| The actual groundwork
for NBC television in Chicago was laid on April 17, 1947, when the FCC issued
a construction permit. In June of that year, the tentative call letters WNBY were
assigned. Shortly afterward, NBC leased space for TV transmitter facilities on
the 42nd floor of the Kemper Building, about five blocks from the station's Merchandise
In March of 1948, the FCC permitted the first of the station's two name changes.
The call letters were changed to WNBQ because of the phonetic similarity of WNBY
to WMBI, the Moody Bible Institute's radio station in Chicago. The second name
change came in August, 1964, when the present call letters, WMAQ-TV, were adopted
to identify more closely with Channel 5's sister radio station.
By February, 1948, the fledgling WMAQ-TV had its first two full-time employees.
Jules Herbuveaux, a pioneer broadcasting executive who had been associated with
NBC Chicago in many capacities, was named station manager. He was assisted by
his long-time secretary, Miss Laura Skidmore.
Herbuveaux was given much of the credit for an original approach to programming.
A pioneer radio broadcaster in the early 1920's, he had led a dance band which
included such musicians as Bix Biederbecke and Benny Goodman. He had produced
stage shows for the Kieth-Orpheum Circuit, and in 1931 he joined NBC Chicago as
The summer of 1948 was a busy one, with Herbuveaux commuting regularly to New
York to help set up facilities, not only for WMAQ-TV, but for the 6-station NBC
Midwest Television Network.
By September, WMAQ-TV had installed a coaxial cable link between its Merchandise
Mart headquarters and the Illinois Bell Telephone Company. It was the first such
intra-city cable to be installed by any Chicago television station.
At the Merchandise Mart, the engineers who were converting a radio studio into
WMAQ-TV's first television studio were astounded to discover that their radio
predecessors---nearly 15 years earlier---had the foresight to install heavy cable
and outlets for TV lights, apparently under the assumption that the studio would
one day be used for television.