WNBF-TV: one channel, four networks

I seem to recall the ABC show Lawrence Welk on Saturday night at 6 or 6:30; it nationally aired at 9 pm that night.

When I went to college in New Paltz in 1971, most of my classmates were from New York City or Long Island. They were shocked that we in upstate Binghamton did not have the array of television stations they had.

In fact, when WNBF-TV, channel 12, signed-on December 1, 1949 it “carried programs from all four American television networks at the time -CBS, DuMont, NBC, and ABC.

DuMont collapsed in 1956. The first new UHF station arrived in Binghamton on November 1, 1957 with WINR-TV, channel 40, an NBC affiliate. So when I was a kid, Channel 12 had both CBS and ABC shows.

Here are TV listings from Wednesday, Nov. 11, 1959. Left-hand column is WNBF-TV 12, right-hand is WINR-TV 40. The listings start at 6:00 pm and every line usually represents 15 minutes.

WNBF WINR TV Listings

Bourbon Street Beat was an ABC show, airing most places on Monday, 8:30-9:30. GE Theater was a CBS show, airing in NYC Sunday a 9 pm. Tightrope was pegged by CBS for Tuesday at 9 pm. At least I’ve Got a Secret was a CBS show on at the right time.

Similar listings of the next day, Thursday, Nov. 12, 1959. (Ch. 12 on left, Ch. 40 on right).

WNBF WINR TV 1959

The Donna Reed Show, The Real McCoys, and Pat Boone were Thursday night ABC shows in 1959 at the same time slots as indicated; the Real McCoys became a CBS show near the end of its run. I wonder if The Betty Hutton Show, Johnny Ringo, and Dick Powell’s Zane Grey Theater showed up in another time slot.

While the Wikipedia said Channel 40 also carried ABC shows, these listings were consistent with the national NBC lineup. Except one: The Lawless Years was bumped for a syndicated show called Colonel Flack.

I seem to recall the ABC show Lawrence Welk on Saturday night at 6 or 6:30; it nationally aired at 9 pm that night. Did Channel 12 record to broadcast a week later? How did this work?

I remember that other ABC shows, Maverick, The Rifleman, Ozzie and Harriet, and 77 Sunset Strip were on when I was a kid. Did they preempt the CBS shows? Were they on in time slots before prime time, or on Saturday or Sunday afternoons? Sports didn’t dominate the schedule then. Or maybe even at 11:30 pm.

Here’s a video of the Thursday night lineup in the fall of 1959.

I realize this sounds pretty obsessive, and it is. Next time I’m in Binghamton, I want to look at some microfilm showing the rosters of shows on Channel 12 in September 1962, then in November 1962, when WBJA, Channel 34, became the official ABC affiliate. Not incidentally, all of the call letters have changed, some more than once.

I’d be just as curious about the same phenomenon in Albany/Schenectady if I had grown up there. In fact, one of the very first blog posts I wrote was about the Plattsburgh, NY/Burlington, VT television market in 2005.

I used for the season’s daily charts The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows by Tim Brooks and Earle Marsh (2007).

Thanks to folks on a couple Facebook lists, especially Keith Nelson, who provided the graphics. I also greatly appreciated the kind words people said about McKinley Green, my grandfather, who was a custodian at WNBF for many years.

Gaines Street, Binghamton, NY

We were always getting the Greenes’ mail, and vice versa.

Roger.Marcia.Trudy
Roger, Marcia and Trudy Green in the driveway of 5 Gaines St, Binghamton, NY – the fence for 1 Gaines St is to the right
I grew up at 5 Gaines Street in the city of Binghamton, New York in the 1950s and ’60s. It was only a one-block street, yet it was heavily traveled.

Let me describe the odd (south) side of the street when I grew up. At the corner of Front Street was O’Leary’s store. That’s where I would go to buy my father’s Winston cigarettes.

1 Gaines, a gray building, had a couple different families there. The guy at the latter house decided to take down an old tree. My father told the guy that the tree was going to crash into their house. The guy told my dad, essentially, MYOB. My dad was right.

5 Gaines was a small two-family dwelling with green asbestos covering. My parents and I lived upstairs for a time but we moved downstairs before my sister Leslie was born. My father’s parents, McKinley and Agatha, moved upstairs.

11 Gaines was yellow and had a huge lot that included chickens and a pretty large garden. When my sisters and I played in our back yard, our balls, Frisbees, et al inevitably went over the fence and we had to climb it to retrieve our stuff without being caught by their dogs. The Saliby (sp) family lived there. There was a boy named Mike.

13 Gaines was white with green trim and had the Greenes living there. We played with Danny, roughly the age of my younger sister. We were always getting their mail, and vice versa.

We really didn’t see the folks at 15 Gaines. There was a usually abandoned store on the corner of Oak Street.

On the north side, Ryan’s bar was at the corner of Front Street. The factory across the street went through so many owners I no longer remember any specific business. I know my sister Leslie had friends across the street.

Why was the road so busy? Canny’s trucking was on Spring Forest Avenue. The vehicles would turn right on Oak, then left onto Gaines before going left or occasionally right on Front.

I believe some rascally children would hit the trailer part of the vehicles with snowballs each winter. Occasionally, the truck driver would stop, and the kids would scatter.

For ABC Wednesday

Gallery of the Louvre: gallery of my office

“Whoever you are, you’ve got Charisma!”

gallery of the louvreAt work, I’ve got an office for the first time in 12 years. I’ve been in cubicles, and for more than two years in a part of a storage space; long story.

*The only thing on the wall in the latter location was a picture of John Lennon c 1972 which my friend Rocco of FantaCo gave me decades ago.

My wife and my daughter decided to rectify that situation. Most of the items were in the attic, not getting the love they needed.

*The largest item is a print my wife had of Gallery of the Louvre, 1831-33 by Samuel Finley Breese Morse. Yeah, the guy who invented the telegraph was also an artist.

It appeals to me, a picture of pictures in a picture. But I also appreciate that one can be an artist and an inventor too.

*My friend, the late Raoul Vezina, did a pencil drawing of me as the duck and had it framed. The large word balloon reads “SURPRISE, ROGER!” The thought balloon was of me thinking, “Is it time for Agronsky and Company already?” That referred to a news talk show I watched regularly.

The duck is reading a New York Times Magazine, which featured the actual content of the issue dated Sunday, March 7, 1982, SELF-SEARCHING IN ISRAEL by Michael Elkins. I think Raoul gave it to me the next day. The picture reminds me of Raoul, of course, who died in November 1983, but also FantaCo, and my birthday.

*A little picture of a pear in the foreground. The caption: “‘Whoever you are, you’ve got Charisma!’ exclaimed Red Ball.” My wife tells me it’s suggestive. Whatever.

In a WTEN (Channel 10, Albany) interview of me before I appeared on JEOPARDY! in 1998, I noted that passing the test doesn’t necessarily mean I’d be on the show. The interviewer said what makes the difference between appearing and not. I said, cheekily, “I don’t know, charisma?” And for about five years after that, one of my work colleagues noted that I had CHARISMA.

*There’s a tiny photo of the top of Binghamton (NY) City Hall, which my friend, and ex-girlfriend, gave me. My hometown.

*The last piece is abstract so difficult to describe. I expect from the color scheme it was from Central America. We got it as a wedding present, I believe.

Cool Congressional Districts website

Today, this is New York’s 22nd district. Eleven other districts have served this area since 1953.

NY22
“For better or worse, the way Congressional districts are drawn can determine who wins elections, which communities are represented, and what laws are passed. Explore how your own district has changed (sometimes dramatically) over time.”

That’s the introduction to What the District, the ACLU’s nifty website showing changes in Congressional maps since I was born. I opted to select Binghamton, NY, on the Southern Tier of the state as my point of reference because it was my hometown, so I’m more aware of the changes over time.

The chart above does NOT show the size of the district, although you get a sense of it as you directly type in a city, or for larger places, the ZIP Code. In the earlier years, the Binghamton district was pretty compact.

Then in the 1970s, it sprawled eastward for most redistricting periods. When I was in New Paltz, near the Hudson River, in that decade, I was surprised to discover I was now in the same district as Binghamton.

Interestingly, after the 2010 Census, the district stretched northward to include Utica instead of eastward.

The specific description of my home district: “Today, this is New York’s 22nd district. Eleven other districts have served this area since 1953. As in most states, the New York state legislature has the power to draw new congressional district boundaries.”

One of the realities in New York State is that it has lost Congressional representation from 43 in 1953 to 27 in 2013. It could go down further in 2023, not because of an absolute loss in population from decade to decade, but because other states are growing at a faster clip.

“New York state has the 9 smallest Congressional districts in the country by land area, all of them less than 30 square miles in size.” Of course all of those are in New York City, not upstate.

Sister Marcia: contribution to the genealogy talk

Someone in the audience knew Charlotte Yates from her time in Binghamton before 1954.

Even though she hasn’t been to our hometown of Binghamton, NY in over a decade, my sister Marcia has contributed mightily to the genealogy talk our cousin Lisa presented recently.

Lisa spoke at the Broome County Area History Conference on April 21 at the Bundy Museum. She came all the way from Washington, DC to introduce two families, one Black and one Jewish, which my wife, daughter and I attended.

As she wrote in the precis, our “second great grandfather, James A. Archer, a free Black man who, along with two other family members, fought in the Civil War. They survived and returned to Binghamton to raise families and start businesses.” In part because of other photos Marcia put online, Lisa was able to ascertain that the post-Civil War photo I’ve posted to this blog included not only James Archer, but the brothers of his wife, Harriet Bell Archer.

“In the late 1800’s the Archer family purchased a house on Maple Street, which became a hub of family activity for several generations to come.” That was the house my grandmother and mother grew up in.”

She also told about her great grandparents, Isaac and Sarah Berman, who were born in Latvia and Lithuania, emigrated, first to Denmark then to the US in 1913 and settled in Binghamton. Isaac “started an egg business that eventually turned into a trucking company that was the first to offer overnight service from the Triple Cities to Boston.

“Both families grew and in 1937, the two came together with the marriage of Ernest Archer Yates and Charlotte Berman, my grandparents, who faced their own challenges as an interracial couple.” Ernie was my grandma’s brother and Charlotte the third child of Isaac and Sarah.

This picture also came from Marcia’s collection, with Ernie and Charlotte together in the back row, my mother’s arm on Ernie’s shoulder. Given the presence of three of their four children, I peg the photo in 1945 or 1946. Someone in the audience knew Charlotte from her time in Binghamton before 1954, when she and the children moved to Queens, NYC after Ernie died unexpectedly.

When Lisa came to Binghamton, she had to take a detour off Front Street onto Gaines Street and pass another Archer property at 5 Gaines Street, where MY nuclear family lived in the 1950s and 1960s.

So Marcia, even though she was far away, was an important part of Lisa’s presentation. Happy birthday, baby sister.