Today, with more than 1,700 commercial television stations in the U.S. alone, it can be difficult to imagine a time when television was still an experiment. In 1938, though television broadcasting was in its infancy and the first commercially produced television sets had just been introduced to consumers, Thespians were already looking ahead to exciting new career opportunities in this burgeoning field.

WITH THE ADVENT of any new art form there simultaneously appear to the perplexed youth of the day new rays of hope and opportunity that specifically offer new careers for which to prepare, through which to grow and achieve perfection, and upon which to build the world of tomorrow.

Today, when radio, telephone, telegraph, motion pictures, and the theatre are so accessible to almost every individual, these fields seem impregnable and present problems of employment to the eager and aspiring. Even though man feels secure and progressive with his evening paper, ear to the radio, speedy car, and inevitable movie, this is but a primitive picture compared with the future state of man receiving home television, reading a facsimile news service, and wearing an actual telephonic apparatus in his buttonhole.

The immediate danger is imagining these phenomena illusory and accepting the difficult problems involved in competing for employment in one or more of these established, overcrowded fields. With a little insight into the future, careful planning, and arduous preparation, youths may align themselves for positions they can one day fulfill and control.

The imminence of television, though still fresh from discovery and invention, after 10 years of active research stands today an achievement with a past, a boon to youth, and a prophetic challenge to the future. It has been purposefully delayed and is no longer the vain hope of scientific engineers but a refined product slowly maturing into perfection, saleability, and commercial release.

Television is already an actuality. The United States alone has 18 licensed stations. The American television leader, the RCA-NBC organization, has carried the art to a high level of development through years of intense research and experiment. Already several series of experimental television broadcasts, comprising a wide variety of studio and film presentations, have been made from the experimental studios at Radio City. It is highly probable that before long a regular, but limited, schedule of telecasts will be maintained by the National Broadcasting Company over Station W2XBS in New York City.

An English television service established in November 1936 now gives onlookers in the London area one and a half hours a day of film and live talent entertainment from Alexandra Palace. France has just completed one of the world’s largest and most powerful transmitters, located at the famous Eiffel Tower in Paris. Germany, too, approaches a regular television service, in addition to the television-telephone service recently inaugurated between Berlin and Leipzig. Russia is finishing installation of a powerful new television transmitter of American design in Moscow. In Italy, Japan, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Holland, and Sweden television experiment is in an active state of progression.

These startling indications of activity signify the world consciousness of television, which must by its very nature and suggestion appeal to the imagination of the vital, far-sighted youth. Due to its all-encompassing relation to practically every field of human endeavor, this new medium should at once make students cognizant of the many opportunities that will be available and the absolute necessity for those desiring careers in television to prepare for the inexorable demands, which will necessitate specifically trained men and women.

This demand will be sudden for television, unlike the sporadic development of the motion picture and radio, and will emerge swiftly when fully ready. At once it will reach into the allied arts of the theatre, cinema, radio, and education in an effort to absorb some of the best young brains in the country with which to fashion and build up this new industry.

These young people whose prospective talents will be at such a premium may find their training ground early in their high school careers. The English classrooms, the art departments, the science laboratories offer the best possible preparation for advanced work in college, which will be the open door to coveted positions in television. Participation in the high school dramatic clubs, debating society, and camera and creative writing clubs provide invaluable training for this field. Outside of school activities, the local Little Theatre, the summer stock company, and the local radio station are definite outlets for excellent training and experience.

More specialized courses pursued in college, university, and graduate departments offer the finest technical knowledge in the theory and practice of dramatic art. All of these prove of inestimable aid to the aspiring actors, writers, producers, directors, designers, stage managers, technicians, makeup artists, costumers, announcers, singers, dancers, musicians, craftsmen, and electrical engineers, in addition to the almost limitless numbers of various talents tapped by such a rich field of combined arts that will demand and attain the utmost in the perfection of expression.

Through the human efforts of this vast, enthusiastic group, television will bring about the creation of a new art form which, though independent in itself, will be a synthesis of the arts of the stage, motion pictures, and the radio. Taking from the theatre its spontaneous, dramatic essence, the technique of visuality and mobility from the cinema, and the universality of reception of the radio, television fuses all these basic elements into a composite art form.

Though over-enthusiasm may lead to false prophesy, the future of television will undoubtedly be assured, for the proof lies in the undeniable evidence of its sheer present-day possibility. It is essential therefore during the early formative stages of television’s development for young people to be fully aware and cognizant of this all-encompassing subject. The timeliness of the invention, the opportunities at hand, and the challenge offered for personal development and achievement make it an absolute prerequisite to lay a firm foundation in high school and college if one hopes for success in this new and promising field.

Television is truly the consummation of all that man has discovered and produced during the centuries of his existence upon this earth and by its very indeterminable nature possesses infinite possibilities which may one day mirror our entire universe.

This story appeared in the November 1938 print version of The High School Thespian. Subscribe to our print magazine.

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