1939 W2XBS Announcer Needs Improvement

The following is from the July 2nd, 1939 edition of The New York Times:

The announcer who appeared on New York television screens during the past week and read news bulletins in strictly radio broadcasting style revealed that a new, more informal and natural style must be developed for such telecasts. Spectators agreed that reading, with his head bobbing up and down, and occasionally looking up from the paper, did not fit the intimate medium of television.

The telecasters confess they are learning that many of the techniques employed in sightless radio are not adapted to the cameras.

It’s difficult to imagine what television was like during the summer of 1939. How did early viewers respond to the new medium of television? Glimpses like this offer some insight into how broadcasters learned from and adjusted to feedback from viewers as they grappled with problems like reading announcements in front of the camera. Interesting.


“Television Here and Abroad.” New York Times. 2 Jul. 1939: X8.

2 Replies to “1939 W2XBS Announcer Needs Improvement”

  1. The announcer was probably from NBC’s pool of radio personnel, and perhaps nobody actually told him a CAMERA was focused on him while reading his “newscasts” {“Just go ahead and wing it, Jerry”, one of the supervisors might have said to him [IF his name was indeed “Jerry”], “nobody’s really watching this right now except (David) Sarnoff, and HE’S busy”}. I suppose the level of what was seen on W2XBS at that particular moment was the same as if a high school student was practicing “TV One” in his classroom, looking down at his copy and “mumbling” before a small video camera…

  2. That NBC had been experimenting with programming for nearly 3 years by then shows how little interest there was in what might make good television – certainly outside the tight confines of the television department.

    For over a year before the World’s Fair rollout NBC had been broadcasting plays, variety and such, carefully keeping schedules and frequencies secret from the public. There was little interest in gauging audience reaction to anything but the technical quality of the picture, and none at all in budgeting for program development.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.