Museum Hours:

Saturday 10-6

Sunday 12-5

 

Early Television Stations

W6XYZ Hollywood (KTLA)

W6XYZ received its construction permit in 1939, and went on the air in 1942. It was owned by Paramount Pictures, who hired Klaus Landsberg, a refugee from Hitler's Germany, to put the station on the air.

Landsberg worked on televising the 1936 Berlin Olympics. Farnsworth Television hired him as television development engineer in Philadelphia in 1938, shortly after he arrived in the United States. In 1939 he went to New York to work for the National Broadcasting Company television division. It was during this period that Landsberg participated in NBC's introduction of TV at the 1939 New York World's Fair. 

Allen B. DuMont recognized Landsberg's abilities, and hired him as television design and development engineer for the New York DuMont Laboratories. Here he supervised technical operations of the television unit at the U.S. Army Maneuvers in Cantons N.Y. and developed DuMont's automatic synchronizing circuits. 

Paramount was a major DuMont stockholder at that time and Landsberg was sent to Hollywood to organize W6XYZ for Paramount Pictures in 1941. Landsberg brought two DuMont iconoscope cameras with him, and built the transmitter, which operated on channel 4. In 1947 W6XYZ became commercial station KTLA.

Here is a 1943 Popular Mechanics article about the station, and some photos from 1960.

Steve Dichter, a collector of early color television equipment, worked for KTLA for 16 years starting in 1965. He kindly provided these rare photographs of the early days of W6XYZ and KTLA. Here is a 4 part interview with Dick Lane, an announcer hired by W6XYZ in 1942 (courtesy of Steve Dichter).

 

W6XYZ logo card

W6XYZ remote truck during a 1943 telecast in downtown Los Angeles. Cameras are DuMont Iconoscope types. When not using the truck and cameras on remote locations, W6XYZ originated studio programs from a small sound stage on the Paramount lot. Telecasts were also done from other Paramount stages where various motion pictures were being shot. Stars of the period such as Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake were interviewed, live of course, for the several hundred viewers who might be tuning in. This filled program time and gave Paramount some insight into television's potential as an entertainment medium by requesting viewer's comments on both programming and picture reception.


Klaus Landsberg, founder of W6XYZ at the controls in the W6XYZ truck. Pre-1947. 

Klaus Landsberg posed with a W6XYZ DuMont Iconoscope camera.

Klaus Landsberg pictured with large W6XYZ logo card in 1942.

W6XYZ claimed that their telecast in 1943 of the Sheriff's Rodeo from the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum was the first on the west coast. However, Don Lee's W6XAO is known to have telecast the 1940 Rose Bowl parade. A total of 100 television sets were able to receive the W6XYZ broadcast.

1944 remote telecast

1944 telecast

 

Small sound stage, (called the "test stage"), located on the Paramount Pictures lot occupied by W6XYZ until 1947 

Cameraman Eddie Resnick, who Steve Dichter worked with when he started at KTLA in
1965 was seen here in 1946. The show: "Shopping at Home" with host, Keith Hetherington (r). This was an early version of QVC.

Another shot of Eddie Resnick, and another camera operator atop the W6XYZ remote truck. Looks like a cold day in Los Angeles. This must be late '46 because the Paramount logo has replaced the W6XYZ logo on the camera.

Klaus Lansberg chats with Paramount stars Alan Ladd & Veronica Lake as W6XYZ broadcasts from a Paramount sound stage during movie production of "The Glass Key" (1942).

January 22, 1947. Premier broadcast of KTLA as W6XYZ changes to commercial station KTLA and a channel change from 4 to 5. Note that at least 4 DuMont Iconoscope cameras are now in use. RCA cameras would replace the DuMonts withn the year.

 

Program Schedules from 1944 and 1945. During World War Two, television broadcasting was very limited. At that time there were only a few hundred television sets in the Los Angeles area.

Christmas card from 1945


Here is a 1947 test pattern

Courtesy of Steve Dichter

A 1947 sign-on after the station became KTLA. Here is the audio that accompanied the sign-on

Bob Hope emcees the premier telecast of KTLA Jan. 22, 1947. A total of
322 televisions are in the Los Angeles Viewing area.

1944 Los Angeles phone listing

Information and photos courtesy of Steve Dichter

The following is from Al Germond:

Under "Active Experimental Stations" in the 1944 Annual [p. 944] W6XYZ is lised as having 1 kW aural/1kW visual on channel 4 [78-84 mc], studio/office/transmitter-/antenna at 5451 Marathon St, [this was on the Paramount Lot]. Time on air 6 hours per week. Klaus Landsberg is station director.

"W6XYZ has operated regularly since February 1 [1943] each Wednesday and Friday night and has been producing a weekly total of four to six hours of live talent programs. These programs were entirely dedicated to the training of Civilian Defense volunteers until the Summer of 1943, since which time entertainment as well as educational programs have been aired. These programs include gymnastic courses, museum visits, varietry shows, dramatic skits and one act plays..."

Facilities: Equipment includes complete apparatus for studio as well as field operation. Cameras and transmitters were built by Allen B. DuMont Laboratories, Inc, and many additional units including electronic special effect equipment were designed and built by Television Productions, Inc. A relay transmitter W6XLA to operate in conjunction with W6XYZ was also developed and constructed by the company. A special antenna system combining a double-cone type of antenna for video and a special four dipole antenna for audio of its own design and construction are used. Studio facilities also include a flexible lighting arrangement and background projection apparatus and screens.

This is a picture, from 1942, of W6XYZ's visual transmitting antenna

Broadcasting, November 15, 1938

Broadcasting, April 1 1939

Broadcasting, July 15 1939

In 1952, KTLA broadcast an atomic bomb blast live from Yucca Flat. Here is a story from a 1986 book from the Museum of Broadcasting about that event (courtesy of Richard Hess)

KTLA's original color unit was a custom built Fruehauf trailer designed by KTLA's engineering dept. in 1954. In the early '70's, after being stored for many years, it was converted to house our new Norelco color cameras. Pictured above is that original KTLA color unit seen on Jan. 1, 1956 at the Rose Parade. It used a CT-100 as it's only color monitor. The CT-100 was still sitting in the stored trailer in the late 1960's. KTLA quit live color broadcasts in 1958. It continued with limited film color broadcasts. KTLA aquired TK-41 color equipment in 1964 with the purchase of Red Skelton's Red-EO vision Crown Coach color buses. (comments courtesy of Steve Dichter).

John Silva, the chief engineer at KTLA, was the first to use a helicopter for news coverage. In 1958 he rented a Bell helicopter and installed a camera and transmitter.

Here is a screen shot from a modern video game using the W6XYZ mobile van