A good museum in Chicago that often flies under the radar is the Museum of Broadcast Communications. It covers the history of radio and TV throughout the years and has got some excellent displays that bring back a lot of memories.
The first floor of the museum is the National Radio Hall of Fame, with several plaques honoring inductees that have made their mark on the radio. There is also an AP news ticker with the original feed announcing the assassination of John F. Kennedy.
The second floor and main part of the museum has displays about successful TV shows in just about every genre.
There are some incredible artifacts from TV history, including the camera that televised the Kennedy-Nixon Debates in 1960 and may have swayed the election in Kennedy’s favor. Those listening to the debate on the radio thought that Richard Nixon had won while those watching on TV thought that Kennedy had won. Nixon looked ill and was sweating profusely while Kennedy looked young and energetic. It forever changed the future and importance of televised presidential debates.
Some other interesting artifacts include actual props from Jay Leno’s Tonight Show, costumes and props from The Bozo Show, and the set from Meet the Press used until the untimely death of long-time host Tim Russert in 2008.
It’s also possible to schedule your very own personalized interview with the one and only Larry King (a video of him, of course). Or you can do your own newscast, complete with a real green screen for the weather. Reservations are required. Contact the museum for more info and scheduling.
The Museum of Broadcast Communications is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10am to 5pm. Admission is US$12 for adults, US$10 for seniors, and US$6 for children aged 4 to 12. It’s located in the River North district.