Donna Halper dlh@donnahalper.com
Sat Nov 21 13:27:31 EST 2009

I don't know if you nice folks have been in correspondence with 
sometimes list-member John Andrews, but he sent me his recollections 
about WTAG and early television.  I have not been able to verify the 
1945 date he gives, however, nor do I see a channel 5 assignment in 
any of the reference books from that period which I possess.  That 
doesn't mean he is wrong-- it just means more digging is required, 
and alas, I don't have a ton of free time to do it.  I was able to 
verify in early 1940s issues of Radio Annual that WTAG Radio was in 
fact a CBS affiliate, with the other Worcester radio stations being 
(WAAB) Mutual/Yankee and Blue Network (WORC).  Anyway, for those who 
did not see John's comments about WTAG-TV, here they are:

The Worcester Telegram & Gazette did indeed have a CP for Channel 5 
in 1945. And they did indeed surrender it without having built the TV 
station. As best I could determine it, there were several reasons:

1. That Channel 5 allocation to Worcester was very different than the 
one that eventually turned up for Boston. It was short-spaced to a 
grant on Long Island (hope I'm right about the location), and was 
given an ERP about 1/10 of the other northeast grants. Given the 
proposed transmitter site on Little Asnebumskit Hill in Paxton, the 
Boston coverage would have been troublesome, even with the rooftop 
antennas that became common in the early TV days. I know that WTAG 
did look seriously at a Blue Hill site for the TV operation, but the 
only real planning was done for the Paxton location.

2. WTAG-AM was indeed a CBS affiliate after 1943, as NBC had stopped 
allowing simulcast of network material on WTAG-FM. Crazy as it may 
seem now, CBS had invested considerable R&D on their "color wheel" 
color transmission system, and it was incompatible with the fledgling 
B/W standards. CBS was telling their affiliates that the VHF channels 
would forever be stuck in black & white, and that color TV would only 
be on UHF. Amazing, but CBS appears to have heavily pushed that 
concept to their radio affiliates.

3. TV Network affiliations were a problem with every TV scheme that 
the Telegram & Gazette investigated. None of the networks (Dumont 
included) would ever commit to either a primary affiliation to try to 
cover Boston, or to a duplicate affiliation at that distance.

For those reasons, the CP was turned back. Within less than 2 years 
(if memory serves), the T&G got in the middle of the 10/11/12 switch 
in Providence, trying to get 12 for Worcester. They dropped out after 
again getting no agreement with a network.


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