A Fabulous Fifties Start for KBTX-TV

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KBTX has been the Brazos Valley's live and local television news source for the last 50 years.

"When I was ready to staff KBTX-TV, I looked around for the one man who could do the job," said former Brazos Broadcasting President Buddy Bostick.

The man chosen for the job was Harry Gillam.

"He came home and said we've decided to go to Bryan and I said "we?" said Peggy Gillam.

Peggy is the wife the late Harry Gillam.
Harry was hand-picked from KWTX in Waco to start KBTX in Bryan as a satellite station of its Waco counterpart.

As general manager, it was Harry who would lead the station into the future.

On May 22, 1957 KBTX-TV 3 finally signed on the air.

"I couldn't wait to watch the first telecast," said Travis Bryan Jr., longtime KBTX viewer.

"One of the owners walked the FCC application through in Washington and flew back here with it that afternoon," said Gillam. "When we signed on the air, it was about 5."

"I thought this is really great to have this in Bryan, Tx.," Bryan said.

KBTX-TV made its broadcasting debut from a small four-room building, on what was considered a remote pasture on East 29th street.

"We were the smallest television station in the country, I mean we were really small," said Gillam.

In the beginning, sports, weather, and the world report all aired from Waco, with a local news segment coming from Bryan.

It would be another 20 years before KBTX would air its own full newscast.

KBTX originally had a dual network affiliation with CBS and ABC which allowed it to choose the top programs from each network.

In the 1950's television and technology were always changing.

"They'd go buy new equipment, and as Harry would say - by the time they got home practically they had improved it," Gillam said.

In its early days, the station didn't have any photographers. It's when KBTX got its first Polaroid camera that they were able to bring events of the community into the homes of the Brazos Valley.

"If we were going down the street and saw something big happening maybe a bad accident or something like that, we'd stop and take a picture," said Gillam.

"It changed the business community, and enlightened the people by what was going on in the community," Bryan said.

Although KBTX-TV began broadcasting in the late 50's, it was during those few years that the station grew by leaps and bounds.

"It's kind of like watching a child grow and mature, you just get so excited," Gillam said.

It's that excitement, lessons learned, and advancements in technology that would take KBTX strait into the future.