On June 13, 2012, in downtown Chicago, Betty White, Hugh Downs, and John Mahoney joined Founder-CEO Bruce DuMont cutting the ribbon and officially opening the doors to the new home of the Museum of Broadcast Communications.
It was Bruce DuMont’s dream come true after many long years of planning and fund-raising.
As Museum Curator, I helped prepare for the MBC opening day. My biggest task was final rewrite on more than 100 individual panels telling the story of television, broken into self-contained 110-word write-ups that could be read in any order. It was a challenging and ultimately satisfying task, providing a “TV 101” course over an entire floor of thematic television history displays.
Tapping the other side of the brain, at another section of the new television floor, I also worked with MBC’s Children’s TV Curator Jim Engel. He designed an amazing set piece essentially recreating the television world of Bill Jackson’s Cartoon Town. I proudly point to the leaves on the backdrop trees, where I added my green brushstrokes, under Jim’s direction, of course.
Beyond opening day, I participated in other MBC-based events throughout the year. These included a panel (with former FCC Chair Newton Minow) discussing the 1962 Telstar launch of satellite communication; meeting a group of international journalists brought in by the State Department; delivering an 8-minute history of TV for a panel discussion held by the Chicago/Midwest Chapter: National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences; celebrating kids’ TV star Mary Hartline; and honoring weatherman Tom Skilling and agricultural broadcaster Orion Samuelson.
It’s only going to keep growing. If you are visiting the downtown Chicago area, stop by. Read the story panels of television and of radio as well. They’re on display along with the Meet the Press set, entry doors from Oprah Winfrey’s long running talk show, the recreation of a Polk Bros. retail store window, and an entire floor devoted to radio, including Edgar Bergen’s Charlie McCarthy puppets, a Fibber McGee and Molly closet door, and biographical plaques for all the members of the National Radio Hall of Fame.
Visit museum.tv for hours and additional information.
© Copyright 2013 Walter J. Podrazik