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Channel 5 changeover

On Fri, 4 Apr 1997, PETER GEORGE, N1GGP wrote:

> Does anyone else out there
> remember the switchover that early morning ?

I remember watching the last newscast on WHDH-TV, followed by a speech by
the Herald publisher (whose name I can't remember).  I don't think I
stayed with it to see the final sign-off or the WCVB sign-on, but I
watched WCVB the next day when they repeated that 30-minute preview show.

However, I remember the first sign-on of WHDH-TV.  It was shortly before
Thanksgiving 1957 and was delayed somewhat from its originally scheduled
date.  In those days, Channel 2 used to carry the Huntley-Brinkley NBC
News, without commercials (because Channel 4 didn't carry them) and Meet
the Press on Sunday.  At some point, they announced, after Meet the Press,
that next week it would be seen on Channel 5, WHDH-TV, but the following
week Channel 5 wasn't on yet.  As I recall, the sign-on was delayed
several weeks because the weather simply didn't allow anyone to get up to
the top of the tower to connect the antenna. 

So every day, when I got home from school, I would turn on the TV to
Channel 5 to see if it was on yet.  And day after day, it wasn't.
Finally, I believe just a few days before Thanksgiving, I got home from
school, turned on the TV, and there was this weird-looking test pattern.

Or at least it was weird to me.  I imagine many people out there are
familiar with the kind of test pattern that has a big set of concentric
circles in the middle, a smaller circle in each corner, and a picture of
an Indian chief on it.  I remember later seeing it in a TV servicing
manual.  I had never seen it before at that point, but there it was, along
with a 1000-cycle tone.  I know it was a 1000-cycle tone because every 15
minutes or so, a voice would come on identifying the station as WHDH-TV,
Channel 5, in Boston, and saying that they were conducting tests with a
test pattern and a 1000-cycle tone.  And then the tone would come back on.

Finally, I think around 6:30 PM, the station actually signed on.  I think
John Day was the first voice, and his image, sitting at a newscaster's
desk, was the first image telecast.  This was followed by Huntley &
Brinkley at 6:45, local news, weather, and sports at 7:00 (I think Fred B.
Cole did the weather and Curt Gowdy did the sports.  I don't remember who
did the news, but it may have been John Day.), then Douglas Edwards; CBS
News at 7:15.  Although Channel 5 was an ABC affiliate, it also carried a
number of NBC and CBS programs that were not carried by the other
stations.  And, ABC's Mickey Mouse Club remained on Channel 7 until the
following fall.

  A. Joseph Ross, J.D.                                          617/367-0468
  15 Court Square                                       lawyer@world.std.com
  Boston, MA 02108-2573                        http://world.std.com/~lawyer/