Former KING anchor remembers covering 1979 eclipse

KING 5's Lori Matsukawa reports.

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In February of 1979, a solar eclipse came close to Portland, Oregon, and it was broadcast live by KING's sister station KGW.

The anchor was Don Porter, who later worked as a news anchor at KING 5.

He said they had a live camera aboard an executive jet to capture the moment of totality because they knew it would be cloudy down below.

But even with this high tech, it was the chicken coop that stole the show!

"So they were up there pecking and sniffing and doing their chicken talk thing, and it started getting dark and they didn't fall asleep, but they quieted down and socked into their roosts sort of settling in for the night. Of course, the night wasn't very long; soon they were up doing their chicken thing again, perhaps a little confused by the short day and short night," recalled Porter.

Porter was in a studio without windows, but he did step out briefly to observe the darkness himself.

"It got darker in Portland dramatically. It was between 8 or 9 in the morning during the full effect when we were on the air. So it looked  like four o'clock on a dark winter afternoon," said Porter.

In that pre-internet era, Porter says only news people and science geeks were hyped about the eclipse because they knew it was a great story.

"Coverage was a big hit. Got good numbers, got good ratings, and people really liked the chickens!"

Now, he says, the social media "boil" will encourage more people to the experience the eclipse.

"So I think it will be a great diversion and a fun bit of news for once that your viewers are going to get to see on Monday." 

© 2017 KING-TV


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