer than a year.

Radio & Television Career

On advice from a friend in Huntington, WV, Ryle, against his own better judgment and with no prior experience or training, became involved in broadcasting and joined WMOH radio in Hamilton. His inexperience, and also his potential, caught the attention of Cecil Hale of the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, who took Ryle under his wing, improving his skills. Ryle was later hired briefly by WLWT; his first on-camera commercial was on Midwestern Hayride plugging B.C. Headache Powders. His stint at WLWT was very short-lived, and he continued at WMOH until he auditioned for and won a staff announcer position at WCPO-TV, where he performed additional duties including hosting a short-lived kids show (on this show he was a localized version of Captain Midnight); he also hosted a late night movie show, cleaned pianos, and even ran a boom microphone on Paul Dixon's pantomime show. Ryle was released from WCPO after a year and a half, and soon went to work as a writer/producer for the Ralph Jones Advertising Agency. In the fall of 1954 Ryle received a phone call from Paul Shoemaker at WKRC-TV offering Ryle another television job, which he immediately accepted.

At WKRC Ryle reprised most of the duties he had at WCPO—staff announcing and hosting a movie matinee show. A year after hiring on at WKRC he co-created and hosted The Skipper Ryle Show and in the 70s hosted the local weeknight version of Bowling for Dollars. Early in his career Ryle was one of six staff announcers at Channel 12, but ultimately it was Ryle's voice that became synonymous with WKRC, especially its Station IDs and promos; Ryle remained at WKRC for 35 years.

Skipper Ryle

In the late winter-early spring of 1956, Ryle was selected by WKRC executives Len Goorian and David Taft to host a children's show consisting mostly of cartoons. Ryle initially declined, but with Daylight Savings Time leaving an empty hour on the station's schedule, Ryle was given the option of either hosting the show or being released. Ryle changed his mind and agreed to host the show, which was initially going to be called Hi, Kids!, but when Ryle's military experience began kicking in, and when he started adding messages about river and boat safety, Ryle and others involved in production of the show decided to go with a riverboat setting for the show itself which, with Cincinnati being right on the Ohio River, turned out to be a perfect fit. Then someone suggested the nickname "Skipper", which Ryle liked, and thus the name of the show was changed.

The Skipper Ryle Show became an unexpected hit and ultimately enjoyed a seventeen-year run on WKRC. Initially an hour-long Saturday morning show, it later moved to Sundays for two hours, and later still became a weekday series. At its peak the show was second only to WCPO's Uncle Al Show in popularity among kids. Its immediate success came as a surprise to WKRC management and even Ryle himself. But like Uncle Al, Ryle never treated his success as accidental.

Part of the show's wider appeal was that Ryle never played to just the children. A major facet of the show's success was that Ryle was never condescending in his talks with the kids who appeared on the show. Despite the fact that his own personal primary demographic was kids who had felt they had outgrown Uncle Al, Ryle tried to, as he once put it, "open the whole thing up to everybody", young and old alike. Colleague Nick Clooney and other local critics once regarded Skipper Ryle as the most civilized children's show on television.

In the show's earlier years, Ryle donned a Naval peacoat and matching peaked cap with a gray wig and bushy mustache, adopting an "old man of the sea" motif, but the wig and mustache were soon abandoned; by 1960 Ryle had grown a real mustache of his own. Ryle later incorporated as the show's theme the rousing seafaring song "Blow High, Blow Low" from the Rodgers & Hammerstein musical Carousel.

Skipper Ryle became so popular that he made in-person appearances at local amusement parks like Coney Island, LeSourdsville Lake, and even at the Cincinnati Zoo; thousands of kids and their families would come to see Skipper Ryle in person. In a 1990 interview Ryle related that he was informed of an estimated 26,000 people who had shown up to see him perform a 1965 show at the Cincinnati Zoo. Concession stands were rapidly running out of food and traffic around the zoo was badly jammed with people still trying to get in; eventually radio stations went on the air asking people to avoid the area around the zoo.

In the early 70s, Ryle, in an attempt to compete with rival WXIX's Sunday morning powerhouse Wonderama, hosted a limited-run weekend series called the Skipper Ryle Special, featuring a live audience, games and guest stars; over the years Ryle gave away countless prizes from Cincinnati-based Kenner Toys.

By 1973, though the show was still very popular, WKRC executives, citing increasing expense, decided to cancel production of the show.

Personal life

Ryle's wife, Jacqueline, was a Cincinnati native; they had two children, Steve and Cheri. Ryle maintained a low profile after his retirement in the late 80s. His final public appearance was an interview by colleague and long-time friend Nick Clooney at WCET in the fall of 1990. He died in 1993.

References

  1. ^ Cincinnati Broadcast Pioneers

External links

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