I'm often asked whether we can provide a video copy of long-ago programs, such as those aired on WTAP during the 1950's and '60s.
No doubt, this is the result of video copies of our recent newscasts we provide through our "Tape Five" service. And the inquiries come from viewers who remember our long-ago local programs such as "Big Red Jubilee", where, in some cases, they or a friend or loved one appeared.
The short answer to this is: "no". But, like most answers, there's a longer explanation.
Back in the early days of television, many programs were televised live, and weren't recorded for future use. Quite likely, no one ever thought there would be a future use for those programs. And video tape wasn't widely available for recording purposes until well into the 1960's.
Even when video tape came into use, programs which were recorded were often erased to record--you guessed it--other programs. In fact, one of the benefits of tape was that it was reusable. This was true not only at local TV stations, but at the major networks as well.
A good example of this was the first Super Bowl game in 1967. Even though it aired at the same time on two networks (CBS and NBC) there is no tape known to be in existence of these broadcasts.
Furthermore, WTAP didn't even have a news archive until 1982 (thanks mostly to the efforts of our current General Manager, Roger Sheppard), although video from some historic stories, such as the Silver Bridge and Willow Island disasters, was salvaged.
So while video tape, and now disc, preserves some of our past, it's not always permanent.
It's a good thing our personal memories usually are.