KTLA reporter Stan Chambers reaches one of the more astounding milestones in television history today when he celebrates his 50th anniversary with the station.
Every major story that has popped in Los Angeles since Chambers joined the station on Dec. 1, 1947 — a mere 10 months after KTLA signed on the air — has found him on the scene, from earthquakes to floods to riots to disasters both natural and manmade.
“I think I was at the station 10 years before I realized it was a job,” Chambers, now 74, recalls. “It was just so much fun in the early days of TV. Truthfully, I never got the feeling that anyone was even watching.”
Initially, no one was. When Chambers signed on at KTLA, he heard there were perhaps 300 TV sets in all of Los Angeles. But he didn’t care.
“It was just wonderful to go through the process,” says Chambers, who spent his earliest days at the station pushing around camera dollies, sweeping the floors and pitching in with the stage crew in addition to reporting.
“Oh no, I’m not going to do that,” Chambers says in his trademark gee-whiz fashion. “I love what I do too much. Just today, we got into this big, wonderful snowstorm at Mammoth. I enjoyed it thoroughly. What could be more fun than that?”
Is this guy in the right line of work, or what?
Indeed, a half-century is an awfully long time to stay in one place, much less in TV. It’s presumed that Chambers holds the all-time record for longevity at a single broadcast station, radio or TV.
Here is how the country looked back in 1947, when Chambers was cutting his TV news baby teeth:
— President of the United States: Harry Truman
— Best picture Oscar: “Gentleman’s Agreement”
— Chart-topping Billboard single: “Near You,” by Francis Craig
— Age of Bill Clinton: 1
— Price of a three-bedroom home in Malibu Colony: $20,000
— Price of an average gallon of gas: 18¢
How long ago was 50 years? Well, let’s just say that Chambers’ entrance to TV pre-dated by several months the tube debuts of guys like Milton Berle, Arthur Godfrey and Ed Sullivan.
“I can’t believe I’ve been here this long,” admits Chambers. “Everyone at the station has been so good to me. I’ve just had a ball. And it’s not over yet.”