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50 Years Later: Coverage of the JFK Assasination


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Today, we take a lot of things for granted in the world of television. Cameras that come on instantly, the ability to go live with the push of a button... That was not the case 50 years ago today in Dallas, Texas. If you have some time, I highly encourage you to watch a bit of the following video clips. Take a look back at a time when there were not breaking news animation stingers, and pictures from the field had to be processed before they could be aired.


From WFAA-TV in Dallas:



From ABC:



From NBC:


From CBS:



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I was waiting for an opportunity to post this...


This is Walter Jacobson's (WBBM) account of what happened that day, from his Chicago perspective. While it's not entirely about the assassination, it proves how little really has changed in broadcast journalism. It's an interesting read, for sure.



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While I have been into all these videos to see what it was like back then on YT itself, it is great you put this here for a much easier find. This is indeed one of the darkest moments in this country‘s history, and will be until the end of time. Whoever put these videos together needs some sort of award. For all he/she did to find, put together and remaster the footage, he/she needs to be applauded.

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WBAP/820 streamed online yesterday their coverage from 50 years ago. It was unique as they recorded the bulk of their broadcast day; the tapes were recovered several years ago in pristine condition. The tapes began with the morning ABC Radio "Morning Edition" half-hour long newscast at 7AM (8AM EST), and had field reports of JFK's visit interspersed throughout, culminating with live coverage of his final speech.


There was a gap in recording until the news broke. Someone knew when to start recording, because it started a few minutes before the news department frantically broke in with bullitens, literally fading in and out of the music selections playing on the station. That occurred for nearly 10 minutes before NBC Radio came online, and WBAP dumped everything for that coverage (which, at key points, simulcast NBC-TV and WBAP-TV's coverage... including Robert MacNeil's call confirming JFK's death to Frank McGee.)


It should be noted that the station was in a weird time-share arrangement with WFAA's radio sister (now KLIF/570) where they alternated frequencies between 570 and 820 multiple times throughout the day; the 570 frequency was affiliated with ABC Radio, and the 820 frequency was affiliated with NBC Radio. So coverage from both networks were included in the tapes, including an impromptu commentary by Paul Harvey within ABC's rolling coverage, amid local cut-ins for cancellations and closures.


By the end of the recording, WBAP (like so many other stations) started to play a soft classical music piece, gradually fading out.


Hopefully WBAP's owner Cumulus can release copies of this recording for digital download. It's a profound and riveting audio time capsule.

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