BW - EP129—004: Radio, Roswell And The Flying Saucer Craze—The Spring Of 1950 With Red Skelton


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In the spring of 1950, network radio revenue was falling for the first time since 1933. There were now over twenty-six-hundred AM and FM stations vying for advertising dollars. The US also spent the first ten months of 1949 in a recession while TV was becoming a serious threat to both prime time Network Radio and Hollywood films. Over a hundred TV stations were on the air, and radio’s top fifty program ratings were down thirty-percent in just two years since the record high of 1947-48. Only The Lux Radio Theater and Jack Benny had ratings higher than twenty. Meanwhile, the TV networks reported a combined income of more than twenty-nine-million dollars. The world was changing too. The U.S. was on the brink of war with Korea. During the week of March 26th, Wisconsin junior senator Joseph McCarthy named five ​​U.S. State Department employees as potential Communists. The senator’s actions placed him firmly in the crosshairs of Edward R. Murrow. Two-time Republican Presidential nominee Thomas Dewey was relegated to voice of reason. It would be four years before McCarthyism came to an end while Cold War fears continued to escalate. That Spring, with both science-fiction and UFOs en vogue, multiple shows focused on flying saucers within individual episode plots. On March 26th, 1950 The Red Skelton Show presented “Flying Saucers.” One of the co-stars was famed radio character actress Lurene Tuttle. Skelton was airing over CBS Sunday nights at 8:30PM eastern time. His March rating was 15.6, but his season number was 13.5. It was 14th overall, but down seven points from two years prior. On March 29th, RCA made their first color television demonstration. Their system would eventually be accepted by the FCC and would become the standard for broadcasting.The next fall Skelton took his show into TV where it would air until 1971.

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