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[Ratings versus popularity]

Sunday, November 13, 1955

This episode is from the WNYC archives. It may contain language which is no longer politically or socially appropriate.

Seldes discusses the nature of popularity as related to trends in books and television. The most popular show at the time, he mentions, is "The $64,000 Question." He speaks of the relationship between viewing rates and popularity, as well as between book sales and popularity. He discusses the impact of 'snob value.'


He moves on to discuss other factors that contribute to a show's rating - time and placement. He also believes that time on the air contributes to ratings.


This leads to a discussion of best-seller and circulation records with books.


Audio courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives WNYC Collection


WNYC archives id: 70382
Municipal archives id: LT6688

Hosted by:

Gilbert Seldes

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About Lively Arts, The

Legendary critic and author of The Seven Lively Arts Gilbert Seldes discusses big-thinking issues in art and life from his characteristically populist perspective.

Simultaneously a timely and visionary program, Gilbert Seldes's The Lively Arts (1953-1956) examines contemporary issues of 1950s television, radio, and theater, as well as current events and the intellectual arts. Seldes, who was the first Director for Television at CBS News and the founding Dean of the Annenberg School of Communications at the University of Pennsylvania, was also a renowned critic, author, playwright, and editor. As a major social critic and observer, Seldes viewed theater, television, and radio with a prescient eye to the future based on a well-informed understanding of the past. 

These programs feature commentary and discussion on a wide range of topics — from sex and censorship in the movies to progressive education to juvenile delinquency to political campaigning on television — many of which are still hotly debated today. Serving as a precursor to Seldes's television programs and providing an audio context for his seminal books, this show is key to understanding today's cultural commentary.

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