NBC's Answer To The CBS Talent Raids of 1948-49

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This is a snippet from Breaking Walls Episode 90: The Hollywood People Behind Radio’s Baby Boomer Boom (1945 - 1954) ___ In early 1949 NBC found itself in the unfamiliar position as the nation's number two network. Amos n Andy and Jack Benny, were now running back-to-back at 6:30 and 7:00pm on Sunday nights for CBS. Simultaneously ABC’s quiz show, Stop the Music, on for an hour at 8pm, had done tremendous damage to the ratings of NBC comedians Edgar Bergen and Fred Allen. Bergen took an extended break at the end of 1948, and Allen lost half his listening audience in a single month. Overnight, NBC’s decade long Sunday night ratings stronghold was over. Their first response was to launch the NBC Theater, later known as the Screen Directors Playhouse on January 9th. The first episode featured an adaptation of “Stagecoach,” starring John Wayne, Claire Trevor, and Ward Bond. It was a valiant effort, but NBC had spent the previous years allowing their dramatic programming to atrophy. William Paley of CBS correctly understood that whether people turned on radios or TVs, the programming was what attracted them. NBC then focused their attention on developing new adult-oriented dramas.

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