Reminiscing with Five Country Traveler Tony Charles

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Green Bay, WI (WFRV) — Tony Charles is such a film buff that he built a movie theater in his basement.  Back in the seventies, he used that love of film to tell stories for Channel 5 News – as the 5 Country Traveler.

Charles says, “Five Country Traveler, I always told people, was like a local Charles Kuralt “On the Road.” We really took our time, we were shooting film so we pre-interviewed people, since we didn’t want to waste film, and we tried to do really nice lighting. It was a four hour shoot to do a two minute story back then.”

As Five Country Traveler, Tony Charles shared stories throughout Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, showcasing everyone with a story to tell, from yodelers in New Glarus, to lighthouse enthusiasts in Cana Island.  Recalls Charles, “One of my most entertaining stories was a woman who made little bird puppets that walked. She had a whole factory in her living room …it was very entertaining.

Along the way, Charles met a few celebrities too. From Mel Blanc, the so-called “Man of a 1000 Voices”, who brought Bugs Bunny and Porky Pig to life, to Elvis Presley. But the story on Elvis, Charles recalls, was one that he had to convince his boss to do.

Says Charles, “Elvis came (to Green Bay) in 1977 and I went to my news director and said we have to do a story on this. He didn’t believe me until they lined up overnight in March to buy tickets for an April show.” Elvis died just a few months later.

Charles looks back at his four years as Five Country Traveler with some fondness. “It certainly has great memories for me”, says Charles, “I had the opportunity to see some of my old stories last weekend, and I hadn’t seen some of them for almost 40 years, and it was really fun. I wish there were more stories like the Five Country Traveler.”

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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