Newberry Professor Presents Research On Three Pioneering Television Programs
November 16, 2018
Newberry College Professor of Communications Dr. Jodie Peeler presented original research on three influential television programs during a seminar at the Mid-Atlantic Nostalgia Convention in Hunt Valley, Md. this semester.
Peeler’s seminar, “Your Friends From Breakfast to Bedtime: NBC’s Today, Home and Tonight” chronicled the development in the early 1950s of three programs that changed not only television programming, but also program ownership and advertising philosophies. Peeler spoke about Today, the first successful early-morning network news program, and Home, a pioneering daytime magazine hosted by Arlene Francis. Peeler’s co-presenter Kevin Doherty spoke about the development of Tonight, and shared reminiscences of working with former Tonight host Jack Paar later in his career.
“We take Today and Tonight for granted, and it’s easy to think they’ve always been there,” Peeler said. “But when they were proposed, few people thought they would work, let alone gain a following. And few people anymore remember Home or how pioneering it was in its time. All three were great risks, but time has proven they were sound concepts. This was a great opportunity to share what I’ve learned about how these programs came to be, and how they influenced so much that came after.”
During the presentation Peeler also shared insights from her ongoing research into original Today host Dave Garroway. A versatile communicator on radio and television, Garroway was a presence on multiple NBC programs through the 1950s, and hosted Today from its January 1952 debut through July 1961. Peeler is currently writing a book about Garroway’s life, having conducted archival research in multiple states and interviewed people who knew or worked with him, and maintains the Garroway At Large website (www.garrrowayatlarge.com), an online tribute that also features an ongoing chronicle of her research.
“Too often Dave Garroway, when he is remembered, is remembered only for a few things in his life,” Peeler said. “But he was a versatile communicator whose style influenced so much that came afterward, and he was a fascinating human being whose story hasn’t really been told. I’m always glad when I can share what I’ve learned. Dave Garroway needs to be remembered.”
Peeler, who specializes in broadcast history, plans to return to the Mid-Atlantic Nostalgia Convention next year to give a presentation on how the historic July 1969 flight of Apollo 11 was broadcast from liftoff to splashdown, and on the technological accomplishments that made the live telecast possible.