KTVA's Buckaroo Show and the 64 Earthquake

by Dick Liberatore
(Las Vegas,NV)

Old KTVA Studios in the Mckinley Bldg.

Old KTVA Studios in the Mckinley Bldg.

I was hosting the Buckaroo Show live at 5 from the KTVA studios on the first floor of the McKinley Building.

The show featured cartoons, puppets and games with about 8 kids sitting in a makeshift jailhouse.

The show was originally hosted by Sheriff John and I was the cameraman (back then, the station had just one camera).

At the time I was stationed at Elmendorf and hosting a midnight to 6 a.m. music show on Armed Forces Radio.

During the months I was running camera for the Buckaroo Show, the host Sheriff John, would refer to me during the show as Deputy Dick. So when Sheriff John left the show several months before the quake, I took over the on-camera hosting duties as Deputy Dick and dressed like a real Wild West deputy sheriff.

On Good Friday, March 27, 1964 the show had ended at 5:30p.m. and I was in the men’s room changing into my civilian clothes when the Quake began.

I thought "this was the end of my life and the building would collapse". And believe it or not, the next thing that went thru my mind was that I was going to die with my boots on as Deputy Dick.

By the way I also ran camera for KTVA's 6:00p.m. local news with Evan White as the news anchor and Les Parker doing the weather.

A few days after the quake, we were back on the air but with no Buckaroo Show. (Because we didn't want children in the studio while we were still having aftershocks).

And owner Augie Heibert gave us strict instructions that all employees were to run out of the studio if there was an aftershock.

At around 6:20 p.m., Les had just started doing his weather report when an aftershock occurred.

So I locked down the camera, threw off my headphones and hightailed it to the outside parking lot along with Evan, Jeff the director and master control operator and 2 employees from KNIK-FM radio.

It was dark outside and after about 5 minutes, Evan said “where's Les?” Only then did we realized he was not with us. We quickly went back into the studio and there was Les still doing the weather.

It must have been a total of 8 minute minutes from the time we left the studio to the time we returned. Les later told us he did not leave the studio because he did not want to panic channel eleven's viewers.

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Earthquake Memories
by: Gordon Parker

Great story, Dick.

We all have our memories of the '64 earthquake. The most recent big one brought them all back to me.

Some of the memories are not pleasant. Others bring a smile.

This one is a good story. Thanks for sharing.

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What was on Channel 11 at 5:30?
by: Anonymous

Out of curiosity, what was on air between 5:30 and 6:00?

I know Fireball XL5 was on Channel 2, but I have read varying (at least two) stories about what was on Channel 11.

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