On Jan. 22, 1947, KTLA in Los Angeles became the first commercially licensed television station in the Western United States. This year, SPJ recognized that accomplishment by naming KTLA a Historic Site in Journalism.
SPJ President Irwin Gratz, along with members of the Los Angeles Pro Chapter, dedicated the site Feb. 24 with a bronze marker.
KTLA began as an experimental station in September 1942. Since then, the station has racked up an impressive list of firsts in broadcasting and news reporting. Among them: KTLA was the first station to broadcast on-the-spot news; offered the world’s first extended news broadcast to cover the Kathy Fiscus abandoned well tragedy on April 9, 1949; was the first west-coast station to broadcast a presidential address (by President Harry Truman); was the first to telecast from a ship at sea; was first to televise the explosion of an atomic bomb; and became the first local station to cover a major political convention. The station is also the first — and only — television station to win an Oscar for the “Best Documentary” category with “Scared Straight” in April 1978.
KTLA becomes the sixth California location to be named a Historic Site in Journalism. Others are located in San Francisco (three), Carmel and Sacramento.
In addition to the California locations, other notable sites recognized by the Society are: Columbia, Mo., where the country’s first journalism school was established at the University of Missouri; Philadelphia, where Benjamin Franklin was honored as a statesman and newspaperman; and Hartford, Conn., home of The Hartford Courant, the oldest newspaper of continuous publication in the United States.
The first historic site was marked in 1942. The site honors Anthony Haswell, editor and publisher of the Vermont Gazette. Haswell courageously challenged the Alien and Sedition Acts, passed in 1798 under the administration of President John Adams.
Since then, SPJ has recognized more than 90 sites. For a complete list of SPJ Historic Sites in Journalism, visit www.spj.org.