NBC Acquires WENR

CURATOR'S NOTE: NBC's acquisition of WENR early in 1931 provided the network with a ready-made 50,000 watt outlet in the nation's second-largest urban area. The downside of WENR was that it shared time and frequency with WLS, an established station with a strong programing tradition largely aimed at a loyal rural audience.
The time-sharing formula is described in the article below that appeared in the March, 1931 edition of RCA News.
Small old NBC logo

Transfer of WENR License Will Give Better Service to Midwest

NBC will lease the strong Great Lakes Station and will transmit under an operating agreement

Plans of the National Broadcasting Company to give to radio listeners of Chicago and the Middle West increased broadcasting service were made public by an application for transfer of the license before the Federal Radio Commission in Washington. The application was granted and the National Broadcasting Company will be enabled, for the first time, to have use of WENR, the 50,000 watt Chicago station owned and operated by the Great Lakes Broadcasting Company.

This move is said to be an answer to the repeated suggestion of listeners in the Chicago sector who said they were denied many outstanding air programs and features.

According to information given the Federal Commission, WENR will be leased by the National Broadcasting Company and will transmit programs under the terms of an operating agreement. It was emphatically stated by officials of the National Broadcasting Company that this latest move will in no way restrict service to WGN, WIBO, KYW and WCFL, NBC associated stations in Chicago.

The Commission was also informed that an arrangement has been made with the owners of station WLS which is also in the Chicago territory. It was announced that the short wave relay transmitter of WENR, known as W9XF, will not be discontinued. WENR has a long record of broadcasting service to the public.

Under Morgan L. Eastman, one of the pioneer broadcasters of the United States, WENR has become one of the most popular on the air. Many of its outstanding programs are favorites with radio fans in all sections of the country. Among these programs are the Weener Minstrels, the Smith Family, Mike and Herman, Dutch dialect comedy team, Irma Glenn, organist, and others. These features are to be maintained, and it is announced that the station will continue to maintain its identity. In addition, the station will carry outstanding programs of the NBC network. It will be under the direction of Niles Trammell, Vice-President of NBC in charge of Chicago Division.

Station WENR was created by E. N. Rauland, former head of the All-American Radio Corporation. It went on the air March 20, 1925. In June, 1927, it was taken over by the Great Lakes Broadcasting Company which also purchased another Chicago station, WBCN. The latter went on the air for the first time in December, 1924. The two stations were merged and the call letters, WBCN, were dropped. In 1928 the Great Lakes Broadcasting Company, after many tests, erected a 50,000 watt transmitter near Downers Grove, Illinois, 52 [sic] miles from Chicago's loop. This transmitter is said to be one of the most efficient in existence and programs from its aerials have been heard consistently as far away as New Zealand. In various popularity contests conducted by magazines and newspapers, WENR has consistently been one of the favorites of listeners.

Details of the operating agreement under which NBC is to operate with Station WLS were announced in Chicago. Subject to approval of the Federal Radio Commission, the Prairie Farmer station owned and operated by the Agricultural Broadcasting Corporation will transmit with a power increase from 5,000 to 50,000 watts. The program of the station will be broadcast from the Downers Grove 50,000 watt transmitter of station WENR and the operating plant of WLS in Crete, Illinois, will be closed.

In consideration of the use of the 50-kilowatt transmitter the National Broadcasting Company is to take over the programming of WLS during its evening hours except on Saturday nights. Under the terms of the agreement WLS will present programs from 6 A.M. to 10:15 A.M and from 11:45 A.M. until 3:30 P.M., every weekday except Saturday, when the schedule will be from 7:30 P.M. to midnight. On Sundays WLS will present programs from 6 A.M. to 8 A.M., and from 12:30 P.M. to 3:30 P.M.

At present WLS has an application on file with the Federal Radio Commission for an increase in power from 5,000 to 50,000 watts. A construction permit to erect a 50,000 watt transmitter has been issued, but definite action has been delayed from time to time. Formal application for the increased wattage has been made to the commission and action by that body is expected shortly. Edgar Bill is Manager of WLS.

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