KLAX TV Turns 40 Years Old

KLAX-TV has been on the air for 40 years and a group of people that was there for the very beginning recently met to reminisce.  ABC 31 News Joel Massey has some of their stories.

Frank Coe former KLAX employee said, “I did everything.  I was one of the first employees my employee number was number 6 so I was involved in the construction and some of the hiring.  I had a bunch of different job titles over the years.  I was teaching school at the time, so I filled in and did sports anchoring.  I was the first sports anchor later did all the promotions, production in charge of engineering, traffic.  I did it all at one time or another.”

Coe was instrumental in getting KLAX-TV up on the air 40 years ago.  He and some of the inaugural employees of the station recently got together to celebrate the milestone.  He talks about how things were different back on March 3, 1983, the day they signed on.

“The news gathering equipment the ENG equipment was a lot bulkier a lot heaver less reliable.  Nowadays we can do a newscast with an Iphone but back then we toted a lot of gear, a lot of equipment that was heat sensitive, light sensitive and moisture sensitive, so it’s come a long way the technology.”

Coe talks about working with people to set up the station in an age before cell phones.

“Everything was face to face, phone calls, wired phone calls no cell phones.  So everything had to be done in person.  We still had typewriters for crying out loud, rather than computers.  So we worked and worked and worked and it’s like guys who go to war together they become battle buddies and lifelong friends because they’ve been through an immense challenge that was stressful and almost seemed insurmountable at times but once you make it through it’s very rewarding on the other side.”

Ninety-year-old Charlie Tarver was there at the reunion.  He was the chief engineer when the station got started.  He hired a young electrical engineering graduate to be his assistant to set up the transmitter, the only problem was Darrel Jardan had never seen a transmitter.

“They decided I was going to be the transmitter engineer.  My first job was they handed me a huge manual and I did what was in the manual and started assembling the transmitter.”

Jardan says the people he worked with made the job worthwhile.

“The thing that I remember that made KLAX so unique to me was the people that I worked with.  We had several people that had years of experience in broadcasting and you had a lot of us that didn’t have any we learned a lot from them but we all worked together we knew what we had to do and we accomplished it.”

On KLAX’s inaugural broadcast one of the stories was flooding in Alexandria that happened a year earlier.  Even though KLAX wasn’t on the air yet when the flooding hit, their news crew covered the event in preparation for their first broadcast.

Coe says the experiences shared from the early days of KLAX has formed a tight bond with this group of people.

“We have remained friends until this day and they’re like family so we’re all very close.”