Remembering WTTV’s founder Sarkes Tarzian as the station celebrates its 70th anniversary

70 years of WTTV

Sarkes Tarzian, the founder of WTTV, was born in 1900 in what is now the country of Turkey. His family immigrated to the United States and settled.

In Philadelphia.  After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania, Tarzian went to work for RCA and moved to Bloomington, Indiana. That’s where his professional life really got its start.

“He was the nicest persons you’d ever want to know, and he was one of the smartest persons you’d ever want to know,” says his son, Tom.  “He’s also one of the most creative people you’d ever want to know.”

Tom Tarzian now runs the family business, which consists of radios stations and two television stations.

The Tarzian name runs deep in Indiana’s broadcast community. In fact, WTTV’s current vice president of broadcast technology, Steve Zanolini, popped in to say hi to his old friend while we were taping the interview. 

 In 1946, Sarkes Tarzian started operating a 200-watt experimental AM station in Bloomington. He made TV tuners, semiconductors and broadcast equipment with little or no money.

“They built a lot of the broadcast equipment for WTTV. The story I remember hearing-the first transmitting antenna, which was down here in Bloomington on College Avenue just south of the square. It was made from residential guttering!” Said Tom Tarzian.

WTTV has had several network affiliations over the years. The station made its mark when it started broadcasting basketball.

“So, one of the things they did early on, was sports. And they did Indiana University basketball,” says Tarzian. 

WTTV was also known for carrying high school basketball, too.  It featured well-known personalities including Sammy Terry, Cowboy Bob, Janie and Commander KC. 

Sarkes Tarzian was an engineer and an inventor. He left running the TV station to others.

“He was an engineer and an inventor,” says Tom Tarzian, “Also a super salesman.”

 WTTV celebrates its 70th anniversary in 2020.

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