1 9 4 9 – 1 9 5 9 (USA)
30 minute episodes
1 9 6 2 – 1 9 6 3 (USA)
30 minute episodes
One of American network television’s first major cultural offerings, The Voice of Firestone was broadcast live and offered viewers weekly classical and semiclassical concerts featuring celebrated vocalists and musicians, accompanied by a 46-piece orchestra under the direction of Howard Barlow.
Sponsored throughout its history by the Firestone Tire and Rubber Company, The Voice of Firestone began as a radio offering in December 1928 and transferred to television as an NBC simulcast in September 1949.
The television version was initially criticised for its stilted visual style, pretentious nature, and garish costume choices. In time, though, the series drew praise and a consistent audience of 2 million to 3 million people per broadcast.
The prestigious, award-winning series guarded its classical/semiclassical format zealously, only occasionally adding a popular music broadcast with stars from Broadway, nightclubs, or the recording industry.
With ratings falling in 1954, NBC demanded a time change from the show’s prime Monday evening spot to Sunday at 5:30 pm. Firestone officials considered the millions of dollars their company had spent for air time and talent fees over the previous 26 years and refused to allow the show to move.
NBC exercised control of its schedule and cancelled both the radio and television versions of the show, effective 7 June 1954.
The following week, the show reappeared on ABC in its traditional day and time, where it remained until June 1957.
Despite the inclusion of more popular music in the format, poor ratings again forced the show’s cancellation in June 1959. It was replaced by the short-lived detective series Bourbon Street Beat.
All three networks offered The Voice of Firestone fringe time slots, which the Firestone Company rejected.
The show was eventually brought back to ABC on Sunday evenings at 10:00 pm in September 1962, but despite positive critical reviews and a star-studded rotation of performers, the audience remained at 2.5 million people.
The Voice of Firestone left the air for its third and final time in June 1963.