Local New York City Pulse Ratings, January 1954

I hate to sound like a broken record but I don’t know the exact period these ratings are for because the article they were published in doesn’t include that important bit of information. They’re from the January 31st, 1954 edition of The New York Times and are introduced as “the latest rating report” from The Pulse, Inc. Furthermore, there’s no way of knowing whether these are local ratings just for New York City. However, I believe The Pulse was only reporting local ratings in January of 1954, so that’s what I’m going with. Evidence pointing towards these being local ratings is the inclusion of Racket Squad, which ended its CBS network run at the end of the 1952-1953 season.

Unlike many of the earlier rating reports I’ve discussed from the late 1940s and very early 1950s, there are a lot of recognizable titles here, including the number one program, I Love Lucy. Third on the list is The Buick-Berle Show, which was a new name for Texaco Star Theater.

## Program
1. I Love Lucy
2. Dragnet
3. The Buick-Berle Show (The Milton Berle Show)
4. You Bet Your Life
5. The Jackie Gleason Show
6. Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts
7. Racket Squad
8. Arthur Godfrey & His Friends
9. The Red Buttons Show
10. Your Show of Shows


Lohman, Sidney. “News and Notes Gathered from the Studios: Lists.” New York Times. 31 Jan. 1954: X13.

2 Replies to “Local New York City Pulse Ratings, January 1954”

  1. Hard to believe that local off-network repeats of “RACKET SQUAD” would be in the New York “Top Ten” Pulse survey, but that’s how popular it was when the series was initially syndicated in the fall of ’53 {more information on when it first aired in the New York area to follow}.

    As for the others:

    1) “I LOVE LUCY” [CBS, Mondays, 9pm(et)]
    The one and only, from which all other sitcoms were compared to, even unto this day!
    {that, incidentally, was the fatal blow that season to NBC’s competing film version of “THE DENNIS DAY SHOW”; I’ve seen at least two episodes, and quite frankly, he wasn’t that great}
    2) “DRAGNET” [NBC, Thursdays, 9pm]
    DUM-DA-DUM-DUM!! And you could also listen to a different case history (usually adapted for TV a bit later) over NBC RADIO on Tuesday nights; the original radio version ceased production in 1955, although two years of repeats [1952-’54 episodes] followed.
    3) “THE BUICK-BERLE SHOW” [NBC, Tuesdays, 8-9pm]
    When Texaco dropped their sponsorship of Berle after the 1952-’53 season, General Motors’ Buick division wanted “in”, believing Milton’s “revised” format, initiated by head writer Goodman Ace in the fall of ’52 (with a story thread in every telecast focusing on Berle and his supporting cast- Arnold Stang and Ruth “Max” Gilbert- concerning the trials and tribulations of his staging a weekly variety show), was popular enough to warrant their spending millions of dollars to sustain a weekly six minute “middle commercial” featuring Buick spokesman Vinton Hayworth [yes, there were no other commercial interruptions during the rest of each show!]. However, they dropped Berle after the 1954-’55 season to sponsor Jackie Gleason’s half-hour filmed “HONEYMOONERS” series on CBS.
    4) “YOU BET YOUR LIFE” [NBC, Thursdays, 8pm] The one and only GROUCHO!, in his fourth season.
    5) “THE JACKIE GLEASON SHOW” [CBS, Saturdays, 8-9pm]
    “The Great One”, as Orson Welles later dubbed him, hit his stride this season, with expanded “Honeymooners” sketches lasting as long as 45 minutes {sometimes an entire hour!}…and those became the basis of “THE LOST EPISODES” series in the ’80s.
    6) “ARTHUR GODFREY’S TALENT SCOUTS” [CBS, Mondays, 8:30pm]
    Simulcast on TV AND radio, how could the “Oprah Winfrey” of his day {in terms of personality and popularity, not in format; Arthur was primarily a variety host with a gift for informal, off-the-cuff gab} NOT be successful introducing amateur and semi-professional talent and interviewing the people bringing them onto his show?
    Local repeats- big audience.
    8) “ARTHUR GODFREY AND HIS FRIENDS” [CBS, Wednesdays, 8-9pm]
    His prime-time variety show, as informal as his daytime radio-TV show, with everything and everyone “dressed up” a bit, including some interesting “theme” programs from time to time {“Arthur Godfrey’s TV Calendar Show”, a “book musical” with original numbers reflecting each month of the year}. However, the ratings started to slip within a few months after Godfrey had fired Julius LaRosa almost three months before, in Ocotber of ’53, on the daytime show- and Julie had been a big draw on both.
    9) “THE RED BUTTONS SHOW” {CBS, Mondays, 9:30-10pm]
    He followed “I LOVE LUCY”, and that was enough to keep him in the “Top Ten”. Red fronted a comedy/variety show, and was quite good. However, his ratings eventually fell to a point where General Foods, his sponsor, dropped him, and he went to NBC for General Motors’ Pontiac division on Friday nights in the fall of 1954- and was cancelled a season later.
    10) “YOUR SHOW OF SHOWS” [NBC, Saturdays, 9-10:30pm]
    It was to Saturday evenings what “SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE” is these days; the 1953-’54 season featured sketches like “The Clock”, “Board Meeting” {Sid Caesar going nuts over Howie Morris’ pickle is a highlight} and their famous movie parody, “From Here to Obscurity” {“All right, Bugle- it’s taps for you!”}. But everyone was getting “tired”, and decided to end the show at the end of the season.

    1. I would love to see the episode of RACKET SQUAD where life imitated art…a fraud case where a couple of theatrical impresarios decided to oversubscribe their latest play to investors, create something so bad it would flop, then keep all the money. The problem is that their show winds up being a big hit.

      Now, where have I heard this before?

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