Happy 90th Anniversary, CBS Radio Network!

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  • Posted In: History Of Radio

  • #176725

    This past Monday (September 18th, 2017) marked the 90th anniversary of the initial broadcast of the CBS Radio Network.

    The network was founded by George Coats (a businessman) and Arthur Judson ( a musical impresario representing mainly Classical and Opera performers), and was originally called United Independent Broadcasters. The network might never have come into being were it not for the fact that Coats and Judson had set-up a company to produce radio programs and in 1926 had approached NBC founder David Sarnoff about providing programming to his soon-to-launch networks.

    After showing initial interest in the two men’s proposal, Sarnoff eventually said “No!!”, which promoted Coats and Judson to tell Sarnoff “Because you rejected out plan, we will form our own network!” Sarnoff laughed at the two as they left his office.

    In 1955, Judson wrote about his experiences during the birth of CBS for American Heritage magazine, you can find his article at http://www.americanheritage.com/content/how-cbs-got-its-start .

    It was an expensive venture, even by 1927 standards. For a time, the Columbia Phonograph Corporation had an ownership stake (they pulled-out before long, but let the network keep the “Columbia Broadcasting System” name the record company had given to the network; CBS would in turn buy Columbia Records in the late 1930’s).

    After financially struggling during it’s first year on the air, and having gone through a couple of changes in ownership and bleeding several investors out of hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars, a young Philadelphia businessman and cigar heir named William S. Paley bought the network, and financially turned the network around, growing what had been a small network (originally sixteen stations) into an organization that would equal and surpass NBC (originally, NBC had two networks—the “Red” and “Blue”—but in 1943 had to divest one of the networks to comply with Federal anti-trust rulings) in popularity and profits.

    Below is a link to a recent special CBS News produced for the radio network’s 90th aniversaary:

    https://soundcloud.com/cbs-news-radio/cbs-radio-network-90th-anniversary-special .


    Wow it will be interesting how CBS Radio will enter its 10th decade now that CBS owned radio stations are going to Entercom if deal if finalized and CBS News Radio goes to Skyview Networks in 2018.

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