Bob Caudle is retired and living in Raleigh.
We spoke with him by phone recently, and he reminisced about his TV career, which began in Wilmington in 1954.
“Bob and Hester” was a “minor take-off” on “Capt. Kangaroo,” Caudle said – a talk show with a dog puppet named Hester.
Hester “was a wisecracking foil to Bob’s smooth straight man. Hester was Charlie McCarthy to Bob’s Edgar Bergen,” Bob West wrote in “WMFD-TV WECT-TV The Evolution of Radio with Pictures.”
“He was a dog puppet,” Caudle said, “and we would play music and he would have other animals sing – a different puppet, depending on … what the song was.”
Stan Rehder operated Hester and was the puppet’s voice – from under the desk.
“I don’t know how (the show) came about, but … we tried it a couple of times on the air and we kept doing it,” Caudle said.
Caudle said he started at what was then WMFD TV – which would become WECT – the year the station signed on.
“I did ‘Bob and Hester’ and a little sports,” he recalled. “At the time we didn’t sign on until the evening” and the station broadcast for five or six hours a day.”
“The studio was upstairs on Princess Street above the radio station – radio on second floor and TV on third floor,” Caudle said. “It was a small one-camera operation. Everybody was new – didn’t have anybody that had experience in TV.”
After three years, Caudle moved to Savannah, where he worked in TV another three years. Then he headed to Raleigh, where he was a weatherman.
Caudle is perhaps best known to the wider TV audience, however, as a longtime announcer for Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling – beginning about 1961, he said, and much of it at WRAL.
Caudle said he had a lot of fun doing wrestling.
“For a while we taped at the Raleigh studio,” he said. “And then we taped with a mobile unit owned by Crockett Promitions out of Charlotte, taped all over Georgia, West Virginia, South Carolina, Cincinnati, Chicago, New York and Detroit.”
After Caudle left WRAL in 1980, he became a legislative assistant for then-Sen. Jesse Helms, R-N.C., and remained in that position until 1996, when Caudle retired.
“I’m doing as little as possible now,” Caudle said.
Date posted: June 29, 2012
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