KILGORE, Texas – After over 100 episodes of The Texas Bucket List there’s been a few things that we’ve checked off the list that have moved on to bigger and better things. That’s exactly the case in Kilgore, where we went back to the Museum of Broadcasting and Communications to see their new digs in a segment we like to call checking it twice.
Back in 2015 we met Chuck Conrad and Chuck is big into broadcasting. Back then Chuck had his personal collection of communications technology displayed in his Chalk Hill home.
“You don’t really notice things gathering in your closet until you go to move,” Chuck said. “That’s always those critical moments, I think it is for everybody, and you go, ‘I didn’t know I had this many socks!’ Well, I didn’t know I had this many TV cameras!”
The history seen through the lens of these cameras or told through the ribbon of these microphones changed our perspective on the world and delivered the latest news back in the day.
“Almost everybody watches TV,” Chuck says. “It’s really how several generations have experienced the world. It’s really true. It’s a repository of Texas history.”
Now those pieces of metal and glass purveyors of the past can be found at a new stop on The Texas Bucket List, situated on the streets of downtown Kilgore.
“The museum actually owns this building, which is really great,” Chuck informed us. “So, it will be here for a long time unlike some other museums that kind of come and go.”
The Musuem of Broadcasting of Communications is now located in an old car dealership that’s definitely got a 1950 art deco feel to it.
The vintage part kind of fits with what we’re doing,” Chuck said. “The TVs and the TV cameras and stuff all came from the same era when this was showing a corvette or something in the showroom.”
And just about everything, at least the biggest pieces from Chuck’s collection are now here.
“We have stuff,” Chuck began to explain. “We have cameras that are early black and white cameras, early color cameras. This is one of the first colored cameras. This is one of my favorites. We call it Bertha because it’s kind of big. Weighs 340 pounds. They used to carry these things around to football games and baseball games and stuff. I can’t imagine what it was like hauling this thing around. We used a forklift truck to get it up here, and this dolly.”
Chuck also found a new friend who also had an assortment of antique audio and video devices that are now part of the museum. Warren Willard added his collection of old radios and TVs.
“We realized that we both share the same sickness of collecting weight enhanced devices,” Chuck said.
Being home to such a peculiar collection of particular things sort of bucks the trend in Kilgore, but if you tune in for a time, it’s easy to get lost in the TV history here.
“Most people think of Kilgore as the oil museum maybe and the Kilgore Rangerettes or something, and we’ve really upset the dynamic of Kilgore a little bit just by being the Broadcasting and Communications Museum,” Chuck explained. “That’s not something they think of themselves as, but they’re beginning to adopt it and think it’s pretty cool.”
With all this old technology in one place, the museum has become a drop off point for people looking to donate their past prime equipment.
“It changes almost on a daily basis,” Chuck says. “It surprises me how fast new stuff just arrives. Almost everyday someone will come in with a smoldering thing and go, ‘Hi, this is for you.’”
And the newly renovated 18,000 square foot facility includes a space for Chucks big ol’ bus that has an interesting connection to Kilgore. Tom Potter, the oilman from this area that put channel 8 on the air in Dallas was the original buyer of this massive news van.
“He paid $94,000 for it back in 1949 which was a bunch of money,” explained Chuck. “He was from Kilgore. He paid a lot of money to put channel 8 in Dallas on the air. I understand he sold it for not a lot of money, too. In less than a year I guess he figured radio with pictures wasn’t going to happen. Sometimes you’re right, sometimes you’re wrong.”
Well a stop at the Texas Museum of Broadcasting and Communications is something worth tuning into on The Texas Bucket List.
“Most people spend an hour and a half to two hours, sometimes more,” Chuck said when talking about how much time the typical museum visitor spends at The Museum of Broadcasting and Communications. “If they’re broadcasters, sometimes it’s all day, because they’ll start geeking out at some of the stuff and go, ‘Eww, look!’ This is a lot different than the last time you saw it.”