June 26, 1955 – NBC Radio – Monitor – 4:15-5:15 pm – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –
June 26, 1955 – A Sunday in 1955. Radio was extolling the virtues of leisure time; going places, doing things – NBC Radio had just introduced a new concept in broadcasting. A concept designed to appeal to that upwardly mobile segment of our Society; the Middle Class. We were knee-deep in labor-saving devices – promises of the 30 hour work week. An economy which saw no sign of shrinking. The birth of the Suburbs, the gradual decline of the Urban Center and the gradual introduction of the Suburban sprawl – the migration West.
Radio was also in something of a desperate situation – listeners were abandoning traditional Radio and flocking to Television, where you could now see your favorite stars, rather than hear them. Advertisers who were the life’s blood of Radio Broadcasting were now switching to Television in droves, despite pleas that radio could do things television couldn’t. Networks were rapidly becoming antiques, and the rapidly exploding Youth Culture would soon turn most radio on its head and that new form, top-40 would soon make it’s entrance within months of this June 26, 1955.
The one thing radio could do that Television couldn’t do in 1955 was be everywhere. The idea that one minute you could be in New Orleans and the next minute in Istanbul was something TV was not equipped to do, just yet – Satellite TV was more than a decade off and it was radio that could put you in the middle of the Crisis in the Middle East and then switch over to a UN Security Council session, leaving TV at a disadvantage and having to resort to film reports that had to be flown in, sometimes hours or even days after an event. So it was the concept of a mobile society, with fingertip access to the world that was the concept behind Monitor, an NBC Radio weekend service aimed directly at this flourishing and mobile Middle Class – the ones who didn’t stay home – the ones who went out of town on the weekends – the ones who listened to their car radios or took portables with them.
Monitor began bright and early Saturday morning and went until the end of Sunday night – and in between those hours a dizzying parade of places and ideas and interviews – all with the slogan “Going Places, Doing Things”.
And as a sample of what was their second weekend of broadcasting, here is a one-hour slice of Monitor as it was heard between 4:15 and 5:15 Sunday afternoon, June 26, 1955.
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