The Story Behind The Birth of the Mutual Broadcasting System

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This clip, from Breaking Walls Episode 77: The Birth of The Radio Networks—From NBC to CBS to Mutual Broadcasting (1922 - 1934) tells the story of the birth of the Mutual Broadcasting System. In the early 1930s, WOR in New York had withdrawn as a CBS affiliate. It began program-swapping with Cincinnati’s WLW, Detroit’s WXYZ and Chicago’s WGN. The stations agreed to share exclusive shows while still maintaining independence from an overhead corporate conglomerate like NBC and CBS, and WXYZ had one show that was incredibly popular, which neither of the larger networks had access to. On September 29, 1934, this cooperative incorporated as a third network, known as the Mutual Broadcasting System, with WOR as the flagship. The cooperative network quickly became a radio dial fixture and offered listeners lower-budget, complimentary programming like The Lone Ranger, Lum and Abner and the Mutual Forum Hour. By 1936, the network obtained coast-to-coast status when the Don Lee chain dropped CBS and Mutual picked it up. That year the network received positive press for their RNC and DNC national convention coverage, and by year’s end their affiliate count was up to 38. The following year, in 1937, the network received a citation from Radio Stars for their news coverage, Hear the rest of the story in Breaking Walls Episode 77, available now everywhere you get your podcasts or at thewallbreakers.com

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