Twenty-five Years of C-SPAN2 Senate Coverage
May 31, 2011
June 2, 1986 was the first day of televised coverage of the Senate. As with the House, the cameras were controlled by the Senate, but the signal was transmitted in its entirety to the American viewing public through a new network C-SPAN2. At that time, C-SPAN2 was carried in 6.7 million homes; today, it is carried in 89 million homes. Looking back twenty-five years ago to that day, we would observe Strom Thurmond (R-SC) as president pro tempore, Robert Dole (R-KS) as majority leader, and Robert Byrd (D-WV) as minority leader. Below is the video of that first day.
Also like he did in the House, Al Gore (D-TN) made the first floor speech.
Some highlights of that first day include
Bob Dole on TV in the Senate and on his History book. Others speaking on that first day include Robert Byrd, John Glenn (D-OH) [applying eye shadow and powder on his pate], Al Gore (D-TN), and Strom Thurmond.
These fourteen senators were in the Senate in 1986 and are still serving today: Max Baucus (D-MT), Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), Thad Cochran (R-MS), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Tom Harkin (D-IA), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Daniel Inouye (D-HI), John Kerry (D-MA), Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Carl Levin (D-MI), Richard Lugar (R-IN), Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Jay Rockefeller (D-WV). There were two women senators at the time: Paula Hawkins (R-FL) and Nancy Kassebaum (R-KS).
In this picture Senator Byrd is seen throwing the switch transmitting the first signal.
The Video Library has more than 21,000 hours of Senate coverage. We estimate about there are about 5000 hours of quorum calls in twenty-five years. Even quorum calls look different after twenty-five years.
Excluding the majority and minority leaders over the last eighteen years we have indexed, the following are the top ten speakers:
Elaine Povich, who has thirty-three C-SPAN appearances including one before Senate television, sent along this memento.
Use the Peabody Award winning C-SPAN Video Library to find your own memorable senate moments.