AYLESWORTH SEES CHICAGO AS RADIO HUB
Head of NBC Tells Members of Association How City is to Lead
EVANS E. PLUMMER
article below, which appeared in the Chicago Herald and Examiner on December 4th,
1930 reflects the grandiose vision NBC management had developed for its Chicago
Chicago became a key network origination point primarily for technical reasons:
in the days before there were practical instantaneous recording techniques, and
at a time, therefore, when it was necessary to broadcast the same program at least
twice to hit stations in three time zones at an appropriate hour, it was far simpler---and
far more economical---to service a nation-wide network from a central location.
Broadcasting a program twice from Chicago was far simpler than broadcasting it
twice from New York. A Chicago origination, in its first instance, would typically
be directed to the Central and Eastern time zones (leaving network lines west
of Chicago free for other programs). Two hours later, the same program would be
repeated, this time directed to the Mountain and Pacific zones (leaving the lines
east of Chicago free). But if a program were repeated from New York, it would
typically tie up the entire network---and would leave lines tied up in two time
zones in which the program had already been broadcast. The only way around this
problem was ordering a special line---an enormously expensive proposition and
a daunting technical challenge.
NBC first encountered these issues when it established its permanent coast-to-coast
network on December 24th, 1928 and began full-time---as opposed to prime-time
only---broadcasting. (From NBC's inception in November, 1926 until the end of
1928, its Red and Blue networks were essentially evening and night-time operations,
and had broadcast no farther west than Omaha. Its Orange network separately served
the West Coast with its own programing (primarily from San Francisco) and was
interconnected with the Red and Blue networks only for special broadcasts---and
then, only with voice-quality telephone circuits.)
NBC's network configuration problem was compounded by the small number of studios
available at its 711 Fifth Avenue headquarters. From 1929 onward, it increasingly
turned to Chicago for solutions. This trend continued until the late 1930's, when
the opening of its Hollywood studios relieved some of the production pressures
and when advanced recording techniques made it possible to eliminate some repeat
broadcasts (though NBC seemed to have limited its transcribed rebroadcasts to
its daytime schedule.)
the western spirit, ladies and gentlemen, that brings forward the greatest activity
in any development," said Merlin H. Aylesworth, president of the National
Broadcasting Company, in addressing the luncheon meeting yesterday of the Chicago
Association of Commerce.
"Three years ago," he continued, "I said that Chicago would be
the radio center of the United States. Today, from the National Broadcasting Company
facility and studio standpoint, that prediction has come true. In a few months,
more programs will originate here than in New York."
The distinguished head of the world's greatest broadcasting system firmly held
his audiences's attention as he described how his company's activities were broadening
religious tolerance, subtly educating tired workers without their realizing they
are learning, and aiding the farmer in his business problems.
Aylesworth criticized the "transcription" program as unprogressive,
but said that perhaps it is better to have good phonograph records than poor talent
from stations unable to present high class living voices and music. "If radio
is to become a self-winding phonograph," he continued, "I feel that
people might as well play records themselves and save the crowded air channels
for the LIVING voice.
"We spent $6,000 for broadcasting the songs of four live canaries last year
on one of our morning noncommercial programs, when we could have used a phonograph
record and saved practically the whole amount," he pointed out as a concrete
example of NBC policy.
Mr. Aylesworth told of his pride in the square deal reputation of NBC and its
associated stations; laughed at the statement that radio might supplant the press,
because, he indicated, radio can give only the headlines, and closed by expressing
satisfaction that Chicago, "from where," he said, "the finest radio
acts and programs are coming," is to become the radio center of the world.
or suggestions? click
here to send them to Rich Samuels
Rich Samuels (e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org)