[The relative popularity of arts and entertainment]

Friday, August 12, 1955

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

Seldes talks about the popularity of radio and television as related to high arts and other forms of entertainment - such as sports. He also talks about the relationship between these (the broadcasting of sporting event, for example).
He describes radio and television as essential to life as bread and meat because they are not trying to be popular, but are providing a basic need.

Seldes discusses a report made by Elmer Roper that stated that 7 out of 10 people were in favor of pay television. He also did scientific poling in Columbus, Ohio - Seldes describes Roper's methodology, which presented pay subscription television in the best possible light. Of those polled 6 out of 10 stated that they would not be interested in the additional service. However, Seldes notes that because television is a "staple" it is not acceptable that 3 of 10 are dissatisfied. He notes that only 2 of 10 people would not pay for television because they like it the way it is, the rest gave other reasons for objecting to subscription television.

Audio courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives WNYC Collection

WNYC archives id: 70372
Municipal archives id: LT6515

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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