Posts in Category: Broadcast History

A Rarity…The Photo And The Footage…’Ed Sullivan In Las Vegas’

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A Rarity…The Photo And The Footage…’Ed Sullivan In Las Vegas’

Sunday night, May 21, 1961, ‘The Ed Sullivan Show’ was broadcast from the stage of The Stardust Hotel. At the link, we see Sullivan introducing people in the audience, including Jerry Lewis. As you’ll see, Lewis takes over and does a 10 minute stand up routine and closes with Al Jolson’s “Swannie”.

http://www.pdcomedy.com/ClassicTV/EdSullivanShow/JerryLewis.htm

In the photo below, we see that stage being used for rehearsal by Phil Harris, with producer Bob Precht sitting in front of the boom. The camera on the right is a Marconi Mark IV which is from the Television City mobile unit. It seem that CBS had Mark IVs earlier than the 1963 date we had thought. The camera debuted in 1959 at the BBC. This photo is from the personal collection of Eddie Brinkmann, who stage managed Sullivan from start to finish. Thanks to his granddaughter Dee Wexler for sharing it.


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NBC’s “Radio Ear”…The First IFB or Ear Prompter

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NBC’s “Radio Ear”…The First IFB or Ear Prompter

To help radio crews and floor reporters cover the 1944 political conventions (both held in Chicago), NBC came up with the “radio ear”…a one way voice link from control.

The television people in Studio 3H saw this and thought it would be a good way to make floor directors a bit more flexible since they would no longer have to use a cabled headset. They tried it for a while and then it just kind of petered out for some reason. It would take over 20 years for IFBs to return to the air with television’s coverage of the US space missions.

Below are three versions of the receiver, two headset models with aerials and one as an ear bud with battery packs. The photos were taken in NBC Studio 3H. The lady is a young Cloris Leachman and the bathing suit photo is to demonstrate how hidable the unit it.




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MUST SEE! Dinah Shore Rides The Crane Camera…TK40s

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MUST SEE! Dinah Shore Rides The Crane Camera…TK40s

I’ve watched this several times and I’m sure this is from The Colonial Theater. A few seconds after this video’s start point, the first camera we see is a TK40, notice there are no vents on the viewfinder housing. The Colonial was the only NBC theater with TK40s. I can also tell this is The Colonial by the balcony facade.

Once the crane camera comes into view, notice it has a vented viewfinder housing, but it is still a TK40. My long study of The Colonial’s cameras has always made me wonder why they left one (of four) TK40 with the original unvented VF cover. RCA supplied the updated, vented cover to TK40 owners once the TK41s went into production in 1954. The Colonial had the first TK40s and they were installed in late 1952.

This is the ‘Dinah Shore Chevy Show’, originating from New York on January 13, 1957. Usually, the show came from Burbank, but for some reason, they are in NY for a couple of weeks. Dinah’s one hour show ran on NBC from October of ’56 till May of ’63 and was always in color. Bob Banner was the producer. Thanks to Dave Miller for sharing this with us.

http://youtu.be/bNt4duaVOYg?t=2m36sDinah Shore is her usual enchanting self on this 1957 Chevy Show with guest stars Art Carney, Stubby Kaye, and special guest Perry Como. Dinah outdoes hersel…
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Television’s First News Man…Lowell Thomas

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Television’s First News Man…Lowell Thomas

Although Lowell Thomas’s news programs were heard and seen on NBC radio and television, Thomas did not actually work for NBC…he worked for Sunoco, the sponsor of his shows.

Details on television’s first news program are few, and far between, but as best I can tell, Thomas hosted the first-ever television-news broadcast in 1939 on NBC’s W2XBS. I think this was a stand alone broadcast and not a simulcast, and perhaps was only done for one week as a trial run.

Television’s first ever regularly scheduled television news broadcast, which was a simulcast of his radio broadcast, began on February 21, 1940, on NBC Television. While W2XBS New York carried every TV/radio simulcast, it is not known if the two other stations capable of being fed programs by W2XBS, W2XB Schenectady and/or W3XE Philadelphia carried all or some of the simulcasts.

That February 21 telecast was on a Wednesday, and it is possible that the Thomas simulcasts were were only done once a week as midweek summary type shows for television. It is reported that his Wednesday NBC radio shows were summary style shows too.

It is not known when the ‘Sunoco News With Lowell Thomas’ television show ended. Some accounts say it was “brief”, while other sources report that it ended with the outbreak of WW II . Generally, we in the US think of that as December 7, 1941 with the Pearl Harbor bombing, but the war in Europe was already heating up. The start of the war is generally held to be 1 September 1939, beginning with the German invasion of Poland; Britain and France declared war on Germany two days later.

I suspect that the show, with it’s limited viewership, ended in September so that Thomas could devote more time to his radio reporting duties. He is said not to have liked television as it kept him too tied down as he had to be in the studio every day. His radio show did a lot of traveling and he liked that.

In the Summer of 1940, Thomas anchored the first live telecast of a political convention, the 1940 Republican National Convention, which was fed from Philadelphia to W2XBS and on to W2XB. Reportedly, Thomas wasn’t in Philadelphia, but was instead anchoring the broadcast from a New York studio and merely identifying speakers who were about to or who had just addressed the convention.

It would take television till 1948 to present a regularly scheduled evening news show on the network level…that show was the ‘CBS Television News With Douglas Edwards’.



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50 Years Ago, This Week…The 1964 World’s Fair Opened

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50 Years Ago, This Week…The 1964 World’s Fair Opened

For some, this was the first and only time they would see, and be seen, by color television cameras. Just as RCA had made great use of it’s presence at the 1939 World’s Fair (also in New York) to introduce the public to television, their ’64 fair presence was focused on color.

Were you there? I was. What do you remember? To help with those memories, here are a few pictures of the RCA TK41s, and at the top link, film footage of people on the “color carousel”. The bottom link is to more pix of the fair.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s9Vm_peHmKg

http://mashable.com/2014/04/23/1964-new-york-worlds-fair-photos/




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Am I On The Right Floor? My Ears Tell Me No!

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Am I On The Right Floor? My Ears Tell Me No!

I love ‘Mad Men’, BUT…when I watch, for example, a couple of men or women walk along the “office” floors, I don’t hear a concrete skyscraper floor…I hear a wooden stage floor and the illusion is broken.

Same thing the other day on ‘NCIS’ in a scene set in a big hospital.
Most of you reading this know what I mean because you’ve been on film sets at one time or another. Unlike live television and soap opera sets, film sets are built on raised wooden floors for construction purposes and hiding cables. The sound of actors footsteps on a raised wooden floor is much different than that of walking on a hard floor.

This past Easter Sunday, I was watching ‘The Ten Commandments’ with Charlton Heston. When he was brought before the Pharaoh in chains, the accompanying sound effect add on was jingle bells…not chains. Suddenly I was back in my recliner and not in Egypt.

I don’t often climb on my soap box and will climb down now, but I’ll close with a request for the sound designers to pay more attention. 99.9% of those watching never notice these kinds of things, but for industry people trying to enjoy a television performance, this is one of the things that eject us from the theater of innocent illusion and put us back in the real world.

What are some of the other things like this that throw you off?


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Mel Allen…Columbia University Football, 1946

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Mel Allen…Columbia University Football, 1946

In 1946, CBS Television began telecasting the home games at Columbia University. CBS Radio sportscaster, and the then voice of the NY Yankees, Mel Allen was chosen to be the host. This photo was taken at Columbia’s Baker Filed on October 5, 1946. A few days later, he would be calling his first World Series game.

The camera is an RCA Orthicon model with a CBS custom made gun sight viewfinder. Although the camera did have a ground glass optical VF, like the Iconoscope cameras, this VF alternative saved the day as seeing the camera viewfinder in bright light was hard, but with long shots like this and a fixed focal length lens, framing was more important.

Allen started his career as the public address announcer for Alabama Crimson Tide football games. In 1933, when the sports director of Birmingham’s radio station WBRC asked Alabama coach Frank Thomas to recommend a new play-by-play announcer, he suggested Allen. His first broadcast was Alabama’s home opener that year, against the Tulane Green Wave.

Allen graduated from the University of Alabama School of Law in 1937. Shortly after graduating, Allen took a train to New York City for a week’s vacation. While in New York, just as a lark, he auditioned for a staff announcer’s position at the CBS Radio Network.

CBS executives already knew of Allen; the network’s top sportscaster, Ted Husing, had heard many of his Crimson Tide broadcasts. He was hired at $45 a week. The rest, as they say “is history”.


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Remembering RCA’s Harry Wright

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Remembering RCA’s Harry Wright

I’m sad to announce the passing of one of RCA Broadcast’s brightest engineers…our friend Harry Wright. Below is part of his obituary, and at the link, a story I did on Harry’s long career at RCA. Mr. Wright is on the right in the photo. He will be missed.

#header” target=”_blank”>http://www.eyesofageneration.com/Archives_Henry_Wright.php #header

Harry G. Wright of Fort Myers, Florida, passed away April 17th. Harry was a mechanical engineer for RCA Camden. A graduate of Drexel Institute, Harry started with RCA in 1945, and was part of the beginning of the color television industry in America. He invented television cameras such as the RCA TP-16, TP-35, TP-6, TR-22, TK-42, TK-43, and TK-44. As a member of the TK-76 camera team, he was awarded the I.K. Kessler, Tiger Award for 1976, and the David Sarnoff Award for 1977. The blue RCA cameras could be seen on the sidelines of every football and basketball game in the 70s and 80s, shooting the action. Harry won four Emmy awards from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences for best Technical or Engineering Achievement. He also held numerous patents for his work with RCA.


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CBS Gives Birth To The A & B Roll In News

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Instant Replay…New Information + The Birth Of A & B Roll News

A week or so back, I did a story on the early days of live news on CBS. I had thought that the ‘CBS Television News With Douglas Edwards’ had always come from the Grand Central Studios, but it didn’t. It did move there some time in the mid 50s, but here’s the story of the earliest days of the show.

In re reading “This Is CBS”, by Robert Slater, he quotes CBS Television’s first news president Sig Mickelson on the 1951 push to make news a more dynamic part of the programing. “The TV news department was located in a corner office of the radio news department at 485 Madison Avenue. The studio was eight blocks away in Liederkranz Hall.”

By the time the 1952 Presidential election rolled around, at least the CBS Television News department had moved, but not the studio…yet. Here is another quote: “Television news occupied a crowded space on 42nd Street over Grand Central Station. The broadcast studio was thirteen blocks away at Liederkranz Hall. This required the staff to hustle into a cab every night at 7:20 trying to rush last minute film and scripts to Edwards before the start of the news. This did not always work out, especially on rainy days.”

It was at Liederkrantz Hall that news legend Don Hewitt came up with the idea of using dual projectors and in essence gave us the A and B roll concept of news footage. Back then, boring “talking head” news footage was the norm, but to add a bit of extra texture, Hewitt hit on the idea of inserting related images using a second projector. This was done on the fly…punched live on the air. One machine ran the “head” with sound, the other projector was loaded with film of related images and ran with no audio.

It was while previewing Senator Robert Taft’s long and boring speech on a swollen federal budget, that the idea occurred to Hewitt. Who says politicians aren’t an inspiration?!? Enjoy and Share.


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Sports Graphics…Back In The Day

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Sports Graphics…Back In The Day

Long before there were digital graphics gizmos, there were analog graphics gizmos. This piece of hardware was used at WHDH in Boston for Celtic’s basketball in 1964.

In ’64, colorcasting was trying to break out, but networks and stations that originated major sports broadcasts, would always take along a black and white camera to shoot either flip cards, or mechanical graphic boxes like this that would be super imposed over the field of play shots.

ABC Sports always had a TK60 along in their color trucks and at times, would use the utility truck as the “graphics studio” with lights, the TK60 and the flip cards set up in the truck’s cargo area. My how times have changed! Thanks to Maureen Carney for the photo.


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Remember The Letterman-Gumble Feud? Here’s Where It Started!

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Remember The Letterman-Gumble Feud? Here’s Where It Started!

In May of 1985, ‘Today’ Executive Producer Steve Friedman and NBC President Larry Grossman announced that the famous morning show would present a live, one hour ‘Today Primetime’ special in August.

What no one on the ‘Today’ staff knew was that Friedman had also invited David Letterman to “interact” with the live show. “Interact” he did, and this video captures the moment. I don’t know if this clip was part of the ‘Today’ show live feed, or, if it was taped by Letterman for use on his show, but this kicked off a three year feud with ‘Today’ host Bryant Gumble.

According to this 1989 story in the “Spokane Chronicle”, Gumble was outraged and “huffy” demanding an apology from Dave, which never came. The more Bryant huffed, the more jokes from Dave.
http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1345&dat=19881020&id=x0JYAAAAIBAJ&sjid=2_kDAAAAIBAJ&pg=5424,584093

The feud finally ended May 13, 1989 when Gumbal made an appearance on ‘Late Night’…a video clip I would love to see!

Although, in the article, Jane Pauley describes the event as an interruption of her interview with ‘Miami Vice’ stars Don Johnson and Philip Michael Thomas, what we see here is a set with Gene Shalit, Gumble and Pauley. Perhaps there was a second “interaction”?

Enjoy and share!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E3R8aoPyGyc

David Letterman interrupts the Today Show Please visit CBS.com for more great Letterman clips.
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NBC’s Legendary Technical Director…Heino Ripp

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NBC’s Legendary Technical Director…Heino Ripp

In the photos below, we see Heino starting his career in Studio 3H behind an RCA A500 Iconoscope camera. On the right, he is literally the “right hand man” to another legend, Dwight Hemion (no headset), who is directing ‘The Perry Como Show’ at The Ziegfeld Theater.

Mr. Ripp was born with a mild deformity in the fingers of his left hand which kept him from serving in WWII. This allowed him to keep his new job at NBC, which he began in the early ’40s. All through the war years, he was there…learning and innovating.

Heino moved from the studio to the control room and soon became one of the network’s top technical directors….a role that he would continue in until his last years with NBC, in which he served as the TD on ‘Saturday Night Live’.

You name it, he saw it! When television took off after the war, Ripp was right in the middle of the biggest entertainment and technology explosion ever seen. Every big, live NBC show you can think of, Heino was there for.

For more, The Television Legends Interview Series taped six half hour segments with Mr. Ripp and the first of the series is linked below.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iVQ5bQAF3ZA



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Vin Scully…65 Season With The Dodgers, From Brooklyn To LA

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Vin Scully…65 Season With The Dodgers, From Brooklyn To LA

His 65 seasons with the Dodgers (1950–present) is the longest tenure of any broadcaster with a single team in professional sports history, and he is second by one year to only Tommy Lasorda in terms of number of years with the Dodgers organization in any capacity.

In 1950, Scully joined Red Barber and Connie Desmond in the Brooklyn Dodgers radio and television booths which were carried on WOR. When Barber got into a salary dispute with World Series sponsor Gillette in 1953, Scully took Barber’s spot for the 1953 World Series. At the age of 25, Scully became the youngest man to broadcast a World Series game (a record that stands to this day). Barber left the Dodgers after the 1953 season to work for the New York Yankees.

Sculley worked for CBS from 1975-’82 calling NFL, PGA and tennis games. From ’83-’89 he worked for NBC television as their lead baseball broadcaster. Besides calling the Saturday Game of the Week for NBC, Scully called three World Series (1984, 1986, and 1988), four National League Championship Series (1983, 1985, 1987, and 1989), and four All-Star Games (1983, 1985, 1987, and 1989). Scully also reworked his Dodgers schedule during this period, broadcasting home games on the radio, and road games for the Dodgers television network, with Fridays and Saturdays off so he could work for NBC.


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Easter Sunday 1950…Bob Hope’s First Television Special

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Easter Sunday 1950…Bob Hope’s First Television Special

Unbelievably, this show almost did not go on! For two reasons! First we’ll look at the more urgent problem.

This was a live NBC remote from The Amsterdam Theater, scheduled to air from 5:30-7:00 Eastern. Tensions between the unions were so thick you could cut it with a knife. Renowned NBC Technical Director Heino Ripp was there and the man that made it happen.

With only three days of rehearsal in the theater, things were boiling between the electrical and stagecraft people and NBC’s television people, and it all got started over lighting gels.

The lighting people were from Broadway and wanted to wash everything with color, but technically television needed more white light and the NBC people were taking the gels out so the cameras could get better registration. One thing lead to another and up till about an hour from showtime, it looked like there would be a walkout.

Heino Ripp finally jumped in the middle with the heads of all the unions, explained the problems and after about 20 minutes, calm was restored.

In the weeks before this though, the problem with with Bob Hope. He was avoiding television as much as possible in early 1950 as he considered radio and motion pictures an “easier racket”.

Hope had also declared that “NOBODY could pay him enough money to do a TV show!” Then, the ad agency representing Frigidaire contacted Hope’s agent, James L. Saphier, about doing this special, asking how much did Bob want? Hope snapped, $50,000, figuring that would end it, as no one had ever asked for that much money to appear on one TV show back then.

Instead of saying no, Frigidaire countered with an offer for five specials…$40,000 for the first one, and $37,500 each for the rest. Even Hope couldn’t pass that up, and finally agreed. Once he did the special, he embraced television wholeheartedly, appearing in monthly or semi-monthly specials for NBC through 1996 (while continuing his weekly radio show until it ended in 1955), and paved the way for other radio stars to follow him in the new medium.

This is an example of TV at its most primitive…AND entertaining.

https://archive.org/details/starspangledrevueBob Hope’s first Television special, broadcast Easter Sunday, 1950. It features comedy, dance, singing, and some fine piano playing. Hope performs a sketch…
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Late Night Flashback…1997

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Late Night Flashback…1997

Bailey Stortz was a cameraman on ‘Late Night’ for many years and also did some occasional work on SNL, but on this night, November 14, 1997…Bailey gets some discipline from Conan’s guest Bill Murray. Thanks to Andy Rose for the clip.

http://youtu.be/VmL_C1vUkSk?t=3m50sConan interviews Bill Murray on November 14, 1997. Bill promotes his new movie “The Man Who Knew Too Little” and bullies cameraman Bailey. Complete.
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Television’s First Sportscaster…Bill Stern

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Television’s First Sportscaster…Bill Stern

In the center is an NBC publicity photo of Bill Stern. Mr. Stern is the man that called the action on the first ever televised sporting event…the second game of a baseball doubleheader between Princeton and Columbia at Columbia’s Baker Field on May 17, 1939 as seen on the left.

On September 30, 1939 he called the first televised football game. It was a college game between the Fordham Rams and the Waynesburg Yellow Jackets played at Triborough Stadium on New York City’s Randall’s Island. Fordham won the game 34–7 and a photo from that game is on the right.

NBC hired Stern in 1937 to host ‘The Colgate Sports Newsreel’ as well as Friday night boxing on radio. Stern was also one of the first televised boxing commentators. Many say that Paul Harvey copied Stern’s style and his stories about the famous and odd, which Harvey called “The Rest Of The Story”. Although Stern made no effort to authenticate his stories, in later years, he did however introduce that segment of his show by saying that they “might be actual, may be mythical, but definitely interesting.”

Thanks to Jodie Peeler for the wonderful and rare color photo… more of those soon!




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A Brief History Of Portable Color Cameras…Follow Up

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A Brief History Of Portable Color Cameras…Follow Up

Earlier in the week I had posted a story on the first color portable cameras. I meant to include the Norelco PCP 70, but forgot, so I’m adding it now.

It was in October of 1967 when Norelco announced it’s first color mini camera, the PCP 70, at National Association of Educational Broadcasters convention. The camera head, with zoom lens weighed in at 23 pounds. The backpack was an additional 22 pounds. The list price was $41,450.


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‘The Now Explosion’…26 Weeks That Changed Music-Television

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‘The Now Explosion’…26 Weeks That Changed Music-Television

On Saturday, March 14, 1970, music shows on television changed forever when ‘The Now Explosion’ debuted on Atlanta’s WATL. Till then, all there was were teen dance shows like ‘American Bandstand’ and artist appearances on variety shows. ‘Now Explosion’ was created to trun weekend television into a Top 40 radio station.

The show was created by Bob Whitney, who I spoke with yesterday. Bob had started in broadcasting as a disc jockey, but by the late 60s, was GM of Philadelphia UHF television station owned by Daniel Overmyer. The idea of a video type radio show had been in Bob’s head for a couple of years. UHF stations had notoriously low viewership and a weekend music show like this could attract the younger demo and, fill vast swaths of weekend programing time with an idea youth market advertisers should flock too.

http://www.thenowexplosion.com/dallas/
At the link, you’ll see photos of the pilot being shot at WFAA in Dallas October 18-20, 1969. In early 1970, Bob moved from the US Communications UHF station in Philadelphia to it’s sister UHF station in Atlanta and production started for the March debut.

One element that made ‘Now Explosion’ so different was the production values. The show came about right in the thick of the psychedelic era and this influence was not lost on the production crews and staff. There was a lot of multi camera zooms, pans and fades and advance uses of video feedback. Below is one of the shows most popular music tracks, and their first to feature the video feedback technique.
http://www.thenowexplosion.com/spirit_sky.html

The video feedback effect was achieved by, in this case, shooting a dancer in the studio with one camera, then shooting a monitor shot of the image and mixing the two. The original video and the newly captured pictures from the monitor were combined with a video switcher to create an “infinity” effect as same video repeated itself in a seemingly endless visual loop.

The special effects used in ‘The Now Explosion’ were crude, but state of the art for the early 1970s era. Remember, video tape editing was still quite complex and expensive, so most of these tape sessions were done on the fly with no rehearsals, and only an idea of how they wanted the video to look.

Most performers were young amateurs recruited from the Atlanta audience, with many found at Piedmont Park and on “the strip” which ran from 10th to 14th Street along Peachtree Street.

Many appeared with home-grown costumes – often after midnight when station facilities became available. Concert lighting was also used which included the liquid looking electronic collages popular in the day. Collage operators were able to produce complex lighting effects with projectors that were not possible using the video technology of the day.

http://www.thenowexplosion.com/longandwinding/
I remember watching this show and my favorite video is at the link above. It’s “The Long And Winding Road” and as you see, represents another aspect of the show’s productions…story videos shot on film. Bob Rector shot this and many like it as he was the main film story man. Occasionally, artists would submit video of themselves from other shows, but ‘Now Explosion’ producers would all ways jazz them up with some new effects.

The show ran for 13 weeks on Atlanta’s WATL, where it aired 28 hours each weekend. Programs were bicycled to stations on 2 inch videotape and played back for extended periods from one to six hours. WPIX-TV in New York played five hours of ‘The Now Explosion’ surrounding telecasts of New York Yankees baseball games in 1970. Stations in Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., San Francisco, Sacramento and Boston had also picked up the show.

After 13 weeks at WATL, Ted Turner contracted to carry the program for a television station he had recently acquired, WTCG-TV. WATL closed down shortly afterward. The move had also shifted production of ‘The Now Explosion’ to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where Whitney established a new home production base. Program segments were produced at Miami Teleproductions and 2 inch video editing was undertaken at Videotape Associates in Ft. Lauderdale (now VTA of Atlanta).

After 26 weeks in syndication in early 1971, Whitney cancelled the show when the high costs of production and distribution outpaced the commercial revenue.

The first video disc jockeys were in fact, my old friend “Skinny” Bobby Harper and Bob Todd in Atlanta. When the show moved to Ft. Lauderdale, my other old friend Rick Shaw took over.

There is much more to see and experience and here are some links. The main web page: http://www.thenowexplosion.com/
The FB page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/thenowexplosion/

Thanks to Bob Whitley and ‘The Now Explosion’ staff and crew for being ahead of their time! It would be eleven more years before anyone even said MTV out loud. By the way, the ‘Now Explosion’ FB page is looking for former crew and dancers on the show.



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12 Very Interesting Minutes Of Early TV Facilities

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12 Very Interesting Minutes….GI’s And The Jobs Of The Future

This is basically, the only grand tour of television as it existed in America in June of 1945. This very rare presentation takes us inside GE’s WRGB in Schenectady, NY., NBC’s first mobile unit and into the CBS television studios at Grand Central Station.

In order to prepare millions of men in uniform for a return to civilian life, the military made films like this to show to the troops.
Victory in Europe came May 8, 1945, but the war with Japan did not end until August 15, 1945, so when this film on new occupational opportunities in television was shown, the military was still near full strength as there was still a lot of sorting out to do after the end of hostilities. This was shown in camps of all branches of the services and if you listen to the CBS head of production, you can appreciate the huge numbers of new hires that will be needed to produce the expanded peacetime television schedules anticipated.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dUOsQ0Xu96M

more at http://showbiz.quickfound.net/ Shows mid-1940s production of TV shows by New York NBC station WNBT (now WNBC) using RCA gear, and Includes an intervi…
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WOW! Inside NBC Studio 3H AND…Inside The RCA A500 Camera!

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WOW! Inside NBC Studio 3H AND…Inside The RCA A500 Camera!

Although some of this footage is familiar, NEW scenes from 1:15 to 1:40 show the camera top up with the engineer adjusting the Iconoscope tube, the camera’s focus handle and a look into the ground glass viewfinder! I’ve never seen these new scenes.

We also get a good look into the studio AND, the 3H control room in action. This too may seem familiar, but there are some new scenes in those portions too. This video should start at the 1:00 mark and is only 4 minutes but is very illuminating.

Thanks to Brook Whatley for sending what I hope is the first of several new finds in the Pathe’ UK film library just added to youtube. (See yesterday’s story on the 85,000 new videos.)

http://youtu.be/QBiIj_mPpbw?t=59sTitles read: “UNCLE SAM’S TELEVISION”. United States of America. Long item showing the development of American television. People gather around a television …
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Heartwarming In So Many Ways…HUGE SURPRISE ENDING!

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Heartwarming In So Many Ways…HUGE SURPRISE ENDING! Must See!

This is a three minute clip of Bill Cosby hosting a special tribute to Art Linkletter that aired on CBS on February 6, 1995. ‘Art Linkletter’s House Party’ was on CBS radio and television for 25 years. Interviewing kid was one of Art’s specialties and joys, but as we all know “kids say the darndest things”! And they DID!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EBMOhM31EyM&feature=related

Video with Bill Crosby of a show
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A Brief History Of Portable Color Cameras

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A Brief History Of Portable Color Cameras

You would think RCA lead the way in this area, but they were more focused on studio color cameras in the late 60s as the TK42/43 project had gone badly and Norelco was eating their lunch. Now, this is not to say that there were not some RCA/NBC experimental color portables in use, but they were not production models…just testers.

That I know of, ABC had the first color portables and this video clip shows the camera on the sidelines of the USC-UCLA game on November 11, 1967. There were two backpack versions…one contained a small video tape recorder and no live capacity, but the one shown here is the “Scrambler” pack which is a control and microwave box. In the photo below is our friend Don ‘Peaches’ Langford with the BC 100 and was one of the first to use this camera.

Second on the scene with portable color was Ikegami. In 1972, the HL 33 (Handy Looky) debuted. The HL 33 also had a large back pack, but did lead the way in Electronic News Gathering and is generally considered the first ENG camera.

Although bringing up the rear, it was RCA that finally did away with the backpacks, which brought great joy to the camera crews. The RCA TKP 45 (see earlier post for introductory video) debuted in 1974 as a camera only unit which cabled directly to the truck. It was more of a production color camera than and ENG but could handle the task.

Finally in 1976, RCA rolled out what would become the top of the line and most used ENG camera ever, the TK76. In the last part of the TKP 45 video, we see the 1975 engineering model of the TK76. Here is the full story on that 1975 RCA ENG camera that never had a name, as told by our friend Lytle Hoover. Enjoy and share!

http://www.oldradio.com/archives/hardware/TV/tk75.htm

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_kh8JurXv2c

Ignore the annoying bugs; here’s a quick clip of Ampex’s portable Ampex BC-100 camera in action, at the November 11, 1967 UCLA-USC game–which I had thought …
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RARE VIDEO! RCA TKP 45 Color Portable Camera Introduction

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RARE VIDEO! RCA TKP 45 Color Portable Camera Introduction

Our thanks to James Murphy Tinsley for finding this great RCA clip from 1974. Not only do we see the intro of their new portable color production camera, but near the end, we see a prototype of the famous RCA TK76 ENG camera. It looks nothing like the finished product.

In today’s next post, we’ll get into the history of portable color.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QNHGE5kDfL4

See the New Ultra Modern, Ultra Portable RCA Cameras!
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ABC Debuts ‘The Joey Bishop Show’, April 17, 1967

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47 Years Ago…ABC Debuts ‘The Joey Bishop Show’

On April 17, 1967, Joey Bishop and his sidekick Regis Philbin went head to head with Johnny Carson and Ed McMahon on NBC, and in some markets, Merv Griffin’s syndicated Group W show. (Merv’s CBS late night show did not come along till ’69.)

As a member of the “Rat Pack”, Bishop was a hot property, but even at the top of his game, ‘Tonight’ was too big hurdle and the show ended on December 26, 1969 with Bishop leaving after his monologue, declaring that this was the last show. Philbin was left to finish the final episode. The time slot was filled by ‘The Dick Cavett Show’.

The only episodes that topped ‘Tonight’ in the ratings was when Regis walked off the show, and returned a few days later. Philbin’s reason for leaving was the bashing he took from critics and ABC executives, but years later, Philbin revealed that the “walk off” was actually a stunt Bishop had come up with.

The show was done with GE PE 350 color cameras from The Vine Street Theater. According to our friend Randy West, who reminded me of this event, Bishop and Philbin would walk around the neighborhood for inspiration on monologue bits. As seen in the video, it seems they also did a bit of shopping as in this clip of the show’s open, they are both sporting new Nehru jackets.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LdyDRjpPftU

The opening minutes of a Bishop show episode that features Sammy Davis as the central guest. Here Joey and sidekick Reege talk about their new Nehru jackets …
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1953 Charlie Douglass “Laff Box” Discovered

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Laugh Tracks: Ultra Rare Black Box Found!

This is an amazing find! From ‘Antiques Roadshow’ here is the video of the Charlie Douglas ‘Laff Box’, built in 1953, which was discovered among the items sold in a storage locker sale!

Back in the 50s and 60s, Charlie Douglas was ‘The Man’ for laugh tracks in Los Angeles and traveled with his top secret black box to sweeten the tracks on many famous shows.

He would wheel his black box of pre-recorded laughs into the post audio room, plug in to the mixing console, and proceed to treat the soundtrack with everything from chuckles to knee-slapping fits, to applause.

Understandably, Charlie and his son Bobby were very protective of the technology and the library of carefully categorized audience reactions inside that black box. Now remember, this was before cart machines, but when the close up comes, you’ll see the loops rotating and I think this technology was called the Mckinzie tape loop system. Thanks to Mark Sudock for the clip. Enjoy and Share!

http://video.pbs.org/video/1754622115/

Watch now: Antiques Roadshow | Appraisal: 1953 Charlie Douglass “Laff Box” | PBS Video

Appraisal: 1953 Charlie Douglass “Laff Box”, from San Diego Hour 2
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Varotal Mark III Field Lens…The Grandaddy Of Remote Zooms

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Varotal Mark III Field Lens…The Grandaddy Of Remote Zooms

At 30 pounds, this is quite a big boy and took a bit of lead weighing on the pan handle to help balance this. I think the lever on the side of the lens is the back focus. Having never seen one of these in action, I think the rear handle is a “two in one” demand. I suspect the small silver knob is the focus demand and the arm it’s mounted on is the zoom demand that the operator would push to zoom in or pull to zoom out on this 10 X 1 lens.

With course gearing, you wouldn’t have to move the zoom bar much to go from full out to full in. I suspect these came to the market around 1953. Unfortunately, no one knows much about these and the only on I know of that survives is in the care of our friend Chuck Pharis. Have any of you worked with these?


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Network Television’s First Evening News Anchor…Douglas Edwards

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Network Television’s First Evening News Anchor…Douglas Edwards

This is thought to be the earliest known photo of Douglas Edwards telecasting the news, shortly after the May 3, 1948 debut of ‘CBS Television News’.

Edwards joined CBS Radio in 1942, eventually becoming anchor for the regular evening newscast ‘The World Today’ as well as ‘World News Today’ on Sunday afternoons. He came to CBS after stints as a newscaster and announcer at WSB in Atlanta, Georgia and WXYZ in Detroit, Michigan.

CBS began broadcasting news shows on Saturday nights, expanding to two nights a week in 1947. These reports were delivered by CBS radio news men, who were not interested in this “television stuff” and loathed having to do it. Edwards had a couple of turns at it, and kind of enjoyed it and let his interest be known.

On May 3, 1948, Douglas Edwards began anchoring ‘CBS Television News’, a regular 15-minute nightly newscast. It aired every weeknight at 7:30 p.m. Eastern Time, and was the first regularly scheduled, network television news program to use an anchor.

On February 16, 1948, NBC had begun airing ‘NBC Television Newsreel’, and later ‘Camel Newsreel Theatre’ as a 10-minute program that featured Pathe’ newsreels. John Cameron Swayze provided voice-over for the series. ‘The Camel News Caravan’ was an expanded version of the ‘Camel Newsreel Theatre’ feature Swayze on-camera.

On CBS, the week’s news stories were recapped on a Sunday night program titled ‘Newsweek in Review’. The name was later shortened to ‘The Week in Review’ and the show was moved to Saturdays. In 1950, the name of the nightly newscast was changed to ‘Douglas Edwards With the News’, and the following year, it became the first news program to be broadcast on both coasts, thanks to a new coaxial cable connection, prompting Edwards to use the greeting “Good evening everyone, coast to coast.”

It is not clear whether both Douglas and Swayze did a live second broadcast for the west coast. By 1947, Kinescopes had begun to be used and there are stories that report the show was done live again with added west coast content, and reports that say it was kine delayed, but one thing is clear…November 30, 1956, Edwards’ program became the first to use the new technology of videotape to time delay the broadcast.

The CBS program competed against NBC’s ‘Camel News Caravan’ that was launched in 1949 with John Cameron Swayze. NBC’s news took the lead, but by the mid 50s, CBS and Edwards were in the lead. In September 1955, ‘Douglas Edwards With The News’ was moved to 6:45 p.m. ET.

On October 29, 1956, Swayze was replaced by Chet Huntley and David Brinkley on NBC’s ‘Huntley-Brinkley Report’ and this helped CBS ratings as it took a while for Chet and David to gain traction.
By the early ’60, NBC’s news ratings were a good bit higher and a decision was make to make a switch at CBS.

Walter Cronkite became anchor on April 16, 1962. On September 2, 1963, ‘The CBS Evening News’ became network television’s first half-hour weeknight news broadcast, lengthened from its original 15 minutes, and telecast at 6:30 p.m. ET. NBC quickly followed suit and ‘The Huntley-Brinkley Report’ expanded to 30 minutes exactly a week later on September 9, 1963.

‘The CBS Evening News’ was broadcast in color for one evening on August 19, 1965, and made the switch permanently on January 31, 1966.


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Early Video Tape Delay + The 7 Forbidden Words…

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Early Video Tape Delay + The 7 Forbidden Words…

When certain “blue humor”comedians and “colorful personalities” were on live network shows, producers would sometime hedge their bets with a 6 second tape delay and this is how they did it.

Until sometime in the mid 1960s, this is the way you got a 6 second delay for live television events. As shown here, you would have recorded on the left machine, threaded the tape over a few homemade spindles and play it back on the machine on the right for air. In case of a blooper, the director cut to live action before the image got over to the playback head and pray there are no more till you can get to a station break and re sync.

George Carlin’s famous ‘7 Dirty Words’ sketch was first performed in concert May 27, 1972 for his “Class Clown” album. A few years ago, Carlin discussed this in an interview for the Emmy TV Legends bio series. The 4 minute XXX rated clip is below. The famous list is at 2:57, but even though not of the faint of heart, Carlin’s perspective as a true wordsmith, and context is fantastic as always.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rMyDvqnwIm4

At ‘Saturday Night Live’, some of these words have always had a way of just popping into a live show…especially the F word and here’s a brief F’ing history of those “special” moments.

During a sketch in 1980, Paul Shaffer said “f****n'” instead of “floggin'”; in 1981, Charles Rocket, said “I’d like to know who the f**k did it” during a “Who Shot JR?” parody and on the same night Prince sang the lyric “Fightin’ war is such a f****n’ bore”; in 1990, singer Morris Day of The Time said “Where the f**k did this chicken come from?” and Steven Tyler of Aerosmith sang “feedin’ that f****n’ monkey on my back” during their performances.

In 1994, Michael Stipe of R.E.M. sang “Don’t f**k with me” and Adam Horovitz of Beastie Boys sang “So won’t you f****n’ listen” in their performances. In 1997, Norm MacDonald accidentally said, “What the f**k was that?” after flubbing a line during “Weekend Update”. James Hetfield of Metallica sang “F**k ’em man, white knuckle tight” during their performance in 1997. In 2009, Jenny Slate accidentally said, “You know what, you stood up for yourself and I f**king love you for that.”


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May 8, 1945, Victory In Europe Day

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May 8, 1945, Victory In Europe

To celebrate the defeat of Germany, and it’s Axis ally Italy, WNBT broadcast hours of live news coverage and celebrations on the end of World War II in Europe with remotes from around New York City. Here, we see an RCA Orthicon camera atop the marquee of the Astor Hotel in panning the happy crowd below.

Although a step up from the Iconoscope cameras, the first Orthicon cameras still had the ground glass, optical viewfinders and the right hand pan handle was the focus demand, which would carry over into the TK40s and 41s. The focus demand on the body of the camera’s right side did not come along until the Image Orthicon RCA TK30 and TK10 which had a four lens turret and five inch electronic viewfinders. Interestingly, some of the fist TK40 prototypes had the side mounted focus control, but TK40 operators liked the dual handles and right grip focus demand better with a camera that size.

Many of our international friends still have their cameras set up with the focus demand on the right and zoom on the left. In the US, our cameras are mostly set up with zoom demand on the right and focus on the left. This shift came about with the introduction of the cable drive Varatol zoom lenses from Rank Taylor Hobson. With the back focus correctly set, cameramen could get more dynamics with the zoom demand and that was more easily done with the right hand with minimal help from the cable driven focus demand, so that assignment went to the left hand.


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Two Mothers Of Invention…Steve Allen And Frank Zappa!

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Two Mothers Of Invention…Steve Allen And Frank Zappa!

You may have thought the story of Frank Zappa, “playing a bicycle” on Steve Allen’s show was just an old wives tale. Not so! Here it is!

If you remember, Allen had gone with NBC in 1953 to do a local late show on WNBT and in ’54, began the ‘Tonight’ show, but in ’56 also took on the Sunday night ‘Steve Allen Show’. That ran till ’60 and wrapped up, with the last year or so, coming from NBC Burbank.

From 1962-1965, Allen re-created the Tonight Show madness on a new late-night ‘Steve Allen Show’ syndicated by Westinghouse TV. The show, taped in Hollywood at “The Steve Allen Playhouse”, which was just the television show’s name for the venue, which was really the Vine Street Theater. Notice the slate at the front of the show…it was a Glenn – Armistead production done with the truck I’ll post below in the comment section.

The show was marked by the same wild, unpredictable stunts, such as ‘Man In The Street’ and comedy skits that often extended down the street to a supermarket known as the Hollywood Ranch Market. He also presented Southern California eccentrics including health food advocate Gypsy Boots, quirky physics professor Dr. Julius Sumner Miller and comic Prof. Irwin Corey.

During one episode, Allen placed a telephone call to the home of Johnny Carson, posing as a ratings company interviewer, asking Carson if the television was on, and what program he was watching. Carson did not immediately realize the caller was Allen.

One notable program, which Westinghouse refused to distribute, featured Lenny Bruce during the time the comic was repeatedly being arrested on obscenity charges. Enjoy and share.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1MewcnFl_6Y

Frank promotes his new record How’s Your Bird & The Worlds Greatest Sinner movie and then plays a bicycle with Steve. Fun for all.
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