Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Riding off into Sunset Blvd

Our Flaming Nose correspondent Lisa reported earlier today that the old Hollywood Warner Bros. lot, home of KTLA-TV for decades, has been sold. This has made me very sad, for I too am one of the Nose contributors who spent a few years in the hallowed halls of the first television station west of the Mississippi.

I landed an entry level job at KTLA, about 45 minutes after graduating from college. The first time the guards at the gate let me onto the lot, I felt like I was walking on air. trucks! I was still young enough to believe that if you worked extra hard in show biz and had a sense of humor, anything could happen. Local broadcast television in the 80's was a carnival, the last days of Rome. There was no email, no competition from cable or the Internet, nobody worked more than 30 hours a week and every Friday the sales staff went to a liquid lunch at some posh Hollywood restaurant and never quite made it back to the office. Advertising money fell from the trees. All you needed was a big bucket to scoop it up.

As Lisa pointed out, we actually had time to take breaks in those days, and exploring the KTLA (Warner Bros) campus was our most adventurous lunch time excursion. I still want to know what's hidden in the big tunnel that runs all the way under the lot from KTLA to the KMPC radio station on Sunset. It was already bricked up when we worked there. I hope the new owners don't demolish it before finding out.

Farewell to our old stomping grounds and the memory of KTLA. It was a huge part of Hollywood history and a major part of this Flaming Nose blogger's early days in television. We will always remember Johnny Grant, Hal Fishman the news anchor and the best Rose Parade coverage in the nation. Maybe the ghost of Singing Cowboy Gene Autry (who used to own KTLA) will be crooning "The Last Round Up" as the wrecking ball falls.


Lisa said...

The only dispute I have with your wonderful post is that bit about not working more than 30 hours a week. Upstairs in Programming, we worked like dogs (well, some of us, anyway!), and no liquid lunches! :-) It was the Sales Department who had the posh hours and thought they walked on water. It was a fascinating dynamic! I know that in Research you guys worked crazy hard, too. Independent TV was marvelous in those days -- in a good market, each station had the potential to become a giant, and we were lucky to work at one of the most creative and innovative stations anywhere. When I transitioned into Cable, I used to tell everybody, I did all this stuff years ago at KTLA, but what the hell...feels new to cable, we'll do it. Great experience and I am so glad that I got to share it back then with you and other wonderful colleagues!

Jane said...

Lisa is correct in pointing out that the Sales Staff lived in the lap of luxury, while the rest of the KTLA departments scurried in the salt mines of independent television. Now, of course, we all (sales, research, programming and marketing) toil like characters in a Dickensian workhouse. Thank you cable, Internet, mobile and the fragmented audience! Gotta go...just heard my Blackberry ping at 7 in the morning.