THE NEXT GENERATION
In 1959, Chief Engineer Bill Witt supervised design of a new mobile unit contained within a 30 foot-long trailer capable of handling up to four cameras. The 1955 mobile unit was repainted and took a new role as a backup and maintenance vehicle.
The silver and red trailer contained a 12 foot long control room with switcher, monitors, and audio mixer. Adjacent was an 18 foot long engineering room with a 2" quad Ampex VTR, camera control units, microwave controls, and various pieces of support equipment.
Walter Rhoads (left) supervises a remote broadcast
Chief Engineer Bill Witt looks from the mobile unit's control
|A camera and operator's seat could be mounted ahead of the driver's cab, which would certainly provide for an exciting angle as the mobile unit raced down the highway.|
The rear door of the unit opened wide onto a camera platform. The electrically powered platform could raise equipment to the roof where another camera placement was located. The roof camera and operator were seated on a swivel that could pan 360 degrees. Camera operator Nick Stratman is operating the camera in the photo to the left..
Part of the electric lift and additional camera platform is seen through the open door.
Pulse newsman Joe Loughlin holds the antenna for a wireless microphone.
The mobile unit seen in this photo was on duty in 1960 to record opening ceremonies of the Howard Frankland Bridge.
The term 'mobile' unit was no exaggeration...the entire unit was powered by a 25,000 watt generator located behind the driver's cab, allowing the crew to record video while actually in motion. This capability came in handy during the 1960 opening ceremonies of the Howard Frankland Bridge, when WTVT's mobile unit tracked a Cadillac carrying Florida Governor Leroy Collins, who sat in the back seat while being interviewed by Pulse anchor Joe Loughlin.
Governor LeRoy Collins and WTVT's Joe Loughlin follow the mobile unit
across the new Howard Frankland Bridge
Mobile Unit #3? Nope, WTVT took over a tug to cover the annual Gasparilla Invasion.
Two cameras feed their signals through a portable microwave (seen at the bow)
in what must have been a very challenging task of maintaining a line of site to the main mobile unit.
The WTVT mobile unit was used by CBS as the pool feed for early NASA Mercury space program ocean recovery missions.
Channel 13's mobile unit is about to be lifted onto the deck
of the aircraft carrier Randolph. (1961)
The first splashdown and recovery videotaped for later playback was Gus Grissom's 1961 sub orbital flight. Taken aboard the aircraft carrier Randolph, the WTVT mobile unit was accompanied by 13's Ken Smith, Marvin Winn, Dan Boger, Ed Shaw, Jack King, Larry Eskridge, and reporter Joe Loughlin.
Cameraman Joe Wiezycki was on deck and snagged some wonderful closeups of Astronaut John Glenn as he completed a historic 1962 orbital mission. The unit was later used for recovery of Gemini 4 and 5, which marked the first time a satellite uplink was used to feed a live signal back to the United States.
A WTVT camera scans the flattop.
Channel 13 camera setup for the St. Pete "Festival of States" parade.
Note telephoto Zoomar lens and rear control near the operator's chest.
IN LIVING COLOR...
With Channel 13's studio adding local, live color in 1966, plans were made to upgrade the mobile unit to color starting with a color switcher and monitors. Color coverage of the 1967 Festival of States parade was accomplished by using a TK-42 color camera from the Tampa studio and another from the St. Petersburg studio located adjacent to the Million Dollar Pier. The unit was parked next to the St. Pete studio for an interesting view of the parade as it approached along Bayshore Drive and turned westward onto 2nd street.
TK-42 cameras borrowed from the Tampa and St. Pete studios allowed this color coverage of
the 1967 Festival of States parade. (Photo courtesy Earl Higgins)
Jim Benedict at the controls of a TK-42 (Photo courtesy Earl Higgins)