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The Westinghouse Broadcasting Company, also known as Group W, was the broadcasting division of Westinghouse Electric Corporation. It owned several radio and television stations across the United States and distributed television shows for syndication.

Westinghouse Broadcasting was formed in the 1920s as Westinghouse Radio Stations, Inc. It was renamed Westinghouse Broadcasting in 1954, and adopted the Group W moniker in 1963. It was a self-contained entity within the Westinghouse corporate structure, and while the parent company was headquartered in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvaniamarker; Westinghouse Broadcasting maintained headquarters in New York Citymarker. It kept national sales offices in Chicagomarker and Los Angelesmarker.

Group W stations are best known for using a distinctive corporate typeface, introduced in 1963, for their logos and on-air imaging. Similarly-styled typefaces had been used on some non-Group W stations as well and several former Group W stations still use it today. The Group W corporate typeface is closely, but not accurately, mimicked in Ray Larabie's freeware font "Anklepants."

Westinghouse Broadcasting was also well known for two long-running television programs, the Mike Douglas Show and PM Magazine (called Evening Magazine in Group W's core broadcast markets).

History

Radio origins

The Westinghouse Electric and Manufacturing Corporation entered broadcasting with the November 2, 1920 sign-on of KDKAmarker radio in Pittsburgh. The oldest surviving licensed commercial radio station in the United States, KDKA was an outgrowth of experimental station 8XK, a 75-watt station that was located in the Pittsburgh suburb of Wilkinsburgmarker, and founded in 1916 by Westinghouse assistant chief engineer Frank Conrad.

Westinghouse launched three more radio stations in 1921: WJZmarker, originally licensed to Newark, New Jerseymarker, in September; WBZmarker, first located in Springfield, Massachusettsmarker, in October; and KYWmarker, originally based in Chicagomarker, in November. WBZA in Bostonmarker, a station which shared WBZ's frequency and simulcasted WBZ's programming, signed on in November 1924.

Westinghouse was one of the founding owners of the Radio Corporation of America in 1919, and in 1926 RCA established the National Broadcasting Company, a group of 24 radio stations that made up the first radio network in the United States. Westinghouse initially owned a 20 percent stake in NBC, and as a result all of Westinghouse's stations became affiliates of NBC's Blue Network when it was launched on January 1, 1927. Most of the Blue Network's programming originated at WJZ, which in 1923 had its license moved to New York City, and its ownership transferred to RCA.

In 1931, Westinghouse switched the call letters of its two Massachusetts stations, with WBZA moving to Springfield and WBZ going to Boston. The two stations had suffered from interference problems, though the Boston facility was the more powerful of the two. In 1934, KYW was moved from Chicago to Philadelphiamarker following a Federal Communications Commission-dictated frequency realignment. Westinghouse's next station was its first purchase: WOWOmarker in Fort Wayne, Indianamarker joined the group in August 1936.

The North American Radio Broadcasting Agreement of 1941 saw all of Westinghouse's original stations move to their current dial positions. With WOWO's power increase to 50,000 watts later that year, the Westinghouse stations were now also clear-channel stations. A decade later, the FCC forbade common ownership of two or more clear channel stations with overlapping nighttime coverage, though the commission allowed Westinghouse to keep WBZ, KYW, KDKA and WOWO together under a grandfather clause. Between them, the four stations' nighttime signals blanketed almost all of the eastern half of North America. Despite the assignments which resulted from NARBA, WBZA became a 1,000-watt daytime-only operation as it continued to share a frequency with WBZ.

The Westinghouse group survived the government-dictated split of NBC's radio division in 1943, with WBZ/WBZA, KDKA, and KYW becoming affiliates of NBC's Red Network, while WOWO, which had a secondary affiliation with the Blue Network, fell back on its primary relationship with CBS. Westinghouse expanded to the West Coast for the first time in 1944, with its purchase of 5,000-watt KEXmarker in Portland, Oregonmarker, a station which also shared a frequency with WOWO. Westinghouse would increase KEX's power to 50,000 watts in 1948.

Later in the 1940s, Westinghouse moved on to develop FM and television stations as the FCC began to issue permits for those services. Westinghouse built FM sister stations for WBZ/WBZA, KDKA, KYW, KEX, and WOWO, all of which were on the air by the end of the decade. FM radio was, initially, an unsuccessful venture for Westinghouse, and the company would silence most of its FM stations during the 1950s. Of the early Westinghouse FMs, only KDKA-FM (now WLTJ) and the second WBZ-FM facility (now WMJX) proved to be worth keeping, and Westinghouse sold those outlets in the early 1980s.

Moving back to AM radio, Westinghouse returned to Chicago with its 1956 purchase of WINDmarker. In 1962, Westinghouse re-entered the New York market when it bought WINSmarker, then a local Top-40 powerhouse. That same year, the company also agreed to buy another top-rated music station, KFWBmarker in Los Angelesmarker. Since Westinghouse was already at the FCC's then-limit of seven AM stations, it had to sell two of its existing AM stations. The company sold KEX to actor and singer Gene Autry, and later decided to shut down WBZA and return its license to the FCC. The KFWB deal was not finalized until 1966.

On April 19, 1965, WINS dropped music and instituted a 24-hour, all-news format. KYW went all-news six months later on September 12, three months after Westinghouse regained control of the station (see The 1956 Trade with NBC, below). KFWB would adopt the format on March 11, 1968. The three stations all prospered with their new formats, usually ranking among the five highest-rated stations in their markets. During the 1970s and 1980s, WIND also tinkered with a part-time news format, though it had little success against the dominant all-news station in Chicago, CBS-owned WBBMmarker.

Over the next quarter-century, Westinghouse would purchase several other radio stations, including KFBKmarker in Sacramento, Californiamarker; WMAQmarker in Chicago, WNEW-FM in New York, and WMMR-FM in Philadelphia. WOWO was sold to other interests in 1982, and WIND was spun-off in 1985, three years before Group W bought WMAQ from NBC.

Expansion into television

Westinghouse entered television on June 9, 1948 with the sign-on of WBZ-TVmarker in Boston. It is the only television station to have been built by the company. Westinghouse's first station purchase was with WPTZ-TV in Philadelphia, in 1952. KPIXmarker in San Franciscomarker was bought in 1954; WDTV (now KDKA-TVmarker) in Pittsburgh was added in 1955; and WAAM-TV (now WJZ-TVmarker) in Baltimoremarker was purchased in 1957. Westinghouse's only other outright television station purchase was in Charlotte, North Carolinamarker, where it purchased WRET-TV from Ted Turner in early 1980, and changed its call letters to WPCQ-TV.

The company also purchased cable TV system operator TelePrompTer in 1981, which it renamed Group W Cable the following year. However, Group W would leave the cable TV system business in 1986.

Throughout its history as an operator of television stations, Westinghouse Broadcasting had relationships with all three major networks. KYW-TV, WBZ-TV, and WPCQ-TV were NBC affiliates, KPIX and KDKA-TV were aligned with CBS, and WJZ-TV was an ABC station. All of Group W's stations were located within the top thirty television markets.

Westinghouse's television stations were all known for their very deep connection to their home markets. They often pre-empted network programming in favor of local programs, and all of them carried programming produced by Group W, which was a major force in television syndication (see Syndication programs, below). However, for the most part the networks did not seem to mind. Most of them were among their networks' strongest performers. KDKA-TV and WJZ-TV dominated their markets, while WBZ-TV and KPIX were solid runners-up. The only exceptions were WPCQ and especially KYW-TV. The Philadelphia station had been one of Westinghouse's (and NBC's) crown jewels for many years, but faltered in the late 1970s and eventually became NBC's weakest major-market affiliate by the middle 1980s.

Westinghouse found no success in the Charlotte market, as WPCQ remained an also-ran during its Group W years. The station had a minimal local news presence, and its program schedule resembled that of an independent station, with cartoons and second-hand syndicated programming. WPCQ was a UHF network affiliate competing against two other network stations on VHF, and it also had to deal with three longer-established NBC affiliates on VHF stations in nearby cities that were also available over-the-air in large parts of the market. Westinghouse was able to escape Charlotte when it sold WPCQ (now WCNC-TVmarker) to Renaissance Broadcasting in 1984.

The 1956 trade with NBC

During 1955, Westinghouse announced that it would sell its Philadelphia stations, KYW radio and WPTZ-TV, to NBC. In exchange, Westinghouse received NBC's Clevelandmarker stations, WTAM radiomarker and WNBK televisionmarker. After the deal was approved in February 1956, Westinghouse moved the KYW call letters to Cleveland, and both companies also transferred much of their respective on-air personnel and management to their new cities. However, the ink had barely dried on the trade when Westinghouse complained to the FCC and the United States Department of Justicemarker, claiming that NBC had extorted the company into agreeing to the deal.

According to several sources, the extortion charge stemmed from Westinghouse's January 1955 decision to align newly-acquired KDKA-TV with CBS as a primary affiliate. Under its previous and founding owners, the DuMont Television Network, the station originally known as WDTV—Pittsburgh's only VHF commercial station for its first eight years of operation—carried programming from all four networks. Meanwhile, KDKA radio had long been an NBC affiliate, and NBC expected that relationship to continue into television.

Though what became KDKA-TV retained a secondary affiliation with NBC until 1957 (when NBC moved to its own Pittsburgh affiliatemarker), NBC nevertheless felt slighted. NBC approached Westinghouse with several offers to buy its Philadelphia stations, but Westinghouse said no each time. NBC then responded with a threat to drop its programming from both WPTZ-TV and Boston's WBZ-TV unless Westinghouse agreed to the trade.

Following a thorough investigation which lasted nine years, the FCC and the Justice Department ruled in favor of Westinghouse, rendering the trade null and void. In addition, any profit NBC made on the deal was also voided. When Westinghouse regained control of the Philadelphia stations on June 19, 1965, it restored the KYW calls to the radio station and renamed the television station KYW-TVmarker. And in a reversal of nine years prior, both NBC and Westinghouse relocated various personnel between both cities.

Merger with CBS

Within a year-long span during 1994-95, a series of surprising events occurred which not only changed the look of the television industry, but also ended Westinghouse's uniqueness among television station operators.

In 1994, the Fox Broadcasting Company agreed to a multi-year, multi-station affiliation deal with New World Communications, resulting in most of New World's stations switching to Fox. Among these stations were longtime CBS affiliates WJBK-TVmarker in Detroitmarker and WJW-TVmarker in Cleveland. To avoid being consigned to the UHF band in two major markets, CBS pursued ABC affiliates WXYZ-TVmarker in Detroit and WEWSmarker in Cleveland. Both stations were owned by the E.W. Scripps Company, who used this leverage to strike a similar affiliation deal of its own with ABC. Unwilling to risk losing two of its strongest and longest-standing affiliates, ABC agreed to 10-year affiliation contracts with WEWS, WXYZ and four other Scripps stations. One of them was Baltimore's then-NBC affiliate, WMAR-TVmarker, which would displace that city's longtime ABC affiliate, Group W-owned WJZ-TV.

This did not sit well with Westinghouse, who felt betrayed by ABC after WJZ-TV had been loyal to the network after 47 years, and as a safeguard sought an affiliation deal of their own. Eventually, they agreed to affiliate its entire television unit with CBS. Under the terms of the deal, all five Group W stations would carry the entire CBS schedule with no pre-emptions except for local news emergencies (as noted above, prior to this, Group W stations were known for pre-empting selected programming of their affiliated networks with Group W-mandated content).

The deal resulted in a three-way transaction between Group W, CBS and NBC which unfolded between the fall of 1994 and the fall of 1995, which unfolded as follows:

  • In September 1994, KPIX and KDKA-TV ended their long-standing policies of pre-empting some CBS shows, and began carrying the entire CBS schedule with no pre-emptions.
  • On January 2, 1995, WJZ-TV and WBZ-TV switched from ABC and NBC, respectively, to CBS.
  • On September 10, 1995, KYW-TV switched from NBC to CBS. Westinghouse sold a minority share of KYW-TV to CBS.
  • Also on September 10, CBS traded its previous Philadelphia station, WCAU-TVmarker, to NBC in return for KCNC-TVmarker in Denvermarker and KUTVmarker in Salt Lake Citymarker. CBS then sold controlling interest in KCNC and KUTV to Westinghouse. (KCNC's station history page erroneously implies that this trade was between NBC and Westinghouse.)
  • On September 11, CBS-owned WCIX in Miamimarker swapped channel locations with NBC-owned WTVJmarker. CBS and NBC traded their Miami broadcasting facilities to compensate each other for the loss of stations. WCIX changed its call letters to WFOR-TVmarker, and CBS sold controlling interest in the station to Westinghouse.
  • Westinghouse and CBS formed a joint venture that assumed ownership of KYW-TV, KCNC, KUTV and WFOR, with Westinghouse as majority owner.


A short time later, Westinghouse announced it was buying CBS proper, a transaction which closed in early 1996. As a condition of the merger, both CBS and Group W were forced to sell off several radio stations due to the FCC's then-current ownership limits. CBS also had to sell recently-acquired WPRI-TVmarker in Providence, Rhode Islandmarker due to a significant signal overlap with WBZ-TV. At the time, the FCC normally did not allow common ownership of stations with overlapping signals.

Epilogue

Following the completion of the CBS takeover, the former Westinghouse Broadcasting operations took on the CBS name and identity, though the Group W name survived until the end of the 1990s as a holding company within the merged entity's structure. The Westinghouse-CBS merger resulted in several longtime rivals on the radio dials of New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago and Philadelphia becoming sister stations. Except for WMAQ, which shut down in 2000 to allow all-sports WSCRmarker to move to its old dial position, all of the former Group W radio stations are part of CBS Radio.

Westinghouse proceeded to transform itself from its legendary role as a diversified conglomerate with a strong industrial heritage into a media giant. Over the next year, it sold off almost all of its nonbroadcast properties. In 1997, Westinghouse changed its name to CBS Corporation and moved its headquarters to New York. CBS Corporation sold off its last nonbroadcast interests in 1998. In this sense, the Westinghouse-CBS merger turned out to be a "wag the dog" transaction.

CBS Corporation merged with Viacom in 1999. Viacom changed its name to CBS Corporation in 2005 and spun off most of its cable and movie interests as a "new" Viacom. With a few exceptions, the current CBS Corporation holds the same properties that the old CBS Corporation held prior to the Viacom merger. National Amusements retains majority control of both CBS Corporation and the "new" Viacom".

A few of the former Westinghouse radio stations still use the former Group W font today (eg. KDKA, KYW, and WINS). WOWO, now owned by Pathfinder Communications Corporation, and two television stations, WJZ-TV and KPIX, continue to use this font as well. The other stations retired the font early in the 21st century.

Former Westinghouse-owned stations

Television stations

DMA# Market Station Years owned Current affiliation
4. Philadelphiamarker WPTZ-TV/KYW-TVmarker 3 1952-1956
1965-1995
CBS owned-and-operated (O&O)
5. San Franciscomarker - Oaklandmarker - San Josemarker KPIXmarker 5 1954-1995 CBS owned-and-operated (O&O)
7. Bostonmarker WBZ-TVmarker 4 1948-1995 CBS owned-and-operated (O&O)
17. Clevelandmarker KYW-TV 3
(now WKYC-TVmarker)
1956-1965 NBC affiliate owned by Gannett Company
23. Pittsburghmarker KDKA-TVmarker 2 1955-1995 CBS owned-and-operated (O&O)
24. Charlottemarker WPCQ-TV 36
(now WCNC-TVmarker)
1980-1984 NBC affiliate owned by Belo Corporation
26. Baltimoremarker WJZ-TVmarker 13 1957-1995 CBS owned-and-operated (O&O)
This list does not include KCNC-TVmarker in Denvermarker, KUTVmarker in Salt Lake Citymarker and WFOR-TVmarker in Miamimarker. These stations were taken over by Group W in the interim period before the completion of CBS's acquisition by Westinghouse.


Radio Stations

(a partial listing)

AM Stations FM Stations


DMA# Market Station Years owned Current ownership
1. New York Citymarker WJZ
(now WABCmarker)
1921-1923 owned by Citadel Broadcasting Corporation
WINSmarker-1010 1962-1995 owned by CBS Radio
WNEW-FM-102.7
(now WWFS)
1989-1995 owned by CBS Radio
2. Los Angelesmarker KFWBmarker-980 1966-1995 owned by CBS Radio
KTWV-94.7 1989-1995 owned by CBS Radio
3. Chicagomarker KYW 1922-1934 defunct, moved to Philadelphia in 1934
WINDmarker-560 1956-1985 owned by Salem Communications
WMAQmarker-670
(now WSCRmarker)
1988-1995 owned by CBS Radio
4. San Franciscomarker KPIX-1550
(now KFRC)
1994-1995 owned by CBS Radio
KPIX-FM-95.7
(now KBWF)
1994-1995 owned by Entercom Communications
6. Houstonmarker KODA-99.1 1979-1989 owned by Clear Channel Communications
KILT-610 1989-1995 owned by CBS Radio
KILT-FM-100.3 1989-1995 owned by CBS Radio
KIKK-650 1993-1995 owned by CBS Radio
KIKK-FM-95.7
(now KHJZ-FM)
1993-1995 owned by CBS Radio
7. Philadelphiamarker KYWmarker-1060 1934-1956
1965-1995
owned by CBS Radio
KYW-FM-100.3 1946-1948 changed frequencies
frequency now used by WPHI-FMmarker
KYW-FM-92.5 1948-1955 defunct, went silent in 1955
frequency now used by WXTU
WMMR-93.3 1989-1995 owned by Greater Media
9. Washington, D.C.marker
(Northern Virginia)
WCPT-730
(now WXTRmarker)
1989-1993 owned by Red Zebra Broadcasting
WCXR-FM-105.9
(now WJZWmarker)
1989-1993 owned by Citadel Broadcasting Corporation
10. Bostonmarker WBZA/WBZmarker-1030 1924-1995 owned by CBS Radio
WBZ-FM-100.7 1946-1948 changed frequencies
frequency now used by WZLX
WBZ-FM-92.9 1948-1952 defunct, went silent in 1952
frequency now used by WBOS
WBZ-FM-106.7
(now WMJX)
1956-1981 owned by Greater Media
11. Detroitmarker WLLZ-FM-98.7
(now WVMVmarker)
1989-1995 owned by CBS Radio
23. Portland, Oregonmarker KEXmarker-1190 1944-1962 owned by Clear Channel Communications
KEX-FM-92.3 1948-1962 defunct, went silent in 1962
frequency now used by KGONmarker
24. Pittsburghmarker KDKAmarker-1020 1920-1995 owned by CBS Radio
KDKA-FM-92.9
(now WLTJ)
1946-1984 owned by Steel City Media
27. Sacramentomarker KFBKmarker-1530 1986-1994 owned by Clear Channel Communications
KAER/KGBY-92.5 1986-1994 owned by Clear Channel Communications
28. Clevelandmarker KYW-1100
(now WTAMmarker)
1956-1965 owned by Clear Channel Communications
KYW-FM-105.7
(now WMJI)
1956-1965 owned by Clear Channel Communications
86. Springfield, Massachusettsmarker WBZ/WBZA-1030 1921-1962 defunct, went silent in 1962
WBZA-FM-102.1 1946-1962 defunct, went silent in 1962
frequency now used by WAQY
106. Fort Wayne, Indianamarker WOWOmarker-1190 1936-1982 owned by Federated Media
(controlled by Pathfinder Communications Corporation)
243. Lafayette, Indianamarker WAZY-1180 1955-1956 owned by Artistic Media
(controlled by University Broadcasting of Lafayette)
WAZY-FM-96.5 1955-1956 owned by Artistic Media Partners


Syndicated programs

Some of their best-known programs were syndicated and seen in primetime, through its syndication division, Group W Productions; many of these programs were also sold internationally.

Late night talk/variety shows



Daytime shows



Group W also syndicated and franchised the program PM Magazine (alternatively titled Evening Magazine on stations owned and operated by Westinghouse Broadcasting) to local stations.

Made-for-TV movies



Animated series



First-run syndicated shows



After the merger in 1996, Group W Productions was renamed Eyemark Entertainment. From 2000 through 2006, the Group W and Eyemark libraries were owned by King World Productions, following the latter company's acquisition by CBS in 2000; these libraries are now controlled by CBS Television Distribution. The Filmation library is now the property of Boomerang Media subsidiary Classic Media.

Cable networks




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