Memories · The Last Half Century

We Now Conclude our Broadcast Day

It’s hard to believe in our connected and always on world that there was a time when television stations would end their broadcast day. It was kind of a cool thing when I was in grade school in the 1960s to be up late watching television and to see the station go off the air when the program ended. I did not get to stay up late that often, but when the station stopped broadcasting content I went to bed.

At that time there were no other options — no streaming service, no VCR tapes, no DVDs, no 24 hour news station, nothing. There was no Internet, no social media or You Tube. In fact, like many homes at the time, we only had one screen in the house — a black and white television in a cabinet that was heavy and not portable. The station would end their broadcast day then static would abruptly appear on the screen.

Some stations were more creative in how they signed off. They would tell you they were about to “end our broadcast day,” then play a video recording of the American flag flapping in the breeze or some other patriotic sequence of images. The one I recall is of a fighter jet flying with alternating images of American landmarks — as if it was flying across America protecting us. Other stations were more abrupt and would just tell you, “Hey! We’re done for the day. Go to bed.” Okay, so they said it a bit nicer than that. If you search the Internet for “end of television broadcast day,” you’ll find a sampling of videos with these sign offs.

Sometimes I get a bit nostalgic for that simpler time when broadcast media would sign off for the day; a time when the phone stayed home and didn’t go with you everywhere. It seemed people accepted the fact that it was okay to be away from media for awhile; okay to be away from your phone. Sometimes I think we should have an “end of broadcast day” on social media where we sign off for the night and give everyone a break. Then again, maybe nostalgia is a sign of old age.

I’d love to hear your memories of “end of broadcast day” station sign-offs. You can share them by leaving a comment. Thanks for reading. I now conclude my blogging day. See you next week.

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