Here is a letter that was sent to Pastor Schoch alerting him of the availability of television station WHCT, channel 18, in Hartford, CT.
Editor’s comment: Of particularly note is the reference to WHCT being a test station for pay TV. During certain time periods the station would provide movies to viewers on a pay basis. The technology used was the Zenith Phonevision.
As stated in the letter above that testing ended in 1969. When Faith Center acquired the station the pay TV transmission gear was gone, however, the basement had stacks of the Zenith “descrambling boxes” for the home that were ultimately sold and parted out. For those familiar with today’s technology of scrambling using digital techniques the editor reminds the reader that this technology was developed in the 1960’s and all analog. The technology involved switching delay in and out over the course of a picture frame and causing straight vertical bars to look like a checkerboard on the screen. Of course, the descrambling box applied the inverse and “uncheckerboarded” the picture making it viewable. For it’s time the technology seemed to work but, unfortunately for RKO, it was an idea before its time. TV was still maturing and people were spoiled to free over the air television so pay TV didn’t have the appeal back then. Also, the scrambling technique utilized only worked for black and white and not for color television. By the late 60’s many stations were converting their facilities to color and the scrambling technology quickly became obsolete.
RKO Letter used by permission of the Ray Schoch family
Photos courtesy of Bernie Marston
All Rights Reserved
The basement of the WHCT studios during the initial visit by Pastor Schoch and Bernie Marston. Shown are stacks, estimated to be several hundred, of the Zenith Phonevision descrambling boxes that were intended to be placed in viewers homes. Faith Center ultimately had these boxes “parted out” by an electronic equipment salvage company.
Another view of the basement at the WHCT studio. Note the old 35 mm film projector on the left. Also note the partial view of the sign leaning towards the window on the right. This was most likely a promotional sign used for advertising subscription TV as you can see the red letter “S” enclosing TV 18 and the beginning of the word “Subscription.”