Posts in Category: Broadcast History

The Ampex BCC 10

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The Ampex BCC 10

Yesterday, I made a comment on the BCC 10 and low and behold, I just found a photo of them at work at KPRC in Houston. I’ve never seen these cameras in a studio, only in catalog photos and that’s probably because so few were made. Only 69 were built between ’78 and ’81 and they sold for about $70,000 each.


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Eye Popping: Computer Generated Effects! Must See!

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Eye Popping: Computer Generated Effects! Must See!

I’ve never seen anything quite so ‘magical’. This level of technology is just amazing! Take a look and share it.

This is CGI at it’s best for TV
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Keep the screwdriver handy, you’ll need it again!

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Keep the screwdriver handy, you’ll need it again!

WOIC-TV (1949–1950)
WTOP-TV (1950–1978)
WDVM-TV (1978–1986)
WUSA-TV (1986-present)

On the other hand, today WEWS in Cleveland celebrates 65 years on the air with the same call letters, same channel and same ownership. Now that’s rare! Congratulations!


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An Expensive Hobby…Restoring Early Videotape Machines

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An Expensive Hobby

Restoring early videotape machines to working order is not small feat, but John Turner does it. Here’s a demonstration of how his RCA TK60 quad machine works.

What Labguy did on his spring break series, first video. John Turner demonstrates the 1969 RCA TR-60 quadruplex broadcast video tape recorder that he has res…
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What Does The ‘TK’ On RCA Cameras Stand For?

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What Does The ‘TK’ On RCA Cameras Stand For?

As most of you know, the TK prefix on RCA camera models began in 1946 with the introduction of the RCA TK30 Image Orthicon camera. Pictured below is one of the very first TK30s delivered to NBC in early June of 1946.

Last night I had a conversation with my friend Lou Bazin who was the lead engineer on the TK44 and TK76 lines at RCA. I asked Lou what the ‘TK’ designation stood for. He said that he had asked the same question many years ago too. He said he never got a clear answer, BUT…it probably stands for Tele Kine.

That had never crossed my mind, but it’s actually a very good answer and here’s why. Over time, references change. For instance, ‘hooking up’ used to mean I’ll meet you later. Now it means having sex. Same for the word Kinescope which started as a noun, but later became a verb.

Before the process of recording the output of a cathode ray tube to film became known as a ‘kinescope’, the term originally referred to the cathode ray tube used in television receivers, and the word kinescope was coined by RCA’s Vladimir K. Zworykin.

As a noun, Kine is defined as: “a cathode-ray tube with a fluorescent screen on which an image is reproduced by a directed beam of electrons”. Tele is defined as: “across a distance”. Combine the two terms and you get the idea of a creation that can make images at a distance. That is in essence, the definition of a television camera.

I can see how, as a quiet tribute to Zworkin and RCA heritage, that the TK designation would be appropriate. The Image Orthicon tubes used in the first TK models, the TK30 and TK10, were revolutionary in their ability to shoot great pictures with much less light…even candle light.

This is as good an answer as I have ever heard, but like many things from that bygone era, we are not really sure of the truth.


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WXYZ, Detroit: Suitcases Full Of Money

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WXYZ, Detroit: Suitcases Full Of Money

Without WXYZ, ABC may not have made it. Lytle Hoover, who was then directing The Soupy Sales Show from there, told me that every Friday morning the GM flew to NYC with a suitcase full of money so ABC could cover payroll checks.

WXYZ-TV began broadcasting October 9, 1948 and was the third of the five original ABC-owned and operated television stations to begin operations, after New York City and Chicago, and before San Francisco and Los Angeles. WXYZ-TV was created out of ABC-owned radio station WXYZ (1270 AM), which produced the popular radio programs The Lone Ranger and The Green Hornet.

In the 1950s WXYZ-TV began producing a series of popular and innovative programs which featured many personalities from WXYZ radio. The station’s success generated revenues large enough that it helped keep the then struggling ABC network afloat during the 1950s.

WXYZ began broadcasting in color in 1964. By 1978, WXYZ-TV was the second most-dominant television station in the United States in local viewer ratings, no doubt attributed to ABC’s prime-time ratings dominance and the continued success of Channel 7 Action News with lead news anchor Bill Bonds. In 1979, ABC named Jeanne Findlater as WXYZ’s general manager. She was the first woman to hold that title at a large market television station.


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Roll The Credits…Literally

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Roll The Credits…Literally

Here’s the way the closing credits were done in the old days. White text on black scroll was fixed to a large wheel. Some were hand cranked and others had a variable speed electric motor. This shot from Radio Canada has a Marconi Mark II ready to shoot when the credits roll.


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The RCA TK76 and PM Magazine

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The RCA TK76 and PM Magazine

It is no small coincidence that both launched in 1976. PM originally started in San Francisco on KPIX as Evening Magazine and was created to run as a local program in the half hour preceding prime time. A new FCC ‘Prime Time Access’ rule, prohibited stations in the top 50 markets from accepting network programming, other than network news before prime time in order to ‘serve the local market’.

By ’78, The PM format became syndicated by Group W (Westinghouse), and was built to feature local stories shot on location on videotape. Before the TK76 ENG (Electronic News Gathering) camera came along, this would have not been a viable show because it would involve either bringing studio cameras to the field or using film. When the TK76 came along, so did news vans equipped with video tape like the RCA TPR 10. By ’77 RCA had the first helical scan machines ready…the HR 400 and TH 100 in ’78.


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Drew Plays With “Price Is Right” Cameramen

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No Doubt About It.
http://www.eyesofageneration.com/Gallery_Today_Camera.php

What we have here in Studio 33 at Television City are Sony EFP (Electronic Field Production) kits. The cameras are most likely Sony 1500 HDs. They are using the Sony Large Viewfinder Adapter build up kit, model HDLA1507US. For more on the technology, go to the link. Thanks to Father Bob yet again for the video.

Drew decides to stand on the base of camera 2 while the contestants bid on a price (3/16/09)
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OOPS! Craig Smashes The Teleprompter

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OOPS!

Craig smashes the teleprompter on his camera when he smacks it.
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Joey Bishop Show’s GE PE 350 Cameras

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Joey Bishop Show: Vine Street Theater

At the top of the video, you can see a couple of the GE PE 350 cameras on the set. In ‘Recent Posts By Others’ there is another short clip from this same episode that has a quick glimpse of the cameras. If you watch the rest of this, you’ll see that Joey and side kick Regis Philbin have a very natural patter. Good match. Thanks to Father Bob for both videos.

The opening minutes of a Bishop show episode that features Sammy Davis as the central guest. Here Joey and sidekick Reege talk about their new Nehru jackets …
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Colonial Theater Color Girl, Marie McNamara

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Colonial Theater Color Girl

Last week we touched on the color camera development at The Colonial Theater in NYC. Here is yet another of the early color girl models that spent many hours in front of the cameras for registration and tone matching. These are two of the four experimental TK40 ‘coffin’ cameras. These cameras with their viewfinders probably weighed around 400 pounds each. The TK40/41 production models weighed 375.


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Howard Cosell Breaks The John Lennon News, December 8, 1980

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32 Years Ago…Yesterday

After going over this a few times, it’s apparent that the crew in the booth knows the news but is just waiting for the first opportunity to report it and they say as much if you listen closely. It was a sad day for everyone that loved music.

John Lennon was announced dead by Howard Cosell on a Monday Night Football game . Miami Dolphins vs the Patriots… First time ever we bring you the TWO time…
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Rare Color Clips From The Early 60s

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The Beautiful Color Of The RCA TK41

In this series of clips, you can see the rich colors and hues that the TK41 gave us along with great blacks. The editing leaves a lot to be desired, but the point is the pictures. The spelling tells me this is was done by someone outside the US which is yet another tribute to the TK41.

This is a compile of rare colour television show excerpts dating from 1958 to 1966 shot on the first colour camera the RCA TK-41. These excerpts come from va…
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David Letterman…Backstage In Studio 6A Video

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VERY COOL!

You’ll feel like Johnny Carson or David Letterman making their grand entrance into NBC Studio 6B! Great camera work on this rare piece from one of Dave’s first shows. ENJOY and Share! Thanks to Father Bob!

This is from one of Dave’s first NBC shows, featuring a cameo from Larry “Bud” Melman, Mr. Calvert Deforest, himself. This is Dave at his irreverent best.
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The Colbert Report Set, NEP’s Studio 54

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The Colbert Report

This is the set in NEP’s Studio 54 in New York. It is a fully-equipped HD studio has: Sony HDC1450R cameras, Canon lenses, a Sony MVS-8000G Switcher, an Evertz Virtual Monitor Wall 162 Inputs, 5.1 Audio Monitoring, 24 channels of EVS, a variety of tape machines, SSL C100 Digital Audio Console w/ MADI, inbound and outbound fiber for transmission, and a full edit package with 6 Avid Nitris DX systems and a variety of tape machines.


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The Daily Show With Set At NEP’s Studio 52

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The Daily Show With John Stewart

This is the Daily Show set at NEP’s Studio 52 in New York. This fully-equipped HD studio has: Sony HDC1450R cameras, Canon lenses, a Sony MVS-8000G Switcher, an Evertz Virtual Monitor Wall 162 Inputs, 5.1 Audio Monitoring, 24 channels of EVS, a variety of tape machines, SSL C100 Digital Audio Console w/ MADI, inbound and outbound fiber for transmission, and a full edit package with 6 Avid Nitris DX systems and a variety of tape machines.


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How Zsa Zsa Helped Mike Douglas Go From Live, To Videotape

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Mike Douglas Show, TK10

This shot is from 1963, a couple of years into the show. It was live every weekday for an hour until around October of ’65. That’s when Zsa Zsa Gabor called Morey Amsterdam a “son of a bitch” for interrupting her joke. After that, the program aired on a one-day tape delay basis.


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Letterman Messes With His Favorite Cameraman, Dave Dorsette…

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Short Clip: Cameraman Dave Dorsette’s Interns

FYI, Dave retired a year or so again after 35 years at CBS but is back from time to time. Go Get Em Dave!

Karen’s a summer intern for Dave, the Cameraman
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Original NBC Promos for ‘Late Night With David Letterman’ 1982

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Original NBC Promos for ‘Late Night With David Letterman’ 1982

It’s been thirty years since these promos aired. From a tape recorded in 1982. Commercials pulled from a VHS found while working at the Sound Chamber in Roch…
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The ‘Rosanne’ Set At CBS Studio Center

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Honey, I’m Home!

Here’s the ‘Rosanne’ set at CBS Studio Center on Radford Avenue in Los Angeles with Grass Valley LDK cameras.


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The RCA TK45: A 1960 (Medical Use) Color Camera Rarity

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RCA TK45: 1960 Version

Built for the medical industry, this color camera was usually ceiling mounted and looked down at the operating table via a 45 degree mirror. I guess the TK11 type body with handles was needed to support it and that’s why it has a different configuration than the TK41. Here it is on a pedestal. Click to see the whole image. Thanks to Lytle Hoover at Old Radio,com for the photo.


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CBS Television City Studio 36 & 46…Each Over 15,500 Square Feet

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CBS Television City

Studio 36 and 46 are over 15,500 square feet each. Studio 41 and 43 are around 12,000 square feet each. That’s the kind of room it takes to do what they do. In the background, the RCA TK41s are out of the way as a giant piece of scenery is carefully prepared for erection.


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Ann Palmer: CBS Color Girl At Television City

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Ann Palmer: CBS Color Girl

At Television City, ‘Lady Ann’ spent as much time in front of their color cameras than most of the CBS stars. Very little color was done from CBS NY, and at TVC, color programs were on a rolling basis. Regularly scheduled shows would be done in color perhaps monthly or quarterly. Remember, it was 1970 before color sets outsold black and white sets.


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In The Beginning…

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In The Beginning…

In 1953 when the first RCA TK40 color cameras were arriving at NBC in New York, there was almost around the clock closed circuit testing with signals being sent from The Colonial Theater in NYC to RCA Labs in Princeton, NJ and Rockefeller Center. With no color patterns available, flower arrangements, fruit, color cloths and more were used to make a colorful picture.

The Colonial Theater was the main location for this but later, there were public demonstrations at the RCA Exhibition Hall in Rockefeller Center. During the day, a budding starlet named Nanette Fabre did a 90 minute Broadway musical type show from the Colonial Theater. Only the Colonial crew and the staff in Princeton and at 30 Rock saw it. She did it for two years till the monotony drove her to move on. This is probably an overnight set shot feed.


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Sid Caesar: A True Icon

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Sid Caesar: A True Icon Of Television

This photo is from Caesar’s Hour, taken in 1956 at the Century Theater in New York.

Sid Caesar began his television career when he made an appearance on Milton Berle’s Texaco Star Theater in 1948. In early 1949, Sid and Max Lieberman met with Pat Weaver, president of television at NBC, which led to Caesar’s appearance in his first series, The Admiral Broadway Revue with Imogene Coca.

The Friday show, simultaneously broadcast on NBC and the DuMont network in order for the show to be carried on the only TV station then operating in Pittsburgh. It was an immediate success. However, its sponsor, Admiral, an appliance company, could not keep up with the demand for its new television sets, so the show was cancelled after 26 weeks on account of its runaway success. According to Caesar, an Admiral executive later told him the company had the choice of building a new factory or continuing their sponsorship of Revue for another season.

On February 23, 1950, Caesar appeared in the first episode of Your Show of Shows, a Saturday night 90-minute variety program produced by Max Lieberman (who had previously produced The Admiral Broadway Revue). The show launched Caesar into instant stardom and was a mix of scripted and improvised comedy, movie and television satires, Caesar’s inimitable double-talk monologues, top musical guests, and large production numbers.

The show ended after 160 episodes on June 5, 1954. Just a few months later, Sid Caesar returned with Caesar’s Hour, a one-hour sketch/variety show with Howard Morris, Carl Reiner, a young Bea Arthur, and much of the seasoned crew. Nanette Fabray replaced Imogene Coca who left to star in her own short-lived series. Ultimate creative and technical control was now totally in Caesar’s hands. The show moved to the larger Century Theater, which allowed longer, more sophisticated productions and the weekly budget doubled to $125,000. The premier on September 27, 1954 featured Gina Lollobrigida.


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An Original Walter Cronkite Camera

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This Is The CBS Evening News With Walter Cronkite…

Out all of the 893 Norelco PC 60s and 70s ever made, this and it’s twin are probably the most famous. This PC60 and one just like it are the ‘Cronkite Cameras’ on display at The Newseum in Washington. They were saved, only by the grace of God and one of his angels…kind of.

When CBS retired the two cameras in the CBS Newsroom, they were donated to the Catholic Television Center in Boston. My friend Paul Beck received them and put them into service. A few years later newer cameras arrived and, being the angel he is, Paul knew to preserve this history and stored them in his basement. Even though his wife objected (sound familiar?), he kept them safe till a worthy home could be found. Fortunately, that was the Newseum and they are on permanent on display at their beautiful new home in Washington.


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Meet Pat Weaver, First President of NBC Television

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Meet Pat Weaver, First President of NBC Television

I could go on and on about Mr Weaver, but here’s the short version. I own the RCA TK30 (maybe the one in this photo) that NBC gave him as a token of appreciation from all of NBC’s employees in January of 1955. It was on display in his office.
The range of shows this camera could have worked on would have included all the shows that Pat either created, or brought to the network. The Today Show, The Tonight Show, The Home Show, The Colgate Comedy Hour, The Camel News Caravan, Howdy Doody, Your Show of Shows with Sid Caesar, The Texaco Star Theater with Milton Berle, The Tonight Show’s predecessor, Broadway Open House and lord knows what else. This is a rare shot as Pat made very few appearances on television. He actually created the magazine style of advertising that all broadcasters still use, in both radio and television. His book, “The Best Seat In The House” is great! It would make a fantastic Christmas gift.


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Baseball…Breaking Records, And Camera Lenses

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Another One Bites The Dust…

From Television’s POV, baseball is a much more violent sport than football. I wonder how many box lenses get smashed each season?

i dont own this
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The Devil Made Him Do It! Flip Wilson’s Hilarious “Tonight” Debut

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The Devil Made Him Do It! Must See History…

A few months before this video, Johnny Carson asked Redd Fox who the funniest new comic around was. Redd’s answer was Flip Wilson. On September 30, 1965 Flip made his first of many Tonight Show appearances. At the end this 2:00 clip, it takes Johnny :40 seconds to stop laughing long enough to say, “that’s one of the funniest lines I’ve ever heard in my life”.

Flip Wilson tells his famous ‘Ugly Baby’ joke.
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