Monday, November 2, 2009

More on Early Television

First of all, I have already heard back from Jack R. My 1938 Bernadette Peters look-alike cover was created by Earle Bergey, not Enoch Bolles. Nonetheless a great image.

I also have some additional info from Bob Reed about early TV programming guides and then a little suprise.

From Bob (once again with a little copy editing):

"Chicago was blessed as one of the select few burgs by what are now commonly referred to as ‘pioneer’ television stations. I made a cursory ‘surfing’ of internet sites and determined that there were less than a dozen such outlets that were already operating before and during the Second World War: a couple in Hollywood, the Philco station in Philadelphia, one in Washington D. C., another at the General Electric Laboratories in Schenectady, New York plus, of course, the Big Apple trio: flagship stations of the NBC, CBS and Dumont networks.

It signed on as the ‘experimental’ W9XBX on August 29, 1940 and went fully ’commercial’ as WBKB on October 13, 1943. When there is but one broadcaster in town, the choice is simple - - turning the electronic monster on or off. The station, in order to encourage viewership, compiled a comprehensive list of the names and addresses of all known set owners in the region and mailed each of them a little card every week with a detailed rundown of what was supposed to be shown.

In the spring of 1948, a second Windy City operation, WGN, came on the airwaves. Shortly thereafter, the 4 partners who started Television Forecast stepped into the scene. The group was collectively rather well heeled, as they reached into their deep pockets and took over the operation from WBKB. Suddenly, without any fanfare, the quartet started shipping copies of the new magazine to every single person on the lengthy roster. Amazing! One week you got a hunk of cardboard in your mailbox, and the iconic Volume 1 # 1 the next (illustrated in the previous blog).
This incredible bit of largesse went unchecked for several weeks, until this full page announcement finally appeared in the June 20-26, 1948 number:

“Our trial period is over and you, the television owners, advertisers, advertising agencies and television stations say that we are IN. We appreciate the confidence and approval you expressed in your letters and phone calls. At first Television Forecast concerned itself chiefly with program listings. Since that time we have received numerous requests for additional information concerning television - factual material about broadcasts and broadcasters, technical data, etc. Now and in the future, Television Forecast plans to meet your requests and to anticipate and fulfill your interests and demands. This issue is a step in that direction. Our original intention was to underwrite the expense of publishing Television Forecast entirely with advertising. However these expenses proved to be more than we anticipated, especially with our new features and services. We know the kind of a publication you want, and we feel confident that you will give it your support. Therefore, we are asking you to mail us $ 2.00 (in the attached, postage free envelope) for a one year subscription (52 issues). This is a special offer for charter subscribers only.”

For more than a month afterward, there is the same “please answer” announcement on the back cover of the mag, until the August 2-8, 1948 Forecast - - the thirteenth issue published - - when there is this final plea given:“Sorry - But This Your Last Free Issue. We’ve given you a little time, folks! But now that we’re completely readjusted to a paid subscription, the free introductory issues of Television Forecast must stop. You have until August 7, 1948 to send in your Charter subscription of $ 2.00. Starting August 8, 1948, the rate will be $ 3.00. So save yourself a dollar! Take advantage of the Charter Membership rate and mail your $ 2.00 TODAY.”
Now skip ahead mentally a couple of annums to a piece in the May 6-12, 1950 second anniversary issue of the Chicago TV Forecast entitled “Remember Way Back When? It is illustrated with postage stamp sized photos of the covers of three issues with these captions: May 9, 1948 16,000 copies; May 7, 1949 31,000 copies and May 6, 1950 145,513 copies. Compared with the starting circulation scenarios of the other major prenationals, that 16K is an enormous number - - enough so that pack rat accumulations of said '48 stuff do turn up on a fairly regular basis for the eBay crowd.

The most powerful incentive for a die hard collector there is to open up his wallet wide is that realization that you’ll never see this again - - like yours truly with that first Philadelphia Local Televiser last week. You never have to feel that way with Chi Town."

Heres that mailer that Bob referred to that was sent to all TV owners:

And now, here's the treat I promised.

This exquisitely rare TV mag from 1931 (My friend Joe and I split the only three issues I have ever seen or heard of. Of course, I took the first and he the second and third.

When I read Bob's note about TV Forecast, I recalled that inside the front cover there is a roster of all functioning 1931 TV Stations. I doubt this has been reproduced anywhere else so here it is:
One website states that at the maximum, there were 45 stations operating.
OK. Now off to have the best thin crust pizza in New Jersey and then game 5 of the World Series.

No comments: