Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Back in the Day with Charlie

Via the ever intriguing Nashville is Talking, a delightful look at the newsrooms of yesteryear from, a broadcast elder of sorts and my newly favorite Tennessee-based curmudgeon. In his latest post, Charlie blows the dust off the teletype and fires up the film-chain to show just how primitive the local news was some fifty years ago, before videotape, live trucks and consultancy run amok fairly ruined the once-promising form...

"It was the black-and-white days of local TV news, and we showed stills ripped from the United Press photo wire--a machine that burned news pictures onto a paper roll. Years later, in the early sixties after color came in, we used magic markers to color the photos, taped them on a board in front of a camera, and presto! We had a color shot of a national or foreign news event."

There's alot more, so go read the whole thing. Though I've only been prowling newsrooms for a scant fifteen years or so, Charlie's post reminded of my very first station - a Roy Park owned, backwaters CBS affilliate that could have served as a museum for dying news technology. Thus, I got to experience teletype machines, paper-chain teleprompters, film room fumes and the pall of cigarette smoke EVERYWHERE. Alot has changed since then, but I'm awful glad my formulative years were spent playing with gadgets from a generation back and learning from more than a few local living legends (like Charlie). I dare say I'm a better broadcaster for it.

Someday I'll return the favor by explaining to a group of jetpack journalists how we news-geezers actually used to run around in trucks with telescopic masts. I'm telling ya, it was CRA-ZEEE!

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