I made a pilgrimage the other week.
While in Indianapolis with my family, we found ourselves on Bluff Road on the city’s south side.
Bluff Road didn’t mean anything to them, of course. My wife didn’t grow up in Indiana and my son is too young to remember the address.
For those of us who do remember, we know the address from our childhood: 3490 Bluff Road.
For a couple of generations of Central Indiana residents who paid attention to the “fine print” of television broadcasting, 3490 Bluff Road was, for decades, the Indianapolis home of WTTV Channel 4.
Nowadays, WTTV is CBS 4. For a year or so, it’s had a network affiliation and big-league status after decades as Indy’s premier independent station.
For decades beginning in 1957, WTTV broadcast from 3490 Bluff Road. The address was uttered on the air countless times and included in title cards that were broadcast.
Although I’ve been to a couple of Indy TV stations, I’d never been to the home of WTTV 4.
I thought about it a lot, though. During the station’s heyday, in the 1960s and 1970s and 1980s, it was easy for my imagination to populate the station with its biggest on-air personalities.
Kids show hosts Janie and Cowboy Bob. Sports broadcaster Chuck Marlowe. Station owner Sarkes Tarzian, whose name my young mind turned into Circus Tarzan.
And the dean of midwest TV horror hosts: Sammy Terry.
Sammy Terry – embodied by Bob Carter from around 1962 until his death in 2013, now played in personal appearances by his son, Mark – was perhaps the best known of WTTV’s on-air personalities.
But 3490 Bluff Road was an iconic address. So I had to seek it out.
It’s not easy to find, the little building that is the focus of so many memories. Sure, there’s still a TV tower, but no sign, no historical marker, to designate the station that WTTV used until the 2000s.
There are a few indicators, to be sure. I walked all around the building until I found this one.
And there’s this forlorn remembrance of the station’s years as a WB affiliate beginning in 1998.
Overall, there’s not much left there, not much to see considering all those years the station babysat, entertained and terrified us.
According to real estate websites, the main station building is only about 19,000 square feet and made of concrete block. One website lists the total value of the building and surrounding acres of land as $276,000.
We know that’s not the case, of course.
3490 Bluff Road is priceless.