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Same Time, Same Station

Creating American Television, 1948–1961

James L. Baughman

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Outstanding Academic Title for 2007, Choice Magazine

Ever wonder how American television came to be the much-derided, advertising-heavy home to reality programming, formulaic situation comedies, hapless men, and buxom, scantily clad women? Could it have been something different, focusing instead on culture, theater, and performing arts?

In Same Time, Same Station, historian James L. Baughman takes readers behind the scenes of early broadcasting, examining corporate machinations that determined the future of television. Split into two camps—those who thought TV could meet and possibly raise the…

Outstanding Academic Title for 2007, Choice Magazine

Ever wonder how American television came to be the much-derided, advertising-heavy home to reality programming, formulaic situation comedies, hapless men, and buxom, scantily clad women? Could it have been something different, focusing instead on culture, theater, and performing arts?

In Same Time, Same Station, historian James L. Baughman takes readers behind the scenes of early broadcasting, examining corporate machinations that determined the future of television. Split into two camps—those who thought TV could meet and possibly raise the expectations of wealthier, better-educated post-war consumers and those who believed success meant mimicking the products of movie houses and radio—decision makers fought a battle of ideas that peaked in the 1950s, just as TV became a central facet of daily life for most Americans.

Baughman’s engagingly written account of the brief but contentious debate shows how the inner workings and outward actions of the major networks, advertisers, producers, writers, and entertainers ultimately made TV the primary forum for entertainment and information. The tale of television's founding years reveals a series of decisions that favored commercial success over cultural aspiration.

Reviews

Reviews

Baughman's study is interesting from a policy point of view... it is also evocative as a spin through the index will show.

Baughman tells a familiar story—commerce crushes cultural aspiration—but he adds fresh and fascinating details from behind the scenes at the television networks. And he avoid nostalgia for a 'golden age' of television that never was.

The period that Baughman covers is the 'golden age of television'—the much mourned era of dramas by Paddy Chayefsky and documentaries by Edward R. Murrow... Although Baughman is scrupulously respectful of the achievements of Weaver, Murrow, and other heroes of fifties television, he never misses a chance to offer up contrarian material.

Though not the first study of this period, this is surely one of the more readable and insightful — and well documented.

This book is full of interesting stories and facts. Summing Up: Essential.

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About

Book Details

Publication Date
Status
Available
Trim Size
6
x
9
Pages
460
ISBN
9780801879333
Illustration Description
19 halftones
Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction
1. Opening Number
2. "The Mother of Television"
3. The Marionette and the Cross-Dresser
4. The Regulators
5. "Mr. Spectacular"
6. Paley's Choice
7. "We Just See That It Isn't

Acknowledgments
Introduction
1. Opening Number
2. "The Mother of Television"
3. The Marionette and the Cross-Dresser
4. The Regulators
5. "Mr. Spectacular"
6. Paley's Choice
7. "We Just See That It Isn't Lousy"
8. The Patrons
9. "Informed without Being Ponderous"
10. Shooting the Wounded
11. Signing Off
Notes
Essay on Sources
Index

Author Bio
Featured Contributor

James L. Baughman

James L. Baughman is a professor of journalism and mass communication at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. His previous books include Henry R. Luce and the Rise of the American News Media and Same Time, Same Station: Creating American Television, 1948–1961.