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Digging Through Broadcast History

You can learn a lot from history

Back as a freshman at Ohio University in 1980, I was an RTV major working on my BS in Communications. One of the required courses no matter which sequence of RTV (TCom) you were studying included “The History of Broadcasting” … and it was an interesting course that I loved. Broadcast history sometimes plays out like a soap opera. Format changes, station purchases, invention of technology … so much comes into play! This Off The Beaten Path talks a look at some links related to broadcasting’s history.

NBC Radio
Here’s an awesome video on YouTube all about the NBC radio network. This 24-minute promotional video is the story of NBC as filmed in 1948. It’s an excellent look at the network and their facilities at Rockefeller Center in New York!

CBS Radio
From Chevrolet comes “On The Air” … which is a look at the technology behind radio, in 1937. Like me, you’ll probably love looking at the equipment (including some cool old ribbon mics) from the early days of radio.

ABC Radio
Here’s a much newer video which talks about how ABC split from NBC to become its own radio network. Another awesome video!

And a sad tour of the ABC Radio Network 2nd floor (24-hour format) studios just prior to their complete demolition. It’s just amazing seeing the remaining equipment (some great boards!), cabinets and studios.

And a look at the ABC Radio Network 1st floor studios … (with a thanks to Jeff Tyler who had the foresight and compassion to save this part of radio history for all of us!)

Museum of Classic Chicago TV
From one of our “top three broadcast markets” comes the Museum of Classic Chicago TV. This website is loaded with great videos and local spots all related to Chicago television.

Leave It to Beaver
Both radio and TV have produced hundreds of great programs that we grew up with. This also includes recycled “shorts” from the film industry (like the “Our Gang”/“Little Rascals” comedies) which also found their way to TV. One show that most people over 50 years old grew up with was “Leave It To Beaver” (for those under about 70 years old — we watched those as reruns). Here’s a look at what went on behind the scenes of that show.

The Today Show
A part of television’s history includes The Today Show, which debuted Jan 14, 1952 with Dave Garroway. This incredible video shows the first 13 minutes of that very first broadcast. Certainly an important piece of broadcast history! By the way … gotta love Dave’s “lavalier microphone” (actually a worn “hands-free” handheld ribbon mic hanging around his neck!).

Cleveland TV Station Long Gone …
And I’m posting this particular link because there may be a lot more videos like this in the future as TV spectrum is sold off and stations “regroup” within existing frequencies. For instance, WUAB Channel 43 and WJW TV Channel 19 in Cleveland are two highly watched stations, though as I recall the frequency for WUAB has been “sold back” to the government for that spectrum’s reuse. I’m assuming 43’s programming will be ported over to one of 19’s HD subchannels and become 19.2, but that’s just a guess. In any case, it’s likely we’ll see some stations completely disappear and become just a memory. WKFB Channel 61 was a station in Cleveland in the late 1960s and early 1970s. It was owned by Kaiser Broadcasting (as in Kaiser-Permanente). But at some point, Kaiser determined that they couldn’t keep this station operating within a profit margin they wanted so the station actually went dark (though years later the frequency was acquired by another company). Thanks to my friend, Tim Lones, for sharing this video for all to enjoy.

And finally …
Another wonderful piece of TV history is PBS’ “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.” My former professor, John Butler, at Ohio U. (in their School of Film Masters program) was Mr. R’s first sound man in the early (black & white) days of the show. John always spoke so highly of Mister. Rogers and what a genuinely sweet and caring person he was. Here’s a look at information concerning Mister Rogers that you probably didn’t know. This can be said for certain. Who you saw on TV was the REAL person!

If you stumble across a good or unusual web site that might be of interest, please don’t hesitate to send me the link and any info you might have about it. My email address is [email protected].