On the evening of September 20, 1948, NBC opened its Midwest TV Network with a gala 3 hour program originating from KSD-TV, St. Louis. Beside WMAQ-TV, other stations on the hookup were WTMJ-TV, Milwaukee; WSPD-TV, Toledo; WWJ-TV, Detroit and WBEN-TV, Buffalo, N.Y. Segments of the program came from St. Louis, Detroit and Toledo. The performers included singer Jane Pickens, impressionist Willy Howard and comic Al Kelly.

On October 8, 1948, Chicago saw its first televised World Series, through special permission obtained from the FCC. Three games were carried by cable that year from Cleveland as the Indians met the Boston Braves. WMAQ-TV's Hugh Downs was the commercial announcer.

Viewers reported seeing the World Series telecasts as far away as Neenah and Green Bay, Wisconsin 190 miles north of Chicago.

By October 14th, WMAQ-TV had 14 employees, and was preparing for its first live broadcast from its Merchandise Mart studios: the Presidential Election returns on November 2nd.

At 7:00 PM on Sunday, October 27, WMAQ-TV presented its first commercial network program. It was a kinescope film of "The Philco Hour". It starred Paul Muni in a drama called "Counselor at Law".

On the evening of November 2, 1948, there was an atmosphere of excitement on the 19th floor of the Merchandise Mart. After months of preparation, everything was ready for live production. Engineers set up field equipment in what is now the WMAQ-FM radio studio for all-night coverage of the Presidential election.

The midwest was not yet connected to the east coast network by cable. Much of the program came to Chicago by cable from NBC in Cleveland. Two of Chicago's most distinguished and honored newsmen, Clifton Utley and the late Jim Hurlbut, provided live local returns for five minutes every half-hour.

Reinald Werrenrath directed the Chicago segment of the telecast. He recalls that the election staff went to bed shortly after ending the broadcast at 8 AM not knowing who had won the Presidency. They weren't alone. An early edition of the Chicago Tribune headlined: "Dewey Beats Truman".

In December, WMAQ-TV's growing staff moved from the 19th floor to temporary quarters on the 11th floor of the Merchandise Mart. The transmitter log showed that Channel 5 ended 1948 with a total of 71 hours of program time. Twenty years later, WMAQ-TV would air 100 times that much programming.
Return to the Channel 5 20th anniversary booklet index

Introduction and main index to this site
WMAQ radio history | "Amos 'n' Andy" | "Fibber McGee and Mollie" | "The Breakfast Club"
Dick Kay | Television at the Merchandise Mart | 1970 television facilities tour | Channel 5 turns 20
The "Chicago School" of television | "Kukla, Fran and Ollie" | Dave Garroway | Mary Hartline
"Lights Out" | Sound effects | 1930 studio tour | WLS | "Empire Builders" | Barry Bernson
Floyd Kalber | The Queen of Love and Beauty | "Today's Children" | Staff announcers | Carol Marin
Ron Magers | Studs Terkel l "Chicago Tonight" | Channel 5 News scrapbooks |Roger Miller recalls
Zoo Parade | Clifton and Frayne Utley | Val Press | Len O'Connor | Johnny Erp | Bill Ray | Daddy-O
Experimental Television: 1930-1933 | Bob Deservi | Kermit Slobb | Ding Dong School | Quiz Kids
Bob Lemon | The Korshak Chronicles | KYW: The Chicago Years | WENR | O.B. Hanson | Renzo
Jack Eigen | Ed Grennan | The World's Best Cup of Coffee | Glenn Webster | Mr. Piano | Hawkins Falls
Chicago Television for Kids |
Radio Hall of Fame |The NBC News Night Report: 23 February, 1967
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