Nite-Owl from WFLD Channel 32 Chicago, 1981

Viewers of Chicago TV in the 1980s will remember Nite-Owl which aired on WFLD-TV Channel 32. Nite-Owl was a service by KeyFax which provided rotating text of news, sports, and weather that ran all night long.

This was before the independent Field Communications station was sold to Medtromedia, and then to News Corp as part of the core of the Fox Network.

The truly independent WFLD in 1981 and 1982 had an innovative, informative, and unique programming approach for overnight viewing. 

To experience what Nite-Owl was like, check out these videos from the always-reliable Fuzzy TV Memories channel on YouTube and has several hours of Nite-Owl available for viewing.



By today’s standards of computer-generated text – or even by 1990s standards! – it looks pretty lame. But remember, this was 1981! 

There’s something very relaxing about these videos. Maybe it’s the comforting familiarity.  Maybe it’s the fact that you know nothing too exciting is going to pop up.  Or maybe it’s the memory of falling asleep to Nite-Owl many times as a kid. I dare you to pull one of these videos, leave it running late in the evening and NOT feel a little sleepy!

And maybe that was the real charm of Nite-Owl; it was as much a companion as it was a news source. Today, this is also the true value of the Internet and late-night cable TV for many.

One thing that was better about Nite-Owl over today’s CNN and the rest of the 24 Hour cable news channels: no talking heads shouting biased political opinions over each other! Nite-Owl was simple, yet had basic journalism down perfectly: just the facts. And a few fun facts…

The 3 Stooges and Little Rascals on WFLD Chicago, circa 1977

A fun resource for finding old media clips is The Museum of Classic Chicago Television. They recently found and uploaded this awesome clip from WFLD-TV Channel. It’s the station-created opening to The Stooges Rascals Hour which ran on the station of many years starting in 1977.  


Old images + the perfect music = a nice piece of art that you just would not see on a local broadcast anymore.