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Houston History: KPRC introduces ‘The Big 2 Instant News Camera’ during the election of 1974

The Big 2 Instant News Camera introduced in 1974
The Big 2 Instant News Camera introduced in 1974 (KPRC)

HOUSTON – In 2020, breaking news can be accessed practically anywhere at any time. With today’s technology, reporters and journalists can go live from a scene in a matter of seconds thanks to technology such as our smartphones.

However, that wasn’t the case before the mid-1970s. In fact, it would take hours for newscasts to showcase their footage. It wasn’t until 1974 when KPRC 2 introduced a new piece of equipment that would change its news coverage forever.

Prior to 1974, ‘Big 2 News’ had to do a variety of steps to get footage on air for its newscasts. In a news story produced by Larry Weidman and narrated by KPRC 2 Anchor Larry Rasco, they showcase what it was like to get film footage on air.

In the news story below, Rasco explains how KPRC had to shoot the film footage, transport it to the station, process the footage in its development room, edit it, send it to a projector and finally broadcast it.

Related: When film was king: KPRC veteran photographer John Treadgold revisits bygone era

As for live shots, a television remote unit had to be used, requiring numerous people to set up the event and use expensive equipment that would take a whole day to set up.

On November 5, 1974, KPRC 2 introduced the ‘Big 2 Instant News Camera’ on Election Day. During the election, KPRC 2 was able to report live from multiple candidate headquarters simultaneously. This was a first for the station and for Houston viewers.

The camera, an Ikegami HL-33, was state-of-the-art technology that allowed viewers to watch the news live and without delay. On the day of the election, the new camra allowed KPRC to report from four different sites within three-and-a-half-hours.

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While the camera was not a first for the nation, many motion picture studios had begun using the Keigami HL-33. However, this was a first for the Houston TV market.

In the video segment below, Rasco explains how the camera was connected to a backpack a photojournalist carried and then was connected to a mobile unit made specifically for these new cameras and finally fed back to the station via its microwave.

Photojournalist shooting KPRC reporter with the Big 2 Instant News camera
Photojournalist shooting KPRC reporter with the Big 2 Instant News camera (KPRC)

The Big 2 Instant News Camera changed the way KPRC delivered its news. It allowed reporters to go out of town, to sporting venues and in the community at a much faster capacity, delivering news instantly.

Watch Larry Weidman’s video below showcasing the Instant News Camera.

Warning: Some of the footage below may be graphic for some viewers.


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