Pre-war FM callsigns (was: Re: WCVT (101.7 Stowe, VT))

Garrett Wollman
Tue Dec 13 02:27:51 EST 2011

<<On Tue, 13 Dec 2011 00:29:13 -0500, A Joseph Ross <> said:

> It occurs to me that those original FM calls must have caused a lot of 
> trouble.  If a station was on the same channel in Boston and in Buffalo, 
> or Baltimore, or Binghamton, or ..., they would have had to have the 
> same callsign.

That was, in fact, one of the motivations for changing the system.
The other primary motivation was that broadcasters expected to need to
change channels as the FM band became more developed, and they did not
want to lose all the "goodwill" built up for their station's identity
simply because they moved to a different (presumably better)

There were only 44 commercial FM stations when the change was made.
The 1944 /Broadcasting Yearbook/, published two months after the
change, shows:

Alpine: WFMN 43.1 (Armstrong)
Baton Rouge (BR): WBRL 44.5 (WJBO)
Binghamton (BN): WNBF-FM 44.9
Boston (B): WBZ-FM 46.7, WGTR 44.3, WMTW 43.9
Chicago (C): WBBM-FM 46.7, WDLM 47.5 (WMBI), WGNB 45.9, WWZR 45.1 (Zenith)
Columbus (CM): WELD 44.5 (WBNS)
Detroit (D): WENA 44.5 (WWJ), WLOU 44.9 (WJLB)
Evansville (V): WMLL 44.5 (WEOA-WGBF)
Fort Wayne (FW): WOWO-FM 44.9
Hartford (H): WDRC-FM 46.5 and WTIC-FM 45.3
Kansas City (KC): KOZY 44.9 (independent)
Los Angeles (LA): KHJ-FM 44.5
Milwaukee (M): WMFM 45.5 (WTMJ)
Nashville (NV): WSM-FM 44.7
New York (NY): WABC-FM 46.7 (CBS), WABF 47.5 (independent), WGYN 44.7 (Muzak),
	       WHNF 46.3, WNYC-FM 43.9, WBAM 47.1 (WOR), WQXQ 45.9 (WQXR)
Philadelphia (PH): KYW-FM 45.7, WCAU-FM 46.9, WFIL-FM 45.3, WIP-FM 44.9,
		   WLBC 46.5 (WIBG), WPEN-FM 47.3
Pittsburgh (P): KDKA-FM 47.5, WTNT 44.7 (WWSW)
Rochester (R): WHEF 44.7 (WHEC), WHFM 45.1 (WHAM)
Salt Lake City (SL): KSL-FM 44.7
Schenectady (A): WBCA 44.7 (independent), WGFM 48.5 (WGY)
South Bend (SB): WSBF 47.1
Springfield (SP): WBZA-FM 48.1
Winston-Salem (MM): WMIT 44.1 (WSJS)

I've given the "trading area" codes that were used by these stations
prior to the change.

You'll note that there are only two stations in the South (Nashville
and Baton Rouge), and only three stations west of the Mississippi (in
Kansas City, Salt Lake City, and Los Angeles).  Nashville's W47NV was
the first ever commercial FM station.  NBC did not have any, in any of
its markets; there was no commercial FM in Washington, D.C.  (There
was an experimental FM there, operated by the engineering firm Jansky
& Bailey.)  Why we ended up with FM stations in Evansville, Milwaukee,
Kansas City, and Salt Lake, but not San Francisco, Atlanta, Denver,
St. Louis, or Cincinnati is something of a mystery.


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