Chances are you’ve never heard of Paul Klein, at least not the Paul Klein I’m invoking, blogwise. He was the king of television audience measurement in the 1960s as an employee of NBC.
Through the romantic gauze of contemporary history, that era to baby boomers is forever associated with the music from Lerner & Loewe Broadway musical Camelot – JFK’s famous fave – which is fitting for the likes of Mr. Klein and then-Federal Communications Commissioner Newton N. Minow. In their separate but sanguine points of view, commercial television, for its part in those days, could boast little more than “brief shining moments.”
Mr. Minow coined the timeless epithet “vast wasteland,” delivered bluntly and courageously in a speech to TV executives at their annual convention. Mr. Klein theorized that the way people actually watched television was not by searching for their favorite programs. Instead, he maintained, after poring over statistical data and other empirical evidence, that channel changers stopped surfing the airwaves only when they were least bored, settling on the “Least Objectionable Program,” or L.O.P.