What’s on TV tonight? You finally found out in July 1951

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Jacksonville’s WMBR-TV Channel 4 went on the air on Oct. 16, 1949, broadcasting four hours a day from its 478-foot antenna on the city’s southside. But it would be nearly two years before Orlando newspapers took note and began running daily TV listings for the area’s closest station.

TV comes to Jacksonville in October 1949.

It didn’t take the TV signals 21 months to reach here, but it did take that span of time for enough television sets to be sold around Orlando to create demand for daily listings.

As a newspaper story explained, “The growing number of television set owners in Central Florida, particularly in Lake County, recently prompted the Sentinel-Star to start carrying daily the log of WMBR-TV in Jacksonville on Channel 4, the station most easily brought in in these parts.”

So on Tuesday, July 31, 1951, the Orlando Morning Sentinel began running TV listings for WMBR. The station was broadcasting a full day’s worth of programming by then, starting with a test pattern at 9 a.m. and a show called “Just Music” at 9:30. After “Girls Wrestlers” kicked off prime time at 7 p.m., the station aired “Baseball Scores” and “World News” from 10:45 to 11 p.m. before showing “Treasury Men in Action” and then signing off at 11:30 p.m. with the National Anthem.

Though it would be another three years before Orlando got its own local television station, Central Floridians had discovered TV via Jacksonville. And having a television in the early 1950s was an expensive luxury.

An advertisement for Associated Television touted that it was the exclusive dealer for DuMont television sets in Central Florida. “There are many beautiful models and cabinets styles to select from. Prices are from $299.50 table model, to the Royal Sovereign model which is the world’s finest and has a large 30-inch tube. This model is priced at $1,875.00, the very best money can buy.” (By the way, that $1,875 model, in 2017 dollars, would cost more than $17,600.)

Associated Television also noted in its ad that “the distinction of having the first Du Mont installation from Associated goes to Mr. and Mrs. Louis Katz on Ann Arbor Drive who are now enjoying a new model ‘Andover.'”

WMBR-TV listings, the first to appear in an Orlando newspaper, on July 31, 1951.
About Roger Simmons 549 Articles
Roger Simmons has been blogging about Orlando television since 2001. You can email him at roger@rogersimmons.com