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Thursday, June 01, 2017

June 1, 1980

Welcome to the first day of well as the first Throwback Thursday post of June 2017.  And for today's topic, I will be looking at something within the realm of television - particularly cable television.  Now, I know that with Android boxes and Apple TV receivers, and Netflix that cable television is dying out somewhat - but back in the time period we'll be going back to, it was seen as an important innovation behind how we receive our news.

Before that though, let's see what else took place on June 1 throughout history!

1495 - John Cor, a monk, records the first batch of Scotch whisky

1533 - Anne Boleyn is crowned Queen of England

1779 - Benedict Arnold is court-martialed for malfeasance

1792 - Kentucky becomes the fifteenth state to join the United States

1796 - Tennessee becomes the sixteenth state to join the United States

1812 - U.S. President James Madison asks congress to declare war on the United Kingdom, thus setting the stage for the War of 1812

1813 - James Lawrence is mortally wounded aboard the USS Chesapeake and gives the final order - "Don't give up the ship!"

1831 - James Clark Ross becomes the first European to reach the North Magnetic Pole

1915 - Actor John Randolph (d. 2004) is born in New York, New York

1916 - Louis Brandeis becomes the first Jewish person to be appointed to the United States Supreme Court

1926 - Actor/producer Andy Griffith (d. 2012) is born in Mount Airy, North Carolina

1927 - Axe murderer Lizzie Borden dies of pneumonia at the age of 66

1930 - Actor Edward Woodward (d. 2009) is born in Croydon, Surrey, England

1939 - Actor Cleavon Little (d. 1992) is born in Chickasha, Oklahoma

1943 - British actor Leslie Howard is killed when the plane that he is on is shot down by German Junkers Ju 88s

1948 - Actor Powers Boothe (d. 2017) is born in Snyder, Texas

1958 - Charles de Gaulle comes out of retirement to lead France by decree for half a year

1962 - Adolf Eichmann is hanged in Israel

1974 - The Heimlich Maneuver procedure is first published in the journal "Emergency Medicine"

1988 - The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty comes into effect

1991 - Temptations singer David Ruffin dies at the age of 50

2001 - A deadly day in history; on the same day that the crown prince of Nepal shoots several members of his family to death, a suicide bomber kills 21 people at a Tel Aviv discotheque - also in 2001, Dennis the Menace creator Hank Ketchum dies at the age of 81

2009 - General Motors files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy

2011 - Springfield, Massachusetts is struck by an EF3 tornado, killing four

2014 - Actress Ann B. Davis passes away at the age of 88

And for celebrity birthdays, the following become one more year older - Joan Copeland, Pat Boone, Peter Masterson, Morgan Freeman, Linda Scott, Brian Cox, Jonathan Pryce, Ronnie Wood, Charlene, Wayne Nelson, Tom Robinson, Ronnie Dunn, Lisa Hartman Black, Robin Mattson, Simon Gallup, Mark Curry, John Huston, Mike Joyce, David Westhead, Jason Donovan, Teri Polo, Adam Garcia, Heidi Klum, Alanis Morissette, Amy Schumer, and Tom Holland

So, what date will we be going back in time to today?

How about June 1, 1980?  It is a date that I was not around for, but I'll do my best.

Now when it comes down to what television was like in 1980, it was beginning to change in a big way.  No longer was television limited to just the three big networks (ABC, CBS, NBC).  Since 1970, specialty cable channels were making their mark on the cable landscape, and by 1980, more and more households were subscribing to cable television to open up their world with more choices than ever before. 

Certainly, no man decided to take on the television industry quite like media mogul Ted Turner.  Over the years, he's been the head figure behind the creation of some of the most watched networks on cable television.  These include the first so-called "superstation" known as TBS, TNT, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, TruTV, and Boomerang, among others.  Although my family didn't become cable television subscribers until the late 1980s, once we were hooked up, I can remember watching at least half of these channels.  Particularly TBS on those free preview weekends in which they were unscrambled.  Those were fun weekends.

Now, when it comes to cable channels, they also shaped the way that many of us got our news.  And depending on how far you leaned on the political spectrum, there were news channels available for everybody from MSNBC to FOX News.  Or, FAUX news, as I call it.

And yeah.  I went there.

On June 1, 1980, Ted Turner decided that he would start up his own news channel.  One that simply didn't broadcast the news of the world at eleven o'clock each night.  It would be a network that would have twenty-four hour coverage of the news, seven days a week.

It would be a cable channel that Ted Turner would dub the Cable News Network.  Or, CNN, if you want the abbreviated version.

When CNN made its debut, it made history as the first twenty-four hour news channel to broadcast on the air, as well as the first station in the United States to provide all news, all the time.

In the United States and Canada, CNN is one of the highest rated news outlets - in 2015, it is estimated that almost 100 million viewers have accessed the network through television, computer, mobile phone, and tablet.

The network made its debut at 5:00pm on June 1, 1980 with a brief introduction by Ted Turner himself before the channel was turned over to the first reporting duo - married news broadcasters Lois Hart and David Walker.  Over the next year, then executive vice president of the network Burt Reinhardt hired the first two hundred employees of the channel himself, and by January 1982, a second network, CNN2 was launched.

(CNN2 would later become HLN - or the "Forensic Files" channel.  Whichever you want to refer it to as.)

And in the thirty-six years since CNN debuted, they have been there covering everything from earthquakes to forest fires.  From elections to coup d'etats. 

They were there in 1986 when the Challenger Space Shuttle exploded.  After all of the network news outlets suspended coverage right after the explosion, CNN kept reporting on what had happened minute by minute. 

In 1987, when baby Jessica fell down the well, CNN was there to report on the incident minute by minute until the child was finally rescued.

Of course, everyone remembers watching the infamous White Bronco chase on June 17, 1994 in which CNN followed O.J. Simpson's getaway car from nearly the beginning until the end.  I know it's etched on my mind all these years later.

CNN was also the first network to bring us coverage of the 9/11 attacks, reporting on the incident just a couple of minutes after the first plane struck the World Trade Center.

And of course, CNN was the go-to network for election coverage which saw Donald Trump get elected as President of the United States - as well as earning the ire of Trump and his supporters for what Trump labeled as "fake news". 

And yet in spite of that CNN remains the victor in the cable channel news wars.  Go figure.

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