News / Amnesia File

How Some L.A./Long Beach/OC Viewers Saw Blacked-Out First Superbowl is reader and advertiser supported. Support independent news in LB similar to the way people support NPR and PBS stations. We're not non-profit so it's not tax deductible but $49.95 (less than an annual dollar a week) helps keep us online.
(Feb. 5, 2016) -- The first Superbowl (offically dubbed football's "World Championship") was played at the L.A. Coliseum (Green Bay Packers vs. Kansas City Chiefs) in January, 1967 and carried on two TV networks (NBC and CBS)...but was blacked out in the Los Angeles market (with less than a Coliseum sellout crowd) by edict of professional football's brass.

Some football fans made plans to travel to Palm Springs, Bakersfield or San Diego to see the telecast...but an L.A. area radio outlet came up with a self-promotion that enabled some L.A. area residents to view the game.

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KRLA radio (at that time the letters belonged to a Pasadena Top 40 station) offered to send listeners instructions on how to build a TV antenna -- using five coathangers and a broomstick -- designed to pull in San Diego's NBC and CBS affiliates.

Apparently a KRLA engineer wisecracked that it shouldn't be too difficult throw together a directional antenna to pick up the San Diego TV channels "using coat hangers and a broomstick" and the idea percolated up to KRLA management, which turned the offhand remark into a station promotion.

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With few resources (and no "Power Point" or computer powered software) KRLA's engineers applied some basic formulas and devised a "Yagi" antenna, a tried and true self-amplifying design (dating back to the 1920's) still seen on some remaining rooftop TV antennas. In KRLA's version, three metal rods of increasing length ("directing" elements) projected the signal back to a fourth rod (the "driven element" to which primitive TV twin-lead wire was attached) behind which was a fifth larger rod (a "reflecting" element). The five rods consisted of five straightened coathangers, cut to specific lengths and spaced so as to maximize the San Diego TV stations' signal frequencies.

With no time for professional printing; photocopies sufficed. Typed on what appears to be an IBM Selectric typewriter and using hand-drawn graphics, KRLA offered the nation's second largest market a way to beat pro-football's blackout using the electronically solid but the less-than-slick instructions below.

Pro football's brass and TV execs weren't amused...and the spectacle of sports and TV executives exercised over a ramshackle coathanger-and-broomstick evasion of their blackout drew more attention to the David vs. Goliath promotion.

And yes, the coathanger-and-broomstick antenna did a decent job depending on geography.

Central L.A. viewers reported watchable although snowy black and white video, but sometimes of sufficient strength to enable color pictures. In Long Beach and the south bay, signals were fairly strong; wiewers in the San Fernando and San Gabriel valleys had a tougher time.



And the Green Bay Packers (coached by Vince Lombardi) defeated the Kansas City Chiefs 35-10.



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