For many years, TV Guide Magazine was the arbiter of all things pop culture, at least to the extent that it intersected with television. Its pages tracked such landmark events as the Beatles’ phenomenon, race relations, the moon landing, the Challenger and Columbia disasters, 9/11, and the intersection of TV and politics, along with countless celebrity deaths. Meanwhile, it simply told viewers what they could watch and when, before on-screen guides, apps, and the Internet.
Now, a new service combines that archive of the nation’s history with the meaningful moments in our own lives, whether it’s a birth, a wedding day, or other significant life event. MyTVLife, the brainchild of a life-long collector of TV Guide, tracks these noteworthy personal memories with what was happening on television, right down to the minute. The goal is to put these moments in the context of what the country was viewing, and talking about.
“I’ve always believed television – and consequently TV Guide – was a lens into recent American history, little time capsules in 7-inch by 5-inch packages,” said Gary Frisch, founder of MyTVLIfe. “It’s fun looking back through time this way, so I thought it would be great to share these glorious time capsules and the data they hold with everybody.”
The MyTVLife certificate includes the programs that aired on all three (and later four) major broadcast networks at the time of birth or other event. It also reveals what was on during prime time that evening, the top 10 shows of that TV season, and some of the notable series premieres that season, along with an image of that week’s issue cover. It’s a completely custom certificate with the individual’s name(s) and significant date.
Frisch’s collection dates from 1977 through the final digest-sized issue of TV Guide, published in October 2005, although MyTVLife covers just about all dates from April 1953, when the publication first launched. Aside from the last small-format issue, which featured multiple covers of modern celebrities recreating vintage TV Guide covers, his collection includes the last stapled issue from Oct. 11, 1980, and the first bound issue, featuring Sophia Loren, the following week.
Among his favorites?
“I went out of my way to obtain a Star Trek cover from 1967, and a Rod Serling Night Gallery cover from 1972 – amazingly, there were no Twilight Zone covers during its original run,” he said. “And I really love the gimmick covers, including an Elvis hologram cover, an Elvis cover with a CD attached, and a Beatles White Album tribute with an all-white cover, with the TV Guide logo simply embossed in the paper.”
MyTVLife certificates are available starting at $10 at www.mytvlife.tv.