September 9, 1926…NBC Was Incorporated By RCA
The incorporation process was the first step on a very long and profitable road for the nation’s first broadcasting network which came to life on November 15, 1926, with a gala four-hour radio program originating from the ballroom of the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City. Here is some of NBC’s early history which includes the Red and Blue Networks and their sale. Enjoy and share!
NBC was the joint effort of three pioneers in mass communications: Radio Corporation of America, American Telephone and Telegraph and Westinghouse Electric Corporation. Two early radio stations in Newark, New Jersey, and New York City—WJZ, founded by Westinghouse in 1921, and WEAF, founded by the American Telephone & Telegraph Company in 1923—had earlier been acquired by RCA and, after NBC was created, became the centres of NBC’s two semi-independent networks, the Blue Network, based on WJZ, and the Red Network, based on WEAF, each with its respective links to stations in other cities.
The formation of NBC was orchestrated by David Sarnoff, the general manager of RCA, which became the network’s sole owner in 1930.
The National Broadcasting Company was the first permanent, full-service radio network in the U.S. RCA’s goal in forming NBC was to be able to provide a large number of quality radio programs so that, as one of its newspaper ads said, “every event of national importance may be broadcast widely throughout the United States.”
NBC’s first radio broadcast, on November 15, 1926, was a four-and-a-half hour presentation of the leading musical and comedy talent of the day. It was broadcast from New York over a network of 25 stations, as far west as Kansas City; close to half of the country’s five million radio homes tuned in. The first coast-to-coast broadcast soon followed, on New Year’s Day, 1927, when NBC covered the annual Rose Bowl football game in California.
The demand for a network service among local stations was mounting so rapidly that less than two months after its first national broadcast, NBC split its programming into two separate networks, called the “red” and the “blue” networks, to give listeners a choice of different program formats.
By 1941, these two networks blanketed the country; there were 103 blue subscribing stations, 76 red, and 64 supplementary stations using NBC programs. The blue network provided mostly cultural offerings: music, drama, and commentary. The red featured comedy and similar types of entertainment. There were regular radio programs for children, and soap operas and religious programs. When the Federal Communications Commission declared in 1941 that no organization could own more than one network, NBC sold the blue complex, which became the American Broadcasting Company.
From the first coast-to-coast broadcast of the Rose Bowl in 1927, sporting events were a radio mainstay. That same year, the red and blue networks tied in with a number of independent stations to broadcast the second Tunney-Dempsey fight from Soldier Field in Chicago. Two years later NBC broadcast the Kentucky Derby. During the 1920s and 1930s, the network featured the World Series many times. It also covered major football games, golf tournaments, and the Olympics in Los Angeles in 1932.
NBC’s first special-events broadcast was Charles A. Lindbergh’s arrival in Washington on June 11, 1927 after his historic trans-Atlantic flight. In 1928, the network began coverage of national political events, covering the Republican and Democratic national conventions in 1928; the inaugurations of presidents Herbert Hoover in 1929 and Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1933; the opening of the 73rd Congress on March 9, 1933; and Roosevelt’s first “Fireside Chat” on March 12 of that year. “NBC News” was officially created in 1933.
The first international NBC broadcast was also in 1928, when the network carried a pick-up of President Calvin Coolidge opening a Pan-American conference in Havana.