Posts in Category: Broadcast History

The Demise of NBC Burbank Part 2 by Richard Wirth

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The Demise of NBC Burbank Part 2 by Richard Wirth – ProVideo Coalition

Recently, I wrote about the beginnings of NBC’s historic lot in Burbank as the Peacock network completed its move to nearby Universal Studios. The look back on NBC Burbank’s sixty-two year history wouldn’t be complete without exploring some of the technical history NBC engineers made over the years…
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Eyes Of A Generation…Celebrating 10,000 Page Likes! THANK YOU!

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Eyes Of A Generation…Celebrating 10,000 Page Likes! THANK YOU!

One of the reasons I started this page was to be able to share unique photos and videos that depict television’s glorious history, that also include the back stage element of the business. Like this.

The other reason was to create a home for television history that could make it, a living history…and with your help, eye witness accounts and stories, we have done that…together. Thank You! -Bobby Ellerbee

Thanks to Jim Davis for this new, crystal clear shot of the “Tonight” show set with the great RCA TK41s in use in Studio 6B in New York.


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October 15, 1951…”I Love Lucy” Debuts; RARE On The Set Video

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October 15, 1951…”I Love Lucy” Debuts; RARE On The Set Video

This is a close to “being there” as we’ll ever get. This clip from an “I Love Lucy” movie, takes us inside the Desilu Playhouse and gives us an ultra rare glimpse of what it was like on the set of one of television’s most famous shows.

The location is General Services Studios, Studio 2, which in 1952 got it’s own audience entrance at 6633 Romaine Street. The sign at the new entrance invited you into the Desilu Playhouse. The first few years of the show were done here.

As we have confirmed with other sources, this was pretty much the same warm up that Desi used for the entire six years, including the camera push in. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee


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October 15, 1973…”Tomorrow” Debuted On NBC

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October 15, 1973…”Tomorrow” Debuted On NBC

The only way to remember this great show is to remember what made it great…Tom Snyder. On the event of his death in 2007, here are remembrances from Brian Williams, Jay Leno and David Letterman. Incidentally, Letterman’s NBC show replaced “Tomorrow”.

“Tomorrow” followed “Tonight” With Johnny Carson and started as a 60-minute series which aired only four nights a week, Monday through Thursday, in order to accommodate the weekly shows ‘Midnight Special’ (1973–81) and SCTV (1981–82) in that time slot on Fridays.

It was originally broadcast from the NBC studios in Burbank, but relocated to New York in December 1974 when Snyder took on additional anchor duties for NBC News and the network’s flagship station, WNBC-TV.

In June 1977, the show returned to Burbank until 1979, when Snyder once again began originating from 30 Rockefeller Plaza.

On September 16, 1980, when “Tonight” was shortened to 60 minutes, “Tomorrow” was scheduled at 12:30 Eastern and lengthened to a 90 minute format that lasted until its cancellation 16 months later. In February 1982, NBC replaced “Tomorrow Coast-To-Coast” with “Late Night With David Letterman”. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee

http://youtu.be/4cc2S2ZJCBM?t=1m44s

www.youtube.com

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Cameraman Don Davis at NBC Burbank

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Cameraman Don Davis at NBC Burbank


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Conan on TBS: Behind the Scene

I’m proud to share with you an exclusive look behind the scenes at Conan’s TBS program from our friend Bruce Oldham.

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The cameras used on Conan’s version of Tonight were almost identical to those you’ll see here on Stage 15 at Warner Brothers. Camera rehearsals are a couple of hours before the afternoon tape session, which starts at 4:30 PST Mondays through Thursdays.

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Below are pictures of the show’s Sony HD 1500 cameras…some snugly nestled in their buildup kits, and a couple of Sony 1500s mounted on jibs and small tripods for quick hand-held situations. All together, there are eight cameras in the studio, including a couple of remote-control stationary cameras for audience shots. The main difference is that there are none of the SONY HD 1000 hard-bodied cameras in use like there were at NBC Universal. (I like their look better, but…)

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Now, to be honest with you, I get a little lost in the control room and video suites these days, but that’s what’s in this section of our backstage look at Conan’s new digs at WB. Thank goodness they still have audio boards and color bars, because that’s about all I recognize now. I’ll just post these photos below for you to browse through without much comment, but let me add this one little tidbit.

Below, you’ll see some little black boxes with blue screens and handwritten labels that say “VTR.” For anyone who’s ever slung 2-inch tape on Ampex and RCA quad machines, all I can say is…you’ve come a long way, baby! Who would have ever thought VTRs would be small enough to rack-mount two to a row? Yep, these are the latest in Video Tape Recorders. Plus, there is now one for each camera, so a shot is never missed. Remember when car radios were this big?

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The Moon Backdrop

After the show ends, it goes to edit for final adjustments for time, and maybe different takes of what the director punched up in real time. With every camera feeding a VTR, that’s very easy, and it reminds me of how The Honeymooners was done using the Dumont Electronicams with their film/video capabilities. The live show was directed as a live show, and the takes were all recorded on kinescope. Later, using the kine playback as a template, they cut the film tighter for the final show. The Conan show is fed to Atlanta in separate segments for transmission, and actually, it is not unheard of to have the first segment on the air in the east while they are still editing the final segments in LA. Now that’s what I call a tight schedule.

One of the main points of interest on the Conan set is the background, with its city lights and moon. During the show, the moon slowly tracks across the rear ocean/city backdrop almost without notice, just like if it were a real moon. Somehow the moon’s reflection in the water tracks across the sets background with the moon and shimmers subtly. It’s really a cool trick. Below, Bruce explains how the city lights up and how the “moon” moves and shimmers.

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“The backdrop is a hand-painted scene that looks really good even in person. It is glued to the curved wall that is made of two parts. The upper half above the sea line is drywall that is smooth and the lower half is transparent plexi.”

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“From the rear of the drop, the ‘city lights’ are created by individual fiber strands that are strategically placed in drilled holes through the drop to appear to be lighted buildings and street lights.”

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“The moon is lit inside its housing with LEDs powered by battery during the show. An AC cable is attached during the rehearsal day to reduce battery drain. It is suspended from two wires that are attached to pulleys and a track that is motorized and is operated by a remote control a hobby car or hobby plane would use.”

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“The moon ‘reflection’ is ingenious. A light bar illuminates a plexiglas cylinder with painted streaks on it. The cylinder rotates with an electric motor and the light shines through the plexi backdrop to simulate a shimmering, reflecting moon on top of the ocean.”

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“The cylinder rig is on a track that moves left and right behind the backdrop.”

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“You can see the track the cylinder rides on, and this is the MOST amazing part of the unit. There are cables and pulleys that are routed from the overhead moon trolley down the side of the backdrop and along this track. When the moon is moved left and right, the reflecting cylinder rig and light bar moves WITH it and is slaved to its path. The ultimate effect is that the moon’s reflection travels with the moon! Pretty cool stuff!

“These physical effects are one most fascinating parts of our ‘Television Magic’. That’s where the true craftsmanship shows up and I love to see what the prop guys and grips come up with to make things work and look different than they appear. Hope this is as interesting to you as it is to me. – Bruce”


Many thanks to Bruce Oldham and the Conan show for sharing these exclusive images with us! I’m a Coco nut! You too?

Just For Fun…Rear View…Of The “Laugh In” Joke Wall!

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Just For Fun…Rear View…Of The “Laugh In” Joke Wall!

Enjoy and share. -Bobby Ellerbee


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Flashback…October 14, 2010; “30 Rock” Live From NBC Studio 8H This 12 minute …

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Flashback…October 14, 2010; “30 Rock” Live From NBC Studio 8H

This 12 minute piece is full of great stuff, all shot in the real NBC Studio 8H. “30 Rock” was usually filmed at New York’s Silvercup Studios, but on October 14, 2010, the show was done live in 8H. Just like in the days before video tape, it was done a second time live for the west coast audience.

The show’s director was right at home as she was the director on SNL for many years, which the fictional show in the series was based on. Enjoy, share and visit the EOAG page! -Bobby Ellerbee

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DXi5cNTr8Iw


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October 13, 1947…”Kukla, Fran & Ollie” Debuts On Chicago’s WBKB

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October 13, 1947…”Kukla, Fran & Ollie” Debuts On Chicago’s WBKB

At the link is a timeline of the shows milestones, including their October 13, 1947 debut as “The Junior Jamboree” on WBKB in Chicago, the move to WNBQ and NBC, and their last show, 10 years later, which was also on WBKB. http://kukla.tv/history.html

In the five years that the show ran on NBC nationally, fan mail averaged 5,000 letters a day, and the show’s ratings rivaled Milton Burle’s and even Ed Sullivan’s at CBS.

The photo below is of one of the early shows at WBKB. The dolly was a home-made rig, with the camera mounted on a barber’s chair. Thanks for the memories, Burr, Fran, Kukla and Ollie! -Bobby Ellerbee


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October 13, 1957…A Red Letter Day For Videotape & TV History

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October 13, 1957…A Red Letter Day For Videotape & TV History

The first 4.5 minutes of the attached video tells the story and includes comparison shots of the videotape and kinescope version of the oldest surviving, intact videotape program, “The Edsel Show”.

Thanks to our friend Kris Trexler’s love of cars, his interest in classic television and his professional abilities as a film and videotape editor, we are able to see this…the oldest surviving video tape. He is the one who tracked down this tape that everyone said did not exist.

“The Edsel Show” was chosen to be the very first CBS entertainment program to be broadcast live to the nation from Hollywood, then “tape-delayed” for re-broadcast in the Pacific Time Zone. The show was performed at CBS Television City in Hollywood from 4pm-5pm Pacific Time for live viewing from 7pm-8pm Eastern Time. The show was simultaneously recorded on videotape at Television City, then played back 3 hours later for West Coast viewers at 7pm Pacific Time.

After the live broadcast, The Ford Motor Company hosted a lavish party at a Hollywood restaurant, where the cast and CBS and Ford execs wined and dined and watched the videotape playback of the show to the West Coast. The evolution from kinescopes to videotape recording was underway!

Not wanting to risk a high profile failure of the new technology, CBS also created a kinescope backup of the show which the engineers at Television City played simultaneously with the videotape, so in case the tape failed, CBS engineers could quickly switch to the kinescope “protection copy” of the show. Videotape was a new technology and there was much to risk if it failed during such an important broadcast, but it didn’t.

Now, back to the fascinating detective work Kris did… http://www.kingoftheroad.net/edsel/edselshow3.html

You can read the details at the link above from Kris’s website, but in a nutshell…the tape was not in the CBS Video Archives. The kinescope was, but the tape copy was on a TVC engineer’s desk who had personally saved the tape. Remember, part of the miracle of videotape was that it could be reused…the engineer knew it would be if he didn’t rescue it and after the playback, he took care of if for the rest of us to see! Thanks to him and Kris Trexler, here is the “The Edsel Show” that was done October 13, 1957 from CBS Television City. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ze0Az9tdkHg

This is the oldest videotape recording in existence. The Edsel Show stars Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Louis Armstrong, and Rosemary Clooney. Produced at CBS …
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October 12, 1950…Burns And Allen Debuts On CBS Television

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October 12, 1950…Burns And Allen Debuts On CBS Television

Their radio show started in 1936 but by 1950, it was time to move to television. When ‘The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show’ began on CBS Television October 12, 1950, it was an immediate success. The show was originally staged live before a studio audience and during its first three months, it originated from the Mansfield Theater in New York, then relocated to CBS’ Columbia Square facilities in Los Angeles.

Ever the businessman, Burns realized it would be more efficient to do the series on film and that started that process in the fall of 1952. The half-hour episodes could then be syndicated. From that point on, the show was shot without a live audience present, however, each installment would be screened before an audience to provide live responses prior to the episodes being broadcast. With 291 episodes, the show had a long network run through 1958 and continued in syndicated reruns for years.

After the live/kinescope series ended, the shows were filmed at General Service Studios. The sets were designed to look like their real-life residence, often using an establishing shot of the actual house at 312 Maple Drive, Beverly Hills, CA 90210.

The format had George watching all the action (standing outside the proscenium arch in early live episodes; watching the show on TV in his study in the filmed episodes), and breaking the fourth wall by commenting to the viewers.

During the course of the eight-year run, the TV show had remarkable consistency in its cast and crew. The episodes were produced and directed by Ralph Levy (1950–53), Fred de Cordova, who would go on to produce NBC’s “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson” (1953-56), and Rod Amateau (1956–58).

In addition to cast members Harry Von Zell (replacing original announcer Bill Goodwin in September 1951), Bea Benaderet (who made the transition from the radio show), and Larry Keating, the original writing staff consisted of Sid Dorfman, Harvey Helm, Paul Henning, and William Burns (George’s brother). -Bobby Ellerbee


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October 12, 1943…NBC Sells Blue Network: The Start Of ABC

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October 12, 1943…NBC Sells Blue Network: The Start Of ABC

On October 12, 1943, Edward John Noble, the owner of Life Savers candy and radio station WMCA in New York, bought NBC’s Blue Network for $8 million.

This was the start of ABC, but even with Noble’s millions, the first 10 years was a hard slog financially. The one thing ABC did that made the struggling network so appealing to a new buyer was something done on a whim, that cost them nothing.

Without asking Nobles, ABC’s chief engineer had applied to the FCC for Construction Permits for 5 television licenses, all on Channel 7, in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Detroit. Shortly after, the FCC froze license applications due to an overwhelming crush of requests. The next part, putting these stations on the air would cost big money, and that is where the financial squeeze got serious. That was 1948.

In much the same way NBC was forced to sell the Blue Network,
the movie theater operator United Paramount Theaters (UPT) was forced to become an independent entity, separating itself from the film studio Paramount Pictures in 1949.

For its part, ABC was on the verge of bankruptcy, with only five stations and nine full-time affiliates. Its revenues failed to compensate for its heavy investments in buying and building stations. In 1951, Noble held a 58% stake in ABC, giving him $5 million with which to prevent ABC from going bankrupt with a loan from the Prudential Insurance Company of America.

Leonard Goldenson, the president of UPT, approached Noble in 1951 and proposed that UPT purchase ABC. Noble received further offers, including one from Bill Paley of CBS, but that would have forced CBS to sell at least its New York and Los Angeles stations. Goldenson and Noble reached a tentative agreement in the late spring of 1951 that ABC would become a subsidiary of UPT, but would remain autonomous in its management.

On June 6, 1951, UPT’s board of directors validated their tentative agreement. However, the transaction had to be approved by the FCC. Insofar as the Paramount Pictures film studio was already a shareholder of the DuMont Television Network, the FCC conducted a series of hearings to ensure whether Paramount was truly separated from United Paramount Theaters, and whether it was violating antitrust laws.

In 1952, when the FCC ended its freeze on applications for new stations, among the issues to be addressed was the approval of the merger between UPT and ABC.

On February 9, 1953, the FCC authorized UPT’s purchase of ABC in exchange for $25 million in shares, and the company was renamed American Broadcasting-Paramount Theaters, Inc.

The new company was based in Paramount’s headquarters at 1501 Broadway in New York, and owned six AM radio stations and many FMs, as well as five TV stations and 644 cinemas in 300 cities throughout the United States.

In consideration of this merger, UPT sold its television station in Chicago, WBKB-TV, to CBS for $6 million. CBS changed the calls to WBBM-TV. They kept ABC’s existing Chicago station, WENR-TV but moved the WBKB call letters to channel 7, which would eventually become WLS-TV. Goldenson began to sell some of the old theaters to finance the new television network.

On May 1, 1953, ABC’s flagship stations – WJZ, WJZ-FM and WJZ-TV in New York – adopted the callsigns of WABC, WABC-FM and WABC-TV, and moved to 7 West 66th Street, one block from Central Park.

At the same time, Goldenson had been trying to convince his movie studio friends to provide content for the network. ABC’s merger with UPT led to the creation of relationships with Hollywood’s film production studios, breaking a long quarantine that had existed between film and television.

Goldenson’s efforts paid off, and on October 27, 1954, the network was able to launch a “New ABC” campaign with the productions of several studios, including Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Warner Bros., and 20th Century Fox.

However, the most iconic (and ironic) of ABC’s relationships with Hollywood producers was its agreement with Walt Disney. Walt and his brother Roy contacted Goldenson at the end of 1953 to ask ABC to finance part of the Disneyland project in exchange for Disney’s production of a television series.

Walt wanted ABC to invest $500,000 and a guarantee of $4.5 million in additional loans, a third of the budget intended for the park. Around 1954, ABC agreed to finance Disneyland in exchange for the broadcasting of a new Sunday television program, “Disneyland”, which debuted on the ABC network on October 27, 1954 as the first of many anthology TV programs that Disney would broadcast over the course of the next fifty years. We all know the rest of the story! Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee


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WNBC Moves From Studio 3C To Historic 3K

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WNBC Moves From 3C To Historic 3K

In late 1935, NBC radio studio 3H was converted to become television’s first permanent home. This was where RCA and NBC did all their early experimental broadcasts and was the first home of “The Howdy Doody Show” as well as “Kraft Theater”.

On September 12, 1955, NBC dedicated Studio 3K, which was made by combining 3H and radio studio 3F, into the network’s first in-house color studio, and “Howdy Doody” was the first show done from here. It was also the home of the Kraft Kitchen set, where Ed Herlihy spent so many hours.

Up until earlier this year, 3K had been an MSNBC studio. Those few 3K shows are now in the new 4th floor news studio. Over a period of 7 weeks, WNBC has built a new news set there that is a kind of 360 use set.

Overnight, the great time-lapse video of the studio under construction was taken down, but here is the link with more info on the studio. Let me know if the video plays for you. -Bobby Ellerbee

http://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/local/Behind-the-Scenes-WNBCs-New-Studio-at-30-Rock–396178341.html?_osource=SocialFlowFB_NYBrand

http://www.newscaststudio.com/2016/10/10/nbc-new-york-debuts-new-home-gains-space-30-rock/

NBC New York debuts new home, gains more space at 30 Rock

NBC’s flagship O&O, WNBC-TV, moved into a new home Sunday night, greatly expanding the station’s … Read More
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October 11, 1975…”NBC Saturday Night” Debuts, LIVE In Studio 8H

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October 11, 1975…”NBC Saturday Night” Debuts, LIVE In Studio 8H

It would be 8 more months until the show became “Saturday Night Live”, after Howard Cosell’s ABC variety show (which had the same name) folded and give up the name, and the term “not ready for prime time players”.

The video below is a double bonus! First, it is one of the funniest every SNL sketches, from last year’s anniversary show, and second, with your mouse, you can get a 360 degree look at the studio as the sketch unfolds.

Congratulations to all our friends in 8H (some who have been there since the start), on the 41st birthday of one of television history’s most unique adventures! -Bobby Ellerbee

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3WyMSrAgPKc

Alex Trebek (Will Ferrell) tries his best to keep contestants Sean Connery (Darrell Hammond), Justin Bieber (Kate McKinnon), Tony Bennett (Alec Baldwin), Bur…
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RCA History In The Making….Rare Original Design Sketchs

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RCA History In The Making….Rare Original Design Sketchs

I am pleased to share a page from my collection of rarities, a few rare design drawings made by our late friend, Harry Wright of RCA.

Harry designed the look of the RCA TK60, TK42, TK43, TK44, TK45, TK45P and many other RCA products, including telecine and video tape machines. He was an RCA mechanical engineer heavily involved in RCA’s “new look” line up.

After the TK42 project started, several designs were mocked up, but Harry’s low, wide model was the one RCA went with, which was called 42X at the Camden plant. Below are Harry’s first sketches of the TK41, TK44 and the October 10, 1963 diagram of the 42XX, which was a modified 42X which included a dual lens turret, which is also see here. Enjoy, and for more on Harry and these cameras, go to the link below. -Bobby Ellerbee

http://www.eyesofageneration.com/Archives_Henry_Wright.php





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October 10, 2007…The Beginning Of The End For NBC Burbank

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October 10, 2007…The Beginning Of The End For NBC Burbank

Some nine years ago, NBC’s Brian Williams broke the news.

“Days Of Our Lives”, which airs on NBC is still there, but it’s their production company that rents space in the building and not NBC. Beautiful downtown Burbank will never be the same.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wgKBAQrvVqs

NBCUniversal plans to sell much of its 34-acre site in Burbank, California — the longtime home of “The Tonight Show,” and move operations to Universal Studi…
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October 10, 1949…The First Ever Network Color Broadcast Airs

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October 10, 1949…The First Ever Network Color Broadcast Airs

On this day in 1949, NBC broadcast “Kukla, Fran & Ollie”, live and in color from their Washington DC studio at The Wardman Park Hotel.

The 15 minute show was usually done in Chicago, and in black and white, but RCA had brought them to town for a week of experimental demonstrations to congress and the FCC. That week, each day was filled with short color demonstrations that included all kinds of
on-camera talent in the closed circuit broadcasts.

The studio was usually also filled with official visitors, and on October 10th, was overly full, which brought about the need to broadcast “KFO” on the network, using the color cameras

From the book, “Tele-Visionaries: The People Behind The Invention Of Television”, by RCA color pioneer, Dr. Richard Webb. Webb said, the studio was so crowded with officials, and time so short before “KFO” had to air on the network, that the crews could not get the black and white cameras to the “KFO” set, but since the color cameras were already there…they used them!

The only people that would have been able to see it in color were there, and at RCA Princeton, but not a single comment was ever received from the viewing public about the color image broadcast to their home sets, which certainly goes a long way in proving the system’s “compatibility”.

In the rare photo below, we see singer Gladys Swarthout, performing for the dignitaries during the color test, just before “KFO” was scheduled to air. Real History! Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee


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October 1950…FCC Approves CBS Color System, RCA Goes To Court

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October 1950…FCC Approves CBS Color System, RCA Goes To Court

At the link below is the October 14, 1950 Billboard Magazine, which is a fantastic walk down memory lane, but notice the two stories at that bottom of page 3. This is where the color feud between CBS and NBC/RCA started. It was one of many feuds between the two.

http://www.americanradiohistory.com/Archive-Billboard/50s/1950/Billboard%201950-10-14.pdf

This is one of 4 retro-fitted RCA TK30 black and white cameras CBS used in their Field Sequential color process. Notice the spinning color wheel behind the lens turret. -Bobby Ellerbee


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October 9, 1986…’The Late Show With Joan Rivers’ Debuts On Fox

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October 9, 1986…’The Late Show With Joan Rivers’ Debuts On Fox

Here is the rare video of that first show with David Lee Roth, Pee Wee Herman, Elton John and Cher. In the story, some surprises I had never known about till now. Read on!

We all know that the Fox announcement of the show caught Johnny Carson by surprise and caused him never to speak with Joan again, BUT…as you will see, Rivers had some pretty good reasons for playing her cards close to her chest.

Rivers had been Carson’s permanent guest host since 1983, and as 1986 neared, some executives at NBC thought it was possible that Johnny Carson would retire after reaching his 25th anniversary on October 1, 1987, as it was such a logical cut-off point. In the spring of 1986, a confidential memo went out to top NBC executives listing about 10 possible replacements in the event of Carson’s retirement. Rivers was shocked to see that she was not on the list.

In an article she wrote for People Magazine, Rivers said that NBC offered her only a one year contract in 1985 as permanent guest host while Carson’s contract had been renewed for two years, which signaled to her that her future was uncertain as her previous one year contracts had run the same length as Carson’s. In addition, Rivers noted numerous snubs from NBC executives over the years, such as not being invited to the annual Carson party until recently, and taking the fall for a controversial joke that management approved during rehearsal.

Rivers had received higher-paying offers from other networks in prior years but declined them out of her loyalty to Carson, but in 1986 as NBC was unwilling to give assurances on her future and negotiations were fruitless, this was the impetus for Rivers to seriously consider the Fox offer.

Fox was looking for a host for a late-night talk show for the network’s launch in October 1986 and offered Rivers the job at a salary higher than what NBC was paying. She accepted, and Carson was blindsided by the news when he saw the press conference on television.

Carson was furious and said that he felt betrayed by Rivers – not because she dared to compete with him, but because she was not honest with him beforehand about her intentions and did not ask him for advice and his blessing.

For her part, Rivers was adamant that her problem was with NBC and not with Carson, who was like a father figure to her. She stated that she didn’t want to tell Carson before the announcement was made because she was afraid Fox would cancel the deal if word leaked out. She had previously been ordered by Carson’s producers and lawyers not to go to him with her problems, as they kept Carson completely insulated since he was a major source of NBC profits. Carson had been completely unaware of Rivers’ problems with NBC.
-Bobby Ellerbee

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MckrtLdSIxs Part 1

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HHFHuARH0g0 Part 2

Here is the part 1 of the premiere of “The Late Show with Joan Rivers”, as broadcast on October 9, 1986. Joining Joan are guests David Lee Roth, Pee Wee Herm…
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How Football Officials Knew When To Call A “TV TIME OUT”

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How Football Officials Know When To Call A “TV TIME OUT”


How NFL TV Timeouts Were Handled Early On…

Back in the 50s and 60s, televised pro football had what were called “hat men” on the sidelines. They were connected by headphone to the director and here, from the Washington Evening Star, is an October 8, 1963 article on what their job was. Thanks to Maureen Carney for the image. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee
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Covering College Football…ABC Sports, October 4, 1975

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Covering College Football…ABC Sports, October 4, 1975

With the season in full swing, it’s time to replay this best ever look at how 60 men brought 30 million viewers these great games every Saturday. “Second’s To Play” is presented here in two 15 minute segments with the links below.

This is the most extensive look you’ll ever get of how ABC Sports crews covered the games in this era. Norelco PC 70s are in use, and our friend Don “Peaches” Langford is on the sidelines with the 49 pound Norelco PCP 90 hand held. Enjoy and SHARE! -Bobby Ellerbee

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MfEk24kIGdY Part 1
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0-Ab93jR9Ms Part 2


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October 8, 1948…NBC’s WNBQ TV In Chicago Signs On

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October 8, 1948…NBC’s WNBQ TV In Chicago Signs On


Thanks to long time WMAQ staff member Edward Dabrowsky, and a few others, here are some great shots from times gone by.

The station signed on October 8, 1948, as WNBQ, the last of Chicago’s four commercial VHF stations to launch. WNBQ is also the third of the five original NBC owned-and-operated stations to begin operations, after New York City and Washington and before Cleveland and Los Angeles. Eight years later, it became the first station in the world to broadcast all of its programs in color.

Though NBC had long owned WMAQ radio, it did not change the TV station’s call letters to WMAQ-TV until August 31, 1964.

WMAQ-TV originated several programs for the NBC television network from its studios in the Merchandise Mart during the 1950s, including Kukla, Fran, and Ollie, featuring Burr Tillstrom and Fran Allison; Garroway at Large, starring Dave Garroway; and “Studs’ Place,” hosted by Studs Terkel. Television critics referred to the broadcasts – often low-budget with few celebrity guests but a good deal of inventiveness – as examples of the “Chicago School of Television.”

WMAQ-TV gained fame for its newscasts during the 1960s, anchored by Floyd Kalber, John Palmer, Jim Ruddle, and Jorie Luelof. Though its role as a program provider to NBC diminished in the 1960s, WMAQ-TV gathered and distributed more than 200 feeds per month of news footage from overseas and the central United States to NBC News.
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Memory Lane…Debut Ads For Some Of TV’s Most Memorable Shows

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Memory Lane…Debut Ads For Some Of TV’s Most Memorable Shows

Thanks to Maureen Carney, here are some classic newspaper ads for the debuts of some shows that went on to make history. Enjoy! -Bobby Ellerbee













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October 7, 1960…Second Kennedy-Nixon Debate, NBC Washington

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October 7, 1960…Second Kennedy-Nixon Debate, NBC Washington

These are newly found photos of the second debate between Senator Kennedy and Vice President Nixon at NBC’s WRC-TV.

As you will see in the video, linked below, the moderator was NBC’s Frank McGee, and panel of questioners included Edward Morgan from ABC, Paul Niven from CBS, Alvin Spivak from UPI, and Hal Levy from Newsday. All four debates were simulcast live on all three networks’ radio and television stations.

The first debate was at WBBM in Chicago and hosted by CBS on September 26. The third was hosted by ABC with Kennedy at WABC in New York and Nixon at KABC in Los Angeles on October 13. On October 21, the fourth and final debate was hosted by ABC in New York. -Bobby Ellerbee

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a-HAb8bxbOw


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October 5, 1969…”Monty Python’s Flying Circus” Debuts On BBC

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October 5, 1969…”Monty Python’s Flying Circus” Debuts On BBC

How did one of the most beloved comedy shows of all time come to be? After hearing how the pitch went, it’s hard to believe that the show ever came to be…but it did! At 4 minutes into this fun trip down memory lane, John Cleese tells the story. SPAM! -Bobby Ellerbee

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W6xXcoVCKp0

Living legend John Cleese stops by to talk about his book “So, Anyway,” how he and his fellow Pythons pitched their show, and why fish are funny.
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October 5, 1947…First Live Television Speech From The White House

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October 5, 1947…First Live Television Speech From The White House

On this day in 1947, President Harry Truman became the first president to broadcast a speech live from the White House. The subject was food conservation, and Truman asked Americans to cut back on their use of grain in order to help starving Europeans. At the time, Europe was still recovering from World War II and suffering major shortages.

Although the majority of Americans did not see this live, because not many had a TV set, his speech signaled the start of a powerful and complex relationship between the White House and a medium that would have an enormous impact on the American presidency, from how candidates campaigned for the office to how presidents communicated with their constituents. Each of Truman’s subsequent White House speeches, including his 1949 inauguration address, was televised. In 1948, Truman was the first presidential candidate to broadcast a paid political ad.

Below, NBC’s WRC is shown providing TV pool coverage of the speech with CBS’s WTOP handling the radio pool. In those early pool days, coverage alternated between CBS and NBC, and both used unmarked cameras and microphones for these occasions. -Bobby Ellerbee


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65 Years Ago Today…”The Honeymooners” Debut & Rare Images

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65 Years Ago Today…”The Honeymooners” Debut & Rare Images

With Jackie Gleason as host of Dumont’s “Cavalcade Of Stars”, the first Honeymooners sketch was done, and the rest is history! The highlights of that early history is in my original article below. -Bobby Ellerbee



October 5, 1951…’The Honeymooners’ Debut…Ultra Rare Pix & Video


Before we get to some of the early history of ‘The Honeymooners’, let’s take a look at these very rare pictures and video. In the first photo, we see Jackie Gleason with Art Carney in a screenshot from the very first sketch done on this day in 1951. At that time, there was only Ralph and Alice, who was originally played by Pert Kelton. Carney played a policeman that Ralph had hit with a bag of flour he tossed out the apartment window in an argument with Alice.

The second photo shows the first time we see Norton’s wife Trixie who was originally played by Elaine Stritch, but only for one episode. In Stritch’s portrayal, Trixie’s character was a burlesque dancer, but Gleason changed his mind and made her a more believable housewife and brought in Joyce Randolph for that part. We’ll see her first appearance in the video.

In the video linked above, we see ‘The Honeymooners’ seventh ever appearance in a sketch called “The Ring Salesman” which aired on December 7, 1951. Alice is played by Pert Kelton and this is Joyce Randolph’s debut as Norton’s wife Trixie. This is the only the second time Trixie has appeared, but the first time, Elaine Stritch was in that role.

Now, to the origins of ‘The Honeymooners’. In July of 1950, Jackie Gleason took over as host of Dumont’s ‘Cavalcade Of Stars’. The original hosts were Jack Carter and then Jerry Lester with Morey Amsterdam filling in occasionally. By the middle of ’51 Gleason and his writing staff developed an idea for a sketch based on the popular radio show ‘The Bickersons’.

Gleason wanted a realistic portrayal of life for a poor husband and wife living in Brooklyn. The couple would fight almost constantly, but ultimately show their love for each other. After rejecting titles like The Beast, The Lovers, and The Couple Next Door, Gleason and his staff settled on ‘The Honeymooners’ for the name of the new sketch.

The debut sketch on October 5, 1951 was six-minutes and the tone of these early sketches was much darker than the later series, with Ralph exhibiting extreme bitterness and frustration with his marriage to an equally bitter and argumentative middle-aged woman. By the way, Kelton was nine years older than Gleason.

Due in part to the success of these sketches, ‘Cavalcade of Stars’ became a huge success for DuMont. It increased its audience share from nine to 25 percent. Gleason’s contract with DuMont expired in the summer of 1952, and the financially struggling network was unable to re-sign him. That’s when he moved to CBS and ‘The Jackie Gleason Show’ debuted September 20, 1952 from CBS Studio 50, now known as The Ed Sullivan Theater. The rest as they say is history! Enjoy and SHARE! -Bobby Ellerbee
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October 4, 1976…Barbara Walters Co Anchors ABC Evening News

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October 4, 1976…Barbara Walters Co Anchors ABC Evening News

40 years ago today, Walters became the first female anchor for a US network evening news program. On her move from NBC’s “Today” show, she was teamed with ABC anchorman Harry Reasoner and the sparks immediately started to fly!

This short clip goes directly to the heart of the conflict and includes footage from that first night. Morbid curiosity was the main reason most viewers tuned in, and after the first week, the ratings bump went away as the dysfunction on screen continued. -Bobby Ellerbee

http://youtu.be/qJgVvZTNJzwBarbara Walters interviews with Harry Smith and reveals her early ambitions of becoming an actress.
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October 4, 1957…”Leave it to Beaver” Debuts On CBS

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October 4, 1957…”Leave it to Beaver” Debuts On CBS

First, let me mention something VERY RARE at the start of this video. About 15 seconds in, in the MSNBC “Time And Again” intro, you will see an NBC network ID that I have only seen once before…it’s an RCA TK60 black and white camera in a motion much like that of the NBC color production logo with the TK41. This is similar to the ABC ID that was a slide of a TK60 in silhouette.

Now, with that out of the way, this the first of an eight part “Leave It To Beaver” retrospective hosted by Jane Pauley. All the other parts are on Youtube and this is quite good. The “Eddie Haskell” parts will surprise you. Enjoy and Share! -Bobby Ellerbee

http://youtu.be/Ula11gmeeOY….more to come
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October 4, 1975…The Missed Debut Date For “Saturday Night”

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October 4, 1975…The Missed Debut Date For “Saturday Night”

As it turns out, “The Not Ready For Prime Time Players” were not even ready for late night television! Really! Here’s the story…

NBC’s new 90 minute, live comedy show “NBC Saturday Night” was scheduled to debut at 11:30 on October 4, 1975. The plane truth is, they just could not get the show ready in time for a number of reasons, with timing and blocking among the biggest hurdles to overcome.

Although Tom Snyder’s “Tomorrow” show was a one hour, Monday – Friday production, NBC called on him at the last minute to do special 90 minute Saturday show to cover the SNL hole in their schedule.

Fortunately, Jerry Lewis was in town and agreed to do the show. For the first 85 minutes, he was the single guest. The last five minutes were reserved for the introduction of the SNL cast and it’s producer Lorne Michaels.

In this clip, you will see the first ever network appearance of the original cast of “NBC Saturday Night”. The debut show was one week later, on October 11, with George Carlin as host. Enjoy and SHARE! -Bobby Ellerbee

http://youtu.be/2xQP_Kdt2gEBefore the first show had aired, a bunch of nobodies went on the Tomorrow Show to talk about this weird little show they were starting up – SNL.
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