There was a celebration at Tavern on the Green yesterday to celebrate the beginning of WABC-TV's Eyewitness News format. The NY Times described how Al Primo, the man (and news director) behind Eyewitness News, changed local newscasts forever in 1968: "He put reporters on the air, including women and members of minorities. He gave them beats, had them chat with one another in what became known as 'happy talk.' Each broadcast began with reporters hurrying onto the set, the very epitome of live-action newscasters, and Mr. Primo used music from the movie 'Cool Hand Luke' during the introductions."

Above is a video montage of some Eyewitness News opening--it really revs up around 1:00. And earlier this year, Primo told Forbes' James Brady about his work:

"Eyewitness News was the first newscast to put reporters on the set, it was a melting pot which reflected the image of the community by hiring minorities, the first newscast that presented women as more than 'weather bunnies,' also the first that incorporated the use of graphics, music and 'teases' about stories that were 'coming up.'

We broadcast from the old St. Nicholas Arena. You could still smell the horses. It was the most ragtag group," he said. "Roger Grimsby was the anchor, Rona Barrett did gossip, Howard Cosell sports, Jimmy Breslin dropped by from time to time. I kept Roger (later teaming him with Bill Beutel) and got rid of everyone else except Howard. I gave the first big breaks to Tom Snyder, Geraldo Rivera, Jim Bouton, Rose Ann Scamardella--the Saturday Night Live character Roseanne Roseannadanna."

Scamardella told the Times yesterday, "God bless Gilda Radner. She was very good for my contract negotiations."