Television Comes To Chicago- Part VI



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Channel 44 eventually became home to WSNS. More on that station below. One additional event happened in August of 1964, station WNBQ on channel 5 became WMAQ-TV as the NBC owned and operated stations were streamlined with the same call letters for AM, FM, and TV.

Since UHF stations were considered "black sheep" by the industry (see the DuMont section of this website), it was necessary for owners of such stations to find a niche that the other more powerful VHF stations overlooked. WCIU-TV found theirs in programming aimed at the diverse ethnic population of Chicago. Its early programming consisted of "A Black's View Of The News," Polish language variety hour The Bob Lewandowski Show, and filmed bullfights from Spain. One huge success story that hails from channel 26 is The Stock Market Observer. Years ahead of its time, predating CNBC and MSNBC, SMO brought the world of corporate wheeling and dealing and the volatile stock market to the general public. They had certainly found the niche.

Channel 32 in Chicago came to life through a series of sales and transactions, many before the station even hit the air. In the early sixties, H & E Balaban Corp. (for Harry and Elmer, part of the powerful Balaban family that once ran Paramount Pictures and also included John Balaban, founder of W9XBK) which maintained offices at 190 N. State, held a construction permit for a station called WCAD. As permitee, a partnership was formed called Television Chicago (which was comprised of Winnebago Television Group, Transcontinental Properties, and the law firm of Froelich & Friedland).

On January 18, 1965 the construction permit, now known as WOGO-TV was sold for $2 million to a new partnership called New Television Chicago (with Froelich & Friedland retaining their interest), and Field Communications, a wholly owned subsidiary of Field Enterprises Inc, itself part of the huge Marshall Field organization and turn of the century Chicago royalty taking 50%. Field also had the option to purchase the remaining 50% for $2.5 million which it did in 1970.