From the first televised presidential debates between Kennedy and Nixon to Neil Armstrong using his smartphone to check-in at the moon, some of society's most formative moments are products of major advances in communication technology. In its collection of nearly 100,000 hours of digitized television and radio broadcasts and more than 1,800 artifacts—including the camera that broadcast the Kennedy-Nixon debate—the Museum of Broadcast Communications immortalizes the progression of media formats and their place in history. Besides historic newsreels and pivotal artifacts, the museum's curators have equally embraced the light-hearted side of communications, with collections of puppets and props from classic children's television shows and a compendium of television commercials dating back 60 years. Those who grew up in the Chicagoland area will recognize artifacts from locally filmed WGN programs such as Bozo's Circus and Garfield Goose and Friends. Several characters from The Ray Ranyer Show spark fond memories, most notably his beloved canine puppet, Cuddly Dudley. Additionally, a compendium of television commercials dating back 60 years.
Elsewhere, a 17-foot tall neon and steel media tower makes for great King Kong reenactments, and features 36 monitors as well as vintage control room equipment. The interactivity continues in the television studio, where visitors can tape their own newscasts. While museum guests are free to explore permanent exhibits in the National Radio Hall of Fame, which houses artifacts from The Jack Benny Program and the original ventriloquist dummies from The Charlie McCarthy Show, they're also encouraged to check out new summer exhibits such as The Life & Times of Gary Coleman.