Brings Color TV
to Anchorage

by Michael R Dougherty

NBC Peacock 1962

NBC Peacock 1962

Remember when color TV first arrived in Anchorage?

The following is from an interview with Al Bramstedt Jr, conducted by Hilary Hilscher.

Al Bramstedt Jr:

“It was in probably September or October 1965. My dad came to me, and he said, “Alvin, something very big is coming to Anchorage next summer, (summer of 1966), very, very big. I'll tell you but” he said, “you must keep this a secret. You can't tell anyone, not even your best friend – no one – because it is confidential… We're bringing color television to Anchorage!”

“He (dad) said “the reason why I don't want you to tell anyone is I don't want Augie Hiebert (president of KTVA channel 11) to hear about it. Because Augie is, you know, in this business, and he would feel compelled to try to bring it on the air first. And it takes a lot of months to develop this, and we're working on it right now.”

“So in early spring of 1966 (KENI-TV) got in the color film chain. Real complicated back in those days, a color camera. You projected the image from a machine, it was called a TP66 (film) projector, into the color camera. And there were three color tubes (in the camera) and each one had to be registered (adjusted) every day. I learned… that was one of my jobs later after they (KENI-TV) would sign off.”

“So the very first broadcast was a special demonstration with a big color TV over at the Chamber (of Commerce) meeting. They had their Monday luncheon meetings even back then. This would have been in late May 1966.”

“And I remember that day, and I was talking to my dad later about how he did it. And I said, “So Dad…” He said, “Yeah, we did a preview for these business people. It was great. It went really well. We had this color TV, and we broadcast (a color show) over the air and (showed the) picture there at the Hilton Hotel.” It was actually the Westward then. And he said, “it was a big hit”.

“I said, “Oh, so what did you broadcast?” He said, “Atom Ant” (a cartoon). I said, “So wait a minute. This was your first premier broadcast of (color) television (in Anchorage), all these captains of industry, and you broadcast Atom Ant?”

“Yeah.” “Dad, why Atom Ant?” He said – paused for a moment, “I don't really
know why, but it went well. I just - inside it was just…” That's incredible, Atom Ant for all these people.”

"He (dad) flew to Seattle in May 1966. And because there were no live studio color cameras in Anchorage, and it was just the dawn of videotape, he flew to Seattle and filmed (him introducing the Anchorage audience to color TV) on 16mm color film.”

“He had Mayor Sharrock too – it was videotape of Mayor Sharrock supposedly flipping the switch (from black and white) to color (in front of) a black and white camera and all of a sudden there was Dad (on the 16mm color film). So, that was June 18, 1966.”

“It was an incredible moment for him (dad) and really for the industry: going to color television.”

“The presentation of going color (in Anchorage) was like six or seven in the evening.”

“I talked to Augie (Hiebert of KTVA channel 11) later about that and Augie was just reeling from the earthquake. That summer in 1966 (he) was relocating (KTVA) to Spenard. So, he was up to his gills in expenses and then, “Oh, Al has got this color TV” and he knew to be competitive he'd have to do that, and it wasn't cheap.”

Hilary Hilscher:

But you caught him by surprise. The secret didn't get out.

Al Bramstedt Jr:

“It didn't get out. I never told anyone. Nobody talked. Augie was totally surprised.”

A Note from Anchorage Memories:

KENI-TV became the first television station in Anchorage to broadcast color TV.

The first color program presented to the Anchorage viewing audience on that day on June 18, 1966, was an episode of “That Girl” starring Marlo Thomas.


Hilary Hilscher Alaska Telecommunications History Project records and research files. Archives and Special Collections, Consortium Library, University of Alaska Anchorage.

Funded by:

Alaska Telephone Association, AT&T Alascom, GCI, Alaska Communications Systems and Augie Hiebert.

Comments for KENI-TV
Brings Color TV
to Anchorage

Average Rating starstarstarstarstar

Click here to add your own comments

Color TV in Anchorage
by: Ginger Trombley Horner

The first time I ever saw color TV was at the home of Al Bramstedt in Big Lake, Alaska.

My Dad, Howard Trombley, knew Al and Al invited our family to his home to watch color TV.

At the time my Dad had a cabin on Big Beaver Lake, so we were fairly close by. It was very special to see the colors.

Thanks for the memories.

Click here to add your own comments

Join in and write your own page! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Anchorage Radio and Television Memories.