WTMJ-TV Schedule, Week of Sunday, March 7th, 1948

Here’s the schedule for station WTMJ-TV in Milwaukee, Wisconsin for the week starting Sunday, March 7th, 1948, straight from the weekly television listings printed in The Milwaukee Journal. The station was off the air on Mondays and Tuesdays. The listings for this week are incomplete which is unfortunate because it seems WTMJ-TV planned to broadcast D. W. Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation during the evening of Friday, March 13th only to pull the film at the last minute. The television listings printed in the Thursday, March 11th edition of The Milwaukee Journal included the following notice:

“The Birth of a Nation” scheduled to be shown at 8:30 p.m. Friday, will not be shown, due to circumstances beyond the control of WTMJ-TV. [1]

According to a March 20th, 1948 article in film magazine Boxoffice, this would have been the first television broadcast of The Birth of a Nation [2]. Exactly why it was pulled is unknown. The notice indicates that WTMJ-TV — the television station — had nothing to do with the film not being shown. The Journal Company, owner of WTMJ-TV, radio station WTMJ and The Milwaukee Journal, could have exerted pressure on WTMJ-TV due to the controversial nature of The Birth of a Nation, forcing it to pull the film. Or perhaps something more benign was responsible, such as a missing reel of the film. What was aired in place of The Birth of a Nation, if anything, is unknown.

With the exception of the planned broadcast of The Birth of a Nation and an interview with actor Adolphe Menjou, the week’s programming was the standard mix of news, films and sports. Note that the schedule for Sunday, March 7th is an assumption based on previous programming, as are the daytime schedules for Wednesday, March 10th and Saturday, March 12th are also missing, as are the evening and prime time schedule for Friday, March 12th. All assumptions are italicized.

Sunday, March 7th, 1948
8:00PM – Choral Concert.
8:15PM – Newsreel.
8:30PM – The Sportsman: Bob Heiss.
8:45PM – How to Do It.
9:00PM – Sunday Theater.

Wednesday, March 10th, 1948 [3]
2:00PM – Meet Your Neighbor.
2:30PM – News.
2:40PM – Travel Film.
3:00PM – Surprise Package.
3:15PM – Movie Matinee.

7:45PM – News and Views.
7:55PM – Musical Film, Stan Kenton.
8:00PM – Film Features.
8:40PM – Paul Skinner’s Music Room.
9:00PM – Let’s Look at Television.

Thursday, March 11th, 1948 [4, 5]
2:00PM – Meet Your Neighbor.
2:25PM – Adolphe Menjou Interview.
2:30PM – News.
2:40PM – NBC Newsreel.
2:50PM – Grand Canyon.
3:15PM – Movie Matinee.
3:45PM – Cartoon Fun.
7:45PM – News and Views. 7:55PM – Musical Film, Glenn Miller.
8:00PM – Armchair Travels.
8:20PM – NBC Newsreel.
8:30PM – Wrestling, from South Side Armory.

Friday, March 12th, 1948 [6]
2:00PM – Meet Your Neighbor.
2:30PM – News.
2:40PM – Film: Krazi Inventions.
3:00PM – Surprise Package.
3:15PM – Movie Matinee: Seeing Eye.
7:45PM – News and Views.
7:55PM – Basketball.

Saturday, March 13th, 1948 [7]
2:30PM – News.
2:45PM – Your Attention, Please.
3:00PM – Teen Canteen.
3:30PM – Film Program.
4:00PM – Wild West Theater, film.

7:45PM – News and Views.
7:55PM – Musical Film.
8:00PM – Film Program.
8:15PM – Boxing from Marquette Gym.

Works Cited:

1 “WTMJ-TV Television.” Milwaukee Journal Green Sheet. 11 Mar. 1948: 2.
2 Gahagan, James. “When Television Comes, Here’s What Happens.” Box Office. 20 Mar. 1948: 18.
3 “WTMJ-TV Television.” Milwaukee Journal Green Sheet. 10 Mar. 1948: 2.
4 Ibid.
5 “WTMJ-TV Television.” Milwaukee Journal Green Sheet. 11 Mar. 1948: 2.
6 Ibid.
7 “WTMJ-TV Television.” Milwaukee Journal Green Sheet. 12 Mar. 1948: 2.

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2 Comments

  • Barry I. Grauman says:

    See? Even in 1948, there was some kind of controversy over the presentation of an “old movie”- especially if it happened to be “The Birth Of Nation”, which was first released way back in 1915. I suspect several Negro organizations, including the NAACP, exerted pressure on the station’s owner, The Journal Company, NOT to allow them to telecast the film. A “missing reel” would be a flimsy excuse, as the film’s intended airdate was announced well before its scheduled premiere. No, I believe it was an organized protest that forced the station to postpone the film until it DID appear, several years later (on WTMJ, I don’t know).

  • Birth of a Nation” was re-released around 1930 with a special score recorded on Vitaphone-type discs. This release also included a spoken introduction by D.W. Griffith.

    I wonder if this was the version they intended to show?

    Another thing I’ve wondered about is if any stations ran films in 35mm and if they ever had any problems or policies about running nitrate prints. Hollywood converted to safety film for 35mm camera material and release prints in 1947, so I’m sure many nitrate prints were still floating around at the time.

    If the print was one of the 35mm early 30s reissue prints, that would have been another reason not to run it.

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