Here’s the schedule for NBC’s commercial station WNBT in New York City for the week starting Sunday, December 7th, 1941, straight from daily television listings printed in The New York Times. The station was off the air on Thursday.
This was a historic week for the United States and for television, too. For it was on Sunday, December 7th, 1941 that Pearl Harbor was attacked by the Japanese navy, pulling the nation into World War II. WNBT was one of at least two stations to report the attack the attack to viewers. For that reason, the television listings published in The New York Times for this week for WNBT are likely not accurate.
The station reportedly broke into its broadcast of Millionaire Playboy on Sunday afternoon with news of the attack. The hockey game between the Boston Bruins and New York Rangers was played as scheduled but WNBT probably didn’t air it. You can read more about television broadcasts on December 7th, 1941 here.
In the days following the attack, it is assumed WNBT aired further coverage relating to the attack. According to Broadcasting, on Monday, December 8th the station broadcast a film on Hawaii, Japan and the Philippines . It is unknown whether this was in addition to the scheduled boxing bout or in place of it.
Based solely on the listings available, it was a typical week for WNBT. There was another installment of Search for Beauty on Tuesday, plus another episode of Thrills and Chills.
Films scheduled to air included Something to Sing About (1937) with James Cagney Romance of the Limberlost (1938) with Jean Parker.
On Saturday, the station premiered an hour-long show aimed at young viewers, referred to as a “children’s matinee” in the television listings. Whether that was the actual title is unknown. According to Broadcasting, the program featured Marion Bishop’s marionettes and “talks of interest to children on such subjects as stamps or dogs.” It was directed by Peter Barker .
Sunday, December 7th, 1941 
3:30-4:30PM – Film: Millionaire Playboy
8:40-11:15PM – Hockey: Rangers vs. Boston, at Madison Square Garden
Monday, December 8th, 1941 
9-11:30PM – Boxing: Jamaica Arena
Tuesday, December 9th, 1941 
3:30PM – Search for Beauty–Ned Wayburn
3:45PM – Radio City Matinee, with Alfred E. Smith, Others
8:30PM – Thrills and Chills–Doug Allan and Roy Phelps
8:50PM – Civilian Defense Program
9:00PM – Spelling Bee–Paul Wing
9:30PM – Wrestling: Ridgewood Grove
Wednesday, December 10th, 1941 
3:30PM – Film: Treasure to the Forest
3:40-4:50PM – Film: Flaming Lead
8:30-10PM – Film: Something to Sing About, with James Cagney
Thursday, December 11th, 1941
No Programs Scheduled
Friday, December 12th, 1941 
3:30PM – Film: Submarine at Sea
3:40-4:40PM – Film: Romance of the Limberlost, with Jean Parker
8:30PM – Mystery Game–False Witness
8:55PM – Harvey Harding, Songs
9:05PM – Tamaris, Dancer
9:25PM – Civilian Defense Program
9:30PM – Face of the War–Sam Cuff
Saturday, December 13th, 1941 
3:30-4:30PM – Children’s Matinee
8:30PM – Zeke Manners’ Hillbillies
9-11:15PM – Basketball: Oregon vs. L.I.U.; Oklahoma A. & M. vs. C.C.N.Y.; Madison Square Garden
Note: Television listings published in newspapers were based on information provided by stations and were subject to change at the last minute. They may not be an accurate representation of what actually aired.
2 “Purely Programs.” Broadcasting. 15 Dec. 1941: 46.
3 “Television Highlights.” New York Times. 7 Dec. 1941: X41.
4 “Radio Today.” New York Times. 8 Dec. 1941: C42.
5 “Radio Today.” New York Times. 9 Dec. 1941: 63.
6 “Radio Today.” New York Times. 10 Dec. 1941: 51.
7 “Radio Today.” New York Times. 12 Dec. 1941: 51.
8 “Radio Today.” New York Times. 13 Dec. 1941: 37.