Follow us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter Watch us on Youtube Join the Archive Mailing List Read our Blog

Selling L.A. Television: Local Kinescopes and Film Fragments, 1953-1965

Popeyes Pier 5 Club
February 15, 2019 - 1:40 pm

Access every screening in the UCLA Festival of Preservation with a $50 pass.

Unfortunately, much of the moving image record of the history of local Los Angeles television is lost to time. Many programs from the pioneering days of local broadcasting in L.A. aired live and were simply not captured on kinescope—an expensive process by which a program was filmed directly of off a studio TV monitor (often with poor image and sound quality). Because of the high costs associated with the raw film stock, processing and storage inherent to the kinescope process, and the fact that any future use of these programs was not anticipated, many live programs were never “kinescoped” at all. Sadly, the implementation of videotape in broadcast television production workflows late in the decade of 1950s and early ‘60s brought its own drawbacks in regards to the survival of local programming, with the reusability of expensive raw tape stock leading to many programs being erased as tapes were reused over and over again to save costs.

Luckily for historians and TV fans, one use of kinescopes during the early days of local television was for stations to save portions of programs for repeated use in sales pitches to potential advertisers, sponsors and air-time buyers. In many instances these fragments, captured on kinescope for commercial purposes, may be all that survives of some local programs. Presented here is a cathode ray tube time machine of obscure kinescope fragments and filmed segments that offer a glimpse of a wide range of local Los Angeles television history—from trusted news anchors, to beloved kiddie show programming to cult-favorite horror hosts. A surprise grab bag of local L.A. TV’s best, all presented in their original, low-fidelity glory.—Mark Quigley

Digital video, b/w, total run time 70 min.

Digital transfers of 16mm kinescopes by Randy Yantek, UCLA Film & Television Archive, Digital Lab.