Super Bowl I = A Stick & 5 Coat Hangers

On January 15, 1967, I was living in Downey, CA and the first Super Bowl was to be played in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. The competing teams were the Green Bay Packers and the Kansas City Chiefs. The promoters were concerned about profits since a third of the coliseum seats remained unsold at prior to game time. With this and accepted policy that home games be blacked out in their home market the two broadcast networks, NBC and CBS, opted to keep with protocol and black out the Los Angeles area.

Since the closest broadcast stations were in San Diego a special beam antenna was needed to pull in the distant signals. A local rock station, KRLA, decided to fly in the face of big money and offered plans to construct an analog yagi beam antenna that could be built from a long stick, five metal coat hangers, a hand full of screws, and a sufficient length of TV ribbon cable.

By game time over half a million Angelenos had obtained a copy of the antenna plans and had the finished product sitting atop their roofs when the first kickoff took to the air.

The night before the game three of us decided to drive to KRLA’s Pasadena studio and pick up a copy of the plans. Next morning we gathered up the meager supplies and began cutting and bending coathanger wire. By game time the beer was cold and the stick was on the roof.

Like most Downey homes ours was a single story and because of the height, the signal was marginal at best. We spent at least the first quarter trying to find the precise direction of the San Diego transmitting towers but we never did get much more than the audio and a ghost image of the on-field action. Nevertheless, we had a memorable adventure, drank more than enough beer, and earned our very small place in sports history.

By the way, the Lombardi led Packers beat the Chiefs 35-10. And, for my Rhode Island family, Go Patriots!


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