- Associated Press - Sunday, August 24, 2014

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) - WTTV’s television legacy started with a converted drugstore, Herman B Wells and a puppet show.

And now, after nearly 65 years on the air, Bloomington’s former homegrown station will be the host of some marquee TV moments, including David Letterman’s final “Late Show,” with its new network affiliation.

Tribune Broadcasting Indianapolis LLC announced Aug. 11 that its formerly Bloomington-based station - and Indiana’s second-ever TV station - will replace WISH-TV as the CBS affiliate in Indianapolis as of Jan. 1, 2015. It will show longtime favorites such as “60 Minutes” and “The Price is Right” on a daily basis, as well as CBS’ presentation of Super Bowl 50.

The programming move for the current CW affiliate, however, is just the latest in WTTV’s curvy, yet wholesome, history.

It all started in the careful hands of engineer Sarkes Tarzian, an immigrant from Turkish Armenia, and his wife, Mary, in the late 1940s, The Herald-Times reported (http://bit.ly/YRxDI7 ).

As electronics began to capture the attention of postwar America, Sarkes Tarzian, the chief engineer of Bloomington’s RCA plant, manufactured table-model and car radios.

Together, the ambitious couple had saved $50,000 at a time when many Americans were seeking normalcy and long-term direction. Mary was pushing Sarkes to start his own business.

By the end of the decade, the young couple would own a TV station, an AM radio station and businesses manufacturing semiconductors, TV tuners and broadcast equipment.

“It’s amazing that two people who weren’t so well-off were able to save that much money,” said son Tom Tarzian, current president and CEO of Sarkes Tarzian Inc.

Tom, born in 1946, essentially grew up alongside WTTV. He and sister Patricia were raised by parents who also were attempting to curate an entire TV station. They saw the struggle firsthand.

“They had to be thrifty with money they didn’t really have,” Tom said.

The decision was sudden, but decisive: Sarkes came home one day and told Mary it was time for their mutual dream to become a reality.

“Let’s talk about it,” Mary said - but Sarkes had already quit his position at RCA.

They would set up base camp in an empty storefront with Sarkes as a special consulting engineer. He manufactured switch-type tuners to keep up with video’s broadcast boom, and became responsible for an estimated 35 percent of output of electrical equipment, such as selenium rectifiers, in the U.S.

His ingenuity kept overhead low en route to building the family TV station. Vintage television blog “Faded Signals” estimates that Sarkes Tarzian was able to re-create a $300 microphone boom for a tenth of the price.

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