What Television Shows
An Ancient TV Guide Suggests a Program for Today's Choices
by Anthony Esolen
The next time someone asks me what I do for a living, I think I will reply, "I am an archaeologist," because I study human habits long forgotten, and try to bring them to the attention of my readers, so that together we may stretch our imaginations and see what life might have been like for people less blessed with ignorance and distraction than we are now.
To that end, my wife dug up a fossil for me and put it in my Christmas stocking. It is the May 11–17, 1957 issue of TV Guide. The listings are for seven channels in New York City (ABC, CBS, NBC, DuMont, and three independent channels) and two in western Connecticut (one ABC, the other offering a combination of shows from ABC, CBS, and DuMont). Most people in the country would not have had so many choices. These were not boutique channels, tailored for a specific audience. They had to capture a large enough share of the general audience to stay in business.
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Anthony Esolen is a professor at Magdalen College of the Liberal Arts in Warner, New Hampshire, and the author of many books, including Real Music: A Guide to the Timeless Hymns of the Church (Tan, with a CD), Out of the Ashes: Rebuilding American Culture (Regnery), and The Hundredfold: Songs for the Lord (Ignatius). He has also translated Dante’s Divine Comedy (Random House). He and his wife Debra publish a web magazine, Word and Song (anthonyesolen.substack.com), on poetry, hymnody, language, classic films, and music. He is a senior editor of Touchstone.
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