The Antenna King, Henry Langan, ruled the rooftops of Brooklyn from founding the store in 1967 at 6th Avenue and 65th Street on through the rooftop satellite dish era in the 1970s and 1980s. It’s little remembered now, but for decades, cable TV was unavailable anywhere but Manhattan and to get special programming like sports, bars and restaurants relied on satellite dishes.
That’s not to say, though, that I couldn’t get music videos without MTV. A short-lived music channel, U68, was available on Channel 68 on the UHF band in the mid-1980s. The picture was spotty coming in on my rabbit ears and only slightly more viewable via a rooftop antenna, and none of the megastars that had deals with MTV appeared on it, but it was better than nothing.
Cable TV finally came to Bay Ridge in 1987 and I was among the first subscribers. Pay TV was weird at first though.
Though the Langans still install rooftop antennas, their business is primarily exporting wireless cable antennas to the Middle East and Africa. Steven talked about his father’s non-antenna-related talents. “He’s the Antenna King, but he’s really an artist and kind of an inventor,” he said. Last month, a neighbor walked into the store, paged through one of the Antenna King’s sketchbooks, which was lying on a desk (the result of art classes he took at the Brooklyn Museum in the late nineteen-sixties), flipped past a detailed hand-drawn antenna ad captioned “$39.99 installed,” and pointed to a reclining nude. “That could be my wife!” he said. [The New Yorker]