Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Torn Down

Rodger Beimer called me yesterday to let me know that the old KOAT television station building at 1377 University NE had been torn down. I met Rodger there on my first day of work as a new photographer back in 1968 or so. I had been offered the position (my dream job) by Dick Knipfing when he was news director. I went on to become a reporter and anchorman. Rodger did too and we have remained friends ever since. This photo shows former APD policeman Mark Bralley in front of the station.

The News Room consisted of about 800 square feet or so. It had 8 desks all crammed together. Off in one small closet were the UPI and AP teletypes and faxphoto machines. They constantly clattered and sizzled. On one wall was the two film editing stations. On another wall was the equipment bays and shelves. Also on a small table was the two way Motorola radio. Then about a dozen phones and typewriters with paper, carbon paper, white out and paperclips everywhere. And also about 25 stuffed to overflowing ashtrays. I mean everyone smoked, except Rodger.

As Rodger and I were talking we wondered if the hazardous waste people had to come in before demolition. You had to be there to appreciate the chemical soup we worked in. The smoke was constant. Add in the film cement for editing, residue film development chemicals, film cleaner, battery acid from the old light packs, food that fell behind desks and stayed there for a decade, body odor from poor ventilation, and the smell and dust from the cosmetic makeup we piled on before going on camera, and you had an environment that might have equaled Love Canal. We loved being there every second.

Mark Bralley sent this picture of me filming a lull in the 1972 riots in the UNM area. I am behind the 'hippie' with the flowers.

Bralley said, "The picture of you followed the mining of North Vietnamese harbors and Operation Linebacker. In Albuquerque the protest started with the blockading of I-25 at Central. The crowd trapped an 18 wheeler that later was identified as actually carrying war munitions. No none knew at the moment. Later in the day Officer Phil Herrera accidentally discharged his shotgun striking a UNM Daily Lobo writer and the wife of an Air Policeman stationed at Kirtland Air Force Base. This picture of you was shot on one of the subsequent days when the protest moved up Central to in front of UNM."

It is always surprising to see things like the old KOAT station disappear. I will miss going by there and thinking of some of the best friends and times I ever had in my life.


Ned said...

This is one of those passages that makes me feel really elderly because I was working for KOAT -- starting in June of 1963 -- BEFORE this station was built and visited the site many times during construction and of course was there during the grand opening which, I think, was in 1964. The original station was over on Tulane a block south of Central.

Bill said...

Loved every second of it? Yeah, that's what I think about the old KGGM until I reflect on the times the wrong tape rolled, only one track of audio played, 4 or 7 got there first, the transmitter on the Crest rejected the out-of-spec signal from the station, you get the idea. That said, given the chance to do it again, you betcha.

Teresa Blankmeyer Burke said...

There is an interesting discussion on Duke City Fix about the riots at UNM - would love it if you were willing to take a look and add anything you might remember from your days as a reporter. Most of the DCF readership wasn't around to experience this in person. www.dukecityfix.com