ABC call signs and batteries

Tue Nov 24 14:02:54 EST 2009

So the WABC calls disappeared from Nov 1, 1946 to Mar 1, 1953--six
years and four months. Either ABC also had friends at the FCC or ABC
was trading on CBS's relationships.

And to think, there was no American Broadcasting Co when the WABC
calls were first assigned (to the station that is now WCBS). Although
ABC is obviously highly memorable and could have stood for almost
anything, the origiual WABC stood for Atlantic Battery Company, the
name of the original owner of the station that is now WCBS.

Battery companies were apparently really into station ownership. I
think the second B in WBBM also stood for battery and the M stood for
manufacturing. Except for crystal sets, which were powered by the
signals they received, early 1920's radio receivers needed batteries
(several different types in each receiver--filament, plate,
screen--anyone else remember screen grids?) and I don't think
rechargeable batteries, which probably would have had to be lead-acid
batteries, were popular for use in radios. I guess that radio
batteries were typically zinc-carbon (I don't think alkaline batteries
had yet been invented) and the battery manufacturers must have
envisioned huge profits from the sale of batteries--if only they could
provide the listeners with a reason to tune in--and therefore to keep
buying more batteries. I wonder if anyone has compiled a list of early
radio stations that were owned by battery manufacturers.

Dan Strassberg (
eFax 1-707-215-6367

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Scott Fybush" <>
To: <>
Cc: "Dan.Strassberg" <>; "A. Joseph Ross"
<>; "'Boston Radio Interest'"
Sent: Tuesday, November 24, 2009 1:16 PM
Subject: Re: Directional ex-Class IA AMs

> wrote:
>> I had thought that WEAF became WRCA, and then WNBC.  Channel 30 in
>> New Britain had been WNBC when NBC owned it; when the station was
>> sold, the WNBC calls got transferred to New York.   Am I missing
>> something in the timeline?   -Doug
> Yup.
> The launch of the WNBC and WCBS calls in 1946 was coordinated. Both
> flips happened on Nov. 1, 1946. CBS flipped the calls on its FM
> (WABC-FM) and TV (WCBW) properties as well; NBC changed WEAF-FM to
> WNBC-FM, but kept the WNBT calls on its TV station.
> The WABC and WEAF calls were not reused immediately. I suspect,
> given the power that CBS and NBC wielded at the FCC, that they were
> held in some sort of informal "reserved" status and not available to
> Joe Radio Station who might have wanted them.
> On March 1, 1953, ABC changed the calls of WJZ/WJZ-FM/WJZ-TV to
> WABC-FM went away on Feb. 14, 1971, becoming WPLJ.
> s

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