Born out of the ruins of The WB and UPN, both of which shuttered their own operations the weekend prior, The CW assumed unchallenged status as America’s fifth broadcast network. It began as a hybrid of the most popular programming on both predecessor networks at the time of their dissolution, filling its first two primetime blocs with repeats and preview specials. For the 2006–07 season, The CW’s schedule consisted mainly of holdovers from The WB, including Gilmore Girls, Supernatural, and Smallville, and ones from UPN, including America’s Next Top Model and Veronica Mars.
Still drawing fewer viewers than the Big Four, the network has developed “The CW Index” to gauge the success of its programs. By this metric, a show is deemed a hit if its average Nielsen rating exceeds the average body fat percentage of its cast. -A.D.
Also on September 18:
1927: The Columbia Phonographic Broadcasting System—later simply the Columbia Broadcasting System, or CBS—takes to the radio airwaves, beginning the life of one of America’s most venerable networks.
1957: Wagon Train starts a-rollin’. Based on the 1950 John Ford film Wagon Master, the Western followed a band of travelers from Missouri to California for five seasons on NBC and three on ABC.
1963: The first season of The Patty Duke Show begins. Airing on ABC for three seasons, the sitcom revolved around a pair of “identical cousins,” both played by Duke, who were as different as rock ‘n roll and a minuet.
1964: Creepy, kooky, mysterious, and ooky, The Addams Family debuts on ABC. The macabre spin on the family sitcom, starring John Astin as patriarch Gomez, was based on a series of cartoons by Charles Addams and ran for two seasons.
1965: Get Smart premieres. The spy spoof from creators Mel Brooks and Buck Henry pitted dimwitted CONTROL agent Maxwell Smart (Don Adams) and his unflappable partner Agent 99 (Barbara Feldon) against the evil forces of KAOS for four seasons on NBC and one on CBS.
1978: WKRP in Cincinnati goes on the air. Contemporary rock music lined every episode of the four-season sitcom, which followed the downtrodden misfits of a low-rated FM radio station like Dr. Johnny Fever (Howard Hesseman), Venus Flytrap (Tim Reid), and Les Nessman (Richard Sanders).
1987: Donald Duck’s miserly uncle, Scrooge McDuck, takes center stage with the debut of DuckTales. Part of the popular Disney Afternoon line-up, the globetrotting adventures of Uncle Scrooge, Launchpad McQuack, and Huey, Dewey, and Louie produced four seasons and one awesome NES game.
2009: Succumbing to flagging ratings, Guiding Light airs its final episode after 57 years on CBS. Including its radio forerunner, Guiding Light was on American airwaves for 72 years, making it the second-longest-running program in broadcast history.
Today’s Birthdays: Robert Blake, Baretta (79); June Foray, flying squirrel (85); James Gandolfini, capo (51); Grayson Hall, shadower (d. 1985); James Marsden, Lemon squeeze pt. I (39); Tim McInnerny, lord (56); Jada Pinkett Smith, do-gooder nurse (41); Holly Robinson Peete, Jump Streeter (48); Travis Schuldt, Dudemeister (38); Anna Deavere Smith, Bartlet advisor (62); Jason Sudeikis, Lemon squeeze pt. II (37); Aisha Tyler, ISIS agent (42); Jack Warden, cop (d. 2006); Fred Willard, Fernwoodian (73).