Monday, January 27, 2020

Pro Wrestling's Distant Signals

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

Some of you old folks out there (like us!) will remember the days when you stayed up late at night and tried to maneuver your set-top or aerial antenna to pull in some distant station that had wrestling.

In this rough image, Mid-Atlantic champion Ric Flair and Blackjack Mulligan talk with Ed Capral on Wide World Wrestling from the WRAL television studios in December 1975. Ric wasn't back to wrestling yet at this point, still recovering from injuries suffered in the October 1975 Wilmington NC plane crash. But he was back doing interviews and color commentary by the end of December.

Kids born in the cable generation don't have any idea what the excitement was like when you manipulated those "rabbit ears" on top of the TV and were able to pick up a distant VHF or UHF signal from some other city. It was a great adventure! Sometimes it was more snow than picture, but you could still listen to the audio.

Folks that were lucky enough to have an outdoor rooftop aerial antenna could sometimes pull in distant signals from hundreds of miles away, depending on the time of day, the weather, and the elevation of the antenna. The only problem was having to run outside and turn the antenna pole so that the antenna would face the right direction. That was later solved with the advent of a motorized rotor that would turn the pole using a control box from inside the house, usually sitting right on top of the television set.


Edit: It sometimes surprises us what reaction little memories like this get on our social media pages at the Mid-Atlantic Gateway. This little graphic at the top of this post seemed to stir up lots of memories about rabbit ears, wire hangers, and "tin foil" from our friends on Facebook and Twitter.