The importance of local talk radio

A. Joseph Ross
Thu Nov 27 01:44:18 EST 2008

On 26 Nov 2008 at 2:00, I wrote:

> > Paley must have been thrilled WNAC dumped CBS for Sheen.
> I don't know that CBS had much on at that hour.  It is said that Berle
> dominated his Tuesday night time slot so thoroughly that no sponsored
> programs were put opposite him.  Supposedly Bishop Sheen was the first
> show to get any ratings against Berle.
I tried to look up what was on opposite Bishop Sheen and Milton Berle 
back then.  Part of the problem, back then, is that in only a few 
markets -- New York, Los Angeles, and I'm not sure where else -- did 
each network have its own affiliate, which cleared all of its shows 
when broadcast.  In most markets, where there were fewer stations 
than networks, stations often had multiple affiliations, and many 
shows were carried by kinescope at some other time.  I remember in 
the Albany area seeing Ed Sullivan on Friday night and Jack Benny on 
Sunday afternoon, both on WRGB, which was primarily an NBC affiliate 
(they even said it on their test pattern).

However, there is a reference called "The TV Schedule Book," by Harry 
Castleman and Walter J. Podrazik.  It gives the morning, afternoon, 
and evening schedules for the national commercial networks (taken 
mainly from their New York affiliates' schedules) for winter, summer, 
and fall for each year from fall 1944 through winter 1983.  

Total Television, another reference covering 1948 through 1980, says 
that "Life is Worth Living" began on DuMont on 12 February 1952.  In 
the TV Schedule Book, it shows up for the first time in the Winter 
1952 schedule, at 8 PM on Tuesday evenings.  CBS was running the Sam 
Levenson Show for that half hour, and ABC was running "Strength for a 
Free World," a documentary show.  Like most of the shows placed 
opposite Milton Berle, these are quickly gone.  Neither show appears 
on the summer schedule, but neither do Bishop Sheen or Milton Berle.  
Bishop Sheen and Berle return in the fall, with a sticom "Leave it to 
Larry" on CBS and local time for the whole evening on ABC.  Berle is 
now rotating with "Buick Circus Hour," a variety show shown every 
fourth week.

In winter 1953, CBS has the Ernie Kovacs Show and "CBS Film Theater 
of the Air" for the full hour.  Fall 1953 has the Gene Autry Show 
opposite Bishop Sheen on CBS, still nothing on ABC for that hour 
(though they have programs the rest of the evening).  Milton Berle's 
show is now the Buick Berle Show, with Bob Hope on once a month 
(which I remember).  Gene Autry remains in that time slot through 
summer 1954, and is replaced in the fall with the Red Skelton Revue.
In fall 1954, ABC still has nothing opposite Bishop Sheen, but has 
"Twenty Questions" at 8:30.  Berle is now rotating with Bob Hope and 
Martha Raye.  Berle was in decline by this time.

Some say that Bishop Sheen beat both Berle and Frank Sinatra in the 
ratings, but according to both of my references, Frank Sinatra's show 
on CBS, which was opposite Berle for awhile, ended before Bishop 
Sheen started.

I looked up Bishop Sheen on Wikipedia to find that he died in 1979.

A. Joseph Ross, J.D.                           617.367.0468
 92 State Street, Suite 700                   Fax 617.507.7856
Boston, MA 02109-2004           

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