W2XBS Schedule, Week of August 20th, 1939

Here’s the schedule for NBC’s experimental station W2XBS in New York City for the week starting Sunday, August 20th, 1939, straight from television listings printed in The New York Times. There were several feature films, including The Marines Are Coming from 1934 and Abraham Lincoln from 1930. According to the IMDb, the movie shown on Friday, August 25th (A Man and His Wife) was a French film called Un homme et sa femme. Interestingly, it was released only five months earlier on March 27th.

Then, on Saturday, August 26th, the very first major league baseball games were broadcast when the Brooklyn Dodgers faced the Cincinnati Reds in a doubleheader at Ebbets Field. An article in The New York Times reviewed the game the following day:

It was not the first time baseball was televised by the NBC. Last May at Baker Field a game between Columbia and Princeton was caught by the cameras. However, to those who, over the television receivers, saw last May’s contest as well as those yesterday, it was apparent that considerable progress has been made in the technical requirements and apparatus for this sort of outdoor pick-up, where the action is fast. At times it was possible to catch a fleeting glimpse of the ball as it sped from the pitcher’s hand toward home plate. [6]

Read more about the May 1939 baseball game here.

Tuesday, August 22nd, 1939 [1]
12-1:00PM – Student Discussion of the European Situation; Films; Georgina Dieter, Singer; News.
8:30-9:00PM – Film, “The Marines are Coming,” with William Haines and Conrad Nagel.

Wednesday, August 23rd, 1939 [2]
12-1:00PM – Film: Army War Games, Plattsburg; George Ross, Broadway Columnist; News.

Thursday, August 24th, 1939 [3]
12-1:00PM – “Facts and Fancies,” Alice Maslin; News.
8:30-9:30PM – Film, “Abraham Lincoln,” Walter Huston.

Friday, August 25th, 1939 [4]
12-1:00PM – Madge Tucker’s Radio Children; Films; “Oddities in Hatwear,” Frances Hidden; News.
4-5:00PM – Air Corps Manoeuvres at Mitchel Field, N.Y.
8:30-9:30PM – Film, “A Man and His Wife,” with Harry Baur.

Saturday, August 26th, 1939 [5]
1:30-5:15PM – Baseball: Dodgers-Cincinnati at Ebbets Field.

Works Cited:

1 “Today on the Radio.” New York Times. 22 Aug. 1939: 27.
2 “Today on the Radio.” New York Times. 23 Aug. 1939: 43.
3 “Today on the Radio.” New York Times. 24 Aug. 1939: 40.
4 “Today on the Radio.” New York Times. 25 Aug. 1939: 36.
5 “Today on the Radio.” New York Times. 26 Aug. 1939: 11.
6 “Games Are Televised.” New York Times. 27 Aug. 1939: S4.


2 Comments

  • Barry I. Grauman says:

    Ah, now you’re interested enough in the feature films W2XBS were telecasting at the time to research their history, eh? Very commendable, ‘RGJ’. As I’ve previously mentioned, NBC acquired the rights to broadcast a “package” of recently released foreign films- mostly French, with subtitles- to fill part of W2XBS’ schedules between 1939 and ’41. Among them: “A Man And His Wife”. The major Hollywood studios, already sensing the encroachment of TV upon their lucrative theatrical film business, would not allow their recent films to be shown on “the competition”, even if television was in an “experimental stage”. So W2XBS had to be content with little-known “B-movies” (including Mascot’s “The Marines Are Coming”), obscure features from small independent studios that had already gone out of business, and plenty of commercial, “industrial” and experimental shorts, and old Van Beuren cartoons…but most people in the New York area that had sets were fascinated by ANYTHING that moved on TV, at that point in time.

  • Eric Paddon says:

    Dodger broadcaster Red Barber recalled in his late 60s memoirs the experience of doing this first telecast, where he made his descriptions with no understanding of what the camera was showing to home viewers, and how he also had to do all the commercials live from his cramped position in the broadcast booth.

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