End of An Era: June 12, 2009

Written By: Greg Howell - Oct• 02•14

There is something eerie and haunting  about the last 2 minutes of the final analog broadcast in the United States. Those closing, end-of-an-era moments broadcast from New York’s WNBC, which began experimental broadcasting in 1928 (as W2XBS)! The station began commercial broadcasts July 1, 1941 with a baseball game between the Brooklyn Dodgers and the Philadelphia Phillies, with the nation’s very first TV commercial airing before the game featuring Bulova watches. The 10 second spot (or according to some sources, a full minute) cost Bulova watch makers less than $10 to air. The game, by the way, went into overtime – the Phillies won 6-4.

The station also broadcast the news of the end of World War II, and jumpstarted broadcasting with early TV hits like Texaco Star with Milton Berle, and Your Show of Shows. The call letters were changed in 1954 to WRCA, then to WNBC in 1960. Broadcast throughout the years – and still being received in some distant universe – the station aired shows as wide ranging as NBC Nightly News with David Brinkley, The Tonight Show,  The Smothers BrothersSanford and Son, The Flip Wilson ShowI Dream of Jeannie, Laugh-In, The Today Show, The Cosby Show, Cheers, and Seinfeld. 

The station signed off analog for the switch to digital broadcasting near midnight on June 12, 2009, but remained on air for a few weeks longer with specially televised informational programs explaining the switch from analog to digital, then signed off again for the very final time two weeks later. The two week extension made it the very last station across the country to broadcast in analog, and 81 years of history came to a close. WNBC, like some other stations across the country, created closing graphics to signify the switch. Below is the video of the closing two and a half minutes of television broadcasting in analog format.

Note: Friday, October 23, 2009 by G.H.