Who’s Walter Annenberg? Unknowingly, you know him quite well. Each time you grab a copy of Seventeen or reach out for your TV Guide to know what’s on the tube, you are paying a tribute to Walter Annenberg.
Media magnate Annenberg controlled holdings in the television, magazine and newspaper industries.
He was also fairly active in the field of American politics, serving as US Ambassador to the Court of St. James.
Walter Annenberg – Thinking Out of the Box
When Annenberg’s father was jailed for tax evasion, he took over the family’s publishing business and managed to turn a debt-laden newspaper into a successful publishing empire.
The company, Triangle Publications, proved highly profitable and so Annenberg sought ways to expand it.
Annenberg got inspiration from a Philadelphia area TV magazine – the TV Digest. He got the idea of publishing a national TV feature magazine that he’d then tie up with local television show listings. Annenberg’s idea became a reality when he acquired TV Digest, Chicago’s TV Forecast and New York’s TV Guide.
Annenberg combined operations for all three and formed TV Guide in 1953. He immediately thought of expansion by setting up regional editions and procuring existing TV listing publications from other markets.
Both Annenberg and his aide Merrill Panitt agreed that they had to go beyond the usual fan magazine approach in order to make their publication a real mass medium. This led Annenberg to create a magazine that boosted America’s television system and at times criticized its shortcomings.
TV Guide became highly popular and widely read. It was particularly influential among people involved in the industry of television. Many distinguished authors contributed to TV Guide – John Updike, Margaret Mead, and Gore Vidal. Most of them got into it for the chance of reaching the publication’s huge audiences. Peaking in the late 1970s, Annenberg’s TV Guide had a paid circulation of over 20 million copies a week.
The Walter Annenberg Quick Bio
Full Name: Walter Hubert Annenberg
Birthdate: March 13, 1908
Birthplace: Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Company: Triangle Publications
Industry: Publishing Print Media
Key Success Traits: perseverance, diligence, and courage to try new ideas
Annenberg introduced the magazine Seventeen in 1944 – marking a new trend in targeted markets – the American youth.