The Today Show: Transforming Morning Television

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9781442269927: The Today Show: Transforming Morning Television

In the early 1950s, when television networks did not broadcast regular programming before 11 a.m., radio and newspapers were the most popular and reliable ways for Americans to get their morning news. Then, Sylvester (Pat) Weaver, vice president of programming at NBC, pitched a bold new concept to the network: a two-hour early morning news show that would run Monday through Friday starting at 7 a.m. By developing Today, Weaver filled a programming void before viewers even realized there was one—and revolutionized the viewing habits of millions.

In The Today Show: Transforming Morning Television, Cathleen M. Londino provides an entertaining and informative look at the first twenty-five years of NBC’s innovative program, from 1952 through 1977. Focusing on Today’s broadcast history, the personalities instrumental to the show’s success, and the show’s contributions to the entertainment industry, this account illustrates how the evolution of Today closely paralleled the development of the broadcast industry and rise of the major networks. In addition to chronicling the show’s history, the author profiles some of the key players both behind and in front of the camera, including Dave Garroway, Barbara Walters, Tom Brokaw, and Jane Pauley.

The vision of morning news developed by Weaver more than sixty years ago endured far beyond his wildest expectation, establishing a model that would eventually be adopted not only by competing networks but also by television programmers around the globe. The Today Show: Transforming Morning Television is a fascinating account of the unprecedented success of this influential program and will appeal to anyone interested in television history.

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About the Author:

Cathleen M. Londino is professor of media and film at Kean University with more than thirty years in higher education. Combining teaching and professional activity, Londino has served as producer, director, writer, and talent for a number of video and film projects.

Review:

Londino, professor of media and film at Kean University, delivers a cerebral chronicle of the evolution of the Today Show and the impact it had on the American news industry. Told through the personal lens of Londino’s own developing preferences in news consumption, the book takes us back to the days of cold, impersonal newscasts intent on informing the public and nothing more. Enter a visionary studio executive who had a crazy idea, and the stage was set for a media coup. Fueled by the vision and innovation of one man, Sylvester 'Pat' Weaver, in 1952, the Today Show turned the typical dry, no-nonsense news format of the day into what would eventually become the morning talk-show format so many viewers now enjoy. Delving deeply into the inner workings of the production of a television show, Londino explores the challenges, victories, and defeats of a trailblazing concept that helped make legends out of fledgling news folks of the time, including Barbara Walters and Jane Pauley. (Booklist)

The Today Show is the longest-running morning news/entertainment program. It has been on the air for 65 years. A pioneer in morning news programming, Today demonstrated that people would watch live news while eating breakfast or dressing for work. The program had no serious competition for over 20 years, although other networks made attempts. ABC’s Good Morning America offered the first real challenge in 1978. Today has had many tumultuous events even to this day, but it persists. The author details the background, business plan, personalities, and difficulties the show encountered through in-depth interviews and correspondence from NBC archives. Early chapters cover the show’s history chronologically, and later chapters expand on a few of the same issues by topic. . . .Chapters include behind-the-camera issues, on-air talent, advertising and affiliate relations, and an analysis of the audience. This is a fact-filled book using NBC memos, program notes, and letters. . . .Londino’s book expertly defines the show's first 25 years. Recommended for libraries with media history collections.

Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty. (CHOICE)

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