Uncle Jimmy's Club House & T.J. Close highlight 60 years on air for KIMA

Uncle Jimmy's Club House & T.J. Close highlight 60 years on air for KIMA »Play Video
KIMA test pattern moments before signing on the air for the first time July 19, 1953.
YAKIMA, Wash. -- It's one of those days when KIMA-TV takes stock of where it's been and where it's going.

In fact, the City of Yakima declared Friday KIMA-TV Day.

It's all because of what happened in this building exactly 60 years ago. KIMA-TV signed on the air for the first time as Yakima's first local television station. A place with a commitment to the community that continues to this day. A station a lot of people in the Yakima Valley grew up watching.

"I' ve watched KIMA since I was old enough to watch TV," said Yakima Mayor Micah Cawley. "And remember T.J. Close and watching Alan Sillence and all my favorite shows. I remember my parents telling me about some of the local shows that were on. It's just been a part of our history. It's a part of Yakima."

There was a lot of live programming with shows like Uncle Jimmy's Club House. It was a fixture on KIMA from 1953 to 1980. There were 6,000 episodes of the local children's show. It's estimated 40,000 kids came through the studio during its reign. People who were on the show as kids still call KIMA and ask if there are copies of those old programs. Sadly, the answer is no.

It's hard to believe how much has changed since those early days. Camera operators actually wore suits. You won't see that now.

Of course, the news is a lot different than it used to be. T.J. Close is the most heralded anchor to sit at the KIMA news desk. He guided the station and the Yakima Valley through the Mt. Saint Helens disaster and cleanup.

During thee days of black and white when KIMA shot on film, editing the pictures was a huge undertaking. Then, came the days of videotape. Now, video is recorded on electronic cards and edited on computer.

How about the weather? There was no high-tech imaging. The walls actually used magnets with clouds and numbers to indicated the forecast and temperature. Imagine Mike McCabe without his radar and satellite images.

Chief Engineer Cliff Grady has seen a lot of those changes during his 34 years with KIMA.

"The things we do today compared to then. We just had no conception of what we could do," said KIMA Engineer Cliff Grady.

It's not all about the past. These days, Cliff and the rest of the engineering team are busy helping KIMA move forward. New equipment is being installed to deliver a widescreen picture to your living room very soon. That's only a glimpse of what's on the horizon.

"Right now we ask people to come to their couch, have a seat, watch the programming that we offer," said KIMA Station Manager Bob Berry. "Soon, we're gonna allow fold to do whatever they want. They want to watch it on the beach. If they want to watch it in the mountains, if they want to watch it anywhere, it's just another opportunity for, the technology is just another opportunity for us to serve the folks."

One thing constant in television is change. So, KIMA thanks you for sharing the ride over the last 60 years and looks forward to see what the next 60 have to offer.