For over six decades, Toledo audiences have known the name and the voice of Gordon Ward. Since 1958, he has been an icon and pioneer of Toledo television, with a history on Channel 13 ABC (formerly WSPD-TV, an NBC affiliate) making him a Glass City TV fixture. But before his television career, he was a kid, growing up during the Depression, with neighbors who had a basketball hoop.
“I would climb up in a cherry tree and pretend I was broadcasting the game. And it went from there,” Ward said. “I’d be doing the PA work at school, I think in junior high, and when I began in television in 1948 in Cleveland, we were on the air for such a short time— on at 5, signed off at 11— so all of us did both radio and TV.”
It was during his time in Cleveland that Ward began developing the distinctive baritone voice that became his on air calling card. “There were a group of us who studied with a German opera singer. None of us were there to learn how to sing, but rather how to manage our voices. He taught us proper breathing, and exercises to open our throats. And so, in my case, it was just a matter of expanding on what was a good base.”
Ten years later, Ward moved to Toledo and began a news career on Channel 13 that would last until his retirement in the 1980s— though he hasn’t been far from the airwaves since.
“It seems unbelievable, and it’s a credit to the industry,” Ward said of his longevity in the area. “That is not going to happen very often, because people change in our business, frequently they move around. I doubt, very much, that today’s ( on air personalities) will have that kind of longevity.”
Ward still lives in Toledo with his wife, Connie, former host of local children’s TV staple “Romper Room.” Ward still does freelance work in commercials and other projects, with an eye on the ever-changing nature of broadcasting. “The biggest change, by far, is in the technical aspects. In the beginning, all of the equipment was extremely heavy. Now it’s totally changed— the equipment in the field and in the studio. Today they are doing more stories, and keeping them much shorter, and writing them much tighter than we had to back then.”
I have always wanted to…
Learn to fly an airplane.
What do you admire in people?
What is your pet peeve?
Moral decay in our society.
What is something that most people don’t know about you?
That I’m an introvert.
What are words you live by?
Be a good representative of God.
What advice would you give to the younger you?
Follow your dream.
Who is someone you’d like to meet?
What inspires you now?
Our family. We have four children and six grandchildren, and they’re the ones who inspire me.
What is your favorite food?
It’s a very old one, goes back years—called The Red Shoes.
Who do you most admire?
One who is no longer with us — William H. Danforth, founder of the Ralston-Purina company. He was one of the founders of a Christian leadership training camp where I was on the faculty for over 25 years. An amazing man.