March 26, 2007
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v2.1 Reference

Same Time, Same Station

Creating American Television, 1948–1961

Ever wonder how American television came to be the much-derided, advertising-heavy home to reality programming, formulaic situation comedies, hapless men, and buxom, scantily clad women? Could it have been something different, focusing instead on culture, theater, and performing arts?

In Same Time, Same Station, historian James L. Baughman takes readers behind the scenes of early broadcasting, examining corporate machinations that determined the future of television. Split into two camps—those who thought TV could meet and possibly raise the expectations of wealthier, better-educated post-war consumers and those who believed success meant mimicking the products of movie houses and radio—decision makers fought a battle of ideas that peaked in the 1950s, just as TV became a central facet of daily life for most Americans.

Baughman’s engagingly written account of the brief but contentious debate shows how the inner workings and outward actions of the major networks, advertisers, producers, writers, and entertainers ultimately made TV the primary forum for entertainment and information. The tale of television's founding years reveals a series of decisions that favored commercial success over cultural aspiration.

About the Author

James L. Baughman is professor and director of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Wisconsin–Madison and author of The Republic of Mass Culture: Journalism, Filmmaking, and Broadcasting in America since 1941 and Henry R. Luce and the Rise of the American News Media, both published by the Johns Hopkins University Press.


"Baughman's study is interesting from a policy point of view... it is also evocative as a spin through the index will show."

- History Wire

"Baughman tells a familiar story—commerce crushes cultural aspiration—but he adds fresh and fascinating details from behind the scenes at the television networks. And he avoid nostalgia for a 'golden age' of television that never was."

- Philadelphia Inquirer

"The period that Baughman covers is the 'golden age of television'—the much mourned era of dramas by Paddy Chayefsky and documentaries by Edward R. Murrow... Although Baughman is scrupulously respectful of the achievements of Weaver, Murrow, and other heroes of fifties television, he never misses a chance to offer up contrarian material."

- Nicholas Lemann - New Yorker

"Though not the first study of this period, this is surely one of the more readable and insightful — and well documented."

- Chris Sterling - Communication Booknotes Quarterly

"This book is full of interesting stories and facts. Summing Up: Essential."

- Choice

"College-level collections strong in media history will find this an attractive addition... accessible even to lay readers."

- Midwest Book Review

"The most thorough, well-researched, and broad-ranging history of television we have to date... Baughman's achievement is a major one."

- Business History Review

"Readers of Journalism History... are urged to read this book."

- Alexander Russo - Journalism History

"A thought-provoking book... Does a masterful job of engaging the academic discourse and media theory."

- Andrew J. Falk - Register of the Kentucky Historical Society

"Same Time, Same Station is a scholarly pleasure to explore and should be in every university library where media studies are taken seriously."

- Peter C. Rollins - Journal of American History


"Baughman, a gifted historian and scholar, provides the reader with deep insight into television in the 1950s. Same Time, Same Station explains clearly how the roots of yesterday's television led to what we all see today. Baughman's balanced perspective illuminates our understanding of this most powerful voice in America."

- Newton N. Minow, former Chairman, Federal Communications Commission, former Chairman, Public Broadcasting Service

"A fascinating, engrossing work that seamlessly traces how an object of curiosity became a medium that is both indispensable and inescapable. Baughman's scholarship is astonishing, his writing vivid and engaging."

- Steve Whitfield, Brandeis University
Johns Hopkins University Press
From 18

9780801879333 : same-time-same-station-baughman
460 Pages
$39.00 USD

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