Televsion has gone through a lot of changes during the last 60 years. From "rabbit ears" antennas to cable tv to satellite reception, televisions can now stream programming wirelessly from the Internet, bringing the world into our living rooms. Since are no longer prisoners to a schedule, we no longer meet in homes to share a weekly program on a friend's prized television set.
In 1957 My grandmother used her television to teach me how to sit still during religious meetings. She would have me sit in a wooden chair in front of "The Huntley-Brinkley Report" and smack me with a yardstick if I wiggled during the 15-minute broadcast. She told me that I would learn to sit still at home. I had a personal loathing for Chet Huntley for years for his stern glare while delivering the news. I did learn to sit still "like a lady," and I wound up working for a newspaper.
Prosser gets impossible TV reception
By Hill Williams, Herald staff writer
Premium content for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
Published on July 17, 1952
Theoretically it's impossible. But television broadcasts from Seattle, Salt Lake City, Utah, and Omaha, Neb., have been picked up in Prosser.
Television signals are supposed to travel line-of-sight distances only. In other words they don't follow the curvature of the earth or cross mountains.
How the television signals from Seattle get across the Cascade Mountains into the Yakima Valley is anybody's guess. Even more puzzling is how signals from Salt Lake City and Omaha find their way to Prosser.
A new addition to Prosser's skyline is a huge TV antenna atop the REA store in the business district. Called a telesine antenna, it consists of four double loops and can be trained in any direction. The antenna measures about 10 feet across and is 100 feet above the street.
Wendell Eller, radio and television service man for the REA store, says some have theorized that TV signals from Seattle are "bouncing" off Mt. Rainier into the Yakima Valley. The 14,408-foot-high peak is about the only piece of Washington state visible from both Seattle and Prosser.
"But I don't put much stock in that theory," Eller said. "We can tell what direction the signal is coming from by training our antenna to get the strongest signal.
"We've taken maps and laid out a line from our antenna in that direction and the signal is coming directly from Seattle."
During the last two weeks in June, the set in the REA store, a 20-inch model, picked up Seattle regularly. On some days the image was better than the sound, but most of the time both were received well. But since that time, reception has failed.
The REA set has picked up Salt Lake City broadcasts twice and Omaha only once, Eller said. However, until recently Seattle came in regularly.
Prosser's other TV receiving set is owned by Jack Donovan, operator of The Barn Tavern and eating place near the city. If signals are received again as well as they were in June, Donovan plans to mount his receiver on the ceiling at one end of the bar to give all patrons a good view.
He has a different type antenna — consisting of a boom with crossbars — on top of the barn about 60-feet above the ground, Donovan, unlike the REA store picks up the sound of TB broadcasts better than the image. He tried his antenna higher but believes the 60-foot level is about the best.
"I was planning to get the set mounted in here before the political conventions started," Donovan said, "But unfortunately the signal faded about the first of this month.
"Boy, I could sure pack 'em in if I could pick up those convention broadcasts."
Donovan has a hunch that smoke from forest fires on the Coast may be interfering with the Seattle signal. He is looking forward to Spokane getting television which, although about the same distance is over much more favorable terrain.
While Donovan hopes to increase business with his TV, the REA store is working to get a "head start" in the TV business. They have about $1,000 tied up in the set and equipment but hope it will pay off when television comes closer to the Tri-City area. In the meantime workers there are gathering valuable technical information.
The REA store has another larger set on order specially designed for "fringe" areas and hope to improve their reception with it. Eller said 150 to 200 miles is considered maximum range for normal TV. But instances have been reported of picking it up over 1,500 miles.
Prosser is approximately 200 miles from Seattle.