WTOC’s 65th Anniversary: The ‘Southeast News Leader’

WTOC’s 65th Anniversary: The ‘Southeast News Leader’

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - Believe it or not, WTOC was in print before it was on TV.

A flyer helped announce the radio station’s upcoming jump to television. Fast forward to 1991, and the station launched its own free newspaper, “The Southeast News Leader.”

“I believe it was the brainchild of Randy Peltier, who was a brilliant mind in the television advertising business,” said Sally Silbermann, who was WTOC staff from 1995 to 2000. “His idea was to create a print publication that would be an added value to those advertising on TV.”

Before the takeoff of the internet, it was a medium for reporters to expand a story for readers, but it grew and became its own platform.

“I would go out and others would go out if we heard about something or got word on the street and do more features,” Silbermann said.

Soon, the “News Leader” team expanded to showcase high school football, Black History Month, whatever mattered to the community.

“We went from the four papers a year to, it was 12. Plus, it was probably averaging one a month,” Silbermann said.

The paper became the place to showcase the winner of the St. Patrick's Day coloring contest and helped launch Savannah's “Tree of Lights” each Christmas.

“As it grew and we became more and more involved in community events, the newspaper grew and people got excited about it,” Silbermann said.

It may have been a victim of its own success. The success of WTOC.com shifted the focus away from a publication that would be outdated as soon as it went to print. But Silbermann says the experience was worth it.

“It was a lot of fun. It was a lot of work, but everybody had a role and pitched in, so it was a true team effort...it really was,” Silbermann said.

It remains a piece of history that helped make WTOC what it is today.

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