WKOW 1963: The Day President Kennedy was Assassinated - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

WKOW 1963: The Day President Kennedy was Assassinated


MADISON (WKOW) -- 50 years ago on November 22, 1963 President John F. Kennedy was shot and killed. Here is what was happening in the WKOW-TV studio as remembered by Russ Bright. Mr. Bright was working as the Studio Director.

Minutes before JFK was shot, we (WKOW-TV) began broadcasting a live women's "talk" show, which aired from noon to 1 PM.  I was the Studio Director and was wearing my headset at Camera 2.  I heard the Control Room door bang open and the Newsroom teletype "clang away."  (The doors to the Newsroom and the Control Room were supposed to remain closed while we were live.) 
The sound of the teletype was not the usual, few "dings" between stories.  It continued non-stop.  There were excited voices in the Control Room, but I couldn't hear what they were saying. 
The Director, Al Ginsberg, told me, "QUICK!  Set up something for a news announcer … THE PRESIDENT HAS BEEN SHOT!"  I quickly turned two scoops on the "brick wall" set, but couldn't set any back-lighting because I needed a ladder to do so.  I used the wall, because the news set was dismantled for the women's show.  I told him that there were no extra mikes available.
He said to swing the open boom mike away from the live show to the announcer as soon as the announcer and Camera 2 were in place.  (Taking the boom mike away from the live show would cause a complete loss of sound from the guests on the live set.) 
Al put Camera 1 on a wide shot of the women and turned Camera 2 toward the wall ... and the announcer came down and stood in front of the wall.  (I believe he was Rog Russell.  I can't remember, because I was so shocked.)  As soon as Rog was in place, I swung the open boom mike away from the live show.  Al said, "Ready 2 … Take 2 … Cue."  I cued Rog and he reported a story that changed history.
Russ also provided us with the pictures attached to this story. Here's the story behind the camera:
These slides were taken during the evening of 11/22/63 on my 1962 Nikon F2.  The first four slides show Tom Hooper and Roger Russell preparing to give more information about JFK's assassination.  The fifth slide shows John Schermerhorn walking through the set before going live.  The background is the "brick wall," which was actually plastic.  You can see the Fresnel and scoop lighting we had in addition to the boom mike.  Our work schedules changed to a 24-hour shift using only this set to give updates and the engineers did not "shut down" the transmitter for maintenance as they usually did.
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