Historical Albion Michigan
By Frank Passic

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Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.

WOLVERINE CATV ALBION’S FIRST TV CABLE SYSTEM

Albion Recorder, Monday, March 23, 1998, pg. 4

It certainly is good to have Hometown TV Channel 50 back on the air. Its programming has been a true unedited reflection of our people, our town and surrounding area. Hometown-TV provides programming that no one else could, and we need to keep Larry Brooks supplied with videos of our class reunions and other events to help him keep the channel fresh and interesting. We wish the best to the new cable owners, Horizon Cablevision of Charlotte, and thank them for recognizing this community asset and keeping it on the air.

Does everyone remember what "CATV" means? It means "Cable Antenna Tele-Vision," which was the first name for Cable TV. Wolverine Cablevision, Inc., was Albion’s first Cable TV system. During the summer of 1966, Michigan Bell Telephone Company strung the necessary wires on its poles throughout the city. A receiving tower was constructed near Marengo, and the system began operating here on Thursday, March 9, 1967.

The company offices were located at 111 N. Superior St., in the building now occupied by Dan Siler’s insurance agency. Director was William Van Tilburg, who also directed the Battle Creek office. The office was decorated with an "early American" theme, as recommended by the Albion Chamber of Commerce.

Wolverine Cablevision boasted a 12-channel capacity, and even offered an ABC network station from Grand Rapids, something which Albionites had missed growing up with. We also got our first look at WKBD Channel 50 in Detroit, and were amazed at the ability to watch more channels than 3, 6, 8, and 10.

The basic rate was $4.90 a month, with an installation fee of $14.95. Soon afterwards however, the competition moved in and TRIAD-CATV was launched, owned by the company that operated our local WALM-AM radio station.

What were the channels that were offered? They were: WKZO Channel 3 CBS in Kalamazoo; 4-MAPTI Channel 72 from Purdue University on Lafayette, Indiana. This was the Midwest program of Airborne Television instruction, and educational station whose signal was transmitted by aircraft! This was in the days before satellites. Channel 5 was known as the permanent "test color bars" station, with a test pattern you could view when nothing else was on. Channel 6 of course was WJIM CBS from Lansing. No channel 7 was provided. Channel 8 was WOOD NBC from Grand Rapids. On channel 9 we received 24-hour weather, time, and temperature information. Remember how the camera used to "scan" back and forth between the meters and dials? Each meter pointed to the current temperature, wind speed, etc. This station was broadcast only in black-and-white.

Channel 10 of course was WILX NBC in Jackson, but it was also WMSB from East Lansing on a time-shared basis. Remember that? Before WKAR-23 went on the air, they shared time with channel 10. So in the afternoons you got educational television. Channel 11 was WTVS educational TV from Detroit. Channel 12 carried WKBD channel 50 out of Detroit which at the time featured lots of old movies and shows hosted by Bill Kennedy. Channel 13 was WZZM out of Muskegon, the first ABC affiliate Albionites could receive. All those exciting shows like Ripcord, F-Troop, Bewitched, The Mickey Mouse Club, etc, which Albionites had missed, they could now view. In 1971, WUHQ-41 out of Battle Creek went on the air and WZZM was taken off the local cable selection.

This week we present a photograph of the Wolverine Cablevision office at 111 N. Superior St. It would be interesting to take a survey here in town and find out how many persons still use their television aerials on their roof, how many persons are hooked up to cablevision, and how many have dish satellites.


Wolverine Cablevision, 111 N. Superior St.

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