The magazine that would eventually become the classic “TV Guide” was developed by Lee Wagner (circulation director of MacFadden Publications in New York City). In 1948, he released “The TeleVision Guide” with New York City listings. The cover of the first issue featured Gloria Swanson who was star of the short lived “The Gloria Swanson Hour”. He would expand to the New England and the Baltimore–Washington areas. In 1953 he sold the editions to Walter Annenberg who folded the operation into his Triangle Publications.
The national “TV Guide” was issued April 3, 1953 with 1,560,000 copies sold in ten cities. Lucy’s baby, Desi Arnaz Jr., made the premiere cover. Each of the cities had their own local TV listings magazine folded TV Guide. September 4-10, 1953 saw the release of the first “Fall Preview” issue. First based in downtown Philadelphia, by the late 50’s they had to move to a more spacious facility in Radnor, Philadelphia. For the first 52 years the listings were presented in a “log” format (a grid with rows) that provided the channel, time, show name and synopsis.
There were ads and sections such as “Close-Up,” usually a half-page segment, which provided expanded reviews of select programs airing each day, “Insider” (a television news and interview section in the lead pages of the color section), “Guidelines” (a half-page daily section featuring highlights of five or six programs of interest), “Cheers and Jeers” (a critique page about various aspects of television programming), “Hits and Misses” (featuring brief reviews of select programs in the coming week, rated on a score from 0 to 10),
horoscopes and the crossword puzzle. You could find out things like, if the show was in Color, if it was a Special, New or Rerun and later, with Color becoming dominant, they changed to BW (black and white). They also slowly started adding Cable TV programs to the listings. A sad day, July 26, 2005, TV guide went from the digest format and went the a full size magazine format. In my opinion the day the magazine died. I felt that the digest size was perfect to have handy by the TV watching chair.