Posts in Category: Broadcast History

Confused? I was too…

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Confused? I was too…

Having been a staple of ABC for so long, I was a bit confused when I first saw this photo but the fact is, Welk did record the syndicated show for two seasons from Television City.

The Lawrence Welk Show started in 1951 as a local program on KTLA-TV in Los Angeles. The original show was broadcast from the since-demolished Aragon Ballroom at Venice Beach. The show made its national TV debut on July 2, 1955, and was initially produced at the Hollywood Palladium, moving to the ABC studios at Prospect and Talmadge in Hollywood shortly afterwards. For 23 of its 27 years on the air, the show would originate there. The only seasons not produced there were 1965–66, 1976–77 at the Hollywood Palace and CBS Television City from 1977 to 1979.


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Clarabell #3, Lew Anderson

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Clarabell #3, Lew Anderson

This is the man most of us remember as Clarabell. Lew took over the roll in 1954 and was the one that delivered the famous “Good bye kids” line on the last show in 1960. Although Howdy Doody had been on since 1947, most of us never saw the show till 1956 when NBC aired it nationwide on Saturday mornings from 10-10:30 eastern. Bob Smith called Lew the best Clarabell. Anderson was a noted jazz musician and his big band (he was the leader) played often at the legendary Birdland nightclub in Manhattan.


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Clarabell #2, Robert ‘Nick’ Nicholson

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Clarabell #2, Robert ‘Nick’ Nicholson

Below is Buffalo Bob Smith with Nick Nicholson in the 1980s. Nick had been with the show since early on because he was the voice of Cornelius J. Cobb. When Keeshan left in 1952, Nick stepped in as Clarabell for two years. Interestingly, he and his successor were also jazz musicians.


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Clarabell #1, Bob Keeshan

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Clarabell #1, Bob Keeshan

As we all know, Keeshan later became Captain Kangaroo, but few knew that he was a decorated marine in WWII. Keeshan met Bob Smith at NBC radio where he was a page and came with Smith as a page/assistant to the Howdy Doody Show and wore his NBC page blazer as a silent assistant one the show handing out prizes and helping. Since the original show had Buffalo Bob dressed as a ringmaster in a circus themed set, it was a natural step to include Keeshan as a ‘silent partner’ and dress him in clown makeup. Bob Keeshan was with the show from it’s start in 1947 till 1952 when he left over a salary dispute.


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ABC…Saved By The Bell & Whistle

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ABC…Saved By The Bell & Whistle

ABC was in big trouble till sports programming saved it. In this Silver Anniversary clip, Keith Jackson and Howard Cosell pay tribute to ‘Wide World Of Sports’ and some of the eras top athletes.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wk0yAkHe9N4

Keith Jackson remembers some of the moments ABC brought to America through their Wide World of Sports program. Later, Howard Cosell remembers some of the ath…
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1 Hour Special…Inside Jay Ward Productions

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1 Hour Special…Inside Jay Ward Productions

It’s Saturday, a perfect time to watch this! Narrated by William Conrad, and featuring all the principals, here is how this cartoon classic and others came together. First minute is missing. Enjoy!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z83q1NYWIyQ

Behind the scenes of the greatest animated cartoon series ever created. Though reflecting the innocence of the country during the early sixties, Rocky & Bull…
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WPIX Debut Day, June 15, 1948

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WPIX, New York City

June 15, 1948 was the sign on day for WPIX. Welcoming viewers for the first month or so of operations to this independent station was done with the help of famous radio comedian Fred Allen (left). Like it’s sister station, WGN in Chicago, WPIX was owned by The Tribune Company. The WPIX’s call letters come from the slogan of the Tribune owned newspaper that founded the station – in this case, it was the New York Daily News, whose tagline was “New York’s Picture Newspaper”. Notice the brand new RCA TK30.


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First Cleveland Indians Telecast: 1948

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First Cleveland Indians Telecast: 1948

Shown here, 2 Dumont cameras from WEWS prepare to bring viewers the first Indians game on television. Van Patrick was the play by play man in the booth. In October of 48, WEWS would broadcast the World Series games between Cleveland and Boston to the midwest.


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October 4, 1965…Pope Paul Visits NYC

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October 4, 1965…Pope Paul Visits NYC

One of many TK41s at Yankee Stadium where a huge public mass was held. There is a paper sign on this camera with the papal crest and I assume this designates this as a pool camera. The mass was carried on all three networks who also had a few of their own cameras there.


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Now, THIS IS FUNNY! Ernie Kovacs spoofs Howdy!

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Now, THIS IS FUNNY!

Ernie Kovacs spoofs Howdy with his own take on the show. NBC staff announcer Bill Wendell plays Clarabelle and I think the crew has put real liquor in the bottle as a gag. Enjoy!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nw-Q66mN56w

[From “Kovacs Corner” on YouTube.com] – Here Kovacs spoofs the grand daddy of all children’s programming, “The Howdy Doody Show”. Instead of Buffalo Bob Smit…
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ULTRA RARE! Gabby Hayes…No Beard, In Drag With John Wayne!

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ULTRA RARE! Gabby Hayes…No Beard, In Drag With John Wayne!

Till now, I’ve never seen Gabby without whiskers, much less dressed as a woman! This serial clip is from 1934 and also stars a new comer…John Wayne.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yFBI4DyBTn4

Gabby goes under cover to expose two villains Harris and Cole, Assayers (Lloyd Whitlock & Yakima Canutt) and clear his partner, Jerry Mason (John Wayne) of a…
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Election Night, 1976 ABC New York

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Election Night, 1976

Here’s Frank Reynolds at ABC New York during a break. Notice the Norelco cameras are still in use, but by the next presidential election in 1980, Ikigami HK312s would be in use at ABC.


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‘The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour’

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‘The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour’

After the long run (1951-1957) of half hour episodes of ‘I Love Lucy’, the production team wanted to go one hour shows that aired monthly instead of weekly. As part of the setup, Ricky and Lucy moved to Connecticut in the final season of ‘Lucy’ and Fred and Ethel followed shortly after.

Desi wanted to do 10 one hour shows a year, but Comedy Hour show production costs estimated to be $340,000 per episode became only 5 shows per year in the 1957-1958, 1958-1959 seasons and only 3 in the final season (1959-1960). Part of that expense was the many guest stars the program was to feature because the old formula of Lucy and Ethel’s tricks was giving way to Lucy using the guest stars in a way she once used Ethyl. Although Vivian Vance and William Frawley were still in the regular cast, Ricky did not have as much a presence as he once did as he was more focused on running the Desilu studios and the friction with Lucile Ball. Their marriage ended in 1960.


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‘Red Skelton Show’ Rehearsal With Fred Mertz & Ricky Ricardo

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‘Red Skelton Show’ Rehearsal With Fred Mertz & Ricky Ricardo

In the foreground, kids from ‘The Art Linkletter Show’ take in a rare moment on their tour of Television City. On stage, Red rehearses with guests William Frawley and Desi Arnaz.


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Do You Beat Your Wife?

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Do You Beat Your Wife?

Earlier this week I posted the stories of Johnny Carson’s move from CBS to ABC as the host of ‘Who Do You Trust’. If you remember, the show started on CBS as ‘Do You Trust Your Wife’ and ran on ABC by that name for a few months with the same host, ventriloquist Edgar Bergen (and Charlie McCarthy). ABC changed the name to ‘Who Do You Trust’ and when they did, they hired Carson and McMahon. In this skit from the Red Skelton Show, he’s doing a takeoff on the CBS show with Paul Winchell (and Jerry Mahoney) and Bee Benaderet. The camera is an RCA TK41.


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Jay Ward’s First Adventure In Cartoonland…Crusader Rabbit

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Jay Ward’s First Adventure In Cartoonland…Crusader Rabbit

Crusader Rabbit is the first animated series produced specifically for television. The concept was test marketed in 1948, while the initial episode – Crusader vs. the State of Texas – (below) aired on KNBH (now KNBC) in Los Angeles, California on August 1, 1950.

The concept of an animated series made for television came from animator Alex Anderson, who worked for Terrytoons Studios. Terrytoons preferred to remain in film animation, so Anderson approached Jay Ward to create a partnership, Anderson being in charge of production and Ward to be in charge of arranging financing. Ward became business manager and producer, joining with Anderson to form “Television Arts Productions” in 1947. They tried to sell the series (initially presented as part of a proposed series, The Comic Strips of Television, which also featured an early incarnation of Dudley Do-Right) to the NBC television network, which assigned Jerry Fairbanks to be “supervising producer”. NBC did not telecast Crusader Rabbit on their network, but allowed Fairbanks to sell the series in national syndication, with many of the NBC affiliates (including New York and Los Angeles) picking it up for local showings. WNBC-TV in New York continued to show the original Crusader Rabbit episodes from 1949 through 1967, and some stations used the program as a time filler as late as the 1970s.

Lucille Bliss provided the voice of Crusader Rabbit in the original series; she was replaced by Ge Ge Pearson in the revived series. Vern Louden played Rags in both. Dudley Nightshade was voiced by Russ Coughlan, and narration was by Roy Whaley.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C3hHQvkUhJo

Jay Ward’s Crusader Rabbit – Crusade 1 / Episode 1. Like to see more?
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Anyone Ever See A Lens Like This?

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Anyone Ever See A Lens Like This?

This is a first for me. I suspect is not a zoom lens, but a telephoto lens with magnifying mirrors inside set up in a periscope type arrangement. Thanks to Jim Weinberg for the photo.


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‘The Man From UNCLE’…Behind The Scenes

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‘The Man From UNCLE’

This was one of my favorite shows and probably one of yours too! Here is a 1980s look back at the series which aired on NBC from 1964 till 1968. The first season was shot in black and white, but in ’65 NBC went all color. The show was originally to have been called “Solo”, but in the year it was due to come out the movie Goldfinger was released with a villain called “Solo.” Ian Fleming was reportedly one of the consultants when this series was being planned. The name Solo was borrowed, apparently with his blessing, from the novel Goldfinger.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K2GzF2sxVm4

Entertainment reporter Tim Estiloz profiles the classic spy TV show, “The Man From UNCLE”. This phenomenally popular 1960’s TV show starring Robert Vaughn an…
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‘I Love Lucy’, In Hollywood…The Details

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‘I Love Lucy’, In Hollywood…The Details

In a November 8, 1954 episode, the stage is set for the Ricardo and Mertze trip to Hollywood. This was the fourth season of the show, and the trip, the stay and the return home took 29 episodes top play out and ran six episodes into the start of the fifth season, as the arrival party in NY episode ran October 31, 1955.


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Regis…The San Diego Days

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Regis…The San Diego Days

This is ‘The Regis Philbin Show’, his first hosting job at KOGO (now KGTV) that was on the air from ’61 till ’64. For budgetary reasons, he had no writing staff, leading him to begin each show with what has become his hallmark, the “host chat” segment which was influenced by Jack Paar. Infamous wrestler Freddie Blassie was a frequent guest on the KOGO show. Regis gained his first national exposure in 1967 as Joey Bishop’s sidekick on The Joey Bishop Show on ABC from 1967–1969.


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Were Annette and Bobby Engineers Too?

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Were Annette and Bobby Engineers Too?

No, but they did know to open the door to cool off this TK30. This was probably taken on June 27, 1960, when Bobby Darin guest starred on an episode of ‘Coke Time’. Host Pat Boone welcomed Bobby, and guests Annette Funicello, Frankie Avalon, Paul Anka, Edward Byrnes, Bob Denver and Anita Bryant. Bobby soloed with the Jule Styne/Stephen Sondheim tune “All I Need Is the Girl” and Joseph LaCalle’s “Amapola.” He also did a “Love and Marriage” duet with Pat Boone, played the vibraphones and did a coke commercial with Pat. Thanks to John Bolin for this unique photo.


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Mouseketeer Meets Mack The Knife!

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Mouseketeer Meets Mack The Knife!

Thanks to our friend John Bolin, here’s a unique photo taken at KECA (now KABC) showing Annette Funicello and Bobby Darin doing what so many of us did as kids…playing ‘television’. The camera is a red and white RCA TK30.


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‘Mad Men’, Last Night…RCA TK42

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‘Mad Men’, Last Night…RCA TK42

Thanks to Steve Finkelmeyer here is a shot of the TK42 from last night’s ‘Mad Men’. Steve’s sharp eye has spotted the little black box under the front which is the lipstick camera and probably makes this TK42 one from our friend Jim Elyea’s, History For Hire in LA.
For a tour, click the link below.
http://www.eyesofageneration.com/Gallery_History_For_Hire.php


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Carson: The Early Years…CBS, Part 1, MORE RARE Than You Know!

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Johnny Carson: The Early Years…CBS, Part 1

This is MORE RARE than you know! In this clip from Johnny Carson’s first CBS show ‘Carson’s Cellar’, two actors are pretending to from the audience, but…the man is Jack Bailey who would later become famous as the longtime host of ‘Queen For A Day’. The lady is none other than the voice of Rocky and dozens more of our favorite cartoon characters…the incredible June Foray!
Listen closely at 5:45 when she says loudly, “I live in San Diego”, and you’ll recognize that famous voice.

The show ran from 1951 till 1953 on KNXT in Los Angeles and this is where Red Skelton first saw Carson. After the show went off the air, Red hired Johnny as a writer for his show. This is a full episode and in the last part, Johnny dresses in drag for the now famous turkey stuffing demonstration. Enjoy!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RcJ1aJrymPw

A very young Johnny Carson from 1950 with Carson in drag.
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Johnny Carson: The Early Years…CBS, Part 2

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Johnny Carson: The Early Years…CBS, Part 2

In the rare clip below, we see what is thought to be Barbara Eden’s first television appearance with Johnny Carson and his guest Rudy Vallee on ‘The Johnny Carson Show’ from CBS Television City.

The show ran from June of 1955 till March of ’56 and was a half hour prime time television variety show starring Johnny Carson that aired on Thursday nights at 10 PM.

While working as a staff writer on The Red Skelton Show, local Los Angeles television comedian Johnny Carson filled in as host when Skelton was injured during a show rehearsal. As a result of Carson’s performance, CBS created the primetime variety program The Johnny Carson Show, a traditional potpourri of comedy, music, dance, skits and monologues.

The short-lived series served as a precursor of what would come later for Carson, planting the seeds for sketches he would perform on the later The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson such as “Mighty Carson Art Players”. However, the show flopped in the ratings and was quickly cancelled.

In a 1978 profile of Carson in The New Yorker, Kenneth Tynan described the Johnny Carson Show as “a half-hour program that goes through seven directors, eight writers, and thirty-nine weeks of worsening health before expiring, in the spring of 1956.” Carson wound up hosting a daytime game show called Who Do You Trust? (1957–62) until he was tapped by NBC to replace the departing Jack Paar as host of The Tonight Show in 1962.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i5VpEjqX3Us

One of Barbara Eden’s first TV appearances, still credited as Barbara Huffman or Barbara Morehead. Please visit www.barbara-eden-online.com for more rare pho…
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Early Zoom Lenses

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Early Zoom Lenses Day…

Below, we’ll take a look at some early zoom lenses made for television. The lens on the far camera in this 1958 photo is, I think, a modified Angenieux 10×1. The cameras are Dumont 124Bs.


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Early Zoom Lens: Part 2

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Early Zoom Lens: Part 2

I think this is the Angenieux 10×1 zoom. The lens sled is a bit different than the Watson and it is a bigger lens. CBS used these a lot and as far as I know, these are manual and not electronic. This photo is from a wall inside the CBS Broadcast Center in NYC. Thanks to Gady Reinhold for the image.


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Early Zoom Lens: Part 3

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Early Zoom Lens: Part 3

This is the Watson 5×1 zoom made by Watson and Son, near London. This lens debuted in 1948 and is mounted on a Marconi Mark II at the 1954 Empire Games. The zoom command would be on the other side of the camera, but notice (1) the metal cabled focus demand wheel near the operators hand and (2) the early Vinten Mark I pan head.


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Classic! Posed for their closeup,

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Classic!

Posed for their closeup, here is the early heart of ABC Sports under Roone Arlidge. I think this photo was taken at Pebble Beach in 1967. The cameras, 12 RCA TK41s, 12 Norelco PC 70s and one RCA TK60 (for title cards) were set up in this line for an ABC ‘Wide World Of Sports’ story on how ABC covers sports events. Enjoy and Share!


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Why GE Flourished In Texas And The Southwest: The LBJ Deal

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Why GE Flourished In Texas And The Southwest:
The Deal Between Lyndon Johnson and David Sarnoff…

Years ago, I was told a story of political intrigue by an old Texas television veteran. He will remain nameless, and as you read on, you’ll understand why. Below is an article from Slate that will show you how what I am about to tell you dovetails into how the LBJ financial empire was built…on political favors, threats and clout.

Remember, Lady Bird (details below) became a radio station owner (KTBC AM later KLBJ AM & FM) in 1942 and a TV station owner (KTBC TV) in 1952. LBJ went to the House Of Representatives in 1937 and to the Senate in 1948.

In a nutshell, when the TV station was built, Senator Johnson told RCA chief David Sarnoff that he wanted the best RCA had for his station in the Texas capitol, but…he did not want Sarnoff to sell RCA equipment to any other Texas broadcasters…radio or TV. With RCA military contracts pending, Sarnoff reluctantly agreed.

In 52, Dumont was fading fast and only GE and Marconi equipment were available in Texas. GE didn’t know the real reason they were getting all this new business, but jumped in with both feet and their sales pitch was this…”since so much GE equipment was being sold in Texas, it was obvious that GE was better than RCA”. As we know, that wasn’t the case, but that’s why there were so many GE installations in Texas and the Southwest. Below is the fascinating Slate article.

How Lady Bird and Lyndon came by their millions.
By Jack Shafer|Posted Monday, July 16, 2007

The perturbed spirit of Lady Bird Johnson will rest until somebody writes a more complete article about how she and her husband became millionaires. Of the top dailies, only the New York Times and the Washington Post obituaries slow to savor the political skulduggery she and her husband, Rep. Lyndon Baines Johnson, relied on to pour the foundation of her business empire. Some of the clips find her scheme to “beautify” America more interesting than her blatant exercise in political graft.

Robert A. Caro examines the roots of the Johnson broadcasting fortune in the second volume of his biography of LBJ, The Years of Lyndon Johnson: Means of Ascent. Although Lyndon Johnson always protested that Lady Bird bought the station on her own and that he applied no political pressure to help her, Caro easily proves otherwise.

In 1943, the year Lady Bird Johnson purchased KTBC, the Federal Communications Commission, which reviewed all broadcast-license transfers, was close to being abolished, Caro writes. Lyndon Johnson used his political influence in both Congress and the White House to prevent that from happening. The FCC was among the most politicized agencies in the government, Caro asserts, and it knew who its friends were.

Johnson socialized with FCC Commissioner Clifford Durr at the time, “sometimes at Durr’s home, sometimes at his own,” although Durr says Johnson never mentioned Lady Bird’s application for KTBC’s license. Lady Bird, however, directly approached Durr about the station, and Lyndon phoned James Barr of the FCC’s Standard Broadcast Division. “He wanted to get a radio station, and what I remember is, he wouldn’t take no for an answer,” Caro quotes Barr.

Legendary Democratic fixer Tommy “The Cork” Corcoran also helped with the KTBC application—”all up and down the line,” is how Corcoran put it. Asked in an interview whether Johnson’s status as a member of Congress helped his wife’s application, Corcoran said, “How do you think these things work? These guys [FCC staffers] have been around. You don’t have to spell things out for them.”

The Los Angeles Times and USA Today obituaries make it sound as if KTBC were a congenitally unprofitable station at the time of Lady Bird’s bid and give the impression that she was the lone suitor for the property. That was not the case, as Caro documents the identities of the other interested bidders.

Once Lady Bird completed her purchase of KTBC, the “five years of delays and red tape, or delays and unfavorable rules” from the FCC that had stymied the previous owners “vanished … and slowness was replaced by speed,” according to Caro. In short order she got permission to broadcast 24 hours a day (KTBC had been a sunrise-to-sunset station) and move it to 590 on the dial—”an uncluttered, end of the dial” where it could be heard in 38 surrounding Texas counties. It was no coincidence. Lyndon and Lady Bird recruited a new station manager, promising 10 percent of the profits, and Lyndon told him that the changes in the license restrictions that would make KTBC a moneymaker were “all set.” In 1945, the FCC OK’d KTBC’s request to quintuple its power, which cast its signal over 63 counties.

When Lyndon visited William S. Paley, president of CBS radio, and asked if KTBC could become a CBS affiliate and carry its lucrative programming, he didn’t have to spell out why the request should be granted. The radio networks feared the regulators in Washington as well as the members of Congress who regulated the regulators. KNOW in Austin had been repeatedly denied the affiliation because a San Antonio “affiliate could be heard in Austin.” CBS Director of Research Frank Stanton approved Johnson’s request.
Johnson shook down powerful companies to advertise on the station. Local businesses that wanted Army camps to remain located in Austin knew one way to secure Lyndon’s help was to advertise on KTBC. Caro writes:

… Mrs. Johnson’s ability as a business woman was not the crucial factor in the acquisition of the station or, once it was acquired, in its early growth. … Lyndon Johnson had worked at politics for years to achieve power; now he was working at politics to make money.
Under Texas law, the station belonged solely to Lady Bird because she purchased it with her inheritance. But as her spouse, Lyndon owned half of all the profits. He was ultra-active in recruiting staff and running the operation, and by 1948, Caro writes, he was telling his friends that he was a millionaire.

The Johnsons earned thousands from their radio station but millions from their TV stations, writes former FCC official William B. Ray in his book, FCC: The Ups and Downs of Radio Regulation. The commission allocated one commercial station to Austin in the early 1950s, and the Johnsons were its sole applicant. “Filing a competing application would have been a waste of money,” Ray writes, because of the Johnsons’ political clout. “Whenever there was a business matter to be discussed between CBS and the LBJ stations, Johnson would summon the appropriate CBS personnel to the White House to discuss it,” he continues.


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