Thursday, 10 May 2007

Television guides

Picked up a few 1960s copies of the Toronto Telegram's TV Weekly at an auction last week and suddenly pined for those days of handy little TV guides.

TV Weekly from four decades ago and the Toronto Sun's TV Magazine were five times the Sun Television guide being offered in the Sunday Sun in 2007.

Our 1966 issues of TV Weekly, at 102 pages, were roughly the size of the popular TV Guide and provided programming for 17 TV channels: 2 - WGR Buffalo; 3 - CKVR Barrie; 4 - WBEN Buffalo; 5 - CKSO Sudbury; 6 - CBLT Toronto; 7 - WKBW Buffalo; 8 - CKNX Wingham; 8A - WROC Rochester; 9 - CFTO Toronto; 10 - CFPL London; 10A - CFCH North Bay; 10B - WHEC Rochester; 11 - CHCH Hamilton; 11A - CKWS Kingston; 12A - CHEX Peterboro; 13 - CKCO Kitchener; 13A - WOKR Rochester.

Designed by Andy Donato, TV Weekly issues were filled with TV-related stories by Kathy Brooks and other Tely writers; wire service stories; a TV Comment column by George Anthony; Movies on TV by Charles Dennis; A Guest Column by actress Barbara Stanwyck; a Crossword puzzle; Focus - summaries of TV programs; episode details for most listings; a page for TV specials, another for sports.

In a nutshell, informative, helpful and handy.

Most of the people who packaged the Tely's TV Weekly were among the 62 Day Oners at the new Sun in November of 1971 and worked on a new TV magazine for Sun readers when the Sunday Sun was launched in 1975.

Thanks to Kathy Brooks, Gord Stimmell, Jim McPherson and many other Sun staffers, TV Magazine was a professional, 80-plus page publication enjoyed and appreciated by tens of thousands of Sun readers.

TV Magazine in the 1980s had feature stories, several columnists, including Jim McPherson (Movie Scrapbook, plus Channel Hopping); Eli Witmer (You Asked Us), John Cosway and later, Jim Thomson (Video Clips), Rob Langley (Sports Pulse) etc., numerous ads, episode descriptions etc.

One by one the features in the Sun's TV magazine disappeared and in 2007 it has been whittled down to one cover story, Soap Suds, TV Trivia and a Crossword puzzle, plus bare bones listings.

TV Guide in Canada, ignoring the thousands of television viewers who (a) do not have computers (b) do not surf the Internet (c) still prefer a handy printed guide, killed off its print edition last year.

The Sun has all but killed off the usefulness of its TV magazine.

Newspaper readers who buy their weekend papers for a dependable and informative television guide are now getting more for their money from the competition, including Gord Stimmell's meaty StarWeek at the Star.

Call it a generational quirk, buy we have a computer, we surf the Internet, we have satellite TV, but we still want and need a dependable weekly TV guide to thumb through daily.

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