Triangle Publications

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Triangle Publications Inc. was an American media group based first in Philadelphia, and later in Radnor, Pennsylvania. It was a privately held corporation, with the majority of its stock owned by Walter Annenberg and his sisters. Its holdings consisted of newspapers, magazines, and radio stations. After nearly two decades of divestiture, it was folded into News Corporation in 1988.

Triangle was formed by Walter Annenberg in 1947 from the assets and properties of the Cecelia Corporation, a company founded by his father, Moses Annenberg, and named for his mother, Sarah "Sadie" Cecelia Annenberg. Cecelia Corporation's assets at the time included the Daily Racing Form, the Morning Telegraph in New York, and The Philadelphia Inquirer. It came to own numerous other publications, including Armstrong Daily; the Philadelphia Daily News; Seventeen magazine; TV Guide magazine; Good Food magazine; and Official Detective magazine; as well as television and radio stations including WFIL AM-FM-TV in Philadelphia; WLYH-TV in Lancaster and Lebanon, Pennsylvania; WFBG AM-FM-TV in Altoona and Johnstown, Pennsylvania; WNHC AM-FM-TV in New Haven, Connecticut; WNBF AM-FM-TV in Binghamton, New York; and KFRE AM-FM-TV in Fresno, California. Triangle owned cable TV operations in various regions including Suburban Cable TV Co. in suburban Philadelphia, Empire State Cable TV Co. in New York, and New Haven Cable TV Co. in Connecticut. It also owned ITA Electronics, a broadcasting equipment manufacturer based in Lansdowne, Pennsylvania; McMurray Printers, a small job press printer in Miami; McMurray Publishing Co., Ltd, which published the Canadian editions of TV Guide; Triangle Circulation, which handled the nationwide distribution of Triangle's magazines, as well as those of other publishers; and Educasting, a developer of educational programming.

Print publications[edit]

Triangle's original flagship ventures were The Daily Racing Form, The Philadelphia Inquirer and WFIL. The Inquirer became Philadelphia's only major morning daily paper in 1947, after the Philadelphia Record filed for bankruptcy. In 1957, Walter Annenberg acquired the Philadelphia Daily News and merged its facilities with the Inquirer's.

Triangle was probably best known for its primary magazine publication, TV Guide. Against the advice of his close advisors, Annenberg purchased various local TV listing magazines (TV List, TV Digest, TeleVision Guide, TV Guide) and merged them into one national weekly publication under the name TV Guide. The magazine provided local listings with feature stories and soon became the largest national weekly publication, reaching up to 23 million households at its peak in the 1970s. The 15-cents-per-copy digest-sized publication could be found at every supermarket checkout and generally sold out within a few days. The immediate success of TV Guide required Triangle to, in the later 1950s, move TV Guide's operations out of a small office on South Broad Street in Philadelphia to a new, sprawling facility at 250 King of Prussia Road in suburban Radnor, Pennsylvania. This new facility housed all aspects of the publication, including managerial, marketing, production, photography, editorial and subscription services. The wrap-around color portion of the magazine was printed at Triangle's state-of-the-art rotogravure plant at 440 North Broad Street in Philadelphia, adjacent to the Philadelphia Inquirer Building. Triangle Publications also maintained TV Guide sales offices in major metropolitan areas throughout the nation.

Another Triangle success was Seventeen magazine, a publication started by Annenberg in 1944, featuring fashion tips and advice for teenage girls. Seventeen was published monthly and, like TV Guide, maintained a strong subscription base.

America's horse racing enthusiasts relied heavily on the information and statistics provided in another of Triangle's publications, the Daily Racing Form. Established in 1894 by Frank Brunell, the Form started as a tabloid with regional distribution and was purchased by Moses Annenberg in 1922. Triangle merged the regional editions into a single broadsheet in the early 1970s when it moved operations into a new facility in Hightstown, New Jersey. The Daily Racing Form was one of Triangle's most profitable publications. A sister newspaper, The Morning Telegraph, was closed by Triangle during a strike.

In the early 1970s, Triangle launched Good Food, a digest-sized publication featuring recipes and feature stories, targeting average households. The magazine was designed and marketed along the same lines as TV Guide. Publication of the magazine was suspended after approximately six months due to minimal[clarification needed] interest by consumers.

Broadcasting[edit]

Triangle entered the broadcasting industry with the 1947 purchase of WFIL in Philadelphia from the department stores Lit Brothers and Strawbridge and Clothier. WFIL had evolved from Lit Brothers' WLIT (original call letters were WDAR) and Strawbridge's WFI radio stations, which had in the early days of commercial radio shared time on the same frequency. Walter Annenberg became interested in WFIL as it was one of the few radio stations that had FCC approval to also run a television station. Annenberg was granted the license to start WFIL-TV (now WPVI). Triangle also pioneered the concept of facsimile transmission (fax) over an FM band, transmitting its Philadelphia Inquirer as WFIL-FX. This innovative concept was short-lived as receiving equipment was both expensive and sparsely available for the average homeowner. Triangle's WFIL-TV was the first affiliate of the new American Broadcasting Company (ABC) network. While owned by Triangle, WFIL's AM, FM, and television stations were first broadcast from the Widener Building in Center City, Philadelphia. In 1948, Triangle built the first broadcast center specifically designed for television, at 4645 Market Street in Philadelphia, which later became the home of American Bandstand with Dick Clark. Triangle had hired Clark in 1952 to be an announcer, and, later, a DJ, on WFIL-AM. Clark became host of WFIL-TV's Bandstand program when the original host, Bob Horn, was arrested for alleged impaired driving in the midst of an anti-drunk-driving campaign by the Triangle-owned Philadelphia Inquirer.

Triangle expanded its broadcast interest during the 1950s and 1960s to include WNHC AM-FM-TV, Binghamton, New York's WNBF AM-FM-TV, Lebanon, Pennsylvania's WLYH-TV, Altoona, Pennsylvania's WFBG AM-FM-TV, and Fresno's KFRE AM-FM-TV. Triangle's broadcasting operations also reflected Walter Annenberg's interest and commitment to education, with the establishment of various over-the-airwaves educational programs and the "Educasting" operation. In January 1964, Triangle moved its WFIL stations and broadcasting division operations into a new state-of-the-art facility at 4100 City Line Avenue in the suburban Philadelphia Main Line region.

WFIL-TV is credited with pioneering the "Action News" format.[citation needed]

Liquidation of assets[edit]

In 1969, Triangle Publications sold The Philadelphia Inquirer and the Philadelphia Daily News to Knight Newspapers (later Knight-Ridder Newspapers) to comply with federal regulations restricting ownership of multiple media outlets within the same market. Pennsylvania Governor Milton Shapp had complained that Triangle had used its three Pennsylvania television stations in a smear campaign against him.[1]

Triangle began divesting itself of its broadcasting operations with the sale of the WFIL, WNHC and KFRE stations in 1971, followed by the remaining stations in 1972. In 1988, Triangle Publications' remaining assets were sold to Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation for 2.83 billion dollars, in one of the largest financial transactions of the time.

Former Triangle assets[edit]

Newspapers[edit]

Periodicals[edit]

Television stations[edit]

Stations are arranged by state and city of license.

City of License / Market Station Channel TV (RF) Years Owned Current Ownership Status
Fresno, California KFRE-TV 30 (30) 1959–1971 ABC owned-and-operated (O&O), KFSN-TV
New HavenHartford, CT WNHC-TV 8 (10) 1956–1971 ABC affiliate, WTNH-TV, owned by LIN Media
Binghamton, New York WNBF-TV 12 (11) 1955–1972 CBS affiliate, WBNG-TV, owned by Granite Broadcasting Corporation
AltoonaJohnstown, PA WFBG-TV 10 (32) 1967–1972 CBS affiliate, WTAJ-TV, owned by Nexstar Broadcasting Group
LebanonLancaster -
HarrisburgYork, PA
WLBR-TV/WLYH-TV 15 (29) 1957–1972 The CW affiliate owned by Nexstar Broadcasting Group
(operated through LMA by Sinclair Broadcast Group)
Philadelphia WFIL-TV 6 (6) 1947–1971 ABC owned-and-operated (O&O), WPVI-TV

Radio stations[edit]

AM Stations FM Stations
Market Station Years owned Current ownership
Altoona, Pennsylvania WFBG-FM-98.1
(now WFGY)
1960–1972 owned by Forever Broadcasting L.L.C.
WFBG-1290 1956–1972 owned by Forever Broadcasting L.L.C.
Binghamton, New York WNBF-FM-98.1
(now WHWK)
1956–1972 owned by Cumulus Media
WNBF-1290 1955–1972 owned by Cumulus Media
Fresno, California KFRE-FM-93.7
(now KSKS)
1959–1971 owned by Peak Broadcasting
KFRE-940
(now KFIG)
1959–1971 owned by John E. Ostlund
New Haven, Connecticut WNHC-FM-99.1
(now WPLR)
1956–1971 owned by Cox Media Group
WNHC-1340
(now WYBC)
1956–1971 owned by Yale Broadcasting Company
(operated by Sacred Heart University under a time brokerage agreement)
Philadelphia WFIL-FM-102.1
(now WIOQ)
1948–1971 owned by Clear Channel Communications
WFIL-560 1947–1971 owned by Salem Communications

References[edit]