|WHCT-TV, Channel 18 (ABC, DuMont, CBS, Independent)|
RKO General, being the shrewd business people and
broadcast innovators (Hey ! They invented the
"ARKO-Matic", which now lives on in the BIG68 website,
linked to from 68 WRKO Boston - The Top 40 Years), decided if they
were going to lose money, why not lose money on an
experiment 20 years ahead of its time.
Hence, the first Pay-TV experiment. Not unlike HBO, WHCT would show movies that had recently completed their theatre runs, as well as sporting events from Madison Square Garden (such N.Y. Rangers hockey, and boxing). The station's signal would be scrambled, and subscribers would need a converter to unscramble.Click Here To Read An Article From TV Guide, June 19, 1965, On The Failure Of Over The Air Pay TV
The Pay TV experiment was started in 1962, and terminated in 1968. In addition to the high costs and low subscriber base mentioned in the 1965 TV Guide article, the descrambler system (Zenith's Phonevision) did not work in color. Click here to see to see WHCT's Pay TV descrambler. All 3 networks and the vast majority of local TV stations had converted to color broadcasting by this time, putting the final nail in the pay TV experiment's coffin.
The dire predictions & indicators of that time didn't deter RKO from making its best efforts to promote its Pay TV
product. Click here to see a WHCT Pay TV ad which takes the personal approach by mentioning
subscriber by name!
Check out WHCT's Subscription TV Magazine From June 1966 Below! (Click on each picture to view at full size)
|Front Cover||Inside Cover||Page 3|
|Pages 4 & 5||Pages 6 & 7||Pages 8 & 9|
|Pages 10 & 11||Pages 12 & 13||Pages 14 & 15|
|Pages 16 & 17||Pages 18 & 19||Pages 20 & 21|
|Pages 22 & 23||Pages 24 & 25||Pages 26 & 27|
|Pages 28 & 29||Pages 30 & 31||Pages 32 & 33|
|Pages 34 & 35||Pages 36 & 37||Back Cover|
In addition to Pay TV, the RKO-era WHCT also showed (for free) Boston Celtics games (Click on pic for full size)
And New York Mets baseball! (Click on pic for full size)
Channel 18 also provided work for Hall Of Fame boxer & Hartford's own Willie Pep (Any details on this show would be appreciated) (Click On Pic For Full Size)
WHCT also took a cue from RKO's other owned stations in Los Angeles, KHJ Channel 9, and its teen dance show "Ninth Street West" (Click here to read about it & hear an audio portion) , and Detroit, CKLW Channel 9, and its teen dance show "Swingin' Time" , and brought Hartford it's own teen dance show "Scene 18". Click here to read about the show and the rememberances of one of its hosts, Josh Frey!
Another new chapter in WHCT's history was begun when RKO abandoned the Pay TV experiment in 1968. RKO continued to operate the station as a limited hour (on the air in the late afternoon, off the air by late night) independent until 1972.
In 1969, WHCT experimented with a 10 PM newscast, which included a young Pat Sheehan, who went on to a long career as news anchor at Channel 3 WFSB, Channel 8 WTNH, as well as being part of the anchor team of the next 10 O'Clock news experiment (a successful one!) in Hartford at Channel 61 WTIC-TV in 1989. (Click on pic for full size)
The programming fare by the early 70s included
New York Yankees Baseball from WPIX, Celtics &
Bruins telecasts from WSMW & WSBK as well as reruns
like "Lassie", "My Favorite Martian", old movies, and
cartoons. The typical standard, low-profit stuff.
On to Chapter 3: The Dr. Gene Scott Era
Back to the Intro Page