With hundreds of television channels available 24/7, it’s hard to imagine a time when only three or four channels were on for only a few hours each day and broadcast only in black and white.
Ozarks Public Television (OPT) will premiere a locally-produced documentary on the beginnings and early highlights of Springfield television stations titled “Stay Tuned—The Beginnings of Springfield, MO Television.”
“The story of television and local broadcasting coming to the Ozarks is one of those unique, rare and unforgettable experiences that impacted everyone in our region,” said Tom Carter, OPT programming and production manager.
The first 25 years
Springfield television stations began airing in 1953, enabling many area residents to see television for the first time. This new medium was naturally mesmerizing and unquestionably changed American life in many ways. OPT celebrates the first 25 years of locally originated programming and the broadcast pioneers who brought television to the Ozarks.
“The beginnings of our local TV stations is an exciting story,” said Carter. “There was nothing like it—no real precedents or examples. By comparison with today’s content, early television was in some ways primitive. But it was creative, passionate and memorable. In some ways this is a valentine to an industry we enjoy so much. It’s been a privilege for OPT to help tell and share this unique story with our viewers.”
Digging deep into local history
The strong human interest story, supplemented by plentiful archival video and photos, is told through personal reflections from local veteran television personalities and professionals, and through informative narration. Respected scholars will provide additional historic context.
“We’re excited to take a trip down memory lane with viewers across the Ozarks as we celebrate the history of local television in Springfield,” said Tammy Wiley, OPT general manager.
“We are particularly grateful to our broadcasting friends who helped us put together this fun program by sharing their insights and archival images. OPT is committed to preserving the rich history of the Ozarks region and we appreciate all the individuals and underwriters who help us fulfill this important mission.”
“Stay Tuned—The Beginnings of Springfield, MO Television” will broadcast on OPT at 8 p.m. May 25 and will repeat at 7 p.m. June 6 and 3 p.m. June 11. The program is presented as part of OPT’s commitment to local productions that document, present and preserve significant aspects of regional Ozarks history. It is made possible through the participation of many individuals and area archives, and the financial support of project funders.