One of the more interesting aspects of television in the 1940s, at least in my mind, is that despite the growth of the medium following the end of World War II for the most part it was a very local affair. Viewers in the largest cities may have had three or even four channels to choose from but they were confined to programs produced in their respective cities unless they were lucky enough to be one of the few cities connected to another city or two through a relay or a coaxial cable.
By the late 1940s, of course, the networks were slowly establishing themselves with regional “chains” on the East Coast and in the Midwest. This article covers some of the NBC and DuMont networks, building up to the connection between cities in the East and cities in the Midwest thanks to AT&T. Here’s the summary for Early Networks and the East-Midwest Connection:
Prior to September 4th, 1951 (when President Truman opened the Japanese Peace Treaty Conference in San Francisco) television in the United States wasn’t truly a national medium. There was no way for viewers on both coasts to watch the same program at the same time. Network broadcasting was originally confined to the East Coast before expanding to the Midwest and, finally, coast-to-coast. This article focuses on the various NBC and DuMont networks of the 1940s and the East-Midwest connection that took place on January 11th, 1949.
It’s certainly not a comprehensive history of regional networks but hopefully it provides an adequate introduction to network television in the mid-to-late 1940s. As always, please leave any comments at the article itself.