Harlan Community Television
 From the Beginning
Georgia T. Hale
(March 18, 2011)
Click image for original handwritten document

In 1951, my husband Charles Hugh Hale Sr., and I, along with our eight month old daughter, Susan, went to Ohio with our friends, Carl and Inez Livingston. We visited Inez’s parents and family. The Baisden family were dairy farmers and their neighbors were all farmers. The Baisdens had purchased a big television set. Cable had just come to the area. After the chores were all finished, the neighbors came to the Basiden home to watch the new thing called television. This is where my husband and I saw our first television.

After coming home my husband read and studied everything he could find on the new invention. He asked if I had any extra curtain rods. Curtain rods were made of brass back in those days. I went to the closet and gave him a bundle of curtain rods that I had stored. He took these curtain rods and cut them into precise lengths to make channel 13 antennas. He put the homemade antennas on a pole and raised it in our front yard. We received channel 13 from Ashville, North Carolina on this homemade antenna. I remember two programs very clearly, a devotional program called, “Seed From The Sower” and a preacher riding horse back, going from place to place preaching the gospel. They called this preacher, “The Circuit Rider.” How we enjoyed this television station.

About the same time, a group of Harlan businessman, were interested in seeing if a signal could be received in Harlan. They heard of Charles’ interest and ask if he would make tests in these mountains to see if a signal was available in this area.

Charles organized camping trips with my younger brother Jack Tackett and some of his scouting friends. He needed these younger boys to help carry the testing equipment and food and utensils for their meals. Off they went to the top of the mountains for their camping trips. They took a German shepherd dog named Smarty with them. Gene Douglas was one of these young boys and the three Asher brothers. Gene said that Charles would borrow a mans mule to help carry all the equipment. Gene said this was much easier, since they were now carrying food and water for the animals.

The best signal was found on the Kitts Mountain, and the work began. Charles said that Price Brumback was the first customer connected to the cable. When the signal was found, Gene Douglas said Charles took the young scouts to the mountaintop before the cable was installed and let them watch “The World Series.”

Joe Gutherie was the first President and G.B.Purcell was the first Secretary-Treasurer. The first office was from Mr. Purcell’s furniture store which was “ Fullers Furniture.” Former Presidents included Barney Smith, Raymond Cole, Jim Morgan and the present president is Jack Hale. V.B.Gray was office manager for several years.

The first vehicle for the work was an old International wood paneled station wagon.

About 1962 a group of Cable operators met in Lexington, Kentucky to form what is now the Kentucky Cable Association. The charter members were: Charles Hale, Fred Dupree, Dwight Brown, John Garrett, Everett Akers, Jim Ferguson, Bill Bredding, Clyde House, Jim Hayes, Tom Gullet, Doug Hanks, Earl Chumley, Lonnie Gregory, Bill Betts, Bill Risden and Joe Gillespie.

In 1982 a microwave station was placed on top of Pine Mountain in order to transport broadcasting stations from Lexington and Knoxville. Harlan Community Television has prided themselves in keeping up with all the latest technology and the cable company in Harlan has the name of being one of the best cable systems.

Since 1982 numerous advances have been made to the system including installation of fiber optic cable, internet services and telephone service for its customers. They are currently in the process of adding digital packages to its line-up.

The staff now is as follows:
Jack Hale, President
Mark Lawrence, Vice-President
David L Smith, Secretary-Treasurer
Other Board Members are Glenn Greene, Jim Morgan, Mike Forrester and Homer Fortney
Office Manager-Joy Taylor
Secretaries- Ashley Hatfield and Deserea Lynch
Linemen are: Andy Stewart, Clarence Epperson, Brian Hale and Chris Hamlin.

From very humble beginnings the Cable Company has developed into a state of the art company that Harlan County can be proud of.