NBC15 engineers share ‘moon memories’ of watching Apollo 11 mission

MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - On July 20th, 1953, WMTV first began broadcasting a TV signal in Madison.

On the same day, 16 years later Chief Engineer Tom Weeden and Staff Engineer Ted Gray can remember watching the men walk on the moon.

Then 11-year-old Weeden recalls he was on a family vacation in Mynong, Wisconsin.

“We had a little black and white TV with rabbit ears trying to pull a signal from a TV station out of Duluth,” said Weeden. “It was a really snow picture and I remember squinting trying to see Neil Armstrng come down the ladder to step on the moon.”

Gray said his family threw a big watch party for the event at our house.

“We had the only color TV so it was advantageous to have it there,” Gray said.

While he was ten years old, Gray remembers his grandfather’s reaction vividly.

“At that moment when Walter Cronkite had just landed on the moon, my grandfather cried,” Gray recalled. “He was just so moved by it.”

Fifty years later, both Weeden and Gray have spent decades working in television which has given them an appreciation for the technical aspects of the moon landing broadcast.

“What it took for them to pull off that live shot was amazing given the relatively primitive products of the day and the technology,” said Gray. “It’s just phenomenal.”

Weeden said it was a technological miracle for the time.

“Just because a whole lot of people worked really hard to provide live pictures from the moon back to earth,” he added.