Chicagoland Gems: Keyfax Nite-Owl Service

Chicagoland Gems: Keyfax Nite-Owl Service

Chicagoland television of the past, at any time of the day, tended to be a real treat. But for the night owls out there who liked their news with a side of good music, there was Keyfax’s Nite-Owl service!

Were You A Nite-Owl?

Keyfax-produced Nite-Owl served as a community bulletin board-type program, beginning at midnight each evening on WFLD 32.

News, sports, weather, kids’ jokes (The Bullseye Club), and fun graphics played over real music (none of that Muzak stuff).

The Chicago Sun-Times office sourced the information, with data sent via telephone line from an editorial office in Elk Grove Village, Illinois.

The service ran from 1981 until 1982, replaced by an hour-long simulcast of CNN Headline News. That, in turn, was cancelled once Metromedia finalized their acquisition of WFLD.

While written Information on Nite-Owl is hard to come by, visuals make up for it in a big way.

I think you know where I’m going with this, right?

Stay with me, we just need to take a slight detour!

No, not a commercial break.  Just a shoutout/channel plug.

Fuzzy Memories.TV

In light of this interesting find, the time has come for a mini-YouTube Chanel shout out!

The Museum of Classic Chicago Television (aka FuzzyMemories.TV) serves as an online museum dedicated to preserving Chicago-area television broadcasts. Their archives originate from airchecks recorded in the 1970s and 1980s.

Established in 2007, and registered as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, MCCTV hosts more than 4000 clips of commercials, news broadcasts, bumpers, station IDs, obscure specials, and various oddities. Once in a while, the occasional master tape turns up, the result of a donation by former television station employees.

As a matter of fact, thanks to MCCTV, some Keyfax Nite-Owl footage exists. Further, thanks to their YouTube channel, we can watch this footage.

So, how about it? Want to get sucked into the visual splendor of Atari-era graphics and good music?

Nite-Owl Blasts Off…

…every night at midnight on channel 32, WFLD Chicago!

All uploads via The Museum of Classic Chicago Television.

Nite-Owl (And Teletext) Ascends to Nostalgia Heaven

Unfortunately, Nite-Owl – and community bulletin boards in general – have moved on over the years, but preservation (and people with unusual video collections) make it possible to find tidbits and oddities we would otherwise not be aware of. In turn, it reminds us of days gone by, keeps online preservation by the likes of the Museum of Classic Chicago Television going, and keeps people like me writing.

The internet: It’s not just a tool of evil!

Finally,  I’ll leave with this parting wonder: Did anyone ever watch the full block of Nite-Owl? Do you think someone stayed awake just to hear the music?

Allison Venezio-Preston

Allison is a Secretary by day, a writer/blogger by night (and during lunch breaks and in the mornings before work), a nostalgia geek (and a geek in general), worshipper of Thor (and Chris Hemsworth), and honorary Avenger (she has a pin, so it is official). She collects Funko Pops, loves anything that takes her back to childhood, and has confessed her love for Kenny Loggins. Oh, and she listens to Chicago...alot. If any of this piques your interest, she'd love for you to visit her personal blog, Allison's Written Words, where she talks about alot of the same stuff she talks about here, and more! She can be found at You can follow her blog on Facebook (, Instagram @allisonswrittenwords, and on Twitter @AllisonGeeksOut. (Her husband is supportive of the whole Chris Hemsworth and Kenny Loggins love thing.)

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. I’ve never seen this before. I played with the teletext service on the TV in my hotel room in Germany back in the early 2000s, but didn’t realize it was broadcast without remote control in the US.

  2. Oh, Max Power, it existed, no remote needed!

    Only in Chicagoland! :-)

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