Boston and ABC Radio
Sun May 16 20:57:24 EDT 2010
> No Boston-market radio
> station carried NBC Radio's full lineup, but at one point, most of the
> NBC Radio programming that made it onto the air in Boston appeared on
> WNAC 680. That was part of the early stages of the rapid decline of
> what had been America's premiere radio network.
NBC almost had a closer relationship with WNAC. I believe it was in 1960
that RKO and NBC struck a deal to swap NBC's WRC AM-FM-TV in Washington
for RKO's WNAC AM-FM-TV in Boston.
At one time, I had a stack of old Broadcasting magazines here that
chronicled the collapse of that deal; it fell apart, as I recall,
because NBC was in bad odor with the FCC at that point over the forced
1956 swap of its Cleveland assets for Westinghouse's Philly stations.
That deal, as we know, was eventually undone in 1965 - but in the
meantime, the FCC was evidently loath to sanction another swap that
would have given NBC a bigger-market O&O.
The really fascinating "what if" of that deal is, of course, not radio
but TV. Had channel 7 become an NBC O&O back in 1960, Westinghouse would
have needed a new affiliation for WBZ-TV. At the time, the rest of the
Westinghouse TV group was all over the map in network affiliation: ABC
in Baltimore at WJZ, NBC in Cleveland at KYW, CBS in Pittsburgh at KDKA
and in San Francisco at KPIX, so WBZ could easily have gone with either
CBS or ABC.
If channel 4 had ended up with CBS way back when, it would have
stabilized Boston's TV scene back in 1960 in exactly the way it all
shook out 35 years later: CBS on 4, ABC on 5, NBC on 7. If Westinghouse
had gone with ABC (as I dimly recall to have been the tentative plan),
that would have only sped up the eventual WHDH-TV/CBS alliance on
channel 5. Would the 1972 affiliation swap for WCVB still have happened?
Or would CBS not have ended up on channel 4 until the Westinghouse/CBS
deal in 1995? And how different would Boston TV have looked in the
nineties with 7 as an NBC O&O, not a Sunbeam station?
There are radio "what-if"s, too - NBC wasn't a big top-40 radio company,
so WRKO would never have happened, just for starters. Then there would
have been another shakeup when NBC sold off its radio interests in the
late eighties. And NBC wouldn't have owned WJIB if it already had
We'll never know exactly how it would all have played out, of
course...but it's fun to wonder.
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