When Bing Crosby's NBC Strike Opened The Ratings Door for CBS and Suspense—12/1945

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Newscasting had become a full fledged wing of broadcasting during the war. In 1945 there were twenty-nine separate prime-time news programs appearing in the ratings books. But the audience was rapidly shrinking. Lowell Thomas fell from 27th to 40th in the ratings. H.V. Kaltenborn lost 30% of his audience, dropping out of the top 50 for the first time in five years. He would never return. Gabriel Heater lost over 45%—an estimated 4 million listeners—of his 9:00 nightly audience on Mutual. Only three multiple-run news programs had ratings higher than 10. Families were reuniting. There was less to fear and more to celebrate. NBC’s Thursday night stronghold in the ratings had also begun to slip by December of 1945. The Kraft Music Hall lost a quarter of its audience after Bing Crosby walked out, being replaced by Frank Morgan. The Sealtest Village Store also saw its ratings drop by 25% after Joan Davis left to start her own program. Eve Arden replaced her on the series. Even The Abbott & Costello Show wasn’t amune. The duo’s ratings had peaked at 21.3 in March of 1945, but just a year later their audience had shrunk to a 15.

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