22 September 2014

[PDX] The Studios of Portland: KATU, On Your East Side

A few days ago I'd visited the surrounds of KGW-TV, Channel 8, over on SW Jefferson St. And I'd rhapsodized about the KOIN Center before that. But one of Portland's Three Sisters of Broadcasting had escaped my lens, and that would be that (former) Fisher's Blend station, KATU.

KATU Logos over the years.
KATU's studios occupy what was originally a five-sided city block bounded on the north by NE Hoyt Street, on the south by NE Sandy Blvd and a slivery piece of NE Glisan Street, on the west by NE 21st Avenue and on the east by NE 22nd. Its official address is 2153 NE Sandy Blvd, and the station has lived in this building since it was inaugurated in the early 1960s. It has also been an ABC station for all but about a year of its existence, and while the other major outlets in town have changed affiliations at least once or twice (even KPTV was an NBC station at one time), KATU has been Portland's ABC stalwart … though it is, it is said, the fourth Portland station to be an ABC affiliate.

The current look of the building dates from sometime in the 1980s, if memory serves. It removed the old logo (a big 2, shaped something like a top-heavy swan) from the building and went big for beige. The station ID gracing the SE and S sides of the building visible from Sandy Blvd date back to about that time. Earlier versions of the logo (including the classic swan-2) can be seen in the paragraph above.

The current facade of the building, oddly, is not where you find the front door. See the photo above. That corner of the building, including that white-stuccoed corner with the single grey door in it that holds the station's 2153 address in bold numbers was once the main entry. After the major remodel in the 80s, that entry moved to the other side of the building. But stay tuned for that, as they say.

The above shot is taken looking south on NE 22nd toward Sandy Blvd. The charming brick building was at one time a jazz club named E.J.'s; now it's the east wing of Silver Lining Jewelry and Loan. It's a pawn shop. That van is turning into NE Glisan St going east from Sandy and 22nd; it diverges from here to take you into the heart of Laurelhurst, Providence Hospital, and points east and east of that.

Moving to the NW corner of this block … NE 21st Avenue and Hoyt Street … is where the somewhat counter-intuitive actual-main-entry to the KATU studio is. I remember being here for that KATU blogger meetup a few years back,  still a cherished memory. And, while the logo on the other sides of the building recall a slightly earlier time, the ones over the main entry are up to date:

The current logo, the current On Your Side tagline, and the call sign of the Portland Univision outlet … KUNP. This is what they apparently call a 'duopoloy', which is a broadcasting thing.

Fittingly, the new logo and IDs are on the building's side (COMEDY GOLD! YOU'RE WELCOME, PORTLAND!)

Now I mentioned the five-sided block with a sliver of NE Glisan. Here's that side of the building today:

That long, flat side of the building with the landsaping in front of it, that landscaping used to be street. And that street was technically part of NE Glisan, though there was not enough of it to make a full-width street there. Out of shot on the left the not-so-busy part of NE Glisan Street continues nto the formerly-industrial neighborhood north of Sandy and south of I-84. Presumably this was done to make the intersection safer; Glisan and Sandy are both very busy arterials at this point, and the same thing about the diagonal of Sandy that creates those quirky little corners and interestingly-shaped blocks also make for dangerous intersections. And so that goes.

The part of the building that surrounds it like wainscoting is perhaps the part with the most visible history to it. Remember how I told you that SE corner of the building used to be the main entry? Well, check this out:

Note how the stone tile has a certain change of tone from just the other side of the CHANNEL 2 metal type there to the white pillar at the corner? That was part of the original entry way. And the addres numbers appear not just once on the building, but twice …

… on that metal flag that shows about fifty-odd years worth of wear. I find it sweet that KATU has left those old address numbers there. Makes me smile. I like anyone and anything that appreciates its own history, and KATU, being a broadcast station, and especially with its Fisher Broadcasting roots, knows how to do that

The motif here is along the west side of the building and I took it before we left to get some other pictures of the neighborhood because it's the only side of the building you'll find that on. And it's an interesting one, which suggests nature or canoes or something. It's really hard to say. But I like seeing it there.

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