The Voice of Firestone was a weekly broadcast of the best in classical music, as performed by the nation's most popular composers. It started airing on the NBC radio network in 1928.
The program was sponsored by Firestone Tire Company, and aired on Monday nights at 8:30 PM Eastern Standard Time from its inception in 1928 until 1959, on radio and, by this time, on television as well. It would continue airing on radio until 1956, and on television, intermittently, until 1963.
Firestone sponsored a related television series, The Voice of Firestone Televues, one of the very first television series consisting of true programming as opposed to coverage of news or sports, which first started transmissions on November 29, 1943, a time at which there were very few television sets capable of receiving it. The show was transmitted to the entire NBC television network, as the first network-wide program, starting in April 1944. It would run until January 1947, focusing on special interest topics shown in documentary form; The Voice of Firestone radio and television programs were known not only for their classical music, but for their vocal support of many special interest groups, such as 4-H and the United Nations.
The Voice of Firestone finally copied its radio series and moved it to television in the fall of 1949. The show was considered by many to be very prestigious, but the ratings were always small. In an era where "hit" programs were capable of garnering as many as half the viewers available in a given time slot, The Voice of Firestone only received three million viewers, a comparatively small number for what was rapidly becoming the nation's most influential mass medium. In 1954, NBC asked Firestone's permission to move the program to a different night or time period. Firestone refused, and the television series was picked up by ABC. The radio series stayed with NBC and ended in 1956.
It continued to air at 8:30 on Mondays until 1959, when ABC insisted on moving the program to a later time period. Firestone refused, and the show was canceled entirely. Although the ratings were low at the time of its cancellation, the fan outcry was very loud, with some even writing their Congressmen. ABC tried to appease the fans by putting on carbon copies of the show without the involvment of Firestone, such as Music for a Summer Night, but the results were not favorable.
In 1962, the show was brought back, airing at 10 PM on Sunday nights. The same relatively small number of viewers tuned in, and the show was canceled permanently in May 1963.
The Firestone family invovlement in the show was a very personal one. Mrs. Harvey Firestone was herself the composer of the program's opening and closing themes.