Oldest (nearly!) TV sign-off, featuring Henry Mancini

Mike sends us this: "YouTube video of the oldest TV station sign-offs in existence: KTUL-TV in Tulsa, Oklahoma, February 18, 1979. Backing music is the jazz/lounge classic, 'Dreamsville,' from Henry Mancini's 'Music from Peter Gunn' soundtrack album." Link (Thanks, Mike!)


  1. and I found a Youtube Boston station for 1970,

    but there has to be mounds of much older at our greasy fingertips

  2. and speaking of greasy – I just realized I have not once yet spread a tarp on the floor, stripped naked and anointed myself and the keyboard with three whole bottles of olive oil and REALLY got down to it…. why is life so damned short?

  3. It’s ONE of the oldest TV station sign-offs in existence—the “one of” part must have fallen in the bit bucket when I typed the note last night.

    On the other hand, it probably is the oldest TV sign-off that actually features Henry Mancini, if you want to parse it that way.

  4. Oh, great, now the RIAA’s gonna build a time-machine, go back to 1979 and sue their asses for using Henry’s tune without a license.

    And, being old enough to remember signoffs from 1969, they were just as boring – except for the dancing nude people, of course.

  5. Age aside, it looks like everybody involved in making this sign-off gave it a full 15%. Even Henry sounds like he was “phoning it in”.

    I worked for a station in the 70’s where we dressed the director of programming up like a janitor and had him sweep his way through the station’s production facilities, turning off the lights and equipment as he went. It developed a minor cult following. I am going to email him right now and see if he still has a copy and wants to post it.

  6. That would not be the oldest sign off. It clearly is beaten by a couple of others. I think the flag with “America the Beautiful” being played in the backgound with (sometimes) a jet fly over would be at least as old. This certainly is one of the nicest. Also, before colorbars, there was the “indian.”

  7. Another thing, they need to now intigate a “anti-signoff” message saying “ok, we’re gonna put crap on the air for another 10 hours now.”

    And if you put anything alongside/with Henry Mancini it’s gonna be good. I seem to be returning to the music of my farther.

  8. Born in the ’50s around Tulsa, I mainly remember the Star Spangled Banner, with or without video in the background. All the Transmitter, etc. links were listed on a still image in the background. KTUL always listed them verbally, as well, as did some other Oklahoma stations. KTUL was rightly proud of their high power, high tower setup. They were the only station we could get consistently clearly in Checotah, where I grew up. At some point most area stations went to “High Flight” in one form or another as a replacement/addition to the Star Spangled Banner. This usually consisted of a military jet taking off and climbing with the poem in the background.

  9. Now that we’ve covered this one, how about the next logical step: earliest sign-ons followed by farm reports, morning devotionals, and daily tide info?

  10. Are there any stations that still sign off, leaving you to bathe in the after glow of fuzz?

  11. Elvisneedsboats (#21) Very few stations sign off these days. Virtually all stations use automation for on-air playback, so playing crappy 20 year old re-runs or infomercials all night is profitable.

    These days most TV sets will show a blue screen when they loose a carrier signal anyway.

    Someone once suggested to me that some of the white dots visible in TV “fuzz”/snow/static(take your pick) actually came from the big bang background radiation.

  12. @#21 I love that fuzz – do you realize that fuzz is the highly red-shifted remnants of radiation from the Big Bang? But back to our topic.

    I used to be able to stay up late enough to see these sign-offs- usually after a good monster movie say “Tarantula” or “The Incredible Shrinking Man”.
    Then you get the Flag, ‘the Star Spangled banner’, a fly over of jets…

    The really old sign-offs likely do not exist because television stations regularly copied over video tape.

    They just found a “recording” from 1860:,


    you’d think they would have plenty of sign-offs from the 50s….

  13. A couple weeks ago I was looking at an exhibit at the Smithsonian Air & Space museum about cosmic background radiation. It mentioned that if you tune a (not hooked up to cable) TV to an open channel and turn the brightness down so that the snow (or fuzz) becomes discreet dots, about one out of every 100 dots is triggered by a cosmic ray photon. Pretty cool.

  14. I remember sign-ONS. I used to get up really early to watch cartoons on Saturday morning.

    There’d be static at first, then a test pattern, then a slide with a voiceover: “Station blah-blah-blah now begins its programming day. Broadcasting on a frequency of yadda-yadda-kilohertz, blah-blah-blah, FCC, public interest . . .”

    Followed by the national anthem over stock footage of B-52s and the Statue of Liberty, a sermon, and finally cartoons . . .

    I have a little analogy TV and a pair of rabbit ears. I intend to use it to watch the last analog broadcasts go off the air . . .

  15. What’s wrong with just playing the “God Save Our Queen” and standing to attention? “Oldest TV station sign-off in existence”, my arse.

  16. #27: Oh, I know that. I did say analog TV. There will be a time next year when the analog stations sign off forever.

  17. Thanks for the memory. I fell asleep to this on more than a few occasions. I also remember Cy Tuma. Newsman with jet black hair combed straight back, and a 40s style pencil-thin mustache. And if you remember him, you must also remember Betty Boyd, Don Woods, and Gusty. And don’t forget Mr. Zing and Tuffy!

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