July 17, 2019

TV Guide and Apollo 11

Imagine if television cameras had been present when Columbus sailed for the New World? Or when Lewis and Clark set off on their expedition? Or when Lindbergh flew across the Atlantic? That is only the beginning of what it was like when man set foot on the moon, and this time we were all present, thanks to television. In recognition of the 50th anniversary of this most monumental of events, I hand things over once again to Tom Rednour for this illustrated guide to TV Guide's coverage of Apollo 11.

by Tom Rednour

Practically every TV Guide and space memorabilia collector has the July 19, 1969 issue that featured Neil & Buzz on the moon. Excellent issue, with feature articles by Neil Hickey and Walter Cronkite. But what programs aired before the mission and what follow-up shows aired after the mission? Well, I'm here to tell you!

TV Guide helped us to watch the space race, live in living rooms across the US (see my "TV Guide and the space race" on this website). The magazine also prepared us for the historic landing on the moon by letting us know of special programming before the mission got under way. Unless noted, all items are from New York Metro editions.

July 5-11, 1969 
A week before the mission was to get underway, NET (now PBS) aired a documentary about the moon: "Harold Urey: The Man And The Moon," which was produced by KEBS, San Diego. (Chicago Metro edition: WTTW)


July 12-18
The week of the launch, TV Guide offered this programming reminder about the pre-mission press conference (which aired live on Monday, July 14). This close-up laid out the plans. And the magazine let us know about that special issue next week.


July 19-25
See Mitchell's previous post, "This week in TV Guide: July 19, 1969"


July 26-August 1
President Nixon's trip to Asia was the highlight of this issue


August 2-8
After the successful completion of the mission, The Doan Report was all aglow about the coverage.

August 9-15
After the astronauts completed their quarantine period on August 12, they held a press conference in Houston. The following day (August 13), they made their "victory lap" of the U.S. All of these events were noted in programming reminders. All networks covered these events live, with the State Dinner lasting well into the early morning hours of August 14.

August 16-22
CBS News scored the first interview with Armstrong, Collins, and Aldrin on Sunday, Aug 17.

August 23-29
Tue, Aug 26 - CBS: "The Heritage Of Apollo"

Of course, TV Guide got letters about the coverage, the event, and TV Guide itself (from 8/2, 8/9, and 8/16 issues):


In the July 19 issue, the TV Teletype had this little blurb:

Unfortunately, we'd have to wait until Tuesday, September 8, 1970 to see that special, truncated by 15 minutes for a CBS Sports College football pre-season feature. Parts of the special were recycled for the 20th anniversary special. (Northern New England edition: WABI, WHDH, WGAN)


You see—you don't have the "complete" Apollo 11 TV Guide issues without the pre- and post-mission issues. TV  


Thanks for writing! Drive safely!