On TV – July 26, 1950

Someone asked me for a quick bit of weather research today. It was nothing earth shattering. Just a reminder of someone’s wedding day. The year was 1967.

More recent weather records are usually easy to obtain, but 1967… that’s in a box, in a cabinet, in a basement, in a government building, in North Carolina. And, they’re closed now.

Then, it struck me. I’m a subscriber to the NY Times. Every month I get 100 hits on their voluminous database, going back to the late 1800s.

It took about 30 seconds to get the weather info (unseasonably warm for March). My curiosity was piqued.

As long as I was there, what about the day I was born? I searched using the same terms, but came up blank. However, with the results that came, there was a link to the Times’ TV listings. I had to look.

So far, everyone I’ve told this story to has said, “There was TV in 1950?” Yup. Not a lot. Not much ‘high production value’ stuff. The seeds of what would explode as the Golden Age of TV were just being sown.

I’ve attached a copy of the listings. There are ten points I found very interesting. you might find more (and I hope you’ll post a comment if you do).

Here goes:

  1. There were seven channels in New York City and environs. Only two, WCBS and WPIX have the same call letters today. WABD was the DuMont Network station (Allan B. DuMont). WATV became WNTA before becoming WNET, the premiere public television station in the US. Back then it was a commercial ‘indie’, licensed to Newark, NJ.
  2. Sandy Becker hosted a late evening quiz show. He had been radio’s “Young Doctor Malone.” I remember him most as a prolific kid’s show host on Channel 5.

    I’ve seen old airchecks. He was very talented and quite an intellectual adult voice for children. You don’t see that much anymore.

  3. I met one of the hosts of this show, Carl Caruso, when I visited WABC radio on a Saturday night in 1967. A high school friend’s father was a new writer there. It was a very heady night for me.

    I forget who the mayor was… and so did Carl. On an hourly news brief, he called him Mayor LaGuardia!

    Nice guy. Great pipes.

  4. Johnny Olsen hosted a show. Who knew?

    He would later become the voice for Goodson-Toddman and made the phrase “Come on down” a part of the lexicon via The Price Is Right.

  5. From Baseball-Almanac: The Brooklyn Dodgers beat the St. Louis Cardinals 7-5 on July 26th as the Dodgers’ Jim Russell went both ways for two home runs, making him the first switch-hitter in history to accomplish the feat more than once. On the other side of the plate, St. Louis’ Stan Musial hit in his 30th straight game for the longest consecutive hitting streak of the decade.

    This was probably a one or two camera show. There was no videotape, so no replays. There were no character generators. It was a live broadcast from Ebbets Field.

  6. From the NY Times description: Sal Maglie, the Mexican League returnee who has risen from bull pen obscurity to a position of prominence on Leo Durocher’s staff, yesterday pitched and batted the Giants to their second straight one-run triumph over the Reds at the Polo Grounds.

    The NY Mets would play their first few seasons at the Polo Grounds. By then it was a deteriorating dump in Harlem.

  7. Even in 1950, Buffalo Bob was running the show on Howdy Doody. The Times referred to him more plainly as Bob Smith.

    I still remember, vividly, a song which used to be sung when Howdy Doody was seen on Saturday’s

    Which day is the best day of the week?


    Which day is the best day of the week?

    You’ll see Howdy Doody, Buffalo Bob, Clarabell and Mr. Cobb

  8. This is very unexpected. The Brooklyn Bushwicks were a semi-pro team (which folded in 1951). They were multi-racial, but primarily played teams from the Negro Leagues. The Baltimore Elite Giants was such a Negro League team.

    I never knew any Negro League games were telecast.

  9. Broadway Open House is the beginning of the line for what became the Tonight Show. WNBT (now WNBC) was the flagship station for the NBC Television Network. This show is normally associated with Jerry Lester.

    In the summer of 1950, Lester hosted three nights a week, while Morey Amsterdam hosted the other two.

    Morey Amsterdam is best known as Buddy Sorrell on the Dick Van Dyke Show.

  10. This too is very unexpected. In fact, it’s downright weird.

    Why, in July 1950, was the New York Times running program listings for Radio Moscow? It was a short wave broadcast and it’s unlikely there were many New Yorkers with the equipment or inclination to listen.