The Texas Museum of Broadcasting and Communications in Kilgore, Texas, has been on my bucket list since it was highlighted by a Sept, 1, 2016, article in Radio World, titled “The Birthing of a Broadcast Museum.” It became a destination for my wife Paula and me on a recent driving trip from Minnesota to Texas.
We were greeted by Chuck Conrad, creator and curator of this testament to AM, FM and TV broadcasting equipment that made it possible to reach our entire nation via the airwaves. He is seen in one of the three radio studios in the photo below.
A second studio has a 1936 RCA console that came from WOAI in San Antonio.
The third studio was recently assembled using 1980s gear. The console is a PR&E that came from KLBJ Radio in Austin, Texas.
Chuck is a fount of knowledge about historic equipment and events. One of the museum’s TV cameras was present when Lee Harvey Oswald was shot in 1963.
A star attraction as mentioned in the 2016 article is a beautifully restored Dumont Telecruiser TV remote truck from 1949. It was used to cover President Kennedy’s assassination in 1963 and provided the network pool feed at that time for the J. D. Tippit funeral. Tippit was the Dallas police officer shot and killed by Oswald as he was trying to escape. Talk about the golden days of news reporting!
Chuck said people keep donating items. There are hundreds of antique radios, microphones, audio consoles, tape recorders, audio processors and transmitters, along with television cameras and video switchers. There is still space for more, at least for now. The back rooms look like they are filling up fast.
One of the latest acquisitions is a television news set where visitors can sit and have their photos taken while appearing as news anchors on camera. Paula and I bit on that one.
Kilgore, a town of about 15,000 people, is in northeast Texas. It is 120 miles east of Dallas and 72 miles west of Shreveport, La. If you are traveling on Interstate 20 between Dallas and Shreveport, it is just a few minutes’ detour into town. It’s worth taking the time for an adventure, a step back into broadcasting’s history.
Mark Persons, WØMH, is an SBE Certified Professional Broadcast Engineer and SBE Engineer of the Year in 2018. Mark is now retired after more than 40 years in business. His website is www.mwpersons.com.