SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) — It was in April of 1948 when residents all around Salt Lake City saw a strange new word lighting up an old downtown building: television.
Channel 4 was the talk of the town back then, with viewers from around the state “glued” to the nearest screen to catch a glimpse at history being made.
Behind the scenes, as the art of television was slowly being discovered, our station’s first pioneers of television quickly became masters of improvising.
With no digital technology available at the time, even the on-air graphics and set designs became an impromptu project every day. This was where the late artist Marc Hamson made his magic happen, creating a wide variety of handmade pieces for everything both on-camera and off-camera.
According to Hamson in a 1998 interview: “I lettered all the cameras, I lettered all the trucks… all the office doors, I did all the on-air cards, all the scenery…” Even when technical difficulties occurred and filming was put on hold, it was Hamson’s signs that made an appearance to indicate a standby for eager viewers.
On the set, as things heated up for talent below banks of spotlights, it was the voice of Alan Frank, the station’s original announcer, that set each show in motion. “We would go through five or six shirts a day — that’s how warm it was,” recalled Frank.
While locals gathered in their homes and by store display windows, it was “all hands on deck” for those on the station’s crew, finding new and exciting ways to dazzle viewers several times a week during these glorious days of television.