Music Till Dawn on WEEI

Sun Feb 24 10:59:10 EST 2008

If I'm not mistaken, CBS bought WEEI 590 outright in 1937 after
several years of LMAing the facility from Boston Edison. 590 was
absolutely Boston's best 5 kW AM signal and, even after 680 and 850
increased to 50 kW shortly after WWII, 590 was thought by many to be
fully equivalent in coverage, in the daytime anyhow, to WHDH 850 and
WLAW 680. Each signal had its strong points: 680 in New Hampshire and
Cape Cod, 590 in inland areas of the South Shore, and 850 in the
close-in the western suburbs. (Remember that 680 did not switch from
DA-1 to DA-2 operation until decades later.)

I have read, however, that before it acquired 590, CBS had tried to
buy 680 because it was known even then that a power increase to 50 kW
would be possible. I think I read that CBS and the then owners of WLAW
(the Hildreth family??) thought they had a deal at one point but the
deal fell through, at which point CBS struck the deal to buy 590.

Anyhow CBS apparently liked the Boston market and was even the first
company to propose siteing a Boston TV station in the Needham/Newton
area, where, in an application filed with the FCC as the end of the
'50s TV freeze approached, it said it would locate its proposed
WEEI-TV Channel 5. When it became apparent that the FCC did not look
with favor on its application (I think because of the large number of
stations it owned in other markets--there were MANY competing
applicants for the Boston Channel 5), CBS withdrew the application.
Channel 5 was eventually granted to the Herald Traveler, which built
WHDH-TV, but later lost the license in a legal challenge from Boston
Broadcasters. which replaced WHDH-TV with WCVB.

Dan Strassberg (
eFax 1-707-215-6367

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Scott Fybush" <>
To: <>
Cc: "(newsgroup) Boston-Radio-Interest"
<>; "Dan. Strassberg"
Sent: Saturday, February 23, 2008 7:28 PM
Subject: Re: Music Till Dawn on WEEI

> wrote:
>> I forgot that CBS also owned KMOX AM TV in St Louis. In any event
>> CBS
>> did own WBAY in Green Bay for a few years. Once CBS lost the rights
>> to
>> carry Packers games they sold it.
> The old rule was actually 7/7/7, but no more than 5 of the TVs could
> be VHF. After brief flings with UHF O&Os in the 50s (NBC had WBUF 17
> Buffalo and WKNB 30 New Britain/Hartford; CBS had WHCT 18 Hartford
> and WXIX 19, later 18, Milwaukee), each of the nets settled back to
> 5 Vs.
> The canonical lineup was as follows -
> NBC: WNBC 4 NY, KNBC 4 LA, WMAQ 5 Chi, WKYC 3 Cleveland, WRC 4 DC
> CBS: WCBS 2 NY, KNXT 2 LA, WBBM 2 Chi, KMOX 4 St. Louis, WCAU 10
> Phila
> ABC: WABC 7 NY, KABC 7 LA, WLS 7 Chi, WXYZ 7 Detroit, KGO 7 SF
> I believe only CBS had the maximum 7 AM/FM before the rule was
> changed. Those were WCBS 880/101.1 NY, KNX 1070/93.1 LA, WBBM
> 780/96.3 Chicago, WCAU 1210/98.1 Philadelphia, KCBS 740/97.3 San
> Francisco, WEEI 590/103.3 Boston and KMOX 1120/103.3 St. Louis.
> It's true that WEEI was the only 5 kW AM in a sea of 50s. I suspect
> the logic within CBS was that WEEI's 5 kW on 590 wasn't much worse
> than the directionally-impaired options up the dial at 680 and 850.
> 1030 was never available.
> And here's a bit of oft-forgotten trivia: NBC almost did a deal with
> RKO General in the early sixties to acquire WNAC AM-FM-TV. I think
> RKO would have ended up with WRC AM-FM-TV in Washington in exchange.
> Had that happened, WNAC would have become an NBC O&O. One wonders
> what would have happened to WBZ-TV - would Westinghouse have
> automatically gone with the #2 network, CBS? Or would the company,
> which fancied itself (not without cause) to be a network unto
> itself, have considered affiliating with ABC, which would probably
> have been much more tolerant of the frequent pre-emptions for local
> programming that Westinghouse was wont to do?
> s

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