Color. HD. State Fair.

Throwback Thursday: CBC History

Many people associate the annual North Carolina State Fair with sticky cotton candy, gut wrenching deep fried food, vertigo-inducing rides, pettable goats, and parking madness. But, each year they come back for more.

Capitol Broadcasting Company CEO Jim Goodmon delights in telling a couple of state fair stories that brought about “firsts” for WRAL-TV. Early in the station’s history as an NBC affiliate, circa 1958 or ’59, the network sent one of its first color production trucks for WRAL to use at the fair. Keep in mind, broadcasting in color was not common in the late ‘50’s – early ‘60s, and as late as 1964 only 3.1 percent of television households in the U.S. had a color set. But WRAL-TV logged one of its many technical firsts by broadcasting color programming from the fair, even though probably no one in the viewing area had a color television set.

RCA Color production trailer

RCA Color production trailer used by WRAL-TV at the State Fair around 1958 or ’59…one of the NBC’s first color production trucks.

Fast forward to October 13, 2000 when WRAL made broadcasting history by producing the entire 5:00 PM newscast LIVE in HD from the State Fair. The historic newscast was broadcasted from a special stage with a news desk designed with HD in mind. Once again, WRAL was so far forward with its technology that only a few had an HD television set to view it.

WRAL State Fair HD newscast

WRAL-TV broadcasts the 5:00 PM newscast LIVE, produced entirely in HD from the State Fair on October 13, 2000.

Watch this 7 minute behind-the-scenes first HD broadcast from the fair in 2000 with comments from those who had a key role in the live production. Everyone had a case of the jitters prior to the broadcast – not due to cotton candy – but after the flawless first HD newscast, there were plenty of congratulatory High 5s and big grins!

YES! We love the State Fair!

 Thanks to Corp’s Pam Allen for this capcom story. Pam Parris Allen is a former WRAL newscast producer/director who now works as a researcher and producer on the CBC History Project.

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