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In broadcasting, a flagship (also known as a flagship station) is the broadcast which originates a television network, or a particular radio show or TV show, primarily in the United States and Canada. This includes both direct network feeds and broadcast syndication, but generally not backhauls. Not all networks or shows have a flagship station, as some originate from a dedicated radio studio or TV studio.
The term derives from the naval custom where the commanding officer of a group of naval ships would fly a distinguishing flag (see flagship - naval term). In common parlance, "flagship" is now used to mean the most important or leading member of a group, hence its various uses in broadcasting.
- Mega Millions, normally from WSB-TV in Atlanta
- Ohio Lottery weekday- and Saturday-evening drawings from WKYC-TV in Cleveland
- Michigan Lottery from WDIV-TV in Detroit
- Larry King Live from WIOD AM in Miami
- Delilah from KRWM FM in Seattle
- Clark Howard from WSB AM in Atlanta
- Rush Limbaugh from WABC AM in New York
- Live with Regis and Kelly from WABC-TV in New York
Radio network flagship stations 
In the United States, traditional radio networks currently operate without flagship stations as defined in this article. Network operations and those of the local owned and operated or affiliated stations in the same city are now separate and may come under different corporate entities.
In the US, ABC Radio programming is produced by ABC News and distributed by Cumulus Media, which owns and operates WABC in New York and KABC in Los Angeles (among other stations). CBS Radio produces programming for distribution by Westwood One but local stations WCBS and WINS in New York and KNX and KFWB in Los Angeles are operated separately from the network radio news operation. Clear Channel Communications follows a similar model: flagship stations WOR/New York (acquired in 2012) and KFI/Los Angeles are both operated mostly separately from its syndication wing, Premiere Networks (Premiere does produce some limited programming, including The Jesus Christ Show, The Tech Guy and Handel on the Law, through KFI).
WWRL in New York was an affiliate of the now-defunct Air America Radio and carries some of its programs (along with those from other distributors) but is separately owned and operated and does not produce any programs for the network. Originally, Air America Radio leased WLIB (also in New York) as its flagship station; the station was completely automated and produced no local programming. The network would later lease WZAA in Washington, D.C. as its lone self-operated station.
Fox Sports Radio's flagship station is KLAC in Los Angeles, with which it merged operations in 2009. Yahoo! Sports Radio is flagshipped at KGOW in Houston; its predecessor, Sporting News Radio, was previously flagshipped at WIDB in Chicago. CBS Sports Radio is flagshipped at WFAN (although that station does not produce programming for the network). Neither NBC Sports Radio nor ESPN Radio have definitive flagship stations.
Former flagship stations for now-defunct networks in American radio's "Big Four" era of the 1940s–1980s were:
Former flagship stations for now-defunct networks were:
- CJBC 860 Toronto (CBC Dominion Network, a secondary English-language AM service)
- CKO Montréal (a national chain of big-city English-language all-news stations, controlled primarily from Toronto)
- VONF St. John's, Dominion of Newfoundland (Broadcasting Corporation of Newfoundland - became CBN after Newfoundland and Labrador joined Canada, its rebroadcasters included VOWN in western Newfoundland and VORG radio Gander)
Syndicated radio program flagship stations 
For syndicated radio programs, it refers to the originating station from which a program is fed by satellite or other means to stations nationwide, although the show may also originate elsewhere or from a home studio via an ISDN line. Some programs such as Imus in the Morning are simulcast on television (Fox Business Network in this case). Others are simulcasted on XM Satellite Radio and / or Sirius Satellite Radio. Flagship stations of prominent syndicated radio programs currently include:
- Mitch Albom: WJR 760 AM Detroit
- Chuck Baldwin: WVTJ 610 AM Pensacola, Florida
- Dick Bartley's Classic Countdown: WCBS 101.1 FM New York City
- Jim Bohannon: WFED 1500 Washington, D.C.
- Neal Boortz: WSB 750 AM Atlanta
- Joy Browne: WOR 710 AM New York
- Delilah: KRWM 106.9 FM Seattle
- Steve Harvey Morning Show: WBLS 107.5 FM New York
- Blair Garner: WSIX-FM 97.9 Nashville, Tennessee
- Michael Graham: WCRN 830 AM Worcester, Massachusetts
- The Grand Ole Opry: WSM 650 AM Nashville, Tennessee
- The Sean Hannity Show: WABC 770 AM New York
- Roger Hedgecock: KOGO 600 AM San Diego
- Clark Howard: WSB 750 AM Atlanta
- Rusty Humphries: WGST 640 AM Atlanta
- Imus in the Morning: WABC 770 AM New York (simulcast on Fox Business Network)
- Laura Ingraham: WTNT 570 AM Washington, D.C.
- Alex Jones: KLBJ 590 AM Austin, Texas
- The Kevin and Bean Show: KROQ 106.7 FM Los Angeles
- Lars Larson: KXL 101.1 FM Portland, Oregon
- The Tech Guy with Leo Laporte: KFI 640 AM Los Angeles (broadcasts from studios in Petaluma, California)
- Mark Levin: WABC 770 AM New York
- Loveline: KROQ 106.7 FM Los Angeles
- Paul McGuire: KBRT 740 AM Los Angeles
- Michael Medved: KTTH 770 AM Seattle
- Nights with Alice Cooper: KDKB 93.3 Phoenix, Arizona
- Dennis Prager: KRLA 870 AM Los Angeles
- Renfro Valley Gatherin': WRVK 1460 AM Mount Vernon, Kentucky
- Rick and Bubba: WZZK 104.7 FM Birmingham, Alabama
- The Randi Rhodes Show: WJNO 1290 AM West Palm Beach, Florida
- Rover's Morning Glory: WMMS 100.7 FM Cleveland, Ohio
- Orion Samuelson and Max Armstrong: WGN 720 Chicago
- The Rush Limbaugh Show: WJNO 1290 AM West Palm Beach, Florida (originates from a home studio near the station)
- The Ace & TJ Show: WHQC 96.1 Charlotte, North Carolina
- The Savage Nation: KSFO 560 San Francisco
- Wheeling Jamboree: WKKX 1660 AM Wheeling, West Virginia
- The Bob and Tom Show: WFBQ 94.7 FM Indianapolis
- The Free Beer and Hot Wings Show: WWBN-FM 101.5 FM Flint, Michigan
- The Jason Lewis Show: KTLK 100.3 FM Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota
- The Stephanie Miller Show: KTLK 1150 AM, Los Angeles, California (simulcast on Current TV)
Notable former flagship radio stations 
- WXRK 92.3 FM in New York was the flagship station of The Howard Stern Show from 1985 until 2005. The show is now on Sirius Satellite Radio Channel 100 (a.k.a. Howard 100).
- WOR 710 AM in New York was the flagship station of the syndicated programs of Jay Severin, Bob Grant, The Dolans and Joey Reynolds produced in-house with its own network.
- WGN 720 AM in Chicago was considered the originating station for Paul Harvey's News and Comment and The Rest of the Story for the ABC Radio Network.
- KABC 790 AM Los Angeles was the home base of Larry Elder until the show ended its run in 2009.
- WABC had been the original flagship of The Rush Limbaugh Show before Limbaugh moved to West Palm Beach, Florida and a subsidiary of Clear Channel Communications began distributing the program. Limbaugh continues to air on WABC but is expected to jump to WOR as a result of a contract expiration at the end of 2013.
- KNEW was the flagship of The Savage Nation from 2003 to 2009.
- WNBC and WFAN were the flagships of Imus in the Morning from 1971-2007. He was dropped after his controversial remarks about the Rutgers University women's basketball team but picked up by WABC later that year.
- KPTK (1090 AM) in Seattle was the flagship of Ron Reagan's syndicated show on Air America Media before the network went bankrupt. It was one of the few shows on the network that did not originate from the network's New York studios.
- WWVA (1170 AM) flagshipped the Wheeling Jamboree from 1933 until the late 2000s.
In sports broadcasting, the flagship radio station is the sports team's primary station in the team's home market that produces game broadcasts and feeds them to affiliates. For example, WBAL (AM) is the radio flagship station of the Baltimore Orioles baseball team, which feeds Orioles' games to 20 stations in Maryland and adjacent states.
In the late 1920s, network owned-and-operated stations (or "O&O") for radio in New York began producing live entertainment and news programs, fed by telephone lines to affiliate. These eventually were dubbed flagship stations.
When television networks were formed in the United States in the late 1940s and grew during the early 1950s, television network-owned stations in New York became the production centers for programs originating on the East Coast, feeding affiliates of ABC, CBS, and NBC in the eastern three-fourths of the country. Stations in Los Angeles similarly started producing programs on the West Coast, feeding affiliates in the Pacific Time Zone, Alaska, and Hawaii. Consequently, the networks' New York stations became known as the "East Coast flagships" of their respective networks and the networks' Los Angeles stations became known as the "West Coast flagships".
However before the 1950s, San Francisco was also considered a West Coast flagship market for the networks, with much of the CBS and NBC network's West Coast news programming originating from that city. This is seen the calls of CBS's KCBS (AM) being based in their original city of San Francisco instead of Los Angeles (the use of KCBS-TV in Los Angeles only dating back to 1984), while KNBR (which was subsequently sold to another party by NBC in 1987) was formerly known as KNBC before the network moved those calls to KRCA-TV in Los Angeles in 1962.
ABC, CBS, and NBC are headquartered in New York, which is the largest television market in the U.S., so their respective New York radio and television stations are considered the overall network flagship stations. As programming schedules increased and modern technology improved transmission to affiliates, the networks set up operations centers in New York (for the East Coast feed) and Los Angeles (for the West Coast feed). Los Angeles is the second largest television market in the U.S., and traditional home to the motion picture industry and its pool of popular talent, one of the reasons the radio networks set up operations there in the 1930s and 1940s.
This arrangement is reversed for the Fox Broadcasting Company. When Fox was launched in 1986, its network operations center was (and still is) based in Los Angeles. However, Fox's parent company, the News Corporation, is headquartered in New York, along with their news division. Fox-owned WNYW in New York is considered the network's overall flagship, while sister station KTTV in Los Angeles is considered a second flagship station.
The term is also used for stations that operate satellite stations in other cities. For example, KSNW in Wichita, Kansas is the flagship station of the Kansas State Network, a chain of NBC affiliates in western Kansas.
It is also used to identify a station in terms of ownership. A flagship can be located in the market where the owner is located, or in the largest market where that owner operates. For example, WSB-TV in Atlanta is the flagship of Cox Enterprises, because Cox's headquarters is located in Atlanta (although Cox owns KTVU in San Francisco/Oakland, which is larger than Atlanta). Gannett lists three flagship stations (WXIA Atlanta, WUSA Washington, and KUSA-TV Denver). Likewise, WFAA is the flagship station for Belo, as its headquarters are located in Dallas.
Flagship television stations of nationwide networks 
United States 
|Network||East Coast flagship||West Coast flagship|
KBCW (San Francisco)
WPXP (W. Palm Beach)
- Notes: East Coast flagships are located in the New York designated market area (DMA), while the West Coast flagships are located in the Los Angeles area. The CW's Philadelphia & San Francisco stations are listed as the largest CW stations owned by CBS Corporation (and thus are directly owned), while Tribune owns KTLA and WPIX. Miami stations are listed for Univision, Telemundo, and UniMás (formerly TeleFutura) due to their operations being major production bases for those networks. The Miami area stations for Ion Television are also listed due to their parent company being based out of West Palm Beach; however none of the Ion stations listed originate programming for the national Ion network.
While the Virginia-based Public Broadcasting Service in the United States does not have an official "flagship" television station, WNET in the New York area held an official primary role with Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) predecessor, National Educational Television (NET). There are no network owned-and-operated stations (O&O) in the Public Broadcasting Service; individual PBS stations are typically owned by local non-profit groups (WPBS-TV), universities (KPBS) or state-level entities (WNJN-TV, WGPB-TV) and are called a state network. The system itself is owned collectively by the local PBS member stations. A station's importance to the system is built as much or more on the programming it produces for national distribution (a metric which places WNET as a strong third-place contender behind WGBH Boston and WETA Washington, D.C.) instead of local media market size.
In sports broadcasting, the flagship television station is the sports team's primary station in the team's home market that produces game telecasts and feeds them to affiliates. For example, WXYZ-TV in Detroit is the flagship station of The Detroit Lions Television Network, which feeds Detroit Lions pre-season football games to 6 affiliates in Michigan. However, the "sports flagship television station" is rapidly becoming a thing of the past, with the growing popularity of cable and satellite only regional sports networks such as Fox Sports Net and Comcast SportsNet who hold exclusive broadcast rights to several teams in their market, with the exception being the NFL, where the flagship television station is also the broadcast television station that airs that sports team's NFL Network or ESPN Monday Night Football games in that market (the NFL requires all subscription television games be available on broadcast channels in that team's primary market).
Religious networks 
- KTBN in Santa Ana, California - flagship of the Trinity Broadcasting Network
- KDTN in Denton/Dallas, Texas - flagship of the Daystar Television Network
- W15BU-D in Johnston City, Illinois - flagship for the Three Angels Broadcasting Network
- WTCT in Marion, Illinois- flagship of Tri-State Christian Television
- KGEB in Tulsa, Oklahoma - flagship of Golden Eagle Broadcasting
|Network||Eastern flagship||West Coast flagship|
- Notes: English language eastern flagships are located in Toronto, while most French-language network programming originates in Montreal. West Coast flagships are located in Vancouver (with the exception of Citytv, whose West Coast flagship is located in Calgary). Secondary French-language networks such as TVA and V are not carried terrestrially in Western Canada, although they are available on cable. CIII-DT-41 had always been considered the flagship station of Global in Toronto despite being a technical satellite station of CIII-DT, which transmits from Paris, Ontario. However since July 2009, the CRTC has considered CIII-DT-41 "the originating station" of Global Ontario.
|Televisa||XEW-TV (Canal de las Estrellas)
XHTV (Foro TV)
XHGC (Canal 5)
Note: All flagships are located in Mexico City.
United Kingdom 
Note: All flagships are located in London.
Note: All flagship stations are located in Sydney.
Notable American flagship stations of syndicated television programs 
- The popular nationally syndicated program Live! with Kelly and Michael is produced at WABC-TV in New York.
- The popular nationally syndicated show At The Movies was produced at WLS-TV in Chicago. Successor program Roger Ebert presents At the Movies originated from WTTW in Chicago.
- Although later produced by Harpo Studios, The Oprah Winfrey Show considered WLS-TV its flagship as the program concept as hosted by Winfrey originated in 1983 as part of WLS's mid-morning show, and Oprah was always aired first in the nation at 9am local time on WLS.
- The show View from the Bay is produced at KGO-TV in San Francisco and syndicated to ABC owned and operated stations and Live Well HD Network nationwide.
- Until the consolidation of the ITV franchises during the 1990s, the majority of primetime programming on the ITV network originated from a group of franchises known as "The Big Five" (Thames Television, LWT, ATV/ Central, Yorkshire, and Granada)
Station group flagship stations 
In the United States, the term "flagship station" may also be used in the broadcasting industry to refer to a station which is co-located with the headquarters of its station group and considered the company's most important station. For example, WDIV-TV in Detroit is the flagship station of Post-Newsweek Stations; and WGN-TV in Chicago is the flagship station of Tribune Broadcasting.
See also 
- "Jorge Delgado Named President and General Manager of Univision Flagship Station KMEX and Telefutura Station KFTR". Univision. February 13, 2002. Retrieved 2007-10-31.
- Why KCET never became a major player in the PBS network, Melissa Maerz and Scott Collins, Los Angeles Times, December 26, 2010
- WXYZ: "Detroit Lions and WXYZ partner for 2011 season", February 8, 2011.