Network Programs in December 1946

The early history of network television is murky, dating back to January 1940 when W2XBS (NBC’s experimental station in New York City) was linked to W2XB (General Electric’s experimental station in Schenectady, NY) via a relay station. Experiments in relaying television transmissions between the two stations began in 1939. In October 1945, a third station was added to the nascent NBC network when Philco’s commercial station WPTZ in Philaelphia, PA was linked to commercial stations WNBT (formerly W2XBS) and WRGB (formerly W2XB).

Tests of a primitive DuMont network linking the company’s flagship New York City commercial station, WABD, with experimental station W3XWT (which became WTTG when it went commercial) in Washington, DC may have started as early as August 1945. It was officially unveiled in April 1946.

Television magazine began publishing an overview of all current television advertisers in its January 1947 issue. Listed were details for 33 advertisers sponsoring programs on nine stations. By the December 1947 issue, the list included more than 150 advertisers on 19 stations. Of particular interest to me is the information about which programs were relayed from their originating station to one or more other stations.

It wasn’t specified in the January 1947 issue, but later issues of Television noted that the lists of advertisers were for the previous month, meaning the January 1947 issue included information on advertisers from December 1946.

Network Stations in December 1946

DuMont Stations
WABD (New York City)
WTTG (Washington, D.C.)

NBC Stations
WNBT (New York City)
WRGB (Schenectady, NY)
WPTZ (Philadelphia, PA)

Although DuMont and NBC were the only networks in operation at the time, ABC produced several programs using DuMont’s facilities. ABC and CBS began network operations of their own in 1948.

Here’s a look at those early network programs, ordered by advertiser:

Let’s Play the Game
Tuesdays on WABD; relayed to WTTG.
Half-hour charade program.
Sponsored by Alexander Stores
*Through ABC

Video Reports to America
WABD; relayed to WTTG
Special documentary films shot by ABC.
Sponsored by Automobile Manufacturers Association
*Through ABC

I Love to Eat
Fridays on WNBT; relayed to WRGB and WPTZ
Fifteen minute cooking program.
Sponsored by Borden Co.

Let’s Celebrate (one shot special)
Sunday on WNBT; related to WRGB and WPTZ
Experimental audience participation format.
Sponsored by Borden Co.

Tele-Varieties
Twenty minute variety show plugging Minit-Rub and Trushay alternate weeks.
Sundays on WNBT; relayed to WRGB and WPTZ
Sponsored by Bristol-Myers

Chevrolet Program
Sundays WABD; relayed to WTTG
Hour show, film and live.
Sponsored by Chevrolet
*Also scheduled for WWDT (Detroit, MI) when it opens.

Voice of Firestone
Monday on WNBT; relayed to WRGB and WPTZ
10-minute film format.
Sponsored by Firestone Tire & Rubber Co.

Cavalcade of Sports
Mondays and Fridays on WNBT; relayed to WRGB and WPTZ
Boxing bouts.
Sponsored by Gillette Safety Razor Co.

You Are an Artist
Thursdays on WNBT; relayed to WRGB
Fifteen minute art lesson format.
Sponsored by Gulf Refining Company

Detect and Collect
Thursdays on WABD; relayed to WTTG
Half hour audience participation show.
Sponsored by Hirshon-Garfield Agency
*Through ABC

World in Your Home
Fridays on WNBT; relayed to WRGB
Fifteen minute film program.
Sponsored by RCA Victor

Hour Glass
Thursdays on WNBT; relayed to WRGB and WPTZ
Hour variety show.
Sponsored by Standard Brands, Inc.

Face to Face
Sundays on WNBT; relayed to WRGB and WPTZ
Quarter hour cartoon show.
Sponsored by Standard Brands, Inc.

(Esso) Television Newsreel
Mondays WNBT; relayed to WPTZ
Ten minutes of late news films.
Sponsored by Standard Oil of New Jersey

Serving Through Science
Tuesdays on WABD; relayed to WTTG
Half hour film program.
Sponsored by U.S. Rubber Co.

The American Home
WNBT; relayed to WRGB
Sports forecast.
Sponsored by U.S. Rubber Co.

How many of these programs do you recognize? Learn more about the beginnings of TV networks in my article Early Networks and the East-Midwest Connection (which, like so many other articles, needs to be revised and expanded).

Source:
“Current Advertisers.” Television. Jan. 1947: 26.


5 Comments

  • Joseph says:

    There is an urban legend that W3XWT/WTTG supposedly broadcast a live remote from the Pentagon announcing the dropping of the Atomic Bomb on Hiroshima and that it was reportedly relayed not only to WABD, but also to WNBT, WPTZ, WRGB, and CBS’s WCBW.

    However, I doubt such a telecast ever took place.

  • David says:

    The only program that I have heard of is Voice of Firestone, which ran for many years.

    • Troy Lee Turner says:

      Voice of Firestone and Cavalcade of Sports-although I am MUCH too young to have seen them

  • Jon says:

    I was born in the same town from which WRGB-TV operated (just outside the city limits of Schenectady) and have many fond memories of watching the station through my childhood. My dad worked at GE (which employed a good number of people around Schenectady), which owned WRGB-TV until some time in the 80s.

  • Mike M. says:

    Whenever I hear someone complain about intrusive advertising in television today, I think I should send them a link to this article and say ‘unless you’re complaining about syndication editing or time compression, it used to be a lot worse.’

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