DesMoinesBroadcasting.com

Captain Jack
by Ray Dennis

 


Captain Jack in Uniform

24 year veteran traffic reporter Captain Jack retired from WHO in January 2001. He was born William "Bill" Dennis on January 4, 1942 (Bill and this writer are first cousins and grew up together). Like many born at that time, his father was away for several of his early years while serving in WW-II. Bill grew up in the Highland Park area of Des Moines attended All Saints Catholic School and graduated from Dowling High School in 1960. Bill was an Eagle Scout. He went on to Creighton University in Omaha to study radio and television production. His first taste of commercial broadcasting was working on the floor of WOW-TV in Omaha operating a camera while in school.

After graduating, he worked briefly for the NBC TV affiliate in Omaha, then returned to Des Moines to work at KDPS-TV, which was then operated on channel 11 by the Des Moines Independent School District. He later became a teacher at Des Moines Technical High School. A co-worker talked him into buying a Cessna 150 and taking flying lessons. This led to an instrument rating, commercial rating and an instructor's license. He gave flying lessons and started taking aerial photographs for supplemental income.


One of the Captain's planes
Note the high wing for better visibility below

Bill joined WHO in 1977, replacing another "Captain Jack" as WHO's eye in the sky. KRNT had recently trumped WHO with their "Sky Spy" helicopter traffic coverage and WHO was ready to move ahead and become more aggressive with aerial traffic reports. Bill did both morning and afternoon traffic reports in addition to his other jobs in the air.

Bill purchased 40 acres of land near Ankeny and started Captain Jack's Christmas Tree Farm. A visit to his farm has become a Central Iowa tradition. The Captain and his farm were featured in Life Magazine in December 1998.


See more pictures

The personal computer came along and Bill started early with an Apple II Plus. He learned basic programming language and began writing programs for himself and others. In the mid 90's, when the Internet really began to bloom, the Captain stayed up most of the night trying to figure out a way to make money with this exciting new medium. He figured it out and started building web pages and hosting sites for other people.

 

This grew into what became Captain Jack Communications." His business distinguished itself from other web providers by having the ability to make his customer's pages more visible on the search engines.

 

 

Captain Jack no longer does the traffic reports on WHO, but his legend lives on. A number of years ago, Van Harden had a series of past WHO personalities as guests on his show. Captain Jack was one of the featured guests. We have a number of stories recounted by the Captain in these audio cuts from that show.

 

Captain Jack's plane accident

Captain Jack's lost boot

The parade that wasn't

Covering the Pope's visit in 1979

Captain Jack arial report of Pope's arrival - 1979

Bonus Cut
From Captain Jack's Retirement Show
January 15, 2001

 

Cousins Bill (Capt. Jack) and Ray Dennis discuss their childhood

 

 

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