For Moore Hall Television, it all began in the 1970s. The first productions were filmed in Moore Hall studios in 1972 and sent "down the line" to WCMU for air. Shows such as "Childsong" were written, directed and produced on a weekly basis and sent to a jury for approval. Upon approval, the shows could be sent on for broadcast.
The studio was very rudimentary in those days. It was equipped with two black and white cameras with turret lenses. Turret lenses are a set of four lenses that vary in lengths that had to be rotated manually. This required the camera operator to take great care. The mechanism was quite noisy and would interrupt productions. By the mid seventies, the department obtained two black and white zoom lens cameras. MHTV attempted to break into the color era when it received its first color camera from WNEM-TV in Saginaw. The problem was that it never quite worked properly. Early remote cameras were also bulky and recorded onto two-inch tape.
The station, at that time, was equipped with a small switching box that provided about a dozen "special effects." A character generator did not exist. All graphics had to be printed on signboards and superimposed on the screen. A hot-print press that embossed silver letters on blue poster board provided the finished graphics for the shows. Sports remotes proved to be most challenging in the graphics arena. The job required a menu board and very quick hands as the score was updated with every point.
The most infamous piece of MHTV's equipment was the video tape machine. So large, it occupied the space of six full-height equipment cabinets. Due to its size, it wouldn't fit in the studio; instead it was placed behind WMHW. Plans included a wired signal and intercom to the room but it proved to be a problematic project. The machine was nicknamed Bruce, an allusion to the shark in Jaws, and basically became running gag for the station.
The end of the decade saw the transition into color television. The old large cameras were replaced with small JVC color cameras. WMHW received a power upgrade and the building received a "head end." This enabled MHTV to air live. Prior to the addition, the tapes were taken to a satellite location south of town to play. The station also received its first ¾ inch U-Matic edit bay.
The station purchased a used bread van from the University and turned it into a remote truck for everything from MHTV Sports to the Shepherd Maple Syrup Festival. Classrooms were pillaged for equipment for this truck. With a bad paint job and the nickname, Samson, MHTV was on the road.
The fall of 1978 saw the birth of a little show known as News Central. Complete with a set, logo and news team, MHTV took to the airwaves to deliver the local news to Mt. Pleasant. News Central would eventually evolve into its own entity inside the department.
Student programming included the following:
Acorns and Oaks. A children's show with puppets that aired in the 1979 timeframe.
Childsong. A weekly half hour of children's songs, dance and literature. As one of the first MHTV shows, it aired from 1973-1975.
MHTV Sports. Another institution for the station, MHTV Sports traveled all over the state to bring CMU sports to Mt. Pleasant as well as other local high school and college games. Sports coverage began in 1978.
On Campus. A newsmagazine focused on stories about campus life that aired from 1976-1977.
Mountain City Station. A short-lived variety show that aired in 1978.
Our Place. A fantasy series about three children who get lost wandering in the woods and then are taken to magical places. Our Place aired in 1976-1977.
Roundabout. Aired in 1975 timeframe.
Tic Tac Kno. A trivia game show that was conceived shortly after News Central began. It aired from 1978-1980 with a change of talent.
Traverse City Cherry Festival Remote. In 1979, the station traveled to Traverse City to bring the Cherry Festival back on tape to Mt. Pleasant.
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