John Schermerhorn

schermerhornJohn Schermerhorn (1928-1974) was a broadcasting pioneer beloved by audiences and clients as an on-air sports director, producer, host of a popular polka show, salesman and general manager. During his 25-year career he created television programming and promotions that rank among the highlights of Wisconsin broadcasting history.

Schermerhorn’s on-air career began in 1948 at WKOW Radio in Madison. He served in the U.S. Army in Korea and, in 1953, returned to Madison to help sign WKOW-TV onto the air as its first sports director. His talent, drive and charisma were a perfect fit for the new medium. Schermerhorn’s sports coverage included the Badgers, Braves and Packers until 1967. He produced and emceed the annual March of Dimes telethon for 13 years and hosted more than 600 episodes of Dairyland Jubilee, which also aired on WXOW-TV in La Crosse and WAOW-TV in Wausau. As an executive for the Wisconsin Television Network, he served as sales promotions and public relations director and was general manager of WXOW-TV from 1970 until his death in 1974.


  1. Carole & Art Collier

    We are friends from Canada of John’s wife, Lou Ann, his son Mark and daughter, Jill – we never knew Big John but are thrilled that he has been so honoured by the Wisconsin Broadcasting Association – the video gave us much insight into the life and illustrious career of this wonderful, talented and amazing man – The Schermerhorn Family must all be so very proud.

  2. Bob Wombacher

    I just met Jill Schermerhorn tonight, 9/29/2016 but when she said her name I immediately asked if she was related to John Schermerhorn. When we were kids here in Madison my parents and us watched his music show, Dairyland Jubilee every Saturday night. What a great memory.

  3. Ann McCarthy

    Wow, I really enjoyed seeing this tribute. I met Big John when I was 10 years old and a contestant in the Gold Shovel contest. My family all learned to polka to Dairyland Jubilee, and were very sad when he passed away.

  4. Doug Strand

    When I was a little boy my mother would drive me to WKOW to put money in the can and show off my many plastic Rin Tin Tin rings to Big John!

  5. Doug Strand

    He was the BEST! Wisconsin TV was never as good after “Big John”

  6. Memories…..😏😕

  7. When I was a little girl about 5 yrs. old I auditioned for John Schermerhorn for the March of Dimes and sang on the show for the next 3 or 4 years. I remember he was the nicest man. I will never forget him. I only wish I could find the tapes of those shows if they recorded them back in those days. As I recall it was up at the Lorraine Hotel. Great memories!!

  8. LInda Jo Lampman Bostwick

    Oh yes! I think he was some how related to my Cousin Larry Lampman.

  9. Kathy Madison

    I worked at WKOW in the 70’s and remember Big John well. This brought back great memories!

  10. barbara Miller

    Our family is trying to locate film from one of the Dairyland Jubilee shows that was filmed in Wausau and aired probably in 1962. If there an archive of all the shows that one could access? We are hoping to find it to surprise our mother (93 years young). Any help you might be able to offer would be GREATLY appreciated!

  11. Terry Schar

    One of the few people I ever knew who was sure what he wanted to do for a living when he was still in high school, and he did it!

  12. John Trosper

    Growing up on the west side of madison near odana hills mr schermerhorn was someone wholived in the neighborhood and we saw and knew him quite well. I didn’t realize that he had passed away at such a young age. Many endearing memories of this upstanding madison citizen

  13. Having been born in 1960, Big John was a perpetual part of my early life. He was one of the most prominent television personalities in Madison who subconsciously influenced me and God knows how many others to enter the field of broadcasting.

  14. Gordon Malick

    Big John had a late afternoon cartoon show on the Wausau TV station, and he aired his affection for pizza. Boys in our home ec class at the Campus Laboratory School at WSU-SP threw together a giant pizza and mailed it to him. He was off the air for several days (food poisoning due to lack of refrigeration), no doubt. But he had the good grace to thanks us all the same.

  15. Dennis Weiss

    Me and my brother used to sneak downstairs late at night after we were supposed to be in bed as young kids to watch All Star Wrestling with Big John Schermerhorn with wrestlers The Sheik and Flying Fred Curry

  16. Linda Michiels

    Our combo was on his tv show a few times, just wondered if there were any recordings of the shows and if it would be possible to look them up?

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