Historical Timeline
KTLA: West Coast Pioneer
KTLA and Warner Sunset Studios: History Meets History

On January 22, 1947, commercial television arrived in Los Angeles. There were approximately 350 television sets in all of Los Angeles when Bob Hope signed KTLA on the air with a special program billed as the "Western Premiere of Commercial Television." Originating from a small garage on the Paramount Studios movie lot, it boasted stars such as Cecil B. DeMille, Dorothy Lamour, Jerry Colonna, William Demarest, William Bendix, Dick Lane and Mike Douglas, among others. Hope flubbed the station's call letters, calling it KLA, and helped William Bendix read KTLA's first commercial.

Since that milestone broadcast 55 years ago, the history of KTLA, Channel 5, has become the history of Los Angeles broadcasting. KTLA's pioneering spirit, resulting in a long list of technological firsts, set the pace for the evolution of modern day broadcasting.

KTLA's genesis actually dates back to 1939 when Paramount Pictures started KTLA as experimental station W6XYZ under the guidance of television pioneer Klaus Landsberg. Eight years later, KTLA went on the air as the first commercially-licensed station west of the Mississippi.

The power and impact of this new medium was first realized in February 1947, with the first on-the-spot news coverage of the Pico Boulevard electroplating plant explosion. Yet the most significant telecast during those early years and the one that probably did most to forge KTLA's local identity was the Kathy Fiscus tragedy in 1949. KTLA stayed with the story of a little girl who fell down a well for an unprecedented 27 ? consecutive hours of live coverage. That commitment to reporting remains the cornerstone of what KTLA is all about.

Since 1947, KTLA's achievements in the technological development of broadcasting symbolize its spirit of adventure. KTLA was the first station to broadcast on-the-spot news; the first to telecast the Rose Parade; the first to telecast from a ship at sea; first to televise the explosion of an atomic bomb; and the first local station to cover a major political convention, among others. In October 1998, KTLA was the first local station to broadcast a digital signal by launching KTLA-DT (Channel 31), bringing HDTV to all of Southern California. This was followed by more HDTV firsts for the station in 1999 including the first local coverage of the Rose Parade and first local presentation of a sports event, Los Angeles Dodgers baseball.

KTLA history of firsts is unmatched and its contributions unparalleled. In news, KTLA was the first to:

  • Provide extended live coverage

  • Regularly operate a flying remote unit ? the helicopter

  • Make its exclusive live ground and helicopter coverage of a California earthquake available free to any station

  • Regularly schedule a remote program

  • In technology, KTLA was the first to:

  • Originate color programs

  • Present a man-on-the-street broadcast

  • Provide stereo broadcasting

  • Provide Spanish language simulcasting

  • In awards, KTLA was the first to: