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Holiday Tour Times

The NCRTV Museum will be open the day after Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and New Years Eve following our regularly scheduled hours and tour days.  We will be closed on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Years Day.  We look forward to seeing you.

Happy Holidays from all of us at the NCRTV Museum.




NCRTV Museum Hours Change October 1st

As of October 1st, 2016, the hours of the National Capital Radio & Television Museum will be shifted one hour earlier than where they are now. This is in conjunction with the early sunset during the Fall and Winter months. The NCRTV Museum will be open Friday 9am – 4pm, Saturday 12pm-4pm and Sunday 12pm-4pm. For any inquiries, please contact the Museum Office at 301-390-1020.

Karen Whitehair Named Executive Director of the National Capital Radio & Television Museum

Bowie, MD: For Immediate Release

The Board of Directors of the National Capital Radio & Television Museum is pleased to announce the appointment of Karen Whitehair as Executive Director. Laurie Baty, the previous Executive Director, has accepted a position with the Drug Enforcement Agency Museum in Pentagon City, VA

Karen Whitehair brings 25 years of overall Museum experience to the Museum, with an emphasis on collections management, exhibit development and interpretation. She received her Bachelor’s Degree of Art in History from the University of Colorado in 1988 and her Master’s Degree of Art in History from Yale University in 1991. She also holds a certificate in Museum Studies from The George Washington University, received in 1994. She has been featured in several academic publications, including History News and Collections: A Journal for Museum and Archive Professionals. Ms. Whitehair comes to us from the Montpelier Mansion in Prince George’s County, a beautiful estate home in Laurel, MD. The Museum looks forward to her joining its team on August 29th.

For all queries, please contact Andrew Garner at the museum. He can be reached at or by phone at 301-390-1020.


Prince Georges County Councilman Todd Turner presented the Museum with a check for $5,000 at the annual Open House. Councilman Turner cited the good work that the Museum has been doing in the past few years. He also stated how pleased he was to be able to give a grant to allow us to continue our work on volunteer training and children’s programs. Brian Belanger and Laurie Baty accepted the check. If you’re interested in becoming a docent, please contact the office at 301-390-1020.

Photograph © Photography by Perry

Laurie Baty Appointed Executive Director, National Capital Radio & Television Museum

For immediate Release

Bowie (MD)—The Board of Directors of the National Capital Radio & Television Museum (NCRTV), is very pleased to announce that the Board has appointed Laurie A. Baty as Executive Director of the Museum. Baty is currently the Deputy Director. She brings to the Museum more than 30 years of experience in both museum administration and curatorial work having held positions at National Archives & Records Museum, the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, the Department of the Interior, and the National Law Enforcement Museum. Baty also has served as a director of the Mid-Atlantic Association of Museum and various committees on the Society of American Archivists.

“We are thrilled with the selection of Laurie Baty as our new Executive Director,” stated David Green, Chairman of the Board of Directors. “Laurie is one of those rare museum professionals who understands both administration and collections. We needed someone who would build financial stability, while at the same time develop programs at the highest level. We are delighted that founding Executive Director Brian Belanger will stay on in his volunteer role as curator/librarian.”

“I am delighted and honored to be made Executive Director. In the three years since joining the Museum, we have seen an increase in programs, visitation, membership, and donations. As Executive Director I hope to bring additional vitality, excitement, and fresh perspectives to our work,” said Baty. “I look forward to building on its early successes.”

Baty holds a Bachelor of Arts in History, Secondary Education from Gettysburg College (Gettysburg, PA) and a Masters of Arts in American Studies, Smithsonian Program in Material Culture with a concentration in Museum Studies from The George Washington University (Washington, DC.) She is a Distinguished Fellow of the Society of American Archivists. Baty will assume the Executive Director position December 1, 2014.

The National Capital Radio & Television Museum opened its doors in 1999 with an all volunteer staff. It is currently housed in the 1906 home of the Mitchellville general store manager through a partnership with the City of Bowie. The Museum is the only museum in the metro Washington, DC, area dedicated to the collection, preservation, and interpretation of the history of radio and television. Its goal is to educate the public about the development and impact of electronic media.

The NCRTV Museum is located at 2608 Mitchellville Road in Bowie.
Museum hours are Friday 10-5 and Sat. and Sun. 1-5.

David Green
Phone: 301-390-1020

Museum Volunteer Dwight Heasty

Dwight Heasty passed away on March 26. His contributions to the National Capital Radio & Television Museum are in a category by themselves. Dwight volunteered to help about the time the Museum opened its doors in 1999. He served on the board of directors and was the Museum’s volunteer coordinator from 1999 through 2006. Furthermore, he was instrumental in creating innovative interactive exhibit devices for Museum visitors that continue in use today. Dwight could make just about anything mechanical or electrical that anyone could envision. A working exact replica of a Marconi magnetic detector, an elaborate Winshurst static generator, a scanning disc television receiver, and even re-creations of 1900-era laboratory tables are just a few examples of splendid devices that help the Museum tell the story of the development of radio and television. Dwight paid special attention to making devices that children could try out and enjoy. His Jacobs ladder is still a favorite of the kids who visit.

Dwight was a skilled radio engineer. An expert in electromagnetic compatibility, he spent much of his career with RCA, and always had a love for RCA’s “Nipper” dogs. The beautiful Nipper stained glass window at the Museum is yet another example of his skill at making things, and the several donated Nippers placed throughout the Museum remind us daily of Dwight.

As you walk through the Museum and read the artifact labels, you cannot help but notice that many of the finest items in the collection were donated by Dwight. A gentle, friendly, and extremely knowledgeable man, those who had the pleasure of knowing and working with Dwight are richer for that experience. A docent who joined the Museum recently said, “I never met the man, but I feel I knew him because of the displays I see every time I am at the museum.” A bronze plaque on the wall says “With gratitude to Dwight Heasty, developer of superb exhibits, volunteer coordinator, and board member.”

Our hearts go out to his family.

Celebrating the Fab Four — 50 Years Later

This is a free Museum lecture in partnership with and given at the Bowie Branch, Prince Georges County Memorial Library System.

Saturday, February 15
2:00 pm
15210 Annapolis Rd, Bowie, MD

In February 1964 The Beatles appeared on three consecutive Ed Sullivan shows, singing such songs as I Want To Hold Your Hand, She Loves You, Twist and Shout, among others, and America went wild.

As part of the library’s commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ appearance on American television, Museum Director and Curator Brian Belanger will talk about Toast of the Town–the Ed Sullivan television program on which the famous singing group began to capture the attention of Americans.

Following Brian’s talk, students from the Woodstream Academy will reform the Fab Four and perform many of the same songs that Americans listened to when the Beatles paved the way for The Rolling Stones, The Animals, Herman’s Hermits and many more. As this “Invasion” unfolded over the remainder of the 1960s, both the United States and the world of music would never again be the same. Please be sure to attend this 50th Anniversary program and relive, for the first time all over again, the Beatles’ appearances on the Ed Sullivan Show.

Winter 2014 Screenings Announced

January through May 2014

Dr. Brian Belanger, Curator of the National Capital Radio & Television Museum, has announced the classic television screenings for January through May, 2014.
These screenings take place weekly on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at 2:00 p.m.

Admission to the Museum is free, with donations encouraged.

January Weekend Showings: Historic Films About Radio and TV

Jan. 3-5 Behind Your Radio Dial: The Story of NBC (1947)
This 24 minute documentary includes a behind the scenes tour of Radio City and NBC’s studios just after WW II.

Jan. 10-12 Independent Radio Station (WMCA)
This 18 minute film describes New York City station WMCA and provides a tour of its facilities.

Jan. 17-19 Magic in the Air
A 1941 General Motors film about the development of television, followed by a 1955 remake with the same title.

Jan. 24-26 Dedication of NBC’s Washington studios on Nebraska Ave.( May 28, 1958)
President Eisenhower speaks, along with David Brinkley, David Sarnoff, and others
Bonus feature: Newsnight local news program (unknown date) and 1962 Thanksgiving day parade.

February is Variety Show Month 

Jan. 31-Feb. 2 Bonnie Maid Versa-Tile Varieties
Starring Harold Barry, Peggy Ann Garner, Anne Francis, and June Walker, this is an example of how crudely produced early TV shows were compared to today’s fare. Telecasting began in 1949 and ended in 1951. Anne Francis appeared in floor covering commercials, accompanied by actors playing “wear” and “tear.”

Feb. 7-9 Chesterfield Supper Club (The Perry Como Show)
Perry Como, with his relaxed singing style, was one of the most popular crooners of his era. This 1949 episode is an early one—Como’s TV show was on from 1948 to 1963. His show often featured celebrity guests.

Feb. 14-16 Toast of the Town (Called the Ed Sullivan Show later)
Ed Sullivan’s deadpan delivery was a frequent target for impersonators, but the guests he had on his
program were top-notch, ranging from the Beatles to classical musicians. The program aired from 1948 to 1971, a remarkably long run for a variety show. This particular show is from April, 1953.

Feb. 21-23 Don McNeill’s TV Club
Don McNeill’s Breakfast Club had a long successful run on radio beginning in 1933, but when a prime time TV version was tried on ABC in 1950, it lasted only about a year, after which McNeill went back to radio.

March is Kid’s Adventure Stories Month

Feb. 28 – March 2 Sky King
Sky King, a show about a pilot/rancher, was on radio from 1946 to 1954. It offered classic radio premiums (e.g., a telescope ring, a glow-in-the-dark ring with a secret compartment) to its devoted listeners. Beginning in 1953, the TV version lasted only one year. Sky King, Penny, and Clipper of the Flying Crown Ranch had more than their share of exciting adventures.

March 7-9 Captain Video and His Video Rangers
By later standards (think Star Trek and Star Wars), this early children’s program about space adventures is incredibly amateurish. (Its prop budget was only $25/week!) Captain Video and his colleagues used atomic rifles and fanciful devices such as a “opticon scillometer” to mete out justice to the universe. (A 1949 episode.)

March 14-16 The Lone Ranger
Beginning as a Detroit-based local radio show in 1933, The Lone Ranger soon went nation-wide, and quickly became one of the most popular westerns ever. Given how many kids tuned in each day, Rossini’s William Tell Overture, which introduced the show, may be the best-known piece of classical music. With his sidekick, Tonto, The Lone Ranger strived to avenge wrongs without bloodshed in the old West.

March 21-23 Lassie
A smart and loyal collie, Lassie was the kind of dog devoted to his master that every kid dreamed of having. On CBS from 1954 to 1971 (later syndicated), Lassie’s adventures over so many years required the use of several different actor dogs.

March 28-30 Space Patrol
“Travel into the future with Buzz Corey, commander-in-chief of the SPACE PATROL!” The popularity of Captain Video may have inspired this program, which was aired on both radio and ABC TV in the early 1950s. Cadet Happy often responded to Corey with “Smokin’ rockets, Commander!”

April is Quiz Show/Game Show Month

April 4-6 Twenty Questions
Bill Slater was the host of this 1952 show on the DuMont Channel. Based on the parlor game “animal, vegetable, or mineral” it aired from 1949 to 1955. In addition to DuMont, at other times it had been shown on NBC and ABC. Before television it had been on the Mutual Radio Network.

April 11-13 What’s My Line
This Goodman/Todman production was one of the most popular game shows of early television. It was on CBS for 17 years beginning in 1950. Panels included big names such as Fred Allen, Steve Allen, and Arlene Francis.

April 18-20 You Bet Your Life
Groucho Marx made his mark in movies in the 1930s, but his hosting of this popular game show lasted from 1950 to 1961. Groucho would say “Say the secret word and the duck will drop down and give you $100.”

April 25-27 To Tell the Truth
Another Goodman/Todson production, it was hosted by Bud Collyer throughout its entire life on CBS (1956-67). Three contestants were introduced, each claiming to be some person with an interesting story. By asking a few questions, the four panelists had to decide which one was telling the truth. (See the September 2012 issue of Dials and Channels for more information about this program.)

May is Detective/Law Enforcement Month

May 2-4 Dragnet Nov. 6, 1952, “The Big 17”
Based on actual Los Angeles Police Department files, Dragnet began on radio in 1949 but beginning in 1952, became one of television’s most popular police shows. Jack Webb as Sergeant Friday was a no-nonsense cop famous for lines like “Just the facts, mam, just the facts.”

May 9-11 Gangbusters “Dillinger,” with Myron Healey
The radio version of Gangbusters aired from 1936 to 1957, but the TV version was on the air for less than a year in 1952. At the end of each telecast a photo of a criminal wanted by the police was shown, and a number of them were apprehended when viewers called in with leads.

May 16-18 Highway Patrol
Broderick Crawford starred in this law enforcement drama. It lasted from 1955 to 1959, and long after that, in re-runs. Episodes were filmed mostly outdoors, probably in California, although that was not stated.

May 13-25 Man Against Crime “The Day Man,”
The “Man” was detective Mike Barnett, played by Ralph Bellamy. Barnett solved crimes in the New York City area by using both his intellect and his fists.


Fall Screening Schedule Announced

October is Western Month

October 4-5
Annie Oakley: “Shadow at Sonoma”
Gail Davis starred as Annie Oakley in this syndicated show of the mid-1950s. Ms. Davis was a trick rider and rodeo performer discovered by cowboy star Gene Autry.

October 11-13
The Rifleman: “A Reasonable Man”
North Fork, New Mexico, was the setting for this western. Chuck Conners and Johnny Crawford starred in this ABC telecast, which aired from 1958 through 1963.

October 18-20
Bonanza: “Feet of Clay-The Hard Truth”
Bonanza was one of the most popular westerns ever, and was the first to be broadcast in color. Ben Cartwright (Lorne Green) and his son Little Joe ( Michael Landon) were particularly engaging characters, keeping up their Ponderosa Ranch near Virginia City, Nevada.

October 25-27
The Cisco Kid
156 syndicated episodes of this western aimed at kids, were produced between 1950 and 1956. It was one of the first filmed shows made for television during an era when most programs aired live. The Cisco Kid and his sidekick Poncho had an easy-going camaraderie.

October 25-27
The Adverntures of Jim Bowie: “The Squatter”
Set in the Louisiana Territory in the 1830s, this show aired on ABC between 1956 and 1958. It starred Scott Forbes.

November is Comedy Month

November 1-3
The George Gobel Show
George Gobel had a quiet, restrained sense of humor compared to many of his contemporaries. His quaint expressions such as “Well, I’ll be a dirty bird!” and “You don’t hardly get those no more” caught on with the public.

November 8-10
I Love Lucy: “Lucy Gets Into Pictures”
I Love Lucy is one of the most memorable comedy shows of early TV. It was on the air for a decade (1951-1961) and continued with reruns for many years afterward. It was in the top three shows for most of its existence. In an era of kinescopes, this show was filmed, making it easy to preserve the content for reruns.

November 15-17
The Jack Benny Show: “Income Tax Show with Jimmy Stewart”
Jack Benny had a successful radio show long before transitioning to television. The television shows lasted from 1950 to 1977 although during some of those years the shows were infrequent specials rather than a weekly program. Most of the cast of the radio show (e.g., Don Wilson, Mel Blanc, Frank Nelson) continued into the television era.

November 22-24
Lum and Abner, 1949
Lum and Abner had a highly successful radio show, but never made a successful transition to television. This is a pilot for CBS.

November 29-Dec. 1
Ceasar’s Hour, 1954
Sid Caesar was noted for his zany and imaginative comedy routines. Sidekicks Carl Reiner and Howard Morris contributed much to the skits. The show aired on NBC from 1954 through 1957.

December is Santa’s Big Broadcast Month

December 6-8
The Beverly Hillbillies
CBS got high ratings for this slapstick situation comedy about the Clampett family for almost a decade (1962-1971), at times garnering 60 million weekly viewers.

December 13-15
George Burns and Gracie Allen
George Burns and Gracie Allen had been popular radio performers since the 1930s before their television show was launched in 1950. The program aired on CBS from 1950 through 1958 (when Gracie chose to retire).

December 20-22
Four Star Playhouse: “The Gift”
A dramatic anthology, Four Star Playhouse featured four regular stars, David Niven, Charles Boyer, Dick Powell, and Ida Lupino, plus occasional other guest stars. CBS carried it from 1952 through 1956.

December 27-29
Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet
The real-life Nelson family played themselves on this long-running TV show (1952-1966), portrayed as a typical suburban American family of the era. In this Christmas show Ozzie Nelson plays Santa and Scrooge.