Monday, February 8, 2010

A KPRC-TV Gallery

Correspondent Andrew Brown has come through again with a great picture of the KPRC radio and TV complex on Post Oak about where the Williams Tower now stands which the station occupied from 1953 to 1972.

I passed through those doors a number of times as a young kid. My Mother wanted to be on TV and appeared on several audience participation shows in the early days of TV including Darts for Dough, a game show hosted by Dick Gottlieb. This was my earliest exposure to broadcasting.

The book The Fault Does Not Lie With Your Set, written by Jack Harris, Paul Huhndorff and Jack McGrew, has many pictures in the back of the book including people, equipment and facilities. Here is a scan of one page with two shots of the building.

The bottom photo shows the scene on opening day when thousands of Houstonians turned up for a tour and open house. According to the book, operations began from the new facility on March 20, 1953, but other sources give the date as March 29. The new, state-of-the-art facility used a converted quonset hut to house the studios, as had been the case at the original KLEE-TV site, just a half mile south on Post Oak Rd.

KGUL-TV signed on in Galveston on Channel 11 on March 22 and for the first time KPRC-TV had competition for viewers.

An ad from Broadcasting Yearbook, 1960.

There are many pictures of KPRC-TV in the Bob Bailey Collection at the University of Texas, listed in the Off Site Galleries on the sidebar. I have only been able to find the following few using their search feature which requires that you know the way the picture was tagged:

This shot shows the KPRC staff assembled in the courtyard of the new building.

This shot dated 1960 shows the staff assembled in a studio. My guess is the gentleman in the dark suit at the front is Jack Harris, General Manager of KPRC Radio and Television. UPDATE: The correct date for this picture is 6/15/1950 - see the comment below by Bill Bremer.

This shot shows Director Alfred Hitchcock and actress Anne Baxter appearing as guests on a program. Athough the show is not identified, my guess would be this was Matinee, a daily afternoon variety/talk show that came on at 4 pm hosted by Dick Gottlieb, who appears on the right in the picture. I don't remember that set from Matinee, however. From the date, this must have been in the old building.

Here's another shot of the same set-up. Note the picture on the wall which is probably Buff Stadium. Baxter was starring in the Hitchcock film I Confess which was released on March 22 so they were probably in town to promote the movie. For Anne Baxter fans there are several more pictures in the collection of her at the time of this visit. There is one more picture of the studio setting but it shows nothing different.

Newsman Lee Tucker.

There is a photo of Ron Stone somewhere in the collection but it is mislabeled and I can't remember what name was on the picture so I can't find it.

A Facebook page devoted to the history of Channel 2 with some pictures also of KPRC radio.

As mentioned in this recent post, the feature on Post Cards from Texas on Channel 55 included many photos of the early days KLEE-TV/KPRC-TV. That post also included a link to a Chronicle feature with a couple of pictures.

While Bill Calder was a disc jockey on KPRC-AM in the 1960s he had a late night talk/variety show on Channel 2 that followed the Tonight Show. The Bill Calder website, maintained by his son Alex, includes 8 pictures of the show (plus photos of Calder during his days at KXYZ and KPRC radio in Houston).


Bill Bremer said...

Re: This shot dated 1960 shows the staff assembled in a studio. My guess is the gentleman in the dark suit at the front is Jack Harris, General Manager of KPRC Radio and Television.

Yes indeed that is Jack Harris, front and center, as usual. The date however, is 6-15-1950 and the location is City Auditorium. In the right edge of the photo you can see the corner of a boxing ring. This was most likely taken during the setup for the June 16, 1950 8:35PM live wrestling match broadcast on KLEE-TV.

The photo illustrates the new affiliation between KPRC Radio on the left (note the microphone) and KPRC-TV on the right (note the camera. The folks on the left are radio employees, those on the right are former KLEE-TV workers now employed by KPRC.

It's interesting that the camera is already branded KPRC-TV. I wonder if this was done for the photo only.

This photo appeared full width at the top of the page in the July 2, 1950 Houston Post section highlighting the change of call sign from KLEE to KPRC.

Bill Bremer

Bruce said...

Aha! I thought Jack Harris looked awfully young for the date to be 1960; that's the main reason I was hesitant to say for certain it was him.

Thank you so much for the correction and the additional information.

I am aware there are many errors in the UT archive collection regarding identities of the subjects and dates; I'm glad you were able to correct this one.

LT said...

I am Lee Tucker's daughter. Thank you for acknowledging his work on your blog! He is retired and doing very well in Houston.

Bruce said...

Thanks Lauren. I'm always glad to hear of some broadcaster enjoying his retirement!

Anonymous said...

I am 81 and just found this page and link to archaeological photo. Considering going back to a buzz cut and Butch wax. Lee Tucker, 5/25/2013.

Anonymous said...

Lee, if you like this old stuff, you really should check out the KPRC History page on Facebook. More than 600 photos from KPRC Radio and KPRC-TV's past. I suspect you will see many familiar faces:

Harper66Harper said...

My father was an audio engineer with KPRC (first with radio then TV. ) at this building. As a family we moved later to be close to the other station now on SW Freeway. Twinell Johnson, I'm his daughter age 56. He was an audio engineer for the astrodome through KPRC. He worked the NASA shots too through NBC for audio.. He died in 1986. Born 1928. I remember the Post Oak station. I was there often as a child. I don't remember the front of the building. We always went through the back door.
Tina Johnson Lockhart
Conroe, Tx

Anonymous said...

It's true that the original KLEE-TV studio was built from a converted Quonset hut. The second studio for KPRC-TV and Radio (built in 1953,at 3014 Post Oak Rd.) incorporated a curved-roof design over the TV studio space that many refer to as a Quonset hut. While the design contained some features of a Quonset hut, it certainly was not "converted." It was designed for the site and built on location from scratch.