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Callouts to stations in Boston and Detroit

by Matt Delmont

American Bandstand’s studio design also integrated this national perspective.  Across from Clark’s podium sat a second map of the U.S. featuring the call letters for each of the local television stations carrying the show.  This map, which was visible periodically during each show as the camera tracked teens dancing around the studio, served as a reminder of the program’s national reach.  More importantly, Clark frequently walked over to the board to make direct references to cities and stations in other parts of the country.  “Let’s go over to the Bandstand big board to see which stations we are going to check today,” Clark announced in a typical episode in December 1957.[i]  With the camera focused in tight close-up on the map, Clark informed viewers that Frankie Avalon’s “De De Dinah” was topping the record charts in Buffalo, New York (home of affiliate WGR); Cleveland, OH (WEWS); Akron, OH (WAKR); and Youngstown, OH (WKST).[ii]  In another show that same week, Clark highlighted stations in San Francisco (KGO); Stockton, CA (KOVR); Fresno, CA (KJEO); and Decatur, IL (WTDP), before introducing Sam Cooke’s “I Love You for Sentimental Reasons.”[iii]  Built into the structure of each show, this affiliate map of the U.S. offered TV stations, advertisers, and viewers evidence that American Bandstand was a national program.  With this national map of television stations American Bandstand encouraged viewers to imagine a nation of audience members watching along with them.[iv]  Within a broadcast medium that repeatedly sought to generate a sense of a national culture, American Bandstand

stood out for its insistent and geographically specific reminders that viewers were part of a national television audience.



[i]  “American Bandstand,” December 17, 1957 (video recording), Acc T86:0318, Museum of Radio and Television (MTR).

[ii] Ibid.

[iii] “American Bandstand,” December 18, 1957 (video recording), in author’s possession.

[iv] On the concept of “imagined communities,” see Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism (New York: Verso, 1991).  On the production strategies through which television constructs its national audience, see Victoria Johnson, Heartland TV; Torres, Black, White, and in Color; and Marita Sturken, “Television Vectors and the Making of a Media Event,” in Reality Squared, ed. Friedman, 185-202.  For related studies of imagined communities with respect to radio, see Susan Douglas, Listening In; and Loviglio, Radio’s Intimate Public


American Bandstand - Station callouts for Boston and Detroit

American Bandstand frequently made reference to local affiliates that broadcast the show.

from American Bandstand (1957)
Creator: Dick Clark
Distributor: ABC/WFIL
Posted by Matt Delmont