Posts in Category: Broadcast History

How TV Covered Death Of President Kennedy…Broadcasting Magazine

How TV Covered Death Of President Kennedy…Broadcasting Magazine

http://www.americanradiohistory.com/Archive-BC/BC-1963/1963-12-02-BC.pdf
Here is the The December 2, 1963 issue of Broadcasting, which includes an article over 10 pages deep (starts on page 36) that gives us a rare look at how the networks swung into action after receiving the news from Dallas.

The main article covers many of the details and back stories of the efforts at ABC, CBS and NBC to get their news departments and crews up and running for this marathon coverage. There are also other single articles on associated stories, like “The Dimension President Kennedy Added To Television”, which is a tribute to his use of TV in all of his campaigns and in his press conferences. -Bobby Ellerbee

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The Hard-Working Italian Origins of the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree

TONIGHT! Tree Lighting At 30 Rockefeller Plaza + Some Surprises

From 8 – 9 tonight, NBC carries the holiday tradition nation wide, live from Rockefeller Plaza…well…almost live. I have been told that Dolly Parton’s performance was done months ago, but great care was taken to make it a seamless fit into tonight’s show, so keep a sharp eye out.

As for the first ever 30 Rock Christmas tree…we can thank Cesidio Perruzza, an Italian excavation worker who helped dig the foundation in 1931. Merry Christmas! -Bobby Ellerbee

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/02/nyregion/the-hard-working-italian-origins-of-the-rockefeller-center-christmas-tree.html?smprod=nytcore-iphone&smid=nytcore-iphone-share&_r=2

The Hard-Working Italian Origins of the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree

Nearly lost to history are the tree’s origins with men who worked in construction, most of them Italian immigrants, who were glad for a job during the Depression.

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November 30, 1927…The Birth Of Hallowed Broadcast Ground

November 30, 1927…The Birth Of Hallowed Broadcast Ground

When The Hammerstein Theater (now, The Ed Sullivan Theater) opened November 30, 1927, this is what the ceilings of the auditorium and lobby areas looked like.

The first nine years at 1697 Broadway were not easy, and the legitimate theater use only lasted a few years. As the Great Depression took its toll, Billy Rose took over the theater in 1933 and made it a huge nightclub, with tables and chairs where the theater seating used to be.

Finally, some stability came in 1936 when this facility became CBS Radio Playhouse #3. The first radio show from here was “Major Bowes Amateur Hour”. Ironically, the last radio show, and the first television show from here were amateur hour take offs… they were both the “Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts” shows.

In the fall of ’48, in a LIFE Magazine story on his talent scout show, they predicted, “Godfrey will probably be on television very shortly,” and the prophecy came true on December 6, 1948.

After two years on the radio, “Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts” became a regular show on CBS-TV. It was simulcast on radio from the studio it had been in those two years…CBS Radio Theater #3 which, when converted to television became Studio 50. This was the first television show to originate from Studio 50.

From then on, this has been home to some of the greatest talent ever seen on television. From Jackie Gleason and Ed Sullivan’s shows to David Letterman and now Colbert, all the greats have performed on this stage.

Thanks to our friend Nick Van Hoogstraten, author of “Lost Broadway Theaters,” the color image shows a small part of the hand painted mural work in 1987. This survived the paint overs by being inside a tape storage closet. The paint over came in 1960. The black and white photo is how the theater looked when it opened -Bobby Ellerbee


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November 30, 1956…60 Years Ago Today, A Videotape Milestone

November 30, 1956…60 Years Ago Today, A Videotape Milestone

On this day in 1956, at Television City, CBS made broadcast history when they achieved the first ever videotape delay of east coast programming. The show was ‘The Evening News With Douglas Edwards’, and after recording the live feed coming down the network line from New York, the program was played back three hours later for the west coast.

In the photo, we see CBS Engineer John Radis at the Ampex VRX-1000 recording the show. Just in case, a kinescope of the newscast was rolled simultaneously, but fortunately, it was not needed.

This VRX-1000 is one of only 16 hand-built machines Ampex rushed to produce after debuting the VTR eight months before.

It would take over a year for CBS New York to get videotape machines due to a huge backlog, even though the networks got priority. In early 1958, 14 VR 1000 went into service at CBS Grand Central. NBC too had the bulk of their machines on the west coast but both CBS and NBC had two VTRs in New York which were mostly used for testing and engineering purposes.

This historic machine was retired in 1978. Early on, it had been fitted with RCA color modules as Ampex and RCA traded technology rights. RCA had developed color recording in 1954 and allowed Ampex to use it if they would allow RCA to use the Qaud recording head. -Bobby Ellerbee

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November 29, 1929…The NBC Chimes Sound For The First Time


November 29, 1929…The NBC Chimes Sound For The First Time

In July of 1921, RCA bought WJZ from Westinghouse, and five years later, in July of 1926, they bought WEAF from AT&T. The National Broadcasting Company was incorporated by RCA on September 8, 1926, and two months later, on November 15, the NBC Radio Network debuted.

The demand for a network service among local stations was mounting so rapidly, that less than two months after its first national broadcast, NBC split its programming into two separate networks…the Red (WEAF) and the Blue (WJZ) networks, to give listeners a choice of different program formats. That happened on January 1, 1927.

In those early days, at the end of a programs, the NBC announcer would read the call letters of all the NBC stations carrying the program. As the network added more stations this became impractical and would cause some confusion among the affiliates as to the conclusion of network programming and when the station break should occur on the hour and half-hour.

Some sort of coordinating signal was needed to signal the affiliates for these breaks and allow each affiliate to identify. Three men at NBC were given the task of finding a solution to the problem and coming up with such a coordinating signal. These men were; Oscar (O.B.) Hanson, from NBC engineering, Earnest LaPrada, an NBC orchestra leader, and Phillips Carlin, an NBC announcer.

During the years 1927 and 1928 these men experimented with a seven note sequence of chimes, G-C-G-E-G-C-E, which proved too complicated for the announcers to consistently strike in the correct order. Sometime later they came up with the three note G-E-C combination.

These three notes were first broadcast on NBC November 29, 1929 and were struck at 59 minutes 30 seconds, and 29 minutes 30 seconds past the hour. Now, the NBC audio logo is the most famous commercial sound in the world. -Bobby Ellerbee

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fnWfNZc0EtY

Degan “Studio” Chimes. Recorded through a RCA 4AA condenser microphone of the same vintage, circa 1931. The chimes were brought up to their original quality …

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November 28, 1925…”The Grand Ole Opry” Was Born

November 28, 1925…”The Grand Ole Opry” Was Born

“The Grand Ole Opry” started as the “WSM Barn Dance” in the new fifth-floor radio station studio of the National Life & Accident Insurance Company in downtown Nashville, Tennessee on November 28, 1925.

On October 18, 1925, WSM management began a program featuring “Dr. Humphrey Bate and his string quartet of old-time musicians.” On November 2, WSM hired long-time announcer and program director George D. “Judge” Hay, an enterprising pioneer from the “National Barn Dance” program at WLS Radio in Chicago, who was also named the most popular radio announcer in America as a result of his radio work with both WLS in Chicago and WMC in Memphis.

Hay launched the “WSM Barn Dance” with 77-year-old fiddler Uncle Jimmy Thompson on November 28, 1925, which is celebrated as the birth date of the Grand Ole Opry.

The name “Grand Ole Opry” came about on December 10, 1927.

The Barn Dance followed NBC Blue Network’s “Music Appreciation Hour”, which consisted of classical music and selections from the Grand Opera genre. Their final piece that night came with comments from the conductor who stated that “there was no place in the classics for realism”.

In response to this Judge Hay quipped, “Friends, the program which just came to a close was devoted to the classics, and the host told us told us that there is no place in the classics for realism. However, from here on out for the next three hours, we will present nothing but realism. It will be down to earth for the ‘earthy’.”

He then introduced the man he dubbed the Harmonica Wizard…DeFord Bailey who played his classic train song “The Pan American Blues”. After Bailey’s performance Hay commented, “For the past hour, we have been listening to music taken largely from Grand Opera. From now on we will present the ‘Grand Ole Opry'”. -Bobby Ellerbee

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A Fun Look At The History of Hollywood’s Visual Trickery Processes


A Fun Look At The History of Hollywood’s Visual Trickery Processes

From 1898 till now, here is how special effects put the magic into movies like “The Invisible Man” ,”King Kong”, “Mary Poppins”, and more. From black and white matting, to yellow and blue screens, back to sodium vapor yellow and on to the green screens, we see the different processes and learn how each one worked. Enjoy! -Bobby Ellerbee

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H8aoUXjSfsI

Go inside the history of the travelling mattes (now called chromakey) and learn the history of visual trickery used by filmmakers from the earliest filmmaker…

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Story Of Videotape Editing…Part 2 (of 2)


Story Of Videotape Editing…Part 2 (of 2)

Yesterday’s first installment was pretty easy to follow, even for laymen, but this lesson on digital editing is more of a challenge. This does however have an interesting timeline that reminds us of when new developments came into play.

I’m posting a second video in a few minutes that is a lot more fun…it is all about the history of special effects in film making, so keep and eye out for it. -Bobby Ellerbee

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dhHQw5GrwxU

We pick up the story from the electronic engineers of television in part 1, to computer scientists, mathematicians and programmers as we explore the advancem…

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The Story Of Videotape & Editing…Part 1 (of 2)


The Story Of Videotape & Editing…Part 1 (of 2)

Tomorrow, we’ll see how digital editing works, but today…this is a great history of how television’s need for time shifting, and delayed broadcast for time zones encouraged the development of kinescope and videotape recording.

This is well done and told in layman’s terms so everyone can understand the very interesting paths the process of recording and editing video have traveled. -Bobby Ellerbee

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

Trace the history of modern day film editing – starting with electronic engineers developing solutions for capturing and editing television through to the fi…

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Texas Museum of Broadcasting Opens in Kilgore

My “Conrad” In Arms….Chuck Conrad & His New Texas TV Museum

Impressive in every way! From the display, to the abundance of vintage cameras and tape equipment, to the Dumont Cruiser restoration, to Chuck’s attitude, The Texas Museum of Broadcasting and Communications in Kilgore, is true gift to us all.

This is a new story from the Dallas/Ft. Worth station that many of us still refer to as WBAP, and it is the best report I have seen so far on Chuck’s labor of love. I would like to have a brick and mortar museum like this, and if I did, I would do it the way he’s done it. I chose the virtual museum route.

Later in the story, Chuck says something I can relate to 100%. When it comes to becoming a custodian of rarities, restoring and preserving our broadcast history…he says “somebody’s got to do it”.

“I think a lot of things in life are like that, when you come across things and know somebody’s got to do this, and you are the person who can…go do it”.

That is why I created Eyes Of A Generation in 2006. Congratulations Chuck! -Bobby Ellerbee

http://www.nbcdfw.com/news/local/Texas-Museum-of-Broadcasting-Opens-in-Kilgore-403062026.html

Texas Museum of Broadcasting Opens in Kilgore

“I can’t deny it! I mean I woke up one day and noticed I had over 50 TV cameras and then you go, ‘well, what am I going to do with this stuff?’” asked Conrad. His answer: open a museum.

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November 25, 1950…Center Theater, World’s Largest New TV Studio

November 25, 1950…Center Theater, World’s Largest New TV Studio

The Center Theater was Radio City Music Hall’s little sister and when it was converted by NBC for television was “the world’s largest television studio”. It’s big sister seated 6,000, and while the Center seated 3,000, it was just as opulent and a block away at 1230 Sixth Avenue. It is the only original Rockefeller Plaza structure ever demolished, which happened in 1954 to make way for an office tower, built for U S Rubber.

There is some interesting information In the attached 3 page NBC press release from August of 1950 that announces NBC’s lease.

The first television shows were actually done here in the late ’40s when NBC did remote broadcasts of several of the ice shows which were performed on the Center’s specially constructed “Sonja Henie Ice Stage” . November 25, 1950 is the theater’s debut as a television studio (with it’s own control room) and the first show was a Radio/TV simulcast of ‘The Voice Of Firestone’.

I think ‘The Colgate Comedy Hour’ also moved here at the first of December, and in the last photo before the NBC Press release, you see occasional host, Broadway dancing star Wayne Lamb on stage with the Center’s large turntable in views. At this link is a 1954 episode of ‘The Colgate Comedy Hour’ live from The Center and notice the famous freezable ice stage is still intact and in use for an appearance of none other than Sonja Henie.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MGf60c_2ODo

By 1952, ‘You Show Of Shows’, which began in the International Theater, moved to The Center for it’s last two seasons.

The first photo says it all about the location…a block up is Radio City Music Hall and between them is NBC’s 30 Rock headquarters. Just to the left of the Center’s marquee is the famous Hurley’s Bar, nestled against NBC at the corner of 6th Avenue and 49th Street. Radio City is at 50th Street. In that photo, the construction is the demolition of the elevated train tracks that once ran up 6th Avenue. -Bobby Ellerbee








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THE NEW EYES OF A GENERATION WEB SITE IS UP & RUNNING!

THE NEW EYES OF A GENERATION WEB SITE IS UP & RUNNING!

Just in time for Thanksgiving browsing, the all new site ready! http://eyesofageneration.com/

Please share this news with your friends, and let your non Facebook friends know with an email. Now everyone can comment on the new site, and it is very easy. You can sign in with your FB account, or do a simple one time registration…or just visit the site and look around with no sign ins. There is a LOT to see!

My thanks to all of you for your years of interest and support…it is greatly appreciated! This is for you, and all that come after us.

Building the new site would not have been possible without the long hours of effort from our great webmaster, Dave Donaldson who directs the morning news at WTOL in Toledo, and Dr. Jodie Peeler, Professor of Communications at Newberry College. When I was too afraid of the daunting task, she pulled me through. Dave’s ingenuity allowed us to do something no other site has ever done…we are the first to capture all of our Facebook post archives, complete with comments, and import them into our own server. Other sites display FB posts, but the posts are still physically in FB…ours are not.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING TO YOU! -Bobby Ellerbee, Dave Donaldson, Jodie Peeler

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Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

Especially to those pros among us that are “in the kitchen” whipping up live television for us today. From parades and football, to local crews newsing, thanks for being there! Add your pictures of your day here, and don’t worry, we’ll save you some turkey. -Bobby Ellerbee

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Another TV History Surprise…Jon Gnagy, One Of TV’s First Stars

Another TV History Surprise…Jon Gnagy, One Of TV’s First Stars

Before Howdy Doody, Lucy, Berle, Kukla, Fran or Ollie, there was Jon Gangy.

His TV career began May 13, 1946, in NBC Studio 3H (pictured here) on a trial video version of NBC’s “Radio City Matinee” radio program, which was carried on NBC’s three market network to New York City, Schenectady and Philadelphia.

Gnagy was the opener of the show which also featured a comic, a cooking demonstration, and a woman who modeled hats. When Gnagy picked up his crayon to begin, he found the lights had melted it into a useless glob, so he switched to charcoals. For seven minutes, he showed his viewers how to draw an old oak tree.

There were not many television sets in use then, but the creators of television knew Gnagy was onto something.

Vladimir Zworykin, who had invented the cathode ray tubes that made television transmission and reception possible, was there and rushed over to shake Gnagy’s hand. RCA and NBC President David Sarnoff called to congratulate him. The show’s producer exclaimed that his segment was “pure television.”

By November, Gnagy had his own 15-minute NBC series, “You Are An Artist”, airing on Thursday nights in prime time. In The New York Times, critic Jack Gould praised Gnagy’s ”thoroughly engaging setside manner.” Writing in The Philadelphia Inquirer, Merill Panitt, later to become editorial director of TV Guide, said that ”Gnagy’s Midwestern easy-going manner conceals the hours of rehearsal and gives an air of spontaneity to the proceedings.”

And while Gnagy could never boast Uncle Miltie’s influence, he did have an impact. At the height of his popularity, Manhattan bartenders handed out paper and pencils to patrons who put down their cocktails to sketch along with ”America’s Television Art Instructor.”

It didn’t last, of course. Like so many early TV staples, “You Are An Artist” was cancelled in 1950 to make way for shows with broader appeal as the number of sets and stations multiplied, BUT, there is more to come!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SVZwCpPx3Gk

At the link above is what most of us remember…the syndicated series, “Learn to Draw”, that Gnagy subsequently co-produced and marketed to local TV stations to fit into their Saturday or afternoon schedules alongside the likes of Meet Mr. Wizard and Howdy Doody.

His show remained on television until 1971 and in syndication on PBS beyond that. He received no royalties, but now had a platform from which to promote his lesson books and art kits. Doubleday sold a copy of his book to one out of every fourteen television set owners in the United States.

His art supply company moved fifteen-million art kits. He even spawned some successful imitators, most notably Bob Ross, whose show “The Joy of Painting” ran on PBS from 1983 to 1994.

Believe it or not, you can still buy Gangy’s kits today, complete with the gum eraser many of us ate.

It’s impossible to know just how many artists were inspired by Gnagy’s show, but here is a quote from someone who was. Andy Warhol said, “I watched his show every week and I bought all his books.” -Bobby Ellerbee

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November 22, 1963: A President Falls…TV News Ascends

November 22, 1963: A President Falls…TV News Ascends

Until the day President Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, breaking news coverage had been the domain of the print media, but the story of that weekend unfolded so fast, only live television could deliver both the story and the unforgettable images.

During that 4 days of nonstop, commercial free broadcasting, Americans came to accept TV news for its unique ability and trustworthy presentation.

What follows in these 2 linked stories are first, an essay from our friend Frazier Moore, of the AP, on how this historic coverage changed TV news. http://www.tvnewscheck.com/article/71345/in-life-and-especially-death-jfk-changed-tv/page/1

And, a very interesting account of how the UPI and AP wire reporters in the motorcade fought to cover the story. http://ajrarchive.org/article.asp?id=1672

After that awful day in Dallas, no one and nothing in this country was ever the same again…especially television news. -Bobby Ellerbee

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Introducing The RCA TK30: Television’s First Workhorse Camera

Introducing The RCA TK30: Television’s First Workhorse Camera

http://www.americanradiohistory.com/Archive-RCA-Broadcast-News/RCA-44.pdf
This is the entire edition of RCA’s October 1946 “Broadcast News” magazine that features this brand new camera in a very detailed, multi page story. One of many new Archive items in the new Eyes Of A Generation site, coming soon.

The cover page photo is in relation to the first ever use of this camera at the Joe Lewis – Billy Conn boxing match held at Yankee Stadium. On page 20, you can read about RCA’s new improved microwave system that help the new TK30 images.

Even after taking in these feature stories, it’s fun to browse the rest of this issue for an interesting look back at audio boards, transmitters and more technology that, at the time, was “state of the art”. -Bobby Ellerbee

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A SAMPLE FROM…THE NEW EYES OF A GENERATION WEB SITE

A SAMPLE FROM…THE NEW EYES OF A GENERATION WEB SITE

http://www.americanradiohistory.com/Archive-RCA-Broadcast-News/RCA-110.pdf
From the Archives section of the new site, here is a whole issue of “RCA Broadcast New” that focuses solely on color television, as is was in 1961. Great articles and interesting pictures!

We are putting the finishing touches on the new Eyes Of A Generation.com site now, and hope to bring it live, shortly after Thanksgiving. -Bobby Ellerbee

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November 20, 1958…First Known Videotape Edited Show Airs

November 20, 1958…First Known Videotape Edited Show Airs

Seated on the right is director John Frankenheimer watching Ross Murray edit “Old Man”, which was a ‘Playhouse 90’ presentation that aired November 20, 1958.

This was the first time an entire production had ever been videotaped in advance and edited for air. The year before, Frankenheimer had used videotaped inserts in the live productions of two prior ‘Playhouse 90’ shows which were “Bomber’s Moon” and “The Days Of Wine And Roses”, but “Old Man” was a different ballgame.

Most of “Old Man” took place in a storm on the Mississippi River as an escaped convict fled from the law. The production used two studios at Television City (wet and dry) and was so daunting technically that the only way to do it was on tape. You can see some of the production shots below, including the huge Chapman movie crane they brought in.

On November 30, 1956 CBS had made history by tape delaying ‘Douglas Edwards With The News’ and again on October 13, 1957 when they used videotape to play back ‘The Edsel Show’ which aired live from Television City three hours earlier. -Bobby Ellerbee




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November 19, 1959…America Meets Rocky And Bullwinkle


November 19, 1959…America Meets Rocky And Bullwinkle

Today is the anniversary of the debut of one of my all time favorite cartoon shows…probably one of yours too. The show debuted as ‘Rocky And His Friends’ on ABC and although done in color, it was broadcast in black and white. Before third season began in 1961, the show moved to NBC where it was broadcast in color and called ‘The Bullwinkle Show’.

Production began in February 1958 with the hiring of voice actors June Foray, Paul Frees, Bill Scott, and William Conrad. Ward hired most of the rest of the production staff, including writers and designers, BUT…no animators were hired!?! Why? Because Ward was able to convince some friends at Dancer, Fitzgerald, & Sample (an advertising agency that had General Mills as a client) to buy an animation studio in Mexico called Gamma Productions, originally known as Val-Mar Animation.

This outsourcing of the animation for the series was considered financially attractive by primary sponsor General Mills, but caused numerous problems. In a 1982 interview by animation historian Jim Korkis, Bill Scott described some of the problems that arose during production of the series: “We found out very quickly that we could not depend on Mexican studios to produce anything of quality. They were turning out the work very quickly and there were all kinds of mistakes and flaws and boo-boos. They would never check with us on details…mustaches popped on and off Boris, Bullwinkle’s antlers would change, colors would change and costumes would disappear. By the time we finally saw it, it was on the air.”

General Mills had signed a deal to sponsor the cartoon, under the condition that the show be run in a late-afternoon time slot, where it could be targeted toward children. The show was broadcast for the first time on November 19, 1959, on the ABC television network under the title ‘Rocky and His Friends’ twice a week, on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons, following American Bandstand at 5:30 p.m. ET, where it was the highest-rated daytime network program.

The show moved to the NBC network starting September 24, 1961, broadcast in color, and first appeared on Sundays at 7 p.m. ET, just before ‘Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color’. Bullwinkle’s ratings suffered as a result of being aired opposite perennial favorite Lassie. A potential move to CBS caused NBC to reschedule the show to late Sunday afternoons (5:30 p.m. ET) and early Saturday afternoons in its final season. NBC canceled the show in the summer of 1964. It was shopped to ABC, but they were not interested. However, reruns of episodes were aired on ABC’s Sunday morning schedule at 11 a.m. ET until 1973, at which time the series went into syndication.

An abbreviated fifteen-minute version of the series ran in syndication in the 1960s under the title ‘The Rocky Show’. This version was sometimes shown in conjunction with The King and Odie, a fifteen-minute version of Total Television’s King Leonardo and His Short Subjects. The King and Odie was similar to Rocky and Bullwinkle in that it was sponsored by General Mills and animated by Gamma Productions. NBC later aired Bullwinkle Show reruns at 12:30 p.m. ET Saturday afternoons during the 1981-1982 television season.

Below is a clip of the main voices of the show, June Foray and Bill Scott talking about their “adventures”. Other famous voices on the show included William Conrad as the narrator, Paul Frees as Boris Badenov, Wally Tetley as Sherman, Daws Butler as Aesop Junior and various other characters, Charlie Ruggles as Aesop, Hans Conried as Snidely Whiplash and Edward Everett Horton as the narrator for Fractured Fairy Tales. -Bobby Ellerbee

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

This is a classic view of Bill Scott and June Foray. Bill sadly is no longer with us but June still is! This has local Boston content June has roots in Bosto…

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START SPREADING THE NEWS! NEW SITE COMING SOON!

START SPREADING THE NEWS! NEW SITE COMING SOON!

Stay tuned for more! -Bobby Ellerbee

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Les Paul & Mary Ford on “Omnibus” (1953)

FANTASTIC!…First TV Demonstration Of Multi Track Audio Tape Recording

In this 1953 kinescope from “Omnibus”, Alistair Cooke hosts Les Paul and Mary Ford in a recreation of their 1951 hit “How High The Moon”. The song not only topped the ‘Top 40’ charts, but the ‘R&B’ charts too, which was another first.

Although Les and Mary had released a few other multi tracked songs, which were well received, those were done with discs and not tape. Using the disc method was difficult and tedious, with one track at a time being added as the previous compilation of tracks was played back and re-recorded with each new part.

In 1947, Bing Crosby brought Les an Ampex 200 tape recorder to play with, and the rest is history. I am attaching two excellent links that go into great detail about the process and the string of discoveries, so make sure you take a look and a listen.

http://www.les-paul.com/timeline/sound-on-sound/
At the bottom of this page, there is an embedded video of Les recording “Brazil” on the discs, and when the pop up screen appears, click the play button at the bottom and the + and – controls to add or remove tracks.

http://www.soundonsound.com/people/classic-tracks-les-paul-mary-ford-how-high-moon
At this link, you’ll find a great history, most in Les’ own words, that take you from the start, all the way through the 8 track machines and more.

Finally, this clip came to my attention while watching the great PBS series “Soundbreaking” which has so far aired 4 of the 8 episodes (nightly) and I can’t wait for the rest.

By the way…notice in this video clip, the whole thing starts out with a prop given credit for the way the recording system works. That part is pure Les Paul. He was a joker and all around great guy. ENJOY and SHARE! -Bobby Ellerbee

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VCEmAgak9V8

Les Paul & Mary Ford on “Omnibus” (1953)

Les Paul and Mary Ford demonstrate their innovative recording techniques on Alistair Cooke’s TV program “Omnibus” (10/23/1953). — http://www.les-paul.com ht…

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Happy Birthday To Mickey Mouse…88 Years Old Today


Happy Birthday To Mickey Mouse…88 Years Old Today

On November 18, 1928, ‘Steamboat Willie’, starring Mickey Mouse, was released and shown in theaters across the country. It was wildly popular.

This was the first cartoon with synchronized sound and was the first cartoon to feature a fully post-produced soundtrack which distinguished it from earlier sound cartoons.

Although animation filmmakers Dave and Max Fleischer’s Inkwell Studios had already produced seven sound cartoons, part of the Song Car-Tunes which started in May 1924, those failed to keep the sound fully synchronized. ‘Steamboat Willie’ was produced using a click track to help with musical cues.

The click track was sufficiently useful as a synchronization tool as optical marks were made on the film to indicate precise timings for musical accompaniment.

In 1994 professional animators voted Steamboat Willie 13th in the book “The 50 Greatest Cartoons”. By the way, Walt is the voice of Mickey in this historic cartoon, and although Mickey Mouse had been seen in theaters before this, his official birthday is marked as today in consideration of the success of ‘Steamboat Willie’. -Bobby Ellerbee

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BBgghnQF6E4

The classic Mickey Mouse cartoon

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CBS News celebrates career of Bill Plante, retiring after 52 years

Happy Trails & Many Thanks To Bill Plante….

CBS News celebrates career of Bill Plante, retiring after 52 years

Plante covered many major stories of the past half century, from the Civil Rights Movement to the Vietnam War

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November 17, 1946…TV’s 1st Magazine Style Show Debuts

November 17, 1946…TV’s 1st Magazine Style Show Debuts

“Television Screen Magazine” was the show, and it may have been the second ever NBC network series, but it was certainly among the first. NBC’s “Hour Glass” variety show came first with a debut on May 9, 1946. At the time, NBC’s television network included only three stations in New York, Schenectady and Philadelphia.

This weekly half hour program ran until July 23, 1949 and covered a lot of topics, but certain “sections” were recurring and were hosted by their “editors”. To reinforce the magazine format, magazine pages were turned before each new segment.

The lady in these photos (from 1948) is Ursula Halloran, who was a publicity agent for stars like Sid Caesar, Imogene Coca, Bob Hope and more.

Although it was not well known, Ursula and Bob had a very long affair, and once she finally gave up hope (literally), that Bob would leave his wife for her, the former beauty queen overdosed on sleeping pills.

The show ran on Sunday nights at 8:30 and the only other regular NBC network shows that year were, “Hour Glass”, “You Are An Artist” with John Gnagy (remember that?), and boxing shows that came from both Madison Square Garden and St. Nicholas Arena. -Bobby Ellerbee







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This Day in Football: The Heidi Bowl

November 17, 1968…’Heidi’ Trumps The Jets – Raiders Finale On NBC

Did you see this live? I did…I had just turned 18 and that Sunday night, I learned a new word from my dad, which I can’t repeat here.

For all intents and purposes, it looked like the Jets had won and with only a minute left, there was no way for an Oakland comeback…BUT, comeback they DID! Here’s a great video recap of what happened and how it happened. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee

http://www.nfl.com/videos/oakland-raiders/09000d5d82431c90/This-Day-in-Football-The-Heidi-Bowl

This Day in Football: The Heidi Bowl

On November 17, 1968, the Raiders scored two touchdowns in the last minute to overturn a 32-29 Jets lead and win 43-32. But nobody watching the game at home on TV saw the exciting conclusion. Find out why in the story of the “The Heidi Bowl.” For more, check out Source

NBC’s “Star Time Magazine”…1963-64 Guide To The New Season…

NBC’s “Star Time Magazine”…1963-64 Guide To The New Season

http://www.americanradiohistory.com/Archive-Station-Albums/NBC-1963-season-brochure.pdf
This is full of great memories, but make sure you take a look at the last pages, where you’ll see NBC’s new ‘Color Girl’ and a few of the first ever TK40 prototypes at The Colonial Theater.

In 1951, Marie McNamara became the first ‘Color Girl’ and when she left in ’63, Marilyn Gray took over. Thanks to Barry Mitchell for the link. -Bobby Ellerbee



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November 13, 1976…Carol Burnett’s ‘Went With The Wind’ Sketch Debuts


November 13, 1976…Carol Burnett’s ‘Went With The Wind’ Sketch Debuted

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l0dqnZ2qyj4
One of the funniest and most memorable moments in American television came to us 40 yeas ago today.

In the clip below, Carol talks about the sketch and the dress. In another interview, I’ve heard her say that only she and Harvey Korman had seen the Bob Mackie dress. She had to let Havey in on the site gag, or he would break up to and not be able to do his lines to set her up for the big payoff line, “I saw it in the window and couldn’t resist”. Harvey actually makes for a pretty convincing Rhett Butler doesn’t he? Have a laugh, enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee

Time Life’s The Carol Burnett Show — The Ultimate Collection: Now available! 50 episodes on 22 DVDs http://bit.ly/TLCarol BONUS: Showcase Collector’s Box + …

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NBC “Chimes Magazine”…250 Pages Of Network History ’52-’54…

NBC “Chimes Magazine”…250 Pages Of Network History ’52-’54

http://www.archive.org/stream/nbcchimes1953nati#page/n101/mode/1up
This link is set to open to a 1953 report on color television progress at The Colonial Theater, which is just one of many dozens of interesting, historical tidbits you will find here.

Thanks to Barry Mitchell, we can see the contents of 2 years of articles in NBC’s in house magazine “Chimes”. Not every page is pertinent, but there are many gems here, so take some time to browse this site.

A word on Navigation. To start that the top, slide the blue dot at the bottom to the left. Make sure you select the single page view, and that you use the scrolling method, as opposed to the two page book format which makes the text too small, and there is a magnifier to enlarge the pages too.

Until now, I never knew the old radio control booth on the Studio 6B stage had also been an early TV control room too, but on Page 12 of the November, 1954 edition, I found that out. In the same issue, there is a story on NBC’s new Stage Services Building, where all the scenery is made. I’ll be browsing this along with you, so get some coffee and enjoy! -Bobby Ellerbee

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November 11, 1967…ABC Debuts First Color Portable Camera …


November 11, 1967…ABC Debuts First Color Portable Camera

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_kh8JurXv2c&feature=youtu.be
At the link is a clip from November 11, 1967 showing the camera in use by ABC at the UCLA – USC game in Los Angeles.

ABC and Ampex worked together to come up with three configurations of the color portable unit. Shown here is the original cabled version, with a mini camera control unit in the back pack. Later, the back pack could be loaded with either an Ampex VR 3000 videotape recorder, or a microwave transmitter for live, uncabled work.

The Ampex, two Plumbicon, BC-100 camera head had an optical splitting system, providing one tube for the luminance channel and the other with an alternate red-blue image produced by a synchronously rotating filter wheel. Basically, this is a modified version of the Field Sequential color system.

The combination of luminance and green, with field sequential red and blue, is sent back to base via a compact microwave link mounted on the backpack. The base station uses a field-storage delay device to reinsert the alternately missed red and blue signals, providing Red, Green and Blue for matrixing and encoding into standard NTSC format. A nickel-cadmium battery keept the system operating for over an hour, with battery changes possible in a few minutes. -Bobby Ellerbee

#ABCColorFirst #ColorTVHistory #FirstColorMiniCam

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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November 11, 1951…First Video Image From Magnetic Tape

November 11, 1951…First Video Image From Magnetic Tape

Believe it or not, Bing Crosby Enterprises engineers Jack Mullen and Wayne Johnson were the first to produce an image from video tape.

What follows is a first hand account from BCE engineer Robert R. Phillips. Below that is a link to a much larger article on Crosby’s work in tape of all kinds. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee

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While there were many interesting experiences working at Bing Crosby Enterprises, none was as challenging as the development of a video recorder for Bing. When Jack told Bing in 1950 that it could be done, Bing responded by setting up the video recorder project to be led by Jack in the Electronic Division.

Mullin reached out and recruited Wayne Johnson to assist him, and by November 11, 1951 they demonstrated the first video picture from magnetic tape. It was a video of an airplane taking off. The image was very snowy and the airplane was a dark blob, but with the commentary by Frank Healey everyone managed to see the takeoff. Frank was an ex-movie producer.

I started with BCE about a week later later and found myself involved in the construction of what I call the Mark II version. The Mark I system used the top plate from one of the portable Ampex 200 audio tape recorders modified to operate at 360 ips (20 MPH) with a modified head that gave it a bandwidth of about 1 MHz. The tape was quarter-inch, and the reels did not have any sides to reduce once-a-round effects. This lack of sides produced large piles of tape if something went wrong. At times I had to go out the front door and down Sunset Blvd. with the tape to get it back on the reel. The drive was an early version of the tight loop.

The Mark II version used the same top plate as that of the Mark I, but it was modified for one inch tape. It still operated at 360 ips with the early version of the tight loop drive. Jack Mullin and Wayne Johnson had decided to build the Mark II system before the November 11 demonstration and were actively engaged in its construction. When I started at BCE they were testing various head stacks and working with William Wetzel at 3M to improve the tape quality for the recorder. It was obvious that main problem was how to increase the recorded bandwidth on the tape. We would find out over the next months that there was a lot that was not known about how the head-tape process works.

A discussion over using a rotary head approach to that of longitudinal had taken place, and there was much doubt that the rotary head would work. It also would have been difficult for the BCE group to implement it because of our lack of the mechanical facilities to build one. The longitudinal approach was selected with multiple tracks. Instead of using a rotary head, the multiple tracks were electronically scanned. The Mark II system had 12 tracks recorded on the 1 inch tape. Ten of the tracks were used for the video, and the other two, one on the top of the tape and one on the bottom, were used for audio, sync and reference signals.

The video signal in the record subsystem was sampled with the rate tied to the video sync signal. These samples or pulses were sequentially recorded across the 10 video tracks. For each set of 10 samples the polarity of the recorded pulse was reversed. This was done to prevent a bias on the tape. The result was a series of pulses recorded on each track on the tape alternating in polarity. The amplitude of the recorded pulse was equal to the amplitude of the video sample, and each channel had a 1 MHz bandwidth.

The playback system had to reverse the polarity of every other pulse and assemble them into a video stream of pulses combined with the video sync signal. The reference signals from the top and bottom tape channels were used to correct for tape speed and skew. This information was used to adjust the sampled video pulses from the tape. The video picture on the monitor consisted of a number analog “pixels” that had to be processed to eliminate the dot structure by averaging between them.

About a month after I started, Dean DeMoss and Chester Shaw were hired to help build and test the new electronics for the Mark II system. Gene Brown provided the mechanical support, and the system was built and operational by early 1952. Wayne Johnson and I were working on the system Friday night, 14 March 1952, and had completed the last adjustment to it. It was ready for its first recording test, and we decided to try it before we went home.

A video program was recorded and played back; it could have been classified as a fair picture. However, it did have the “pixels” since the additional processing had not been added. We jumped up and down and cheered. It turns out that we were the only two to see the picture because Wayne came in the next day and dismantled the recorder to “improve” it. Jack Mullin found out on Monday and was not happy that he missed the first successful test recording session.

During the 1952 and 1953 period the major effort was concentrated on improving the frequency response and reducing the tape speed. Many heads designs were tested using different types of magnetic materials, gap sizes and materials, and head windings. To make the heads, a precision optical lapping capability was installed along with a way of winding the coils on the assembled head segments. After trying many different head configurations, it was realized that there was a limitation in recording high frequencies on magnetic tape. A point was reached where changes in the head configuration and the tape speed made little difference in the upper frequency that could be recorded.

There were a number of other groups that were working on the video recorder. One of these was RCA, and its chairman General David Sarnoff wanted one for his birthday. By 1953 they had demonstrated a system that ran at 360 inches per second like the first BCE machine in 1951. It had better quality using video compression, but only lasted 4 minutes per reel.

The same year Sarnoff of RCA and his board of directors visited BCE to see if they could buy our recorder. The party arrived in a number of black limousines. Sarnoff was in the first dressed in gray and the board in the rest, dressed in black. As Sarnoff marched up the driveway the board fell in two-by-two behind him. They went into our small laboratory for the demonstration. Sarnoff sat in the middle and the board on either side of him.

After the demonstration they went upstairs to the conference room. Sarnoff told Frank Healey that he wanted to buy the recorder, and Frank told him it was not for sale. Sarnoff told Frank that he would just buy them out; to which Frank replied “You do not have enough money!” The RCA group left.

During this period the tight loop drive was perfected, and the correction of wow and flutter effects addressed. Much of this work also was used to improve the recording of the instrumentation telemetry. In the summer of 1953, I met Eugene Sakasegawa who was chief engineer of the USC television station. We were still looking for people who were good engineers with video experience, and I encouraged him to join us. He was hired, and his first assignment was to learn how to make magnetic heads. Gene was a craftsman and took up the challenge. After a couple of months of building new types of heads and not making any progress, Gene produced a head that broke the 1 MHz frequency barrier. Jack and Wayne could not believe it.

When asked what he did to make the head, he said that he made some small cuts inside the head to make it look better. He had been lapping the head halves to create a uniform gap and also the head face. These actions did make a small difference in the performance, but the “beauty treatment” was the key. The head laminations at the head gap were different widths and caused a non-uniform magnetic pattern across the tape (top to bottom). Gene had made a very accurate cut behind the head gap across the laminations. This cut made them the same thickness and caused the magnetic pattern across the tape to be uniform.

A number of different cuts were tested until proper configuration was found. The result of the head “beauty treatment” was to reduced the tape speed of the Mark II to 120 ips and produce a new design for the recording the video information. The new “Mark III” recorder operated at 100 ips with half-inch tape using longitudinal recording and no scanning. It recorded color video and sound with three heads – video, color, and sound/reference. The recorder also employed video compression techniques, and an early version was demonstrated in February 1955.

The recorder was further refined and demonstrated in June 1955. Based on the performance of this new recorder CBS ordered three of them, and the summer of that year we worked building them. In late 1955 Bing asked Jack Mullin to visit Ampex to see their video tape recorder. We knew that they were working on one, but did not know how far they had come.

Jack went to Ampex near the end of the year and came back with the news that it was over, Ampex had a better recorder. Bing sent another $50,000 check to Ampex for the first of their video recorders. It was delivered to his TV station in Washington State. Ampex demonstrated their rotary head machine on 14 April 1956; CBS cancelled their order with BCE and bought the Ampex recorder. The Mark III recorders were then converted to wide band instrumentation recorders and sold.

For MUCH MORE, follow this link.

http://ethw.org/First-Hand:Bing_Crosby_and_the_Recording_Revolution

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