WTMJ-TV Schedule, Week of November 30th, 1947

When WTMJ-TV went on the air the evening of Wednesday, December 3rd, 1947 it was the first television station in the state of Wisconsin and made Milwaukee just the eleventh city in the United States to have a television station [1]. An editorial published in The Milwaukee Journal on December 3rd had this to say about the arrival of television:

The careful preparations that have been made by WTMJ-TV and the television set dealers in the area have been rewarded by the great demonstration of interest and strong indications of hearty public support of television broadcasts in the Milwaukee area. This sort of support deserves its reward, too, in the finest programs and equipment and service that skill can provide.

The inauguration of television by WTMJ-TV is far more than just the introduction here of a new and wonderful electrical gadget. It is an invitation to the station, to dealers, and to the public to make the most of a method of communication that offers tremendous benefits if wisely used, improved and expanded. [2]

Among those on hand for the dedication ceremony were William E. Walker (assistant to Wisconsin Governor ???? Oscar Rennebohm), Alderman Milton J. McGuire (president of the Milwaukee Common Council), Frank E. Mullen (executive vice president of NBC) and Walter J. Damm (vice-president and general manager of radio for The Journal Co., which owned by WTMJ and WTMJ-TV) [3]. In a special filmed message, NBC president Niles Trammell shared the following thoughts with Milwaukee viewers:

We have long been forced to say that “television is around the corner.” Tonight we say: “Television is here in Milwaukee.” This new medium will bring the world to your home. [4]

That filmed message and the evening’s programming as a whole is likely lost forever. Following the dedication ceremony was the first commercial program, Open House, sponsored by the Schuster’s department store (the program also went by Schuster’s Open House). It was an interview series hosted by Carla Van Eweyk, better known simply as Carla, whose radio show “Feminine Viewpoint” had switched from station WISN to WTMJ in March of 1945. Her very first program featured a look at the Milwaukee of the future.

Here’s the full schedule for WTMJ-TV’s first week on the air, straight from the weekly television listings printed in The Milwaukee Journal [5]. WTMJ-TV was on the air Wednesday through Saturday with an assortment of films, newscasts, sporting events and variety shows. In addition to the aforementioned Open House, other programs included Night Club (variety), Meet Your Neighbor (interviews), Armchair Travels (film narratives), Surprise Package (variety), Movie Matinee (film features) and Wild West Theater (film features).

Wednesday, December 3rd, 1947
8:00PM – Television Dedication.
8:30PM – Open House
8:45PM – Salute to Television.
9:00PM – Television Newsreel.
9:15PM – Sports Revue.
9:30PM – Wisconsin Styles.
9:45PM – Night Club.
10:15PM – Golf Demonstration by Professional Francis Gailett.

Thursday, December 4th, 1947 [3]
2:00PM – Meet Your Neighbor.
2:30PM – Let’s Look at the News.
3:00PM – Paul Skinner’s Music Room.
3:15PM – Baseball Film.
7:45PM – Let’s Look at the News.
8:00PM – Armchair Travels, narration.
8:30PM – Wrestling.

Friday, December 5th, 1947
2:00PM – Meet Your Neighbor.
2:30PM – Let’s Look at the News.
2:45PM – Film: Excursions in Science.
3:00PM – Surprise Package.
3:15PM – Movie Matinee.
7:45PM – Let’s Look at the News.
8:00PM – Basketball: Waukesha vs. Shorewood.

Saturday, December 6th, 1947
2:00PM – Table tennis.
2:30PM – Let’s Look at the News.
2:45PM – Film: Guardians of the Wild.
3:30PM – Film: Wild West Theater.
7:45PM – Let’s Look at the News.
8:00PM – Film program.
8:10PM – Basketball: Concordia vs. Milwaukee Teachers.

Works Cited:

1 “Regular Broadcasts Are Inaugurated By WTMJ-TV; Thousands See Start.” Milwaukee Journal. 3 Dec. 1947: Part 2, Page 1.
2 “Milwaukee Area Gets Television.” Editorial. Milwaukee Journal. 3 Dec. 1947: 18.
3 “Regular Broadcasts Are Inaugurated By WTMJ-TV; Thousands See Start.”
4 Ibid.
5 “WTMJ-TV Television.” Milwaukee Journal. 3 Dec. 1947: Part 2 Page 4.


4 Comments

  • Barry I. Grauman says:

    Governor Rennebohm’s first name was “Oscar”. He was originally Walter Samuel Goodland’s lieutenant governor from to 1945 through ’47; upon Goodland’s sudden death, he assumed the office of goverrnor, and was elected to a full term in 1948. Rennebohm died in 1968 at the age of 79.

    • RGJ says:

      I left those questions marks as a reminder for myself to check the governor’s first name. And then promptly forgot to do just that.

  • Barry I. Grauman says:

    Glad I could be of assistance, ‘RGJ’!

  • Barry I. Grauman says:

    I suspect WTMJ temporarily “signed off” at 5pm, depending on how long the movie or sporting event shown in mid-afternoon lasted…and went back on the air just before 7:45’s “LET’S LOOK AT THE NEWS”, as TV stations in 1947 didn’t schedule a “complete broadcast day”. Perhaps they also telecast a test pattern during those “off hours” for experimental purposes, and equipment/transmission checks as well…

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