RKO General

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"Endcap" of WOR-TV, RKO General's station in the New York City market. This version of the closing logo is from 1986, during the station's last months under RKO ownership.

RKO General was the main holding company through 1991 for the noncore businesses of the General Tire and Rubber Company and, after General Tire's reorganization in the 1980s, GenCorp. The business was based around the consolidation of its parent company's broadcasting interests, dating to 1943, and the RKO Pictures movie studio General Tire purchased in 1955. The holding company acquired the name of RKO General in 1959 after General Tire dissolved the film studio. Headquartered in New York City, the company operated six television stations and more than a dozen major radio stations around North America between 1959 and 1991.

RKO General still exists, at least nominally, registered as a Delaware corporation.[1] In addition to broadcasting, its other former operations included soft-drink bottling and hotel enterprises. The original Frontier Airlines was a subsidiary from 1968 to 1985.[2] In 1981, the company revived RKO Pictures on a small scale. It is as a broadcaster, however, that RKO General left its mark. Recognized as the owner of some of the most influential radio stations in the world and as a pioneer in subscription TV service, RKO General also became known for the longest licensing dispute in television history.

History[edit]

Early days[edit]

General Tire entered broadcasting in 1943, when it bought a controlling interest in the Yankee Network, a regional radio network in New England. The Yankee Network owned and operated four stations: flagship WNAC in Boston; WAAB in Worcester, Massachusetts; WEAN in Providence, Rhode Island; and WICC in Bridgeport, Connecticut.[3] With the Yankee Network purchase, General Tire also picked up its contracts with 17 independently owned affiliates and acquired a stake in the Mutual Broadcasting System, a cooperatively owned national radio network.[4]

On June 21, 1948, the Yankee Network launched New England's third television station: Boston's WNAC-TV went on the air just days after WBZ-TV, also in Boston, and WNHC-TV, licensed to New Haven, Connecticut. The TV station's transmitter site also served a new FM outlet, the first and only station to be established under General Tire ownership. While the Yankee Network had been operating experimental FM stations since 1939, WNAC-FM was the first that would survive past the early 1950s.[5]

In December 1950, General Tire purchased the Don Lee Broadcasting System, a long-standing West Coast regional network, for $12.3 million. This brought three more leading stations into the General Tire stable—KHJ (with its simulcasting sister, KHJ-FM) in Los Angeles, KFRC in San Francisco, and KGB in San Diego. The acquisition also expanded the company's holdings in the Mutual Broadcasting System.[6] Under the terms of the deal, the Columbia Broadcasting System acquired Don Lee's Los Angeles television station, KTSL.[7] In 1951, General Tire acquired its own station in the city when it bought KFI-TV from Earle C. Anthony, changing the call letters to KHJ-TV.

In 1952, General Tire purchased the Bamberger Broadcasting Service, owner of WOR-AM-FM-TV in New York, from R.H. Macy and Company.[8] Bamberger itself was a division of General Teleradio Inc., a Macy's subsidiary. In the deal, General Tire acquired the rights to the name General Teleradio, under which the company merged its broadcasting interests as a new division.[9] The deal also gave General Tire majority control of the Mutual Broadcasting System.[10] The company moved into Memphis, Tennessee in 1954 with its purchase of WHBQ radio and WHBQ-TV.[11] Exiting two mid-sized urban markets that same year, General sold off WEAN to the Providence Journal and KGB to the San Diego station's general manager, Marion Harris.[12] On the evening of July 8, 1954, WHBQ disc jockey Dewey Phillips introduced a song called "That's All Right (Mama)", the first ever recording to air on the radio by a local singer named Elvis Presley.[13]

The RKO purchase[edit]

General Teleradio's chairman, Thomas O'Neil (son of General Tire founder William O'Neil) recognized that his television stations needed access to better programming. In 1953, he tried to buy the film library of RKO Radio Pictures—including many of the most famous movies made by Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Katharine Hepburn, and Cary Grant—but was rebuffed by the studio's then owner, Howard Hughes. However, after Hughes failed in a bid to acquire total control of RKO, he sold the studio to General Tire for $25 million in July 1955.[14] Merging RKO with General Teleradio to form RKO Teleradio Pictures, General Tire quickly recouped most of the purchase price by selling the primary rights to RKO's film library to C&C Television Corp, a subsidiary of beverage maker Cantrell & Cochrane, for $15.2 million. Historian William Boddy describes the sale of the RKO library as "the trigger for the flood of feature films to television in the mid-1950s."[15]

On the broadcasting front, RKO briefly owned WEAT (AM) and WEAT-TV in West Palm Beach, Florida; they were sold off before the company's next reorganization in 1959.[16] In 1956, WOR (AM) became the New York market's number one station with the success of its new "Music from Studio X." Hosted by John A. Gambling, the "easy listening" show was broadcast out of an innovative high-fidelity studio where, according to reports, "each clean new record was touched by a needle only one time."[17] Also in 1956, a new General Tire subsidiary, RKO Distributing (which would later become part of RKO General), acquired a controlling interest in the Western Ontario Broadcasting Company, which operated CKLW-AM-FM-TV in Windsor, Ontario. The AM station, in particular, served a large swath of the U.S. Rust Belt, centered on the major market of Detroit.[18] CKLW was also yet another shareholder in the Mutual Broadcasting System.

General Tire retained the broadcast rights to the RKO films in the cities where it owned television stations, but it had little interest in the studio itself. After a brief, half-hearted dip into the movie industry, General Tire shut down both production and distribution early in 1957. That summer, it sold its entire, majority stake in the Mutual network to a syndicate led by famed entrepreneur Armand Hammer.[19] By the end of the year, the company had sold off the RKO Pictures studio facilities and backlot. Several unreleased films were put out by other studios and distribution exchanges through the spring of 1959. That same year, RKO Teleradio was renamed RKO General.[20]

A leading broadcaster[edit]

Promotional material from 1968 for KHJ (AM) in Los Angeles, where the nationally successful Boss Radio format was launched.

The classic RKO General station lineup was based around the WOR stations in New York City, the KHJ stations in Los Angeles, KFRC-AM-FM in San Francisco, WGMS-AM-FM in and near Washington, D.C., the WNAC stations in Boston, the WHBQ stations in Memphis, and the CKLW stations in Windsor/Detroit, which RKO purchased outright in 1963. The company later acquired radio outlets in the major markets of Chicago and MiamiFort Lauderdale. Between 1960 and 1972, RKO owned a sixth TV station, WHCT, a UHF outlet in Hartford, Connecticut. After the Canadian government tightened rules on foreign ownership of radio and TV stations, RKO General was forced to sell off the Windsor group in 1970.[21] In the mid-1970s, RKO sought to dispense with the FM outlets it had established in some of its oldest markets, while maintaining its presence on the AM dial: San Francisco's KFRC-FM was sold in 1977; around the same time, WHBQ-FM in Memphis was divested as well. An attempted sale of the company's Boston FM station was aborted.[22]

In 1959, RKO and NBC reached an agreement on what would have been the highest-priced license transfer in broadcasting history to that time. The deal would have seen RKO acquire NBC's WRC-AM-FM-TV in Washington, swap WNAC-AM-TV and WRKO-FM (the former WNAC-FM) in Boston to NBC for that company's WRCV-AM-TV in Philadelphia, and sell the WGMS stations in Washington to Crowell-Collier Broadcasting (as Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulations at that time would not permit ownership of both the WRC stations and the WGMS stations). The deal was an attempt to resolve a controversy surrounding a 1956 swap of NBC and Westinghouse Broadcasting stations in Philadelphia and Cleveland. In 1965, the FCC declared the 1956 trade null and void, effectively reversing the swap, and denied the proposed license transfers on what would prove to be the ironic ground that NBC would enter the Boston market as the product of its dishonesty in the Philadelphia/Cleveland transaction. Coincidentally, RKO's former Boston TV station became an NBC affiliate in 1995 after its longtime affiliate, Westinghouse-owned WBZ-TV, switched to CBS in a precursor to that network's merger with Westinghouse, which includes the aforementioned Philadelphia stations.

RKO General's lineup included some of the leading top 40 and urban contemporary radio stations in North America. In May 1965, KHJ (AM) introduced the highly successful Boss Radio variation of the top 40 format. Consultants Bill Drake and Gene Chenault, who had devised the restrictive programming style, soon brought it to RKO's AM stations in San Francisco, Boston, and Memphis, also with great success. The format helped Windsor's CKLW (AM) to become the dominant station not only in Detroit, but also in more distant cities such as Cleveland and Toledo, Ohio.[23] Before long, many non-RKO broadcasters around the country were hiring the Boss Radio consulting team to convert them to the format, or simply imitating it on their own. In October 1972, KHJ-FM debuted Drake-Chenault's new automated rock oldies format, Classic Gold, another major hit.[24] As WOR-FM and its later incarnations, rock-formatted WXLO and urban WRKS-FM, RKO's New York FM station pioneered a number of styles, including a more oldies-heavy version of Boss Radio and, later, so-called rhythmic formats. In 1983, it became one of the first major stations to play rap music on a regular basis.[25] In late 1979, the company launched the RKO Radio Network.[26] In 1981, the network began transmitting what has been claimed as the first national talk show delivered by satellite—the six-hour-long America Overnight broadcast out of Dallas and Los Angeles.[27]

As a television broadcaster, RKO General was known as an operator of independent stations. New York's WOR-TV ran without network affiliation during its entire tenure with RKO, as did Hartford's WHCT. Los Angeles's KHJ-TV was a DuMont affiliate until 1955 and independent for its next 34 years under RKO control. Windsor's CKLW-TV was nominally an affiliate of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, but was programmed largely as an independent(it is now owned by the CBC outright).[28] Two of the company's stations were run as network affiliates: Boston's WNAC-TV, originally a CBS affiliate, also aired DuMont and ABC programming during its early years. It became a full-time ABC affiliate in 1961, returning to CBS exclusively in 1972. Memphis's WHBQ-TV was a dual CBS/ABC station at its 1953 launch; it joined ABC full-time in 1956.

The company's independent television stations (including CKLW) were known for showing classic films under the banner of Million Dollar Movie. The trend-setting movie package was launched by WOR in 1954, nearly a year before General Tire's acquisition of RKO Pictures and its library. Into the 1980s, Million Dollar Movie—introduced by music from 1952's Ivanhoe and, later, Gone with the Wind—aired RKO productions and those of many other studios as well.[29] In summer 1962, RKO General initiated on WHCT what became the first extended venture into subscription TV service. Until January 31, 1969, the station aired movies, sports events, concerts, and other live performances without commercial interruption. The operation generated income from installation and weekly rental fees for descrambling devices—provided by RKO's partner, Zenith Electronics—as well as individual program charges.[30] During its final decade as a significant business entity, the company would reenter the movie industry that had given it its name, reviving the RKO Pictures brand in 1981 for a series of coproductions and then its own independent projects. This new RKO Pictures was involved in the production of about a dozen feature films, the best known including a 1982 remake of the RKO classic Cat People and the Vietnam War movie Hamburger Hill (1987).

The licensing saga[edit]

Troubles begin[edit]

In 1965, RKO General applied for renewal of its license for KHJ-TV in Los Angeles. Fidelity Television, a local group, challenged the renewal, charging RKO with second-rate programming. Later, and more seriously, Fidelity claimed that General Tire conditioned its dealings with certain vendors on the basis that they would in turn buy advertising time on RKO General stations. Arrangements of this type, known as "reciprocal trade practices," are considered to be anticompetitive. RKO and General Tire executives testified before the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), rejecting the accusations. In 1969, the commission issued an initial finding that Fidelity's claims were correct. That same year, RKO faced a license challenge for WNAC-TV in Boston, again charged with reciprocal trade practices. In 1973, the FCC ruled in favor of RKO in the Los Angeles case, pending findings in the still ongoing investigation of the Boston charges. When RKO applied for renewal of its license for WOR-TV in New York in 1974, the FCC conditioned this renewal on the WNAC-TV case as well.[31]

On June 21, 1974, an administrative law judge renewed the WNAC-TV license despite finding that General Tire and RKO General had engaged in reciprocal trade practices. In December 1975, Community Broadcasting, one of the companies competing for the Boston station, asked the FCC to revisit the case, alleging that General Tire bribed foreign officials, maintained a slush fund for U.S. political campaign contributions, and misappropriated revenue from overseas operations. RKO expressly denied these and other allegations of corporate wrongdoing on General Tire's part during a series of proceedings that followed over the next year and a half. On July 1, 1977, however, in settling an action brought by the Securities and Exchange Commission, General Tire admitted to an eye-popping litany of corporate misconduct, including the bribery and slush fund charges.[32] Nonetheless, the RKO proceedings dragged on.

The loss of WNAC-TV[edit]

After a half-decade in the most recent round of hearings and investigations, the FCC stripped RKO of WNAC-TV's license on June 6, 1980, finding that RKO "lacked the requisite character" to be the station's licensee.[33] Factors in the decision were the reciprocal trade practices of the 1960s, false financial filings by RKO, and the gross misconduct admitted to by General Tire in nonbroadcast fields.

The basis for revocation, however, that would prove most damning was RKO's dishonesty before the Commission. In the course of the WNAC-TV hearings, RKO had withheld evidence of General Tire's misconduct, including the fact that the SEC had begun an investigation of the company in 1976. RKO also denied that it had improperly reported exchanges of broadcast time for various services, despite indications to the contrary in General Tire's 1976 annual report. The FCC consequently found that RKO had displayed a "persistent lack of candor" regarding its own and General Tire's misdeeds, thus threatening "the integrity of the Commission's processes."[34] The FCC ruling meant that RKO lost the KHJ-TV and WOR-TV licenses as well.

RKO appealed the decision to the District of Columbia U.S. Court of Appeals. The court upheld the revocation solely on the basis of RKO's lack of candor, writing in its opinion that "[t]he record presented to this court shows irrefutably that the licensee was playing the dodger to serious charges involving it and its parent company."[35] However, the court interpreted the candor issue so narrowly that it applied only to WNAC-TV, and ordered rehearings for the WOR-TV and KHJ-TV licenses. RKO General again appealed, this time to the U.S. Supreme Court. On April 19, 1982, the court refused to review the license revocation. RKO had lost the case for good. As a result of the decision, RKO General sold WNAC-TV's assets to New England Television (NETV), a new company resulting from the merger of Community Broadcasting and another competitor for the license, the Dudley Station Corporation. As part of the settlement, the FCC granted a full license to NETV, which renamed the station WNEV-TV.[36] The station has since changed its call letters to WHDH-TV (not to be confused with Boston's original Channel 5 that used the same call letters).

Endgame[edit]

In February 1983, the FCC began a concerted effort to force RKO out of broadcasting once and for all. It began taking competing applications for all of the company's broadcasting licenses.[37] RKO, however, was about to get a partial, and temporary, reprieve. Congress passed a law, sponsored by New Jersey senator Bill Bradley, requiring the commission to automatically renew the license of any commercial VHF television station relocating to a state without one, “notwithstanding any other provision of law.” The only states qualifying at the time were Delaware and New Jersey, where no commercial VHF outlet had been licensed since 1962.[38] On April 20, 1983, RKO General officially changed WOR-TV's city of license from New York to Secaucus, New Jersey, where it remains today.[39] The FCC required the station to move its main studio to New Jersey and step up coverage of events in the state.[40] Nonetheless, with featured programming such as New York Mets baseball games, WOR-TV maintained its identity as a New York station.[41] Ironically, WOR radio was first licensed to nearby Newark, New Jersey, and didn't move to New York until 1941.[42]

A year after the renewal of the WOR-TV license, General Tire reorganized its farflung corporate interests into a holding company, GenCorp, with General Tire and RKO General as its leading subsidiaries. The RKO Radio Networks operation was sold to United Stations.[43] The WOR move did little to relieve the regulatory pressure on RKO General, and GenCorp put the station on the market early in 1986. A joint venture between MCA/Universal and Cox Enterprises (Cox later dropped out over disputes as to which company would run the station) outbid Chris-Craft and Group W for control of the station, receiving FCC approval for the purchase in late November.[44] On April 29, 1987, MCA changed the station's call letters to WWOR.[45]

The timing of the WOR-TV sale was fortunate for RKO. In August 1987, FCC administrative law judge Edward Kuhlmann found RKO unfit to be a broadcast licensee due to a long history of deceptive practices. He ordered RKO to surrender the licenses for its remaining two television stations and twelve radio stations. Among other things, he found that RKO misled advertisers about its ratings, engaged in fraudulent billing, lied repeatedly to the FCC about a destroyed audit report, and filed numerous false financial statements. Kuhlmann described RKO's conduct as the worst case of dishonesty in FCC history.[46] After declaring that all of the employees responsible for the misconduct had been fired, GenCorp and RKO entered an appeal, claiming that the ruling was deeply flawed.[47] However, the FCC let it be known that it would almost certainly reject any appeals and strip the licenses. It urged RKO to sell the stations before that became necessary.[48] RKO's parent company, GenCorp, then battling a hostile takeover bid by an investor group, was hungry for cash as a result of paying a premium on its own shares to stave off the attack. Liquidation of assets on the verge of being lost was the obvious course.

Exiting the media business[edit]

Over the next four years, RKO dismantled its broadcast operations. Its original AM station in Boston, whose name it had changed from WNAC to WRKO in 1967, and its FM station in the city, at that point known as WROR, were sold to Atlantic Ventures.[49] In New York, WOR (AM) was acquired by Buckley Broadcasting and WRKS-FM (the former WOR-FM) went to Summit Communications. The company's two radio stations in the Washington, D.C., market were sold to Classical Acquisition Partnership.[50] In Los Angeles, the KRTH (formerly KHJ) radio stations were purchased by Beasley Broadcasting, which in turn sold KRTH (AM) to Liberman Broadcasting. Liberman renamed the station KKHJ, then restored the original KHJ calls in 2000. In 1988, the decades-long licensing saga of KHJ-TV officially came to an end: Under an FCC-supervised deal, the station's license was granted to the company that had raised the original challenge to RKO General, Fidelity, which then transferred it to the Walt Disney Company. For the station and its assets, Disney paid $324 million, with RKO collecting approximately two-thirds and Fidelity the remainder. Disney would rename the station KCAL-TV the following year.[51] During this period, the company also divested its radio stations in Chicago and Miami–Fort Lauderdale, as well as the remaining assets of its movie-related operations. By the turn of the decade, its last significant media holdings were the WHBQ TV and AM radio stations in Memphis and KFRC (AM) in San Francisco. In 1990, the Memphis stations were sold to Adams Communications. The following year, KFRC was sold to Bedford Broadcasting and RKO General was out of the broadcasting business.[52]

Notable Legal Case[edit]

In the summer of 1970, KHJ — which had "an extensive teenage audience" — had a promotion called "The Super Summer Spectacular."[53] The promotion involved contests in which a disc jockey (DJ) would drive "a conspicuous red automobile" to a particular area and an announcer would state over the air that the DJ was headed to that area.[54] The first person who found the DJ and fulfilled a specified condition would receive a cash prize and would be interviewed on the air by that DJ.[55] The conditions varied from answering a question correctly to having certain items of clothing.[56]

On July 16, 1970, two teenagers, who were following a DJ in separate cars, drove at speeds up to 80 miles per hour so that they could be closest to the DJ when the next contest was announced.[57] One of the teenagers forced another motorist's car off the road, and the motorist — 32 year old Ronald Weirum[58][59] — was killed when the car overturned.[60]

Weirum's wife and children filed a wrongful death action against both teenagers, the manufacturer of Weirum's car, and RKO General, which was the owner of KHJ. One of the teenagers settled with the plaintiffs before trial.[61] A jury subsequently found in favor of the manufacturer of the car, but found that the second teenager and RKO General were both liable for the accident. The jury awarded the plaintiffs $300,000 of damages.[62] RKO General appealed.

In 1975, the California Supreme Court affirmed the jury's verdict that RKO General was legally liable for the accident, holding that there was sufficient evidence to permit the jury to find that the contest's risk of harm to the public, including Weirum, had been "foreseeable." The court said:

These tragic events unfolded in the middle of a Los Angeles summer, a time when young people were free from the constraints of school and responsive to relief from vacation tedium. Seeking to attract new listeners, KHJ devised an "exciting" promotion. Money and a small measure of momentary notoriety awaited the swiftest response. It was foreseeable that defendant's youthful listeners, finding the prize had eluded them at one location, would race to arrive first at the next site and in their haste would disregard the demands of highway safety.[63]

The court also said that KHJ had negligently created an undue risk to the public:

We need not belabor the grave danger inherent in the contest broadcast by defendant. The risk of a high speed automobile chase is the risk of death or serious injury. Obviously, neither the entertainment afforded by the contest nor its commercial rewards can justify the creation of such a grave risk. Defendant could have accomplished its objectives of entertaining its listeners and increasing advertising revenues by adopting a contest format which would have avoided danger to the motoring public.[64]

The court rejected RKO General's contention that the contest was like an athletic department's sale of a limited number of tickets to a sporting event or a department store's holding of a "while-they-last" sale. It said:

The giveaway contest was no commonplace invitation to an attraction available on a limited basis. It was a competitive scramble in which the thrill of the chase to be the one and only victor was intensified by the live broadcasts which accompanied the pursuit. In the assertedly analogous situations described by defendant, any haste involved in the purchase of the commodity is an incidental and unavoidable result of the scarcity of the commodity itself. In such situations there is no attempt, as here, to generate a competitive pursuit on public streets, accelerated by repeated importuning by radio to be the very first to arrive at a particular destination. Manifestly the "spectacular" bears little resemblance to daily commercial activities.[65]

The California Supreme Court's decision in Weirum v. RKO General, Inc. became a notable decision on the subject of the duty of care in tort law.[66]

Former holdings[edit]

Stations are arranged in alphabetical order by state and community of license.

Television stations[edit]

City of license / Market Station Channel TV (RF) Years Owned Current Ownership Status
Los Angeles KHJ-TV 9 (9) 1951–1989 Independent station, KCAL-TV, owned by CBS Corporation
Hartford - New Haven, CT WGTH-TV/WHCT 18 (46) 1954–1956
1959–1972
Univision affiliate, WUVN, owned by Entravision Communications
West Palm Beach WEAT-TV 12 (13) 1955–1957 CBS affiliate, WPEC, owned by Sinclair Broadcast Group
Boston WNAC-TV 7 (42) 1948–1982 NBC affiliate, WHDH, owned by Sunbeam Television
New York City
(Secaucus, New Jersey)
WOR-TV 9 (38) 1952–1987 MyNetworkTV affiliate, WWOR-TV, owned by Fox Television Stations
Windsor, Ontario - Detroit CKLW-TV 9 (9) 1956–1970 CBC owned-and-operated (O&O), CBET-DT
Memphis WHBQ-TV 13 (13) 1954–1990 Fox affiliate owned by Cox Media Group

Radio stations[edit]

AM Stations FM Stations
Market Station Years owned Current ownership
Los Angeles KHJ/KRTH–930
(now KHJ once again)
1951–1989 Liberman Broadcasting
KHJ-FM/KRTH-FM–101.1 1951–1989 CBS Radio
San Diego KGB–1360
(now KLSD)
1951–1954 Clear Channel Communications
San Francisco KFRC–610
(now KEAR)
1951–1989 Family Radio
KFRC-FM–106.1
(now KMEL)
1960–1977 Clear Channel Communications
Bridgeport, Connecticut WICC–600 1943–1952 Cumulus Media
Hartford, Connecticut WONS/WGTH–1410
(now WPOP)
1946–1956 Clear Channel Communications
Washington, D.C. WGMS–570
(now WTNT)
1957–1989 Red Zebra Broadcasting
WGMS-FM–103.5
(now WTOP-FM)
1957–1989 Hubbard Broadcasting
Fort LauderdaleMiamiHollywood, FL WAXY-FM–105.9
(now WBGG-FM)
1973–1990 Clear Channel Communications
West Palm Beach WEAT–850
(now WFTL)
1955–1957 James Crystal Radio Group
Chicago WFYR-FM–103.5
(now WKSC-FM)
1973–1989 Clear Channel Communications
Boston WNAC/WRKO–680 1943–1989 Entercom Communications
WNAC-FM/WRKO/WROR–98.5
(now WBZ-FM)
1948–1989 CBS Radio
Worcester, Massachusetts WAAB–1440
(now WVEI)
1943–1950 Entercom Communications
W1XOJ/WGTR–107.3
(now WAAF)
c. 1943–c. 1956 Entercom Communications
New York City WOR–710 1952–1989 Clear Channel Communications
WOR-FM/WXLO/WRKS–98.7
(now WEPN-FM)
1952–1989 Emmis Communications
(operated under LMA by Disney/ESPN)
Windsor, Ontario - Detroit CKLW–800 1956–1970 Bell Media
CKLW-FM–93.9
(now CIDR-FM)
1956–1970 Bell Media
ProvidenceWarwick, RI WEAN–790
(now WPRV)
1943–1954 Cumulus Media
Memphis WHBQ–560 1954–1990 Flinn Broadcasting
WHBQ-FM–105.9
(now WGKX-FM)
1954–1972 Cumulus Media

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Brilmayer, Lea, and Jack Goldsmith, Conflict of Laws, 5th ed. (New York: Aspen, 2002), 464; GENCORP INC GY Annual Report; Exhibit G: Listing of GenCorp Inc. Subsidiaries (1) form 10-K405, filed February 13, 1997; GENCORP INC GY Annual Report; Exhibit 21.1: Wholly-Owned Subsidiaries form 10-K, filed February 14, 2005. Retrieved 11/21/06. The many unsourced online claims that RKO General (a) was sold, (b) folded, and/or (c) had its name changed to RKO Pictures are all mistaken. In sum: its primary assets were sold; its broadcast operations folded; and its RKO Pictures subsidiary was spun off. But the company still exists as a GenCorp subsidiary.
  2. ^ Frontier Airlines Timeline part of Old Frontier Airlines/FLamily web circle. Retrieved 9/24/06. See also Dial, Scott, "Tailspin of Frontier," Stapleton Innerline, August 29, 1986 (this article and much other information on the relationship between General Tire/RKO General and Frontier available via The Death of Frontier Airlines).
  3. ^ "Rubber Yankee," Time, January 18, 1943 (available online). For the procedure by which General changed WNAC's frequency from 1260 to 680 AM, see The Boston Radio Dial: WRKO (AM) part of BostonRadio.org.
  4. ^ See Some History of the Mutual Broadcasting System for an extensive discussion of the network's history and organization by historian Elizabeth McLeod. Retrieved 11/21/06.
  5. ^ "John Shepard's FM Stations—America's First FM Network" essay by Donna Halper; The Boston Radio Dial: WBMX (FM) both part of BostonRadio.org. Retrieved 11/29/06.
  6. ^ "Don Lee Sale Approval Asked," Los Angeles Times, November 21, 1950; "Sale of Don Lee System Approved: Cash Payment of $12,320,000 Involved in FCC Decision," Los Angeles Times, December 28, 1950.
  7. ^ Grace, Roger M., "Channel 2, Du Mont Split Up," Metropolitan News-Enterprise, October 10, 2002 (available online); Howard, Herbert H., Multiple Ownership in Television Broadcasting: Historical Development and Selected Case Studies (New York: Arno Press, 1979), 151. See also "Static," Time, October 30, 1950 (available online). It is not clear from available sources whether General Tire ever briefly owned KTSL or not. Grace gives 1951 as the year of KTSL's purchase by CBS; Howard gives 1950.
  8. ^ "Radio-TV Merger Approved By F.C.C.; Deal Covers Macy's Transfer of WOR Interests to General Tire's Don Lee System," New York Times, January 18, 1952.
  9. ^ "Earnings Fall 5% for Macy System; Television's High Cost for Subsidiary, General Teleradio, Cuts Consolidated Net," New York Times, October 11, 1950; Howard, Multiple Ownership, 150–152.
  10. ^ "General Tire Gets Control of M. B. S.; Shareholders at Meeting Vote 2-for-1 Stock Split—Company Buys More TV Stations," New York Times, April 2, 1952.
  11. ^ "Six stations being sold for nearly $15 million." Broadcasting - Telecasting, Mar. 8, 1954, pp. 27-28. [1] [2]
  12. ^ "Radio Stations 40 or More Years Old in 1962," Broadcasting, May 14, 1962 (available online); Crane, Marie Brenne, "Radio Station KGB and the Development of Commercial Radio In San Diego," Journal of San Diego History, vol. 26, no. 1 [winter 1980] (available online); FCC report, 258. Note that the first two cited sources are not entirely reliable and that the third is based on a Google Book Search snippet view, resulting from a search on the string <"Providence Journal" WEAN 1954>. Thus the dating of the WEAN and KGB sales are each based on two apparently independent sources—Broadcasting and the FCC snippet in the former case; Broadcasting and the Crane article in the latter. As of the 1950 census, San Diego ranked 31st in population among U.S. cities; Providence ranked 43rd. In comparison, Memphis, where the WHBQ cluster became one of RKO's mainstays, ranked 26th (see Population of the 100 Largest Urban Places: 1950—U.S. Bureau of the Census). Dates have not been established for RKO's sale of the two other stations in mid-sized markets acquired via the Yankee Network, WAAB and WICC, nor for KDB in Santa Barbara, California, acquired via Don Lee.
  13. ^ Guralnick, Peter, Last Train to Memphis: The Rise of Elvis Presley (Boston et al.: Back Bay/Little, Brown, 1994), 98–101.
  14. ^ "R. K. O. Studio Sold to General Tire; Hughes Stock Acquired for $25,000,000 in Cash—Use as TV Film Center Hinted," New York Times, July 19, 1955; "Hollywood Sale; General Tire and Rubber Enters Film Field in Big Way Via R. K. O. Deal," New York Times, July 24, 1955.
  15. ^ Boddy, William, Fifties Television: The Industry and Its Critics (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1990), 138.
  16. ^ Broadcasting & Cable Yearbook 1994 (New Providence, N.J.: R.R. Bowker, 1994), 353; "Investigation of Regulatory Commissions and Agencies: Hearings Before a Subcommittee of the Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce," U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce (1958).
  17. ^ "Radio: Easy Listening; New WOR Program of Recorded 'Music From Studio X' Is Soft and Sweet," New York Times, July 10, 1956; Jaker, Bill, Frank Sulek, and Peter Kanze, The Airwaves of New York: Illustrated Histories of 156 AM Stations in the Metropolitan Area (Jeffferson, N.C.: McFarland, 1998), 155.
  18. ^ CKLW-AM Radio Station History part of the Canadian Communications Foundation—Fondation Des Communications Candiennes website. Retrieved 11/21/06.
  19. ^ "Sale of Mutual Expected Today; Radio Network Is Going to Group From West Coast," New York Times, July 17, 1957.
  20. ^ O'Neill, Dennis J., A Whale of a Territory: The Story of Bill O'Neil (New York: McGraw Hill, 1966), 180. Many online information sites give RKO General's year of inception incorrectly as 1958. As further support for the 1959 dating, note that there is no mention of RKO General in either the New York Times or the Los Angeles Times before February 1960. Note that Brilmayer and Goldsmith write, "The record reflects that GenCorp has owned and operated RKO General as a Delaware subsidiary since 1955" (559). To be more precise, just as GenCorp is the direct corporate descendant of General Tire, RKO General is the direct descendant of General Tire's subsidiary RKO Teleradio, indeed founded in 1955.
  21. ^ CKLW-AM Radio Station History. Retrieved 11/21/06.
  22. ^ "KMEL Is a Dry Hump" part of the San Francisco Call website; San Francisco Bay Area Radio History—Part 2 part of the Tangent Sunset website; Puttin' on the Hits: Chapter 6 ebook by former radio program director John Long. Retrieved 11/28/06.
  23. ^ "The Long-Lasting Impact of CKLW on the Whole Radio Industry" essay by Steve Hunter; part of the Classic CKLW Page website. Retrieved 12/9/06.
  24. ^ RKO historical essay by Woody Goulart; part of Boss Radio Forever website. Retrieved 11/28/06.
  25. ^ Interview w/Kool DJ Red Alert interview by Davey D, September 1996; part of Davey D's Hip Hop Corner website. Retrieved 9/23/06.
  26. ^ "RKO Radio Set to Start a Network," New York Times, August 23, 1979; "October 1, 1979/A New Lifesound/The RKO Radio Network" (advertisement), Billboard, September 1, 1979, 11.
  27. ^ Cox, Jim, Say Goodnight, Gracie: The Last Years of Network Radio (Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland, 2002), 174–175; Our Team—Marty Miller, Radio Host professional biographies of In-Flight Media Associates management team. Retrieved 10/23/06.
  28. ^ For the unique programming history of CKLW, see "The Dawn of Local TV" article by Chris Edwards; part of the Walkerville Times website. For ownership details and affiliation with CBC, see CBET-TV, Windsor, Canadian Broadcasting Corp part of the Canadian Communications Foundation—Fondation Des Communications Candiennes website. Both retrieved 12/05/06.
  29. ^ For the early history of Million Dollar Movie and WOR-TV's film programming, see Segrave, Kerry, Movies at Home: How Hollywood Came to Television (Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland, 1999), 40, 48; "News of TV and Radio; 'Studio One' Returns for the Winter Season," New York Times, September 19, 1954 (excerpted online); "WOR-TV Acquires 10 Selznick Films; It Pays Record $198,000 for 'Package'—Will Be Shown on 'Million Dollar Movie' Discord Theme of Show," New York Times, February 25, 1956; "2 Feature Films Bought By WOR-TV; Station Adds 'Champion' and 'Home of the Brave' to its 'Million Dollar Movie,'" New York Times, June 16, 1956. For a broader discussion, with a description of the Million Dollar music, see C&C RKO 16mm Prints part of the eFilmCenter website. Retrieved 12/9/06.
  30. ^ "Fee-Vee," Time, July 6, 1962 (available online); "Payday, Some Day," Time, December 27, 1968 (available online); Mullen, Megan, "The Prehistory of Pay Cable Television: An Overview and Analysis," Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television, vol. 19, no. 1 (January 1, 1999). See also U.S. Congress, House, Interstate and Foreign Commerce Committee, Subscription Television–1969, Hearings Before the Subcommittee on Communications and Power/91-1. on H.R. 420. Nov. 18–21, 24; Dec. 9–12, 1969. For a "Pay-As-You-Go" cable TV plan launched in Canada a year earlier, see Haines, Richard W., The Moviegoing Experience, 1968–2001 (Jefferson, N.C., and London: McFarland, 2003), 127–128.
  31. ^ RKO General, Inc. v. FCC (1981)—I. Procedural History December 4, 1981, decision by U.S. Court of Appeals, D.C. Circuit. Retrieved 11/27/06.
  32. ^ RKO General, Inc. v. FCC (1981)—I. Procedural History. Retrieved 11/27/06.
  33. ^ RKO General, Inc. v. FCC (1981)—(Intro) Opinion. Retrieved 12/09/06.
  34. ^ RKO General, Inc. v. FCC (1981)—II. Invalid Bases of the FCC Decision; III. RKO's Lack of Candor. Retrieved 11/27/06.
  35. ^ RKO General, Inc. v. FCC (1981)—Conclusion. Retrieved 11/27/06.
  36. ^ "RKO Loses WNAC," The Tech, May 4, 1982 (available online).
  37. ^ "License Bids Against RKO," New York Times, February 10, 1983 (available online). The article does not mention WOR-TV, for which Multi-State Communications had previously registered a challenge. See RKO General, Inc. v. FCC (1981)—I. Procedural History; "Court Backs RKO On WOR License," New York Times, March 8, 1984 (available online).
  38. ^ Tollin, Andrew L., "The Battle for Portland, Maine," Federal Communications Law Journal vol. 52, no. 1 (available online).
  39. ^ "Court Backs RKO On WOR License"; "Rulings Stand on WOR License," New York Times, November 14, 1984 (available online).
  40. ^ "Lawmakers Call on FCC to Investigate Fox News' Attempts to Move WWOR T.V. Out of New Jersey" press release issued by Senator Frank R. Lautenberg, September 10, 2004. Retrieved 12/15/06. See also "Fresh Fare Puts a New Face on Independent Stations," New York Times, February 2, 1986 (available online).
  41. ^ See, e.g., Overbeck, Wayne G., Major Principles of Media Law (London et al.:Thomson Learning, 2002), 420.
  42. ^ WOR Radio 710 HD—WOR History official history of the radio station. Retrieved 8/17/06.
  43. ^ Smith, F. Leslie, John W. Wright II, and David H. Ostroff, Perspectives on Radio and Television: Telecommunication in the United States (Mahwah, N.J.: Lawrence Erlbaum Assoc., 1998), 67.
  44. ^ "MCA Is Termed a Serious Bidder for WOR-TV," New York Times, February 18, 1986; "MCA to Buy WOR-TV for a Hefty $387 Million," New York Times, February 19, 1986; "F.C.C. Approves Sale of WOR-TV to MCA," New York Times, November 27, 1986. See also "Editor's Note," New York Times, December 20, 1986 (available online).
  45. ^ Call Sign History: WWOR-TV part of the Federal Communications Commission website. Retrieved 12/15/06.
  46. ^ "Turning Off RKO's Licenses," Time, August 24, 1987 (available online); "KHJ Enveloped in Scandal," Metropolitan News-Enterprise, December 5, 2002 (available online). Note that the Time article says that in addition to denying the still-pending KHJ-TV license renewal, Kuhlmann also "stripped the company of its licenses for twelve radio stations and one other TV outlet." In contrast, the Metropolitan News-Enterprise article says he "recommended that the FCC strip" the licenses and that the other TV outlet in question was WOR-TV. On the first point, Kuhlmann ruled that the licenses be stripped, but they were not actually removed, pending appeals. On the second point, the Metropolitan News-Enterprise is clearly incorrect: WOR-TV had already been sold; at the time of the ruling, RKO's only remaining TV outlet beside KHJ-TV was WHBQ-TV in Memphis (see "License Bids Against RKO," op. cit.). See also "Mediation Set for RKO Case," New York Times, September 12, 1986 (available online).
  47. ^ "Turning Off RKO's Licenses"; "RKO Appeals F.C.C. Ruling," New York Times, October 20, 1987 (available online).
  48. ^ "KHJ Enveloped in Scandal."
  49. ^ The Boston Radio Dial: WRKO (AM); The Boston Radio Dial: WBMX (FM). Retrieved 11/28/06.
  50. ^ Marketing Brief wire service report, October 12, 1988. Retrieved 12/21/06.
  51. ^ "KHJ Enveloped in Scandal." Note that this source says that KHJ-TV was charged with "requir[ing] its vendors—if they wanted to continue to sell to KHJ-TV—to be advertisers," a different (though not necessarily contradictory) description of the illegal practice in question than that which appears in the 1981 court decision cited above.
  52. ^ The History of KFRC Radio part of the Bay Area Radio Museum website; San Francisco Bay Area Radio History—Part 2. Retrieved 11/24/06. See GenCorp—Company History, part of the Funding Universe website, for the sales prices of some of these assets. Retrieved 11/21/06. Note that not only the media holdings were divested. With its subsidiary RKO Bottling sold as well, there was very little left to RKO General.
  53. ^ Weirum v. RKO General, Inc., 15 Cal.3d 40, 43-44, 539 P.2d 36, 123 Cal. Rptr. 468 (1975). From Google Scholar. Retrieved on August 3, 2012.
  54. ^ Id. at 44.
  55. ^ Id.
  56. ^ Id. at 44 n.1.
  57. ^ Id. at 45.
  58. ^ UPI, Court Upholds Judgment in Fatal Contest, reprinted in the Modesto Bee (August 21, 1975, page A-3). Retrieved on August 3, 2012.
  59. ^ Findagrave, page for the grave of Ronald Howard Weirum. Retrieved on August 4, 2012.
  60. ^ Weirum, 15 Cal.3d at 45.
  61. ^ Id.
  62. ^ Id.
  63. ^ Id. at 46-47.
  64. ^ Id. at 48.
  65. ^ Id.
  66. ^ See Richard A. Epstein, Cases and Materials on Torts 623 (9th Ed. 2008); Marc A. Franklin and Robert L. Rabin, Cases and Materials on Tort Law and Alternatives 164 (5th ed. 1992).

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