This is an online encyclopedia of personalities of Old Time Radio. It is designed for educational and entertainment purposes.

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Saturday, September 20, 2008

Jack Latham (1914-87)

John Jackson Latham was born December 27, 1914, in Washington State. After graduation from high school, partly because of the Depression, he moved to Los Angeles to be a movie star. For his first six years in Hollywood he received nothing but bit parts and background ("extras.") But he found work as a radio announcer for Earle C. Anthony, who owned radio stations KFI and KECA.

Jack's voice was very authoratative. He also had looks that were stern and impressive. That didn't matter much for radio, except that it got the studio audience quiet. Eventually JackLatham would be heard on a number of programs on all the networks: NBC, ABC, CBS, and Mutual. He never mentioned his name. The sternness of his demeanor were actually not true. Jack was a very humble man who was happy with every job he ever had. In 1949, he began a 20 year relationship with the NBC owned and operated television station. At the same time, he became the announcer for The Man Called X (starring Herbert Marshall).

The station now known as KNBC-TV has its humble beginnings in the back room of Radio City West, at the corner of Sunset Boulevard and Vine Street. The television station almost didn't happen. As KNBH (the "H" stood for Hollywood) it was the second NBC affiliate in Los Angeles. It began on January 16, 1949. Earle C. Anthony, owner of the NBC radio station, KFI (KECA was acquired by ABC in 1945), started KFI-TV (now KCAL-TV) in August 1948. It broadcast kinescopes of NBC network programs made in New York, as well as programs produced at Radio City West. When KNBH went on the air, many of KFI-TV's staff went there to stay with the NBC network. Channel 4 was the next to the last VHF station to go on the air.

Jack Latham broadcast the news twice a night, at 7:30 and 11:00. Each of these broadcasts was only 15 minutes long. This was as long as any other station in the Los Angeles area at that time.

Here is a list of the stations that existed in 1949 and what happened with them...

Note: Los Angeles did not have one Dumont network station. All of the independent stations broadcast one or a few Dumont shows during the lifetime of that network (1947-55).
2 KTSL (Independent) 1947-1951 Owned by Don Lee Broadcasting
KTSL (Independent) 1951 Owned by RKO-General (very briefly)
KNXT (CBS) 1951-1984 Owned by CBS
KCBS-TV (CBS) 1984-present Owned by CBS
4 KNBH (NBC) 1949-1954 Owned by NBC
KRCA-TV (NBC) 1954-1962 Owned by NBC
KNBC(-TV) (NBC) 1962-present Owned by NBC
5 KTLA (Independent) 1947-1964 Owned by Paramount Pictures
KTLA (Independent) 1964-1982 Owned by Gene Autry
KTLA (Independent) 1982-1985 Owned by "Sun Television"
KTLA (Independent) 1985-1995 Owned by the Chicago Tribune
KTLA (WB/CW) 1985-1995 Owned by the Chicago Tribune
7 KECA-TV (ABC) 1949-1954 Owned by ABC
KABC-TV (ABC) 1954-present Owned by ABC (many owners)
9 KFI-TV (NBC) 1948-1949 Owned by Earle C. Anthony
KFI-TV (Independent) 1949-1951 Owned by Earle C. Anthony
KHJ-TV (Independent) 1951-1989 Owned by RKO-General
KCAL-TV (Independent) 1989-1996 Owned by the Walt Disney Company
KCAL-TV (Independent) 1996-2002 Owned by Young Broadcasting
KCAL-TV (Independent) 2002-present Owned by CBS
11 KTTV (CBS) 1949-1951 Owned by the Los Angeles Times
KTTV (Independent) 1951-1963 Owned by the Los Angeles Times
KTTV (Independent) 1963-1986 Owned by Metromedia
KTTV (Fox) 1986-present Owned by News Corporation
13 KMTR-TV (Independent) 1948 (one day) Owned by the New York Daily News
KLAC-TV (Independent) 1948-1954 Owned by the New York Daily News
KCOP (Independent) 1954-1960 Owned by the San Diego Union and Evening Tribune
KCOP (Independent) 1960-1995 Owned by Chris Craft Industries
KCOP (UPN) 1995-2001 Owned by Chris Craft Industries
KCOP (UPN/MyTV) 2001-present Owned by News Corporation

Jack appeared in several movies after his retirement from NBC. He moved to Palm Springs and read the news for station KMIR-TV, channel 36, there. He died in Palm Springs on January 1, 1987, at the age of 72.

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