The actual groundwork for NBC television in Chicago was laid on April 17, 1947, when the FCC issued a construction permit. In June of that year, the tentative call letters WNBY were assigned. Shortly afterward, NBC leased space for TV transmitter facilities on the 42nd floor of the Kemper Building, about five blocks from the station's Merchandise Mart headquarters.

In March of 1948, the FCC permitted the first of the station's two name changes. The call letters were changed to WNBQ because of the phonetic similarity of WNBY to WMBI, the Moody Bible Institute's radio station in Chicago. The second name change came in August, 1964, when the present call letters, WMAQ-TV, were adopted to identify more closely with Channel 5's sister radio station.

By February, 1948, the fledgling WMAQ-TV had its first two full-time employees. Jules Herbuveaux, a pioneer broadcasting executive who had been associated with NBC Chicago in many capacities, was named station manager. He was assisted by his long-time secretary, Miss Laura Skidmore.

Herbuveaux was given much of the credit for an original approach to programming. A pioneer radio broadcaster in the early 1920's, he had led a dance band which included such musicians as Bix Biederbecke and Benny Goodman. He had produced stage shows for the Kieth-Orpheum Circuit, and in 1931 he joined NBC Chicago as musical director.

The summer of 1948 was a busy one, with Herbuveaux commuting regularly to New York to help set up facilities, not only for WMAQ-TV, but for the 6-station NBC Midwest Television Network.

By September, WMAQ-TV had installed a coaxial cable link between its Merchandise Mart headquarters and the Illinois Bell Telephone Company. It was the first such intra-city cable to be installed by any Chicago television station.

At the Merchandise Mart, the engineers who were converting a radio studio into WMAQ-TV's first television studio were astounded to discover that their radio predecessors---nearly 15 years earlier---had the foresight to install heavy cable and outlets for TV lights, apparently under the assumption that the studio would one day be used for television.

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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