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IN 1949... WKTV Goes On the Air

On December 1, 1949,  WKTV went on the air. It was the 93rd television station in the country to sign on. In 1949 alone, 47 TV stations signed on for the first time, including WROC-TV (then WHAM-TV) in Rochester, WBNG-TV in Binghamton and WWOR in New York City.

TV Guide June 1949Originally WKTV was affiliated with all four networks in operation; NBC, ABC, CBS and DuMont.  In a few years, DuMont was out of business and the CBS affiliacy was taken by a Syracuse station. WKTV stayed an affiliate of NBC and ABC until 1970. Today, WKTV remains one of the oldest members on the NBC family.

Central New York viewers had a choice of a relatively small schedule compared to today's 24 hour programming.  However, early programming from the four networks established basic show formats that continue until today.   These programs include some of the most famous pioneers of American television.

Although short-lived as a network, Dumont debuted many firsts.  DuMont aired the first television situation comedy, Mary Kay and Johnny, as well as the first network-televised soap opera, Faraway HillCavalcade of Stars, a variety show hosted by Jackie Gleason, was the birthplace of The Honeymooners . Bishop Fulton J. Sheen's devotional program Life Is Worth Living went up against Milton Berle in many cities.  Some viewers may remember Ted Mack's Original Amateur Hour.  Children in the 1949 probably watched Captain Video and His Video Rangers.TV Guide August 1949

NBC contributed many long-running programs with familiar names.  The puppet show, Kukla, Fran and Ollie, could still be seen in reruns in the 1960's.  The Texaco Star Theater, originally a radio program, introduced Milton Berle, "Mr. Television", to many local viewers.  Like Texaco Star Theater, popular sitcom,  Life of Riley , got its start in radio with different actors.  Meet the Press, the
longest-running television show in worldwide broadcasting history, was already in its second year in primitime on NBC.   Hopalong Cassidy became the first network Western show after NBC re-edited popular movies to air as a weekly series.  Dramatic anthology series, such as the LIVE  Philco Television Playhouse, Kraft Television Theater and Colgate Theatre,  brought acclaimed stage and movie actors to the small screen on a daily basis.

Other network schedules included TV icons that would continue to broadcast for many years to come, such as Toast of the Town, better known as The Ed Sullivan Show and Candid Camera, probably one of the first "reality shows".

Sports coverage looked nothing like today's lineups.  Wrestling, boxing and roller derby, as well as fishing and hunting, filled out the schedules as sporting events.

TV Guide September 1949Primetime programming hours spanned 7:00pm to 11:00pm.  For those Central New York viewers lucky enough to own a television in 1949,  WKTV was their main source of entertainment and information.

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