I bought a bunch of TV program guides from March to June 1953. There are just 4 TV stations listed because that’s all that were broadcasting in western, NY. Listed are just 1 station in Buffalo, 2 in Syracuse and just one station in Rochester. That Rochester station is channel 6 as WHAM which would later move to channel 8 and change it’s call-letters to WROC (see more station history on Wikipedia. In 1953 they were a NBC affiliate.
At the front of one of the guides is this listing (below) of the Trendex TV Ratings for the week March 1-7, 1953. The list has percentages of TVs watching each program in the US. I thought I knew a lot about old TV programs but I had to look up details on some of the programs.
- I Love Lucy (CBS) – 62.9%
- Godfrey’s Talents Scouts (CBS) – 49.9% (Arthur Godfrey showcasing new talent)
- Dragnet (NBC) – 43.8 (just the facts, Mame…)
- Godfrey and Friends (CBS) – 42.9
- Texaco Star Theater (NBC) – 37.4% (Milton Berle)
- Our Miss Brooks (CBS) – 34.5%
- You Bet Your Life (NBC) – 34.0% (starring Groucho Marx)
- Strike It Rich (CBS) – 33.8% (more below)
- What’s My Line (CBS) – 32.5%
- Toast of the Town (CBS) – 31.2 (original name for Ed Sullivan Show)
Strike It Rich was a show where the contestants would get up an tell their hardship stories. Home viewers were then permitted to call the program and donate money. The saddest story as determined by the studio audience would receive a cash bonus. Doesn’t that sound like a terrible show?
Meanwhile, Rochester would get a second TV station on November 1, 1953 when channel 10 signed on.
Keeping the theme of 1953 TV; below you should see a TV ad for the 1953 Oldsmobile.