U! H! F!

“Five,” he says. As if.

Those sound effects, in fact, were courtesy of the Federal Communications Commission, who decided that a continuous knob for tuning UHF was unsatisfactory; henceforth, said the Commission, UHF knobs will be just as clicky as VHF knobs. And when you have 70 clicks available (14 through 83 inclusive), by gum, you use them.

Today, of course, with hundreds of new local stations — Oklahoma City had three in those days, not counting KOKH-TV, channel 25, which was then owned by the Oklahoma City Public Schools, and watched by no one but school kids, teachers, and occasionally me, and anyway now we have 16 over-the-air signals, almost all of which are multiplexed — the UHF dial runs out at, um, 51, and if the FCC gets its way, it will eventually top out at 32.


  1. fillyjonk »

    18 June 2019 · 2:36 pm

    Laughing, because I am old enough to remember that. Also remember my dad telling one of us kids to get up and change the channel for him because he didn’t want to.

    (Though we did get a couple of UHF channels: 43, and later, 19. Bizarre that I can’t remember where I set my keys down but I could tell you the numbers, and most of the call-letters, of the tv channels of my youth, in a part of the country where I haven’t been for 30 years)

  2. McGehee »

    18 June 2019 · 3:57 pm

    In Sacramento our UHF channels were, IIRC, 19 (Spanish language, so we didn’t watch it) and 40 at first, then along came 31 and 58.

    I don’t remember our old 13″ black and white TV having a machine-gun UHF knob, but then I don’t recall watching much UHF before we got the 25″ color console TV. That one did make the sound effect, and would have been great for Snoopy’s WW1 flying ace scenes in “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown,” but Dad would not have approved.

  3. Roger O Green »

    18 June 2019 · 6:37 pm

    I could comment, but I’m too lazy: https://www.rogerogreen.com/2019/06/12/wnbf-tv-one-channel-four-networks/

  4. CGHill »

    18 June 2019 · 9:04 pm

    You may be sure I was thinking of you when I saw that picture.

  5. nightfly »

    19 June 2019 · 1:47 pm

    Don’t change that channel, don’t touch that dial!

    Out on Lawn Guy Land we got WNET and WLIW, and when Cablevision came to our shores, they filled in a lot of gaps with distant UHF channels. We got PHL out of Philly, WSBK-TV38 in Boston, one of the Pittsburgh stations whose call sign I forget now, and of course the big kahuna, WTBS out of Atlanta, GA – the Superstation.

  6. CGHill »

    19 June 2019 · 5:43 pm

    Greatest WTBS tragedy ever: Ted Turner’s Atlanta Braves had signed Andy Messersmith to a three-year deal, and what Ted wanted to do was give Andy number 17 and above it, rather than his name, the word “CHANNEL.”

    MLB did not think much of the idea, but I suspect they were a little miffed at Messersmith anyway, inasmuch as it was his desire for a no-trade contract (with the Dodgers, I think it was) that wound up killing MLB’s reserve clause.

  7. Dan »

    19 June 2019 · 9:59 pm

    I’m just old enough to remember those dials. My dad had a tiny screen “portable” Sony TV that scanned for channels much like a radio does. We used it to watch short, unsatisfying snippets of local TV on road trips.

  8. nightfly »

    20 June 2019 · 3:26 pm

    Charles, you remind me of one of my favorite bits of baseball trivia: Carlos May’s birthday is May 17th. Upon bringing him to the big leagues, the Chicago White Sox gave him uniform number 17, so he was in effect wearing his birthday.

    None of the other Mays in major league history were quite as fortunate in their birth months, so this uniform arrangement is unique; Cameron Maybin, however, came closest – born on 4/04 and given uniform number 4 by Detroit when he first got to the bigs.

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