W2XBS Schedule, Week of June 9th, 1940

Here’s the schedule for NBC’s experimental station W2XBS in New York City for the week beginning Sunday, June 9th, 1940, straight from television listings printed in The New York Times. Only one sporting event (racing) and the usual assortment of films. Plus, the station broadcast the launching of the battleship North Carolina from the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Something called “Novelty Hour” ran on Tuesday, June 11th and a play titled “Jack Rabbit Flats” on June 13th. One of the films, 1932’s Hell’s House, starred Bette Davis.

Tuesday, June 11th, 1940 [1]
3:30-4:30PM – Films.
6:45-7:00PM – News, Lowell Thomas.
9:00-10:00PM – Novelty Hour.

Wednesday, June 12th, 1940 [2]
3:30-4:30PM – Films.
6:45-7:00PM – News, Lowell Thomas.
9:00-10:15PM – Film: Hell’s House, with Bette Davis and Pat O’Brien.

Thursday, June 13th, 1940 [3]
3:30-4:30PM – Launching of Battleship North Carolina, at Brooklyn Navy Yard.
6:45-7:00PM – News Bulletins.
9:00-10:00PM – Play: Jack Rabbit Flats.

Friday, June 14th, 1940 [4]
3:30-3:40PM – Let’s See America, Travelogue.
3:40-4:45PM – Film: Just My Luck.
6:45-7:00PM – News Bulletins.
9:00-10:00PM – Film: Everything is Rhythm.

Saturday, June 15th, 1940 [5]
3:30-5:00PM – Racing at Aqueduct Park, Including the Tremont.
9:00-10:00PM – Blossom Russell and Royal Islanders, Hawaiian Troupe; Paul Wing’s Spelling Bee.

Works Cited:

1 “Today on the Radio.” New York Times. 11 Jun. 1940: 38.
2 “Today on the Radio.” New York Times. 12 Jun. 1940: 34.
3 “Today on the Radio.” New York Times. 13 Jun. 1940: 41.
4 “Today on the Radio.” New York Times. 14 Jun. 1940: 39.
5 “Today on the Radio.” New York Times. 15 Jun. 1940: 22.

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4 Replies to “W2XBS Schedule, Week of June 9th, 1940”

  1. WHAT??? “Let’s See America”….on again?????

    “George, I absolutely forbid you to allow Junior to watch that…that ‘unclean’ movie again!”
    “‘UNCLEAN’? Mavis, what ARE you talking about? I’ve noticed that Channel 1’s been showing that picture several times this month…and there’s nothing wrong with it! It’s just a harmless travelogue..”
    “Harmless, my foot! Junior is NOT going to see it again, and that’s that!!”
    “What is so ‘offensive’ about it??”
    “Well….I quite sure I saw the Statue Of Liberty…scratch herself in a…most appropriate place!”
    “OH, for the love of- there you go again!! When we went to the movies last time, you SWORE you saw Humphrey Bogart kissing Edward G. Robinson…’
    “They DID!!”
    “THEY DIDN’T!! How many times must I tell you they were ONLY shaking hands with each other!!! But NO…YOU had to practically scream to the audience around us, ‘Don’t watch this filthy movie!!'”

    Let us draw the curtain on this ridiculous scene…and turn to something else. Namely, Bette Davis in one of her first starring roles [with fellow Warner Bros. “contract player”, Pat O’Brien], in producer B.F. Zeidman’s independent feature, “Hell’s House” (1932). People must have thought, “Oh, look, Bette Davis is going to be on television!”. What they might have thought after seeing this older, low-budget “expose” on juvenile prison life and Prohibition…there were only a few hundred people that had access to the seeing the film, anyway.

  2. Various sources guesstimated the 1940 TV audience in greater New York and environs at anywhere up to 5,000, using an estimate of five viewers per receiver.

    The play “Jack Rabbit Flats,” by Alladine Bell, had been staged at the Yale Drama School in 1939. The topic evidently was farm families in Utah.

  3. During this era, Lowell Thomas sometimes did his radio newscast from a studio NBC set-up in his suburban Pawling, New York home that was equipped with a microphone, an engineering console, and wire service printers.

    The fact his name wasn’t listed in the Thursday or Friday newscasts probably meant that he was doing his radio newscast from his home studio, and thus, couldn’t be simulcast on TV.

    In Jeff Kisselhoff’s book The Box, pioneer NBC television announcer Ray Stanton was quoted as saying that when Thomas was doing the news from Pawling (and thus couldn’t be simulcast), Stanton would take wire copy and anchor the TV news in Thomas’s place.

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