KBTX Turns 60: Six decades of technology

Published: May. 14, 2017 at 4:58 PM CDT
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Harry Gillam, past KBTX General Manager, once said "As little as some may believe it, this company took a big risk in 1957 when they put a television station in Bryan / College Station, Texas. Because of great support locally, we’ve come a long, long way."

On May 22nd, 1957, KBTX TV Channel 3 signed on the air for the first time. East 29th Street was just a dirt road, but it became the home of KBTX and local news for a small viewing audience. At the time, KBTX was using a single RCA transmitter and one black and white studio camera.

A few years later a color transmitter and camera was added As the station and community grew, more technology was added. From switchers to cameras for news and commercial production, the early 80s brought new technology that could not only add fonts to the screen, but in different colors and styles. But that was a flash in the pan for what came next.

1982 -- a new tower site was selected in Carlos in Grimes County, to expand the reach of KBTX across the Brazos Valley. According to Gillam, "moving from a 500 foot tower to a 1,705 foot tower doubled KBTX's audience and brought a better picture."

It was 1983 when permission to erect the tower came from the FCC and FAA. The tower went up in less than a month, but just as the antenna was about to be place, Hurricane Alicia came ashore. The eye of the hurricane passed directly over Carlos and the new tower site. A few days later the antenna went up and after a few months of technical issues the signal was switched over.

Over the years, the studio on 29th Street has grown and changed. More cameras, production equipment, and newer technology than could have been imagined in 1957 was added.

In 2003, a new era of television came to the Brazos Valley when KBTX went high definition.

Over the decades, the cameras have gotten smaller. We have moved from film, to tape, to disks, to memory cards. The newsroom has become more digital. Operations still runs 24 hours a day from the same home on 29th street -- using some of the most advanced technology in the Brazos Valley. Advances in technology continues to change the way KBTX broadcasts the news to living rooms across the Brazos Valley. The focus remains the same.

As Gillam said, "When you reflect a moment historically, when you start a TV station with one black and white camera with three lenses on it, you go from there to a two and go on from there….today we’ve had an explosion of technological equipment in the past 5 to 8 years. We stay abreast of that. Where do we go from here? Who knows. But we are going to try to keep doing our best."

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