In the heart of "Gower Gulch" (near the corner of Sunset & Gower) is Columbia Square, a CBS studio which houses that network's local affiliates: CBS2 Television (Channel 2 in Los Angeles) and KNX NewsRadio (10.70 AM), which both broadcast live from this site. And since former rival KCAL was bought by Viacom, which owns CBS, the KCAL News staff moved to Columbia Square as well, where they share the studio with the KCBS news staff.
But of the three CBS studios in the region, this one offers the least to the casual sightseer. There are no public tours, no live tapings, and this broadcasting complex is not open to the public.
It is, however, notable from an historic standpoint. Columbia Square was built back in 1938 as a CBS radio studio, on the former site of the venerable Nestor Film Company, the very first movie studio ever built in Hollywood - which dated back to 1910. Nestor was swallowed up a year later by Universal. (However, Nestor didn't shoot the first movie ever filmed in Hollywood, - that honor goes to Biograph Studios and its 1910 film titled "In Old California".) TV didn't exist in 1938, and radio was incredibly important in people's lives at the time. Columbia Square's Streamline Moderne building was considered the largest and most cutting-edge favcility in the country. It contained eight different studios, and housed very L.A.'s first radio station, KNX.
Some of the most popular national programs on radio back in the 40's and 50's (the equivalent to today's hot TV sitcoms) were broadcast live from right here at Columbia Square, including the Jack Benny Show, the George Burns & Gracie Allen Show, the Edgar Bergen Show (with Charlie McCarthy), Gene Autry's "Melody Ranch" and the Bing Crosby Show.
Long lines of eager fans wrapped around the studio back in its heyday, waiting to get in to watch live broadcasts, and to see CBS stars like Eddie Cantor, Al Jolson, Steve Allen, Stu Erwin, Jack Oakie, Jeanette MacDonald, Orson Welles, Red Skelton, Gene Autry, Jackie Gleason, Rosemary Clooney, Ed Wynn and others. James Dean was an usher here.
Later, the very first pilot episode for the classic "I Love Lucy" was filmed here.
there is little for the public to do or see today at this facility. If
you're interested in seeing some part of the CBS network, you would be
better off trying out for "The Price is Right" over at
CBS Television City (near
Farmers Market), or getting tickets to a live taping at CBS
Studio Center in the Valley.
Getting there: To reach Columbia Square from Hollywood and Vine, take Vine Street south two blocks to Sunset Boulevard. Turn left (east) on Sunset and go two blocks east. The studio will be on your left (north) side, just past the Hollywood Palladium.
[ You can see photos from the history of Columbia Square at:
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