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Anchorage First TV Memories
Did you know there was a race to be the first TV station in Anchorage and Alaska? What are your memories of Anchorage TV?
Photo by Ward Wells
Pictured above, on your far right, is TV host Frank Feeman doing his “HiJinks” kid’s show on KFIA-TV.
In 1953, two companies were in a race to be the first TV station in Anchorage and in Alaska.
The two were KTVA (“K-TV-Alaska”) channel 11 and one you may not know about. KFIA-TV (“K-First In Alaska”), channel 2.
KFIA went on to become KENI-TV, now KTUU. But more about that later in this story.
When the race began in the summer of 1953, channel 11 was the first to receive its call letters, KTVA. from the Federal Communication Commission (FCC).
Not to be outdone, KFIA became the first to have its TV tower in place. The location was the top of the Westward Hotel.
The First Signal Transmission
Pictured above is a simple station ID transmitted by KFIA-TV.
Facing many technical problems, on October 15, 1953, KFIA-TV managed to broadcast a primitive test signal. Then on October 17, they broadcast a station ID like the one pictured above.
Following that, KFIA-TV Station Manager James Duncan announced that KFIA-TV would begin regular programming on November 1.
KTVA Channel 11
Back in September, KTVA had installed their TV tower on top of the McKinley Building and began moving equipment into the first floor of the building.
November 1st and Still no TV
After announcing that KFIA-TV would begin regular broadcasting on November 1st, that date came and went without success.
KFIA-TV announced several other dates for the start of regular programming, but was not able to follow through. The station ended up publishing an apology in the Anchorage Daily News and Daily Times newspapers.
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A Christmas Gift for Anchorage
On December 4, 1953, KTVA successfully broadcast a test pattern.
Then on December 11, KTVA channel 11 began broadcasting a regular schedule of TV programs to a happy Anchorage audience.
What Anchorage Watched
The above is a promotional picture.
First up on December 11, 1953, on KTVA, was an episode of a TV series called “The Range Rider”.
Did you know that actor Jock Mahoney of Range Rider is the father of actress Sally Field?
Also broadcast to the delight of a very happy Anchorage audience was the “Gene Autry Show”, “Amos n’ Andy”, and several children’s shows including the cartoon series, “Crusader Rabbit” and “Time for Beany”.
All this, plus a host of local civic leaders came to welcome KTVA channel 11.
What About KFIA-TV?
Technical issues continued to be a major problem for KFIA-TV. But all that aside, they opted to start broadcasting on December 14th, just three days after KTVA had gone on the air.
Photo by Ward Wells
Pictured above is the KFIA-TV booth at the Consumer Carnival in Anchorage.
KFIA-TV continued broadcasting and even purchased the new TV camera pictured above.
The sign beside the man in the picture reads:
“KFIA-TV channel 2. The best in entertainment.
KFIA thanks its many sponsors for making it possible to add this new RCA studio camera to its facilities. Means new live programs, better commercials, special events. It’s channel 2 for you.”
The First Woman’s Local TV Show
Pictured above is Lorene Harrison of the Hat Box, an Anchorage favorite.
From 1954 to 1958, Harrison hosted the first local woman’s TV show in Anchorage. First on KFIA, then on KENI-TV. It was called “Lorene’s Scrapbook” and her show was live for an hour Monday through Friday.
Harrison’s show was being broadcast in Anchorage before the “Norma Goodman Show” on KTVA channel 11, or The Woman’s Touch” with Theda Comstock on KENI-TV channel 2.
You can enjoy reading more.
Take a look at Norma Goodman and Theda Comstock and remember.
What Ever Happened to KFIA-TV?
On December 28, 1954, Midnight Sun Broadcasting, owned by the Lathrop Company and managed by Al Bramstedt Sr., purchased KFIA.
In 1955, KFIA became KENI-TV (now KTUU).
Pictured above at the Anchorage Fur Rendezvous are, left to right:
Al Bramstedt Sr., channel 2 news anchor, Ty Clark, Behind the camera is Jim Balog and the two on the right are Bill Stewart and Fur Rendezvous Master of Ceremonies, Orville Lake.
In the late 1960s, KENI-TV pioneered color television in Anchorage.
Take a look at KENI -TV Brings Color TV to Anchorage and remember.
Your Free Local Anchorage Teen TV Show e-Book
While we’re talking about local TV memories, we want you to have this gift.
Do you remember “The Varsity Show”?
That’s Ron Moore in the white coat in the picture above.
It was Anchorage’s version of American Bandstand. You may have watched the show, you may have danced on the program… You may have even worked on the show as an Anchorage teen.
Mike of Anchorage Memories wrote this e-book and it’s yours free.
Click on the following link for your instant PDF download:
Take a look at The Varsity Show e-Book and remember.
Connect with Mike and Mary
Yes, that’s Mary and Mike in the picture above. Notice who has the popcorn.
And yes, we were a tad younger in the picture above. But, to this day, Mary still controls the popcorn.
Did you enjoy this look at the race to become the first TV station in Anchorage? And did you download your free Varsity Show e-book?
You can easily send us your comments by replying to this email. You can even say, “I watched the Fur Rendezvous dog sled races on KENI-TV channel 2”.
And you can Contact Us anytime you want to.
Until Next Time
Mike and Mary