Previewing Television 

17 September 2018

From Radio Guide, the national weekly of programs and personalities, for week ending 19 October 1935

THINGS you ought to know about television:

Television is not just around the corner, but is ripe and, except for two aggravating items, could blossom forth tomorrow. It will be launched in May, 1936 — if chemists are lucky.

One tantalizing difficulty is the problem of perfecting a suitable coloring of the florescence in the miracle tubes. It’s green now, and Germany’s is yellow, but to get a perfect high definition image, you really ought to have black and white, which in television circles is not a drink, but a hangover.

The other headache is the question of having enough service men in the field when one or more of the 42 controls in your new television set get out of hand.

Radio service men today don’t know from nothing about television sets, so new ones or old ones must be trained — and paid by the dealers.

If no service man were available when your set went flooey, you’d probably throw the darned thing out the window.

Your set will set you back on an average of $400. [$7,300 in 2018, allowing for inflation; approximately £5,400]

You will be able to use it, during the first year, only about four hours a night.

Don’t invite a crowd into the house for a show, either, because only about six people can sit in front of the set without embracing one another.

The best you can hope for at the start is an image on a screen (really a mirror) about 8 by 10 inches in size.

But don’t be discouraged. You can see a whole parade or baseball game in it, and you’d recognize Dizzy Dean — if you knew him. As a matter of fact you could even see the smoke from his cigarette — if he were smoking.

The first television shows will come from the Empire State Building in New York and from a Philadelphia studio linked to Camden laboratories.

Ninety per cent of the entertainment will be on movie films with sound tracks — the same as they use now in the movie temples.



THAT means the number of frames thrown on the screen per minute will be exactly that of the ordinary movie film.

Television will not compete with the present system of radio broadcasting — much. That’s because you can’t televise, for instance, AMOS ‘N’ ANDY while they’re on the air ordinarily, and send the sound over the usual channel. If you tried it, you’d see Amos say “Awah!” and bear him say it a fraction of a second later. And that ain’t art. Still, the movies still do it.

Don’t get too enthusiastic, because television can be transmitted only about 14 miles.

The waves don’t follow the earth’s curvature, but glance off and wander ’way up in the air like MARTY LEWIS.

In order to cover greater radii it will be necessary to link the television studios with specially-built high-frequency cables which cost like the dickens. ($1,600,000 for 100 miles.) [$29m, £21m]

So the same shows won’t be general. They’ll be allocated geographically. That will be easy because most of them will travel in cans, being films.

If somebody has told you that television is being held back for commercial reasons, it’s a lie. Or. if they’ve said that there’s nobody around to pay the freight, skip that, too. The main trouble seems to be divided into a lot of little ones.

Principal sponsors will be movies (for previews), railroads, steamship lines, auto factories. They’re already clamoring for spots, so they can televise you around the world and interest you in expensive travel trips.

It’s the bunk that television will ruin the movie industry. It undoubtedly will put an awful crimp in the neighborhood movie houses, but the film magnates will make more money than ever, they hope.

How? Well, the magnates will be assigned to making, on film, the greater television programs for sponsors. They’ll even make prize fights. All these will go into cans, but not ashcans. The sponsors will pay cash for them and ship them around much after the manner in which electrical transcriptions are shipped today, more’s the pity!

Your television set will come in either one piece or two pieces. After you’ve had it a while, it may number a thousand pieces. It’s up to you to buy one containing sound and sight, or two units — one for sight and the other for television sound, plus regular broadcasting.



THE two-unit will be messy. The single unit will be nice furniture, about three and a half feet high.

Two major concerns will foster the transmission — RCA and Philco. And how they hate each other!

All programs not on film will be designed by NBC for RCA. CBS will probably do the same for Philco. RKO pictures will supply sustainers for RCA. MGM is likely to supply Philco. Sponsors will pick their own move-makers for making up presentations. Special studios will be needed for television programs not on film on account of the special lighting. All the tricks of the movie camera are adaptable to the television eye. Three or more machines lacing at different angles can figure in a single broadcast and fade certain areas in and out by a trick of the control man. At the moment color television seems to be beyond possibility, but don’t let that dishearten you.



Press agents tell me that popular bandleaders already are looking around for more handsome tooters.

Mask makers are also interested in manufacturing something for the less beautiful of the present-day radio stars to work behind.

It’s the bunk that British television is okay. You wouldn’t give a nickel for it.

If you think a television dramatic production would bore you in so small a frame, you’re wrong. After watching it for five minutes, you forget all about the size of the actors.

Think of how those beauty talkers who will have to prove, when television comes, what their pet products will do. You think of it — it gives me a headache!

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