Early Television – Leonard Sullivan

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Leonard Sullivan

I still have my parent’s first television which was purchased in about 1950 or 1951. When I see that old set in the garage, I can’t help but recall the early days of television. There was only one channel, WKY. Most programming was live, local and produced in studio.

The programming came on at 6:00 am with a test pattern and the playing of the National Anthem and went off at midnight with the playing of the National Anthem.

We were happy with the one channel which featured Jude & Jody, Wiley & Gene, local news and weather, local talent and of course Danny Williams. Danny was almost a one man band. He had a morning show which featured local people, like a 103 year old woman who was cooking for the farm hands or someone who had perfect church attendance for fifty years, a quilting contest winner or a real “89er” who came to Oklahoma in a wagon or perhaps a local celebrity’s pecan pie recipient. Danny had an afternoon program for the kids and he also broadcast wrestling live from the Colosseum at the Farmers Market.

Wrestling was big. A neighbor in Dale who had the first T.V. would put the set in the living room window and their yard would be full of lawn chairs and neighbors of all ages. You loved or hated Gorgeous George, The Mad Russian, the Indian Chief in full headdress and buckskin pants, a Hillbilly in overalls with one strap unbuckled and work boots, a wild mountain man and an assortment of good and bad guys. The World Champion with the big belt would come to Oklahoma City about once a year. He would almost be defeated by a local bad guy, but would escape from the “death hold” just in time to retain his belt and title.

For about a year there was a jingle advertising the coming of the cable. “The cable is coming, the cable is coming, hurrah hurrah” and a map would show the progress of the cable coming from New York. And as they say the rest is history. We then had national news and programming.

We were still happy with the one channel. It provided everything we thought we needed. Now we have a hundred channels but nothing to watch, unless you can be entertained by shows like “Naked and Afraid”. It would appear that the nearby camera crew could alleviate their fears or they could go home, put on some clothes and lock their doors until their fears subsided.

Nostalgia often overwhelms progress and reality.

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