Shows that featured amateur talent existed long before America’s Got Talent. Here’s a publicity photograph from the September 9 1949 edition of the Toronto Daily Star of Arthur Godfrey, host of the Talent Scouts radio show:
Arthur Godfrey (1903-1983) first achieved national fame when, as a radio announcer working in Washington, D.C., he broadcast Franklin Roosevelt’s funeral procession, bursting into tears as he blessed Roosevelt’s successor, Harry Truman. This led to his getting his own nationwide show, Arthur Godfrey Time. His Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts show premiered on radio in 1946 and was broadcast simultaneously on radio and television starting in 1948.
In 1949, Godfrey started hosting an additional television series, Arthur Godfrey and His Friends. Additional shows followed; by the early 1950s, when Godfrey reached the peak of his fame, he could be heard or seen nine times a week. He grew more imperial as he grew more famous, firing over twenty cast and crew members, which led to a backlash and a decline in popularity; by the end of the decade, he was left with Arthur Godfrey Time (which lasted until 1972) and the occasional television special.