Channel 11 & JFK’s Last Speech, The Live Broadcast
FORT WORTH (CBS 11 NEWS) – Most people associate live television and President John F. Kennedy with the moments after he was assassinated. But Channel 11 carried President Kennedy’s last speech live from Fort Worth, the day he was killed.
“Channel 11, we televised that breakfast speech,” explained former KTVT Operations Manager Phil Crow, who was running a camera at the event. “Nobody else did. And we set everything up the day before because he was coming in late.”
The station used large studio-like cameras to cover the speech — the best technology they had at the time. “We had two cameras inside the grand ballroom and we had one camera outside on the sidewalk,” Crow said.
The station heard the President might make an unscheduled visit to interact with the crowds gathering outside the then Hotel Texas, now the Fort Worth downtown Hilton. So, the station began hoisting one of the big cameras onto an awning to overlook the crowd.
“The secret service guy said, ‘No you’re not’,” Crow recalled. “You’re not going to put anything up there because I don’t want to put anything big and heavy sticking out over his head when he walks out. I’m concerned about something falling off and hitting him.”
Crow was inside the ballroom when the President entered the room — alone. “But the First Lady was not with him and everybody was a little surprised he was by himself,” Crow said. “So, he went up, sat down and began eating breakfast with everybody else.”
The President explained that the First Lady was busy getting dressed. “Nobody wonders what Lyndon and I wear,” he quipped to the crowded ballroom.
Mr. Kennedy went on to talk about Fort Worth’s important part in building aircraft to wage the Cold War saying, “We are still the keystone in the arch of freedom and I think we’ll do as we’ve done in the past — our duty — and the people of Texas will be in the lead.”
As the President headed to Dallas and the Channel 11crew began to break down the remote, everyone thought their roles in the day’s events were finished. They were wrong. Hours later, Crow would operate the camera documenting the hearse leaving Parkland Hospital with the President’s body.
“All of us were so excited to be doing live TV with the President of the United States, John Kennedy,” Crow said. “Such an incredible guy! And two hours later he is dead. The emotion was unbelievable.”
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