The Home Show: Early Television in the Puget Sound Region

January 20 – March 25, 2001

In 2000, Americans bought 215 million computer and video games. In 1941, television debuted in the Northwest but only about a thousand television sets tuned in to local broadcasts from KING-TV. The Home Show presented a view of the earliest years of television in the Puget Sound region, and illustrated how television shaped a picture of the region in that formative period from 1945 to 1970. Drawn from local collections, the exhibition included photographs of important events, television celebrities, and the stations, studios, and equipment that produced the programs; early “TV guides” and advertisements; and newspaper clippings detailing the important contributions made by Northwest broadcast pioneers. Television brought a new sense of community and connectedness to the Puget Sound region.

Early television stations here, including KING-TV and KTNT-TV, developed their own programming in response to local viewing preferences. Characters such as J. D. Patches, Wunda Wunda (the happy Scandinavian), and Captain Puget were a familiar presence for a generation of Northwest audiences. Variety shows such as Telescope and King’s Camera offered regular segments on local communities and issues. News broadcasts featured regional news, including innovative remote relay broadcasts, and later news documentaries were aired nationally and won awards. Because education was an important focus for early broadcasters, there were important experiments with educational programming as well as heated public debates about television’s influence on children. The Home Show presented the story of early television’s indelible impact and influence on our sense of regional community. Sheryl Conkelton, Guest Curator.