But there was more than the Chicago School to WMAQ-TV's story. It was---and is---NBC Chicago. So WMAQ-TV fed, and was fed by, the network.

On January 13, 1949, Lanny Ross moved his NBC-TV network program, sponsored by Swift & Co., to Chicago for one evening. This was the first major night-time TV variety program to originate from Chicago.

Right: Folk singer Win Stracke was featured with star Stud's Terkel in "Stud's Place," one of Channel 5's early programs. (Phil Lord sits at left.) Phil Lord, Win Stracke, Studs Terkel

By February of that year, Channel 5 audiences were enjoying a variety of NBC-TV network programs. In addition to the Swift show, fed from New York, they included "Kraft Television Theater", ventriloquist Paul Winchell, Madison Square Garden boxing, Admiral's ''Broadway Review'', ''Philco TV Playhouse", "Colgate Theater", "Americana'', "Girl About Town", "Phil Silvers Show", "Your Show Time", "Howdy Doody", "Meet the Press'', "Who Said That?" and "Kukla, Fran and Ollie", which originated from NBC Chicago.

The TV split-screen technique, now in common use, was demonstrated for the first time in Chicago by Channel 5 on January I 2, 1949, before the Chicago Radio Management Club.

"Hawkins Falls" cast
Left: "Hawkins Falls" was television's first daytime serial. In the course of it's run on channel 5 and the NBC-TV network, it employed scores of Chicago actors.

WMAQ-TV expanded to a seven-day, 35-hour week with the addition of Saturday programming in March of 1949. By May 15th, NBC had the nation's first television network, with 33 stations. Today the network is made up of more than 200 stations.

When Channel 5 began regular programming in January, 1949, there were 52,000 TV sets in the Chicago area. One year later, the number had increased to an estimated 325,000 receivers. Currently, as Channel 5 celebrated its 20th anniversary, there are more than 2,500,000 TV homes in the Chicago market area.

Right: The "Wayne King Show", starring the Waltz King, his orchestra, singers and chorus, was one of WMAQ-TV's first programs fed to the NBC Midwest TV network.

On June 22, 1949, Channel 5's audience was given a ringside seat to a major sports event. This was the heavyweight championship fight between Jersey Joe Wolcott and Ezzard Charles at Chicago's Comiskey Park, which was fed to the NBC-TV network.

Then, on September 28th, Channel 5 introduced what was to become big-screen television theater. A boxing match between Harry (Kid) Matthews and Joe Smith was staged in Studio B and transmitted by coaxial cable to a 15-by-20 foot screen in the Conrad Hilton Hotel. Tom Duggan and Johnny Erp were the ringside announcers.

Boxing match in studio B
Left: The first boxing match ever to be staged in a television studio was telecast by Channel 5 in September, 1949 for big screen projection.

Channel 5's transmitter log carried some interesting notations during the early months of operation. For example, it was noted that on June 26, 1949, WMAQ-TV was off the air for 45 minutes "because of lack of relief for the crew". Veteran engineers say the shut-down was programmed deliberately, to give the operating crew a lunch break.

In February of 1950, Chicago's Studebaker Theater was leased and converted into the midwest's largest TV studio. It was to be used for the Jack Carter Show, aired nationwide Saturday nights on the full NBC-TV network.

Channel 5, on July 2, 1954, became the first Chicago TV station to go to the maximum authorized power of 100 kilowatts, beamed from the highest transmitter in the city . . . atop the Kemper Building, 747 feet above the street.
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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