Posts in Category: Broadcast History

Remembering Noel Neill…Superman’s Lois Lane Is Gone

Remembering Noel Neill…Superman’s Lois Lane Is Gone

Actress Noel Neill, the First Lois Lane of the Screen, Dies at 95

She starred as the intrepid Daily Planet newspaper reporter in 1948 and ’50 movie serials and in TV’s ‘Adventures of Superman.’

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ULTRA RARE HOWDY DOODY IMAGES! The Original Howdy…

ULTRA RARE HOWDY DOODY IMAGES! The Original Howdy…

Be sure to click through these historic images, as I have made extensive comments on each of them, and each image holds a secret of its own.

Tomorrow, Cozi TV will air a six hour marathon of “The Howdy Doody Show”, starting at 9 AM Eastern. With the exception of a few anniversary shows, this will be the first time Howdy episodes have been seen in full, since the show signed off September 24, 1960. That final episode will be included, and is in color. I remember watching it and crying when Clarabell said “Goodby kids”.

Cozi’s effort, nor my report last year on the early Doody years would not have been possible without the help of our friend Burt Dubrow, who now produces “Dr. Drew On Call” at HLN. These screenshots are also thanks to Bert, who was Buffalo Bob Smith’s road manager, and friend for many years. He is the ultimate expert on Howdy, and has helped all of us Doodyville fans by sharing his knowledge, and tomorrow, his footage and stories. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee







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“Legend Has It”…The Fence Between Networks At Super Bowl 1

“Legend Has It”…The Fence Between Networks At Super Bowl 1

Many of us have heard about the fence that had to be built between the CBS and NBC crews covering this event, but finally, here is the only photo proof that it happened.

http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1986-01-26/sports/8601070170_1_nbc-sports-pat-summerall-super-bowl
From the Chicago Tribune, here is the story as it was reported back in the day. FYI, CBS crews covered the game action, and used Norelco PC70s, which NBC carried, in the first and last simulcast of a Super Bowl. At the time NBC was near the start of their use of PC70s on their sports trucks too. Enjoy! -Bobby Ellerbee

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July 1, 1941…Commercial Television Begins In America

July 1, 1941…Commercial Television Begins In America

http://www.americanradiohistory.com/Archive-BC/BC-1941/1941-07-07-BC.pdf
At this link, on page 10, is as good a description of what happened on this day 75 years ago as you will find.

As told in “Broadcasting” magazine’s July 7th issue, NBC’s W2XBS became WNBT at 1:30 PM, and by chance, became the nation’s first commercial TV station.

To keep either from being “the first”, the FCC had authorized CBS’s W2XAB to sign on at 1:30 too, to become WCBW, but due to a camera fail and a light problem (which you’ll read about), CBS did not come to air until 2:30, which was just about the time WNBT aired the first ever paid spot. It was for Bulova Watches.

Below is the only photographic record of television’s first paid spot. From inside Studio 3H, an NBC Iconoscope camera shoots the clever Bulova test pattern clock (with Bulova logo in the right bottom corner), for :60 seconds…just before going live to a Dodgers-Phillies game. The Bulova time spot ran again at 11 that night, but as you’ll see, there were several spots from other sponsors in between, but only on WNBT.

Although Dumont had opted out of going commercial (till 4 years later), their experimental station was also granted permission to sign on at 1:30, and managed to, but just barely. Neither Dumont or CBS carried any commercial messages on debut day…only NBC, because they had the most experience in television and had a rate card ready on Day 1.

There were other commercial licenses granted, but only the New York stations were permitted conversion on July 1, 1941. As you’ll see in the article, Chicago, Philadelphia and Los Angeles stations would come along later.

By the way, congratulations to “Truth Or Consequences”, which also made it’s television debut on this day 75 years ago in a one time simulcast. That’s in the article too. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee

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Commercial TV’s 75th Anniverary…Setting The Stage For July 1, 1941

Commercial TV’s 75th Anniverary…Setting The Stage For July 1, 1941

Tomorrow, television marks the 75th anniversary of its move from the “experimental” phase to the”commercial” phase. Today, we’ll look at the creation of a new piece of production equipment that was necessary to make it all flow on screen…the Shadow Box.

Pictured below is the CBS shadow box prototype being tested in one of the backrooms at their Grand Central studios. This basic design would later become the Gray Telop machine, which CBS allowed Gray to manufacture. NBC had a version too, which I will include in the Comments section.

This three function machine allowed a live camera to shoot into the box and see, with the aid of moving mirrors, photo images, title cards and “rolling credits” on a drum. With no fader controls on the switching console in the control room, live dissolves could be done here manually with mirror movements, and fading light sources in each of the three sections.

With commercials now in the program mix, the shadow box was a great way to add elements to spots, but was also used at the opens and closes, and transitions. There is more detail in the text description on this page from Richard Hubbell’s classic book. “Television Programing And Production” from 1945. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee

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Why TV Shows Are (Literally) Darker Than They’ve Ever Been

Television Noir? Why All The Dark, Washed Out Screen Scenes?

I thought it was just me, but obviously, it’s not. Here’s look at what started at HBO and is working it’s way around the dial. Frankly, I’m not a fan…I like the look of “Law And Order”. -Bobby Ellerbee

Why TV Shows Are (Literally) Darker Than They’ve Ever Been

Inside the world of television criticism, there’s been a roiling debate since at least The Sopranos: Has TV gotten too dark? Is it too violent? Too int …

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A Rare Two Headed Monster…MGM’s Over/Under Studio Crane

A Rare Two Headed Monster…MGM’s Over/Under Studio Crane

With motion picture studios all cranking at full tilt in the late 1930s, innovation at every level was part of the game. With so many Berkley and Ziegfeld type production numbers in vogue, this is actually a pretty clever approach to getting twin perspectives on a single tracking shot. Thought you may enjoy seeing this curiosity. -Bobby Ellerbee

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The First Robotic Overhead Camera…NBC’s “Home” Show

The First Robotic Overhead Camera…NBC’s “Home” Show

Now, this is BIG! So, big you can hardly see the RCA TK11 mounted in this massive contraption. By comparison, this dwarfs a studio crane boom arm, that may have served the same purpose.

At about :40 seconds in, you can see a shot from this camera, that was used daily in the show’s intro and at bumper points.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y3npQWvmMZg

“Home” (1954-1957) was broadcast from NBC’s 67th Street Studios at 101 W. 67th, which was being leased from WOR. This facility was built in 1949 as WOR’s 9 Television Square building, but mergers called for their studios to move to the Empire State Bldg in early ’54.

NBC was looking for a home for “Home” and this place had the space for an innovative state in the round, with the kind of informal staging that “Today” enjoyed. -Bobby Ellerbee

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RCA Camera Mystery Finally Solved!!! You Won’t Believe This…

RCA Camera Mystery Finally Solved!!! You Won’t Believe This…

Just what is that gear/wheel mechanism on the side of these first generation RCA Iconoscope remote cameras? I’ve wondered this for years, but till today…I never knew for sure.

This morning, I was reading a page from Richard Hubbell’s 1945 book “Television Programming And Production”, and low and behold, there were these two lines that surprised me to no end.

“On the side of the camera are two wheels connected by a small chain. This connects the lens system with small electric motors for the remote-control focusing handled by a technician in the mobile unit”.

I had always suspected it had some function in the focus department, but who would have thought it was a remote focus command operated by the video man in the mobile unit?

Given that the placement of the cameraman’s right hand is always at the lower rear, where the manual focus command would eventually appear, I had never noticed in dozens of photos that show this, that he was actually holding a D handle, and not a focus knob.

I think the cameras with this outside remote-focus mechanism were the first two remote style cameras RCA built, and may be the only two to have this remote-focus ability before a manual focus on the camera was added. Even with the manual focus though, the operator would have to be “talked” into focus, but they were mostly shooting wide shots and not close ups.

Notice in the photo of Dorothy Lamour behind the camera, there is not a viewfinder, but there is a small peep hole in which the operator is looking into a small hollow tube that runs through the camera from the front to back, to help frame shots.

I also think that after the manual focus was added to the camera (where the D handle was), the internal hollow tube peephole went away, and was replaced by the side mounted wire “gunsight” framing tool.

The two photos of the camera at the 30 Rock ice skating rink are dated 1938, but the RCA and Lamour shots are from 1939.

The remote-focus ability is really a surprise to me, but so was the fact that the first studio camera pedestals were raised and lowered with small electric motors. Thanks to Tom Buckley for guiding me to Richard Hubbell…a name we will hear more often this week. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee




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Commercial Television’s 75th Anniversary…Friday, July 1, 2016

Commercial Television’s 75th Anniversary…Friday, July 1, 2016

To set the stage for this week’s anniversary, I’ll lay out some pictures and share some little known stories about how broadcasters got ready for the move from experimental to commercial television. At the time, it was a big commitment to the new media, and involved a lot more than just changing call letters.

Two of the major obligations were in the money and staff area, as the legal commitment to the FCC required a promise to carry at least 15 hours of programing each week, and a fully tweaked upgrade to the 525 line resolution format, and many more newly adopted NTSC transmission guidelines, including audio via FM.

Although 10 new licenses were granted, the first two were for New York City stations operated by NBC and CBS.

New York actually had three stations, but Dumont’s experimental station W2XYV (that in 1944 became WABD), opted out on the first round siting technical and programing challenges. Money was probably also an issue for them then.

On June 24, 1941, NBC’s W2XBS and CBS’s W2XAB were granted permission to change to WNBT and WCBW, to become effective on July 1. Both were granted simultaneous sign on permission too, so that neither could lay claim to being the nation’s first commercial television station, but you know what they say about the best laid plans of mice and men.

1:30 was the stipulated sign on time that day, but CBS was an hour late coming to air and I’ve heard that it was the film camera chain that was the problem. With that in mind, today, we’ll take a look into the early days of CBS Studios 41 & 42 at Grand Central Terminal.

The photo below shows what I think is Studio 41 control room around 1942. Notice the two black square holes in the wall at the top of the photo. Those are the film port windows and hanging from the ceiling to their right is a track mounted RCA Iconoscope camera that slides into place over the ports to capture the film projected from the other side of the wall. I think that was the chain with the problem.

The man in the center is CBS legend Worthington Minor who was “Mr. Drama”, creator and director of “Studio 1” and an overseer of most CBS anthology shows. To his left is the assistant director and the audio man. To his right is what we now call at technical director and on this end, the video man. Thanks to Tom Buckley for his help. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee

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“Today”…60 Years Ago Martin & Lewis, With Jerry Running Camera


“Today”…60 Years Ago Martin & Lewis, With Jerry Running Camera

https://youtu.be/x-2BHMfa5do?t=43m36s
The video at the link above is cued to start just before Dean and Jerry Come out to close the live “Today” show from Atlantic City, July 26, 1956. Soon after, Jerry takes over the RCA TK30 equipped with a new RCA Electrazoom lens.

Garroway is on vacation, with Faye Emerson, Jack Lescoulie and Frank Blair holding the fort in a version that is more like a radio broadcast, and from a nightclub, which gives this a very different feel than the usual “in studio” versions of the daily morning romps. It’s in interesting time capsule, to be sure to take a look at some of the early parts, and hear the news of the day too. Enjoy! -Bobby EllerbeeToday Show from the 500 Club in Atlantic City

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June 25, 1951…America’s First Color Broadcasts Begin On CBS

June 25, 1951…America’s First Color Broadcasts Begin On CBS

Let me start with some things you probably never knew about this historic event.

To me, the first day and circumstances seem to foreshadow the overall outcome of this four month experiment. In April of ’51, CBS had just taken over the Peace Theater, at 109th Street and 5th Avenue, and in a few quick meetings, it was determined that this would become their Field Sequential color studio. It was big, and empty, but had no air conditioning. CBS called it Studio 57, and moved in five tons of equipment, but there was no time for anything else. As you will see in this 20 photo spread of the June 24 rehearsals, everyone was sweating badly, but the theater heat was the smaller of their problems.
http://www.eyesofageneration.com/Archives_CBS_Color.php

That debut show broadcast on this day 65 years ago was simply titled “Premiere”, and it was the first commercial CBS Color program. It, was broadcast over a five station network from New York’s Studio 57, and although there were 10.5 million monochrome sets in U.S., none of them could see it because no Field Sequential sets were made until September of 1951, and less than a month later, production was ordered halted with the Korean War broke out.

Appearing on the debut show were Arthur Godfrey, Faye Emerson, Sam Levenson, Ed Sullivan, Gary Moore, Robert Alda, Isabel Bigley, Bil Baird Marionettes, Sol Hurok’s New York City Ballet arranged by George Balanchine, Patty Painter (the first “Miss Color Television”), FCC chairman Wayne Coy, CBS chairman William S. Paley, and CBS president Frank Stanton.

In a nutshell, even RCA could not get the CBS system to work without problems on the VHF frequencies…it needed UFH bandwidth to defeat the flicker of the spinning wheel. Part of the battle with RCA and the FCC over color was CBS’s Peter Goldmark’s insistence that the VHF band be abandoned for all color work, and that all black and white broadcasting should be abandoned too…in favor of the CBS Field Sequential system.

RCA was leading the way in black and white set manufacturing, and Philco and others were making a market there too, so the CBS push was not gaining any sympathy from the industry, or the FCC. As a matter of fact, the FCC said to CBS, if you are so sure your Field Sequential color system is the ultimate answer, why do you have so many applications for CBS owned VHF stations?

Having been asked, now CBS had to answer. It was an answer that cost them dearly too. In a show of support for Goldmark, CBS abandoned five VHF license requests in the top markets…markets they later entered, but at a high price, because they had to buy out the original licensee.

A lot of people lay blame at RCA’s feet for playing rough, but truth be told, CBS was just as guilty of a different sin, and that sin was mostly about slowing down television’s development in any way they could. CBS was not a manufacturer like RCA and others, and their participation in television depended on their ability to make money with their radio network.

The success of the 1948 political conventions on TV, which was mostly pooled, had demonstrated the power of the new visual media, and they didn’t want to get left behind in TV, but it was expensive and had to be developed in every way. In recent readings, I have learned that even the great CBS producer/director Worthington Minor (“Playhouse 90”, etc.), had come to understand that CBS was doing all it could to slow down TV.

In the color TV hearings at the FCC in early 1951, he basically said that, which earned him a broom closet office across from the 485 Madison Ave. HQ, until the end of the CBS color project was halted at the start of the Korean War in October, 1951.

Leading up to the July 1, 1941 anniversary of the start of commercial television in the U.S., I’ll be adding some new information on the CBS Grand Central studios history. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee






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June 24, 1963…NBC Studio 8H Goes Color

June 24, 1963…NBC Studio 8H Goes Color

NBC Studio 8H become “The Peacock Studio” on this day in ’63 when it began broadcasting in color. There is a lot of interesting detail in the NBC Press Release, but one thing they left out was…the four RCA TK41s installed in 8H actually came from The Ziegfeld Theater.

The color equipment was all new when NBC opened The Ziegfeld for “The Perry Como Show” in September of 1956. Around ’61 though, Como’s show became “The Kraft Music Hall” and moved to Brooklyn. Until they moved out in 1963, NBC used the Ziegfield for colorcasts of other shows like “Tic Tac Dough”, the primetime version of “Concentration”, and even the Emmy Awards shows in ’59 and ’61. Enjoy and Share! -Bobby Ellerbee





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“Game Of Thrones” Video Effects…TV’s Ultimate Techno Tapestry


“Game Of Thrones” Video Effects…TV’s Ultimate Techno Tapestry

It literally boggles the mind to see the depth of video effect detail that goes into each season of this show, but believe it or not, HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire” was just as jam packed with VFX.

Costume dramas, from bygone eras, are hard to make believable without great attention to detail, but with the rise of CGI, anything seems possible now…if you have the budget.

Here’s a look at some of the top image manipulations from the first five seasons, that goes from dragons to giants, but as you’ll see, cityscapes, seascapes, mountains, battlefields and more are layered together to make the illusion as real as it gets. -Bobby Ellerbee

Game of Thrones – Making Of Season 1-5 Visual Effects VFX Watch more awesome videos on our channels and pages. Click Here to Subscribe! ► http://bit.ly/Chang…

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June 21, 1948…First TV Network Pool Event & Debut Of RCA Kinescope

June 21, 1948…First TV Network Pool Event & Debut Of RCA Kinescope

The first official use of kinescope recording would come on June 21 at the Republican National Convention in Philadelphia, but it was not used in the way we generally think of kinescopes, which is recording programs to film and expressing them to affiliates not able to connect to the network live. Here’s the story…

This event was also the first ever pooling of equipment, and lines by the television networks including NBC, CBS, Dumont and ABC.

There were four pool cameras (RCA TK30s) in the hall, and one at a quieter spot for representatives from each network to do a 15 minute per hour commentary. The 4 hall cameras were on the main line out, and the single commentary camera was on a second line out. Only NBC had the ability to record their commentary and insert it at a more opportune time, rather than interrupt a major speech on the floor, when their 15 minute live slot came up.

All together, the pooled convention coverage was shown live on 18 stations in 9 cities, which included New York, New Haven, Newark (ABC), Boston, Albany-Schenectady, Baltimore, Washington and Richmond.

In July, The Democratic National Convention was held at the same arena, and the same pooling process was used by the networks again. At this link is Harry Truman’s acceptance speech, and as you can tell by the haloing on the mikes, this is a recorded video signal, and not film, so you can see how good the results were on this kinescope from NBC.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k-7kpqhnXHE

NBC Chief Engineer O. B. Hanson said in the June 17 press release (included below), that the system had been used for testing a few weeks before this. At the link, is perhaps the first kinescope recording of a major NBC program…”Puppet Playhouse”, with Howdy Doody, from July 2, 1948. However, I have seen private Doody kinescopes from as early at February of 1948, so I know they were testing much earlier.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ONQ0gAE9jbY

NBC’s engineering department was quite busy that spring of 1948. They debuted not only the new Studio 6B (for television), but that same night, debuted “The Texaco Star Theater” there on June 8, 1948.

Just months before, NBC Television added Studio 8G, 3A and 3B, and around May of ’48, converted Studio 3H (Howdy Doody) from Iconoscope cameras to TK30 Image Orthicon cameras. All the while, preparations were being made for the Republican National Convention which was a historic first for television all around, with over one million viewers watching on the biggest nights of the convention on about 340,000 sets in those 9 cities. TV set manufacturers had ramped up production in the two months before the June convention to 45,000 a month and never backed off to a lesser volume. TV was on it’s way! Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee



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June 20, 1948…Ed Sullivan Comes To Television

June 20, 1948…Ed Sullivan Comes To Television

On this day in 1948, CBS debuted “Toast Of The Town” from The Maxine Elliott Theater (CBS Studio 51). In the first photo, you see what looks like a set for a puppet show…it is not. When you watch the opening of the show at the link, you will see that miniature stage again in a whole new way…it is a mini proscenium for the opening billboards.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RE8QPLk2zxI

Actress Maxine Elliott had a long and successful career in the theater, but had always dreamed of owning her own one day. That day came December 30, 1908 when the beautiful 900 seat theater opened with gold silk wall paper, marbled foyers and lush velvet seats and curtains all around. Plays came and went, but the theater stayed afloat through the depression.

In 1941, the theater was leased to the Mutual Network for use as a radio studio but CBS was able to take over the lease in 1944 and made this CBS Radio Playhouse #5. In the spring of 1948, CBS began to look for place for their new Sunday night variety show, “Toast Of The Town” with New York Daily News columnist Ed Sullivan. Since it was such an intimate and handsome theater, this became their first television theater. The show debuted June 20, 1948 and stayed here till January 1953, when it moved to Studio 50. The show’s name was changed to “The Ed Sullivan Show” on September 18, 1955.

CBS leased the theater, at 109 West 39th Street, till 1959 when the owners sold it. It was demolished in 1960. More on the photos…enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee







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June 19, 1946…1st Image Orthicon Cameras & Network Sponsorship

June 19, 1946…1st Image Orthicon Cameras & Network Sponsorship

In the photos, you see the first RCA TK30s ever used anywhere. The introduction date was officially set for October of ’46, but the Lewis-Conn rematch was such a big deal that RCA rushed a few into production for the fight. Four to six TK 30s, and their two new trucks arrived two days before the fight.

The fight, at Yankee Stadium, was the first World Heavyweight Championship bout ever televised, and this was the first time an advertiser sponsored a network television program. The company was Gillette. “The Gillette Cavalcade of Sports” began on NBC radio in 1942 and when the Louis – Conn fight came along, they sponsored it both on radio and TV. On November 8, 1946, Gillette’s first regular Friday night television broadcast of “The Cavalcade Of Sports” show began on NBC, and ran till 1960. Here’s a sample.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C6cyy_rziuk

At the time, the NBC Television Network was really only live in three markets, NYC, Philadelphia PA, and Schenectady NY, and kinescopes were still in the testing phase, but at this link is a rare kinescope test that shows the Louis – Conn fight and mentions the first use of the Image Orthicon cameras.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YRL4xD4NcUs

Newspaper reports on the television coverage were glowing. “These cameras had delivered the clearest, sharpest pictures ever and with four lenses on each turret, were able to offer a never before available range of shots per camera”. Enjoy and share. -Bobby Ellerbee





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June 18, 1949…Dave Garroway & “The Chicago Style” Debut On NBC


June 18, 1949…Dave Garroway & “The Chicago Style” Debut On NBC

On this day in 1949, “Garroway At Large” debuted on the NBC television network, live from their WMAQ studios in Chicago. Originally airing at 10 PM EST on Saturday nights (and later Sunday nights), this one hour experimental musical variety show brought two new things to television…Dave Garroway, and a new on screen presentation style, also called “The Chicago School”.

When television began in New York, the shows adopted the familiar theatrical proscenium concept, separating the stage from the audience area. When Garroway was assigned to host on television, he abandoned the usual conventions for a more casual approach in which the reality of the studio was acknowledged. Followed by a single camera, he walked around the entire large studio space and simple abstract sets as he talked to guests and the TV viewer directly. This live staging technique, known as the “Chicago Style”, was developed further on Garroway’s next show…”Today”.

In the clip below, you can get a feel for the staging and visual tone of this style. There is more on the Chicago School here. http://www.richsamuels.com/nbcmm/tcs.html

Garroway began his broadcasting career modestly. Starting at NBC as a page in 1938, he later graduated 23rd in a class of 24 from NBC’s school for announcers. Following graduation, he landed a job at Pittsburgh radio station KDKA in 1939. After two years with KDKA, Garroway left for WMAQ radio in Chicago, and was introduced to the national television audience when he was chosen to host “Garroway At Large”, from June 18, 1949, to June 24, 1951.

At the same time he did the “Today” show, Garroway also hosted a Friday night variety series on NBC, “The Dave Garroway Show”, from October 2, 1953, to June 25, 1954. On October 16, 1955, he began hosting NBC’s live Sunday afternoon documentary “Wide Wide World”, continuing with that series until June 8, 1958. Another Friday evening variety show, “Dave’s Place”, was on the air in 1960.

He also hosted a WNBC radio show, “Dial Dave Garroway”, that went on the air as soon as Today wrapped up each morning. “Dial Dave Garroway” began in 1946 when Garroway was still working for WMAQ in Chicago.

When “Today” started on January 14, 1952, it was seen live only in the Eastern and Central time zones, broadcasting three hours per morning but seen for only two hours in each time zone. Since 1958, “Today” is tape-delayed for the different time zones. Peace! -Bobby Ellerbee

Dave Garroway on Sunday evenings way back when, on NBC. Way cool. So laid-back. You can’t tell me Garrison Keillor isn’t channeling this guy.

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June 17, 1959…”I’ve Got A Secret”; Tour Of CBS Studio 59


June 17, 1959…”I’ve Got A Secret”; Tour Of CBS Studio 59

To celebrate their seventh anniversary on the air, all from Studio 59, “I’ve Got A Secret” host Garry Moore takes us on a tour of The Mansfield Theater, better known to us as CBS Studio 59 at 256 West 47th Street. As you’ll see, CBS Studio 62, The Biltmore Theater is across the street at 261 West 47th Street.

Below is a partial list of CBS shows from this studio. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee

Play Your Hunch (1958)
The Burns & Allen Show (1950-51) first 6 shows
What’s My Line? (1951-60)
It’s News to Me (1951-54)
I’ve Got A Secret (1952-60)
Masquerade Party (1959)
To Tell The Truth (1959)
You’re On Your Own (1956)
G.E. College Bowl (1959)
Garry Moore daytime show (1950-1958)
Of All Things with Faye Emerson (1956)
Who’s Whose (1951)
What’s In A Word (1954)
Two In Love (1954)
Ted Mack & the Original Amateur Hour (1959)
Ship Ahoy (WCBS) (1951)
Take a Guess (1953)
Strike It Rich (1951)
Steve Allen (1950-1952)
The Show Goes On (1951)
Sam Levenson (1951-1952)
Guess Again (1951)
It’s Fun to Know (1951)
The Jimmy Dean Show (1959)
Live Like a Millionaire (1951-1952)
Anyone Can Win (1953)
Down You Go (1955)
Frank Sinatra (1950)
Name That Tune (1954-1959)
Robert Q. Lewis (1954)
Russ Morgan

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WTfjSbk8tdU

The 7th anniversary episode opens with a tour of the theater on 47th Street.

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June 16, 1930…The First Ever “Soap Opera” Debuts On WGN Radio

June 16, 1930…The First Ever “Soap Opera” Debuts On WGN Radio

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XWH8Xo6FclU
“Clara, Lu ’n Em” is thought to be the first soap opera ever to appear on radio in the US. It started as a local Chicago evening show on WGN on June 16, 1930, and moved to NBC Blue Network on Jan. 27, 1931. (At the link above is a few minutes of a 1936 show).

On Feb. 15, 1932, NBC moved it moved to a midday slot at 10:15 AM, and this made it the first ever daytime network serial, and set the precedent of serials for women sponsored by soap companies.

Colgate-Palmolive’s, Super Suds, dishwashing soap, was the sponsor when it moved to daytime on NBC Blue, but Colgate-Palmolive had sponsored the local and network evening shows too with ads for their Chipso Flakes laundry detergent.

Procter and Gamble eventually became the biggest sponsor of soap operas, but Colgate-Palmolive is thought to be the first.

Speaking of firsts, “Clara, Lu ’n Em” also is thought to be the first network radio show to run a contest. You could send in two Super Suds 10 cent box tops, or one 20 cent top, and hope to win a new Packard automobile worth $1,000.

The show is also thought to be the first radio program written by, performed by and managed by an all female company.

“Clara, Lu ’n Em” was developed in 1925 as a skit by sorority sisters at Northwestern University, Louise Starkey, Isobel Carothers and Helen King. When the three couldn’t find jobs during the Depression they took the skit to WGN in 1930.

The show came to an end in 1936 when Isobel Carothers died from pneumonia at the age of 32. The others decided not to continue, though they revived it on CBS in 1942 with another former sorority sister, Harriet Allyn. It didn’t last long. Allyn went with the show into syndication with another Chicago radio personality, Fran Allison, but the 1945 effort didn’t thrive either. Hats off to “Clara, Lu ‘n Em”! Well done ladies! -Bobby Ellerbee

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June 16, 1959…Remember This Headline?

June 16, 1959…Remember This Headline?

I guess we’ll never know if it was suicide or murder, but I remember the day the news broke…you too?

It was a sad day for all of us kids of the ’50s, but it would have been worse had the news come while the series was still in production. Thankfully, it wrapped in April of ’58. -Bobby Ellerbee

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June 14, 2014…NBC’s Last Live Show Airs From Burbank

June 14, 2014…NBC’s Last Live Show Airs From Burbank

I got this note the evening of June 13, 2014 from our friend Bob Meza, who’s worked for at NBC Burbank for nearly 40 years.

“Bobby: Just so you know, tomorrow, June 14, NBC Burbank will broadcast it’s last live show, which is on Telemundo, and they will move over to Universal starting Sunday. “Days Of Our Lives” is still on the lot, but it is not an NBC owned show. “Access Hollywood” will also remain on the lot in Studio 1 probably for another year. We will be pulling equipment out next week. Bob”

Below is a shot of the Burbank Studios signs replacing the NBC sings. Gone, but not forgotten. -Bobby Ellerbee

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June 13, 1925…First US TV Demonstration

June 13, 1925…First US TV Demonstration

91 years ago today, Charles Francis Jenkins presented the first public demonstration of television in America, with a synchronized transmission of images and sound. Using an electro-mechanical Nipkow spot scanner, the silhouetted image of a toy windmill was broadcast wirelessly over a five mile path from a naval radio facility in Anacostia, to Washington DC, where it was viewed by members of the Federal Trade Commission, the navy and patent office officials.

Two months earlier, Charles Logie Baird had done almost the same at Europe’s first public demonstration at Selfridge’s Department Store in London. The Jenkins system used only “shadowgraph” images, which were silhouetted images, while Baird’s system used lifelike subjects (a dummy’s head) lit with and arc light. For more, here’s a good link. http://www.bairdtelevision.com/jenkins.html -Bobby Ellerbee


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Exclusive! CBS Electronic Camera History Update…September 24, 1937

Exclusive! CBS Electronic Camera History Update…September 24, 1937

These two just found photos, taken at RCA’s Camden plant on September 24, 1937 show CBS brass on hand to inspect their first RCA Iconoscope camera, before taking delivery (details on the photos). THIS IS THE FIRST HARD DATE for CBS to own Electronic Television Cameras.

Yesterday, we saw this camera in the new Grand Central Studio 41 in photos dated September 1, 1939, which was shortly after the new transmitter began tests from the Chrysler Building.

So, where was it for two years? The answer…at the W2XAB studio somewhere on the 23rd floor of CBS headquarters at 485 Madison Avenue. CBS began television July 21, 1931 with a mechanical system from GE, but the experiment stopped about 18 months later. It ended two weeks before President Franklin Roosevelt took office, with the Great Depression in full swing.

Details are sketchy, but I think they began to dabble in TV again after Dr. Peter Goldmark was hired January 1, 1936. W2XAB needed to test with a live electronic camera, and RCA had three Iconoscope cameras in their test studio, 3H at 30 Rock, that had been in service since 1935.

Those first 18 months in 3H were very secretive and broadcast tests on their W2XBS were clandestine too, until they decided to let the world know about their progress. I think that after Goldmark was hired at CBS, he went over to take a look, and that soon after, an order for one camera was placed with RCA.

CBS eventually got 3 of the RCA Iconoscope cameras for Studio 41 and 42, but I don’t think they bought them until 1940. Since the switch from 220 lines to 441 lines happened in June of ’38, this camera would have the 441 line ability. After the other 2 came in ’40, they, with NBC’s cameras would have been updated to 525 lines in May of 1941, and all were repainted in the silver color to denote them as the new A500 version. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee


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June 9…A Big Day For Media History…6 Event Stories And Video

June 9…A Big Day For Media History…6 Event Stories And Video

June 9, 1948…WBZ Becomes New England’s First TV Station…
In Boston they called it T Day…the first day of television for the area. Remember, back then, stations only came on in the evenings because there was no daytime programming, and precious little at night. Congratulations and Happy Birthday BZ!
At the link is the first part of the 1983 anniversary show.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l4fbEC4CWgY

Happy Birthday Donald! “Born” June 9, 1934…
http://youtu.be/A5dowCyaP7I?t=1m58s
At the link is Donald Duck’s debut! His first ever screen appearance came on the date of this ‘Silly Symphony’ cartoon called “The Little Wise Hen” from Walt Disney Studios. It’s cued to his entrance.
The Donald Duck character was created by Walt Disney when he heard Clarence Nash doing his “duck” voice while reciting “Mary Had a Little Lamb”. Disney wanted a character that was more negative than Mickey Mouse, so the bad-tempered Duck was born. Nash voiced the character from 1934 to 1983, training Tony Anselmo to take over. By the way, his full name is Donald Fauntleroy Duck!

62 Years Ago Today…”Have You No Sense Of Decency”…
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MO2iiovYq70
On June 9, 1954, Army counsel Joseph N. Welch confronted Sen. Joseph R. McCarthy during the Senate-Army Hearings over McCarthy’s attack on a member of Welch’s law firm, Frederick G. Fisher. Said Welch: “Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?” This famous exchange is caught in the short clip attached here.

“The Roy Rogers Show” Comes To An End….
This is the first ever episode of the TV classic and it aired on NBC as 6:30 (ET) Sunday night, December 30, 1951. The series ran one hundred new episodes on NBC for six seasons and ended on June 9, 1957. Beginning in 1961, CBS broadcast reruns of The Roy Rogers Show for three and a half seasons on Saturday mornings.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tz59ibhFX2c

NBC Color Caravan Does First Broadcast…
On June 9, a crew of eighteen men did the tour’s first color remote from St. Louis in a two month tour of the US to introduce color television. The local stations, and major department stores along the way were pre stocked with RCA color monitors and sets for sale and display. The cities they visited also included Milwaukee, Chicago, Columbus, Cleveland, Washington DC, Baltimore and Ft. Meade Maryland.

Happy Birthday Cole Porter, Born June 9, 1891…
Some of the greatest songs ever came from this man…”I’ve Got You Under My Skin”, “Anything Goes”, “Night And Day”, Begin The Beguine”, “From This Moment On” and many, many more. Thanks for the great music Mr. Porter! -Bobby Ellerbee







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June 8, 1938…The New RCA Orthicon Camera Debuts

June 8, 1938…The New RCA Orthicon Camera Debuts

This was a step up from the Iconoscope in it’s light sensitivity, but it was a remote camera and still needed daylight, or stadium lighting. The Orthicon was a hybrid of sorts, needing the added utility of Philo Farnsworth’s Image Dissector tube technology, which was finally incorporated into the Image Orthicon a few years later. More in the text block below. -Bobby Ellerbee



June 8, 1939…The First Orthicon Camera

On this day in 1938, two experimental RCA Orthicon cameras were put into service along side two RCA Iconoscope cameras at Ebbets field for a daytime game between the Dodgers and the Reds. This was televisions first ever broadcast of a major league baseball game and was only a month after the first ever college baseball game broadcast.

On top, we see the Orthicon camera which still did not have an electronic viewfinder, but the optical system shared with the studio style Iconoscopes…the field Iconoscopes had a gun sight. Notice also the wedge plate sticking our from under the camera…this mount is all new too as the field Iconoscope cameras slid onto the pan head from the side with the use of built in brackets.

Below, we see an article from Broadcasting Magazine that, although it describes the broadcast of the first night game in June of 1941, it features a photo from the June 8, 1939 game that shows the Orthicon and Iconoscope cameras in use together for comparison purposes. Remember, visit this page for a better experience of this great history. Thanks! -Bobby Ellerbee

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More Answers To Some Early Iconoscope Camera Questions…

More Answers To Some Early Iconoscope Camera Questions…

With close scrutiny to dates, and with new images in hand from the early days at CBS Studios at Grand Central, I think we can conclusively say that the switch from the dark umber gray color to the silver body came in May of 1941. It seems that this was the signature of the new A500 upgrade as you will read below. May 1941 is when TV went from 441 lines to 525 lines of resolution.

In 1935, when they went into service in NBC Studio 3H, they were 220 line camera, but went to 441 lines in June of ’38. Many had said that the jump to “high definition” brought the cosmetic change, but it did not. Remember, the camera housings were constant…only the Iconoscope tubes and a few changes inside were required.

A new photo has helped answer when CBS got their RCA Iconoscope cameras, and this A500 question. In the photos below, the center shot of the dark RCA Iconoscope camera in CBS Studio 41 was taken September 1, 1939, so we now have a first sighting date of an RCA Iconoscope camera at CBS.

The second CBS photo, with the silver camera body, was taken in December of 1941, and shows the CBS cameras have also been updated by RCA with both the new 525 line tubes and the silver exterior that apparently was the mark of the A500 series conversion. More to come today, and more on the photos! Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee



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California Primary June 4, 1968: Robert Kennedy Assassination

California Primary June 4, 1968: Robert Kennedy Assassination

With the California Primary underway today, this sad occasion came to mind.

The Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles was the scene of the crime that so many of us saw unfold on television that night. These are rare photos from the Los Angeles Fire Marshall’s office taken there that day.

All the networks were there, as well as the local stations, as this was not only the Kennedy HQ hotel, but three of the hotel’s ballrooms were being used by other Democratic candidates that night. Among them were Kennedy in the big ballroom, Senator Alan Cranston in a medium ballroom, and someone running for a state office in the smallest. -Bobby Ellerbee












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Television’s First Studio Camera…RCA’s Studio 3H Iconoscopes

Television’s First Studio Camera…RCA’s Studio 3H Iconoscopes

In 1935, two years after Radio City opened, NBC Radio Studio 3H was converted to RCA Television Studio 3H. Technically it would remain an RCA domain until the opening of the 1939 World’s Fair, at which time W2XBS, and this studio were put under the control of NBC Television.

On July 7, 1936, Studio 3H became the home of the first publicly announced black and white experimental broadcasts from its tower atop the Empire State Building.

The three cameras in 3H all used a 220 line resolution Iconoscope tube, until June of 1938, at which time the world’s first “high definition” conversion took place. That month, these cameras were retrofitted with new 441 line resolution Iconoscope tubes, as RCA’s new reciver sets went to market with the new upgrade.

In May of 1941, television went to the new 525 line resolution system, and once again, these cameras were retrofitted with new Iconoscope tubes.

I think this is when the color of the cameras went from umber gray to silver, and the previously unnamed cameras became the RCA A500 model. Does anyone have any information on this?

On the cameras themselves, one of the big surprises to most is the very discombobulating viewfinder set up, as you can see here, but there is another surprise… a nice one; these first studio pedestals had an electronic up and down center column that was operated by a foot switch on the ped base, that you can see in the first image. Enjoy and share. -Bobby Ellerbee



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Surprise, Surprise! CBS Had Marconi Mark IV’s In 1960…

Surprise, Surprise! CBS Had Marconi Mark IV’s In 1960…

For those of us interested in the technical side of broadcast history, this comes as a surprise. Pictured here are two shots from the set of the November 1960 Presidential Election coverage, in which John F. Kennedy defeated Richard Nixon.

This was at the CBS Grand Central location, where, for this occasion Studio 41 and 42 were combined to handle the coverage. I, along with many others, had always thought the Mark IVs came into service around 1962, just before CBS moved to the Broadcast Center in 1964, but obviously not.

In addition to the two big studios at Grand Central, CBS had about a dozen other studios in operation in NYC in 1960. They must have had at least fifty RCA TK10s, 30s and 11/31s, in use in the city, but the TK10 and TK30 debuted in 1946, with the TK 11/31 coming along in 1952, so at age 15, most of their fleet was getting long in the tooth. (All were equipped with 3″ Image Orthicon tubes).

I suspect Grand Central, Studio 50 and 52 were the first to get the new cameras.

The Marconi Mark IV began use in the UK in 1958, sporting a 4.5 inch Image Orthicon tube, which had been developed by RCA in 1947, but was perfected in Europe by Marconi and EEV around 1955. I think the first use of the 4.5″ tube was in the Marconi Mark III.

With RCA’s eye on color television, it is easy to see why their addition of the TK12 in 1960, (which later became the TK60), was not a high priority, and they seemed to play catch up not only in the introduction, but in working out a few bugs, including overheating.

Both the Mark IV and the TK60 made beautiful pictures with their big tubes, but this was near a turning point for broadcasters. When the TK60 was reintroduced at the 1963 NAB convention, it sat next to an RCA TK41 color camera, and that was the dilemma…invest in new black and white cameras, or wait and go color in a year or two.

In 1964, Norelco helped force the issue by becoming the first alternative to RCA color, and…the race was on. -Bobby Ellerbee

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