Monday, June 22, 2009

Encore Post:What might have been in Northern Ohio Television

Dateline Column from TV Guide Lake Erie Edition, December 11-17, 1953..Announcement of WXEL's move from Channel 9 to 8, as well as the expected channel lineup by December 1954, which mostly didnt materialize..Click on the picture to read the article better..

With the digital TV switch recently and WOAC now with new owners, I thought it would be a good time for an encore post..In May 2007, I dug through some TV Almanacs to list all the licensed TV stations and allocations from the 50's and 60's that never made it on the air..My thought at the time was that Television would be quite different locally if just some of these permits were built...

May 22, 2007 Cleveland Classic Media..
What we will discuss today is what Northeast Ohio Television might have been like by say 1960-65 if certain "construction permits" had ever been built. UHF-TV in the 1950's was very unstable with stations appearing lasting maybe a year or two then disappearing. One had to have UHF converters attatched to their TV set..These converters werent very reliable..It was particulary hard when there were established VHF's in a city. The UHF couldnt get enough audience or advertising to survive in many cases..

Most Major libraries have copies of "Televison Almanac" in their reference collection..Sort of a year in review for TV Network executives, station owners and program producers. Included in this Almanac was an FCC list of US tv channel allocations and a list of licensed stations, both operating and non operating..For all the TV stations that were on the air even for a short time, there were many others with operating permits that never got on the air at all. For example, Channel 79 in Toledo while a permit was granted in the 1950's, was still being listed in the almanac as late as 1975..And it never did get on the air...What I want to do here is list some of the past channel allocations in NE Ohio..and give a mention to planned stations that never got on the air..which would have made things qute different today.

Channel Allocations as of 1956 e=educational channel
Akron 49, e55, 61(Now WQHS Cleveland)
Ashtabula 15
Athens 62
Cambridge 26
Canton 29 (Now WAOH-LP Akron)
Cleveland 3, 5, 8, 19, e25, 65
Coshocton 20 (Now WOUB Athens)
Defiance 43 (Now WUAB Lorain-Cleveland)
Findlay 53
Fremont 59
Lima 35, 73
Lorain 31
Mansfield 36
Massillon 23 (Now WVPX Akron)
Sandusky 42
Steubenville/Wheeling 7, 9, 51, e57
Tiffin 47
Toledo 11, 13, e30, 79
Warren 67 (Now WOAC Canton)
Youngstown/New Castle, Pa. 21, 27, 45, 73

Specific info on some local permits: (1950's)

Cleveland Broadcasting Inc.
Bulkely Building
Cleveland, Oh.
Pres. Ray Miller
VP-Richard M. Klaus

19 WHK-TV (WOIO-1985)
United Broadcasting Inc.
5000 Euclid Ave. Cleveland
Sterling E. Graham, President

Elyria-Lorain Broadcasting
Elyria Savings and Trust Bldg.
Elyria, Ohio
Pres. Roy Ammel
VP-D.O. Thomas

Fergum Theaters, Inc.
Madison Theater
Mansfield, Oh.
Pres. William Skirball
VP-Jack M. Skirball

23 WMAC (WAKR Akron 1967) (now WVPX)
Midwest TV Co.
500 Security Bldg.
Toledo, Oh.

29 WTLC (WAOH Akron-1980's) not sure of the date
Tri-Cities Telecasting
324 Market Ave. N.
Canton, Ohio
President Morton Frank
VP-WR Persons
Treasurer David B. Hanna
Secretary Loren E. Souers I have a 1958 Canton City Directory that lists Tri-Cities Telecasting, but no indication it was ever on the air..Souers has a middle school in Canton named after him.

New Castle, Pa. (1965)
Community Telecasters
Farrell, Pa.
(This was on channel 45 as a Youngstown Indie in 1960-62 at least probably not much beyond that..WFMJ 21 was on 73 in 1953-54)

I had seen in the past a listing in TV Almanac for
67 WHHH Warren, Oh. Some of the copies of TV almanac had been purged from the Stark Co. Library that had this listing

Finally some 1970 channel allocations

Akron 23, 49, e55 (though 55 was listed as educational, 49 would become WEAO-PBS..55 became commercial WBNX in 1986)
Ashtabula 15 (WICA-TV actually had a couple different stints on-air)
Athens e20
Canton 17, 67
Cleveland 3, 5, 8, 19, e25, 61
Defiance 65
Lima 35, 44, e57
Lorain 43
Mansfield e31 (eventually would get channel 68-Now WMFD)
Sandusky 51 (WGGN 52 is now on in Sandusky)
Steubenville 9, e62
Toledo 11, 13, 24, e30, 54, 60 (36 would be added in)
Woodsfield e44 (Likely became WOUC-Cambridge)
Youngstown 21, 27, 33, 45, e58 (45 would end up licensed to Alliance as PBS and 58 would become a translator for 45/49)

Thanks to the Stark County District Library for their assistance..Station information courtesy Television Almanac


  1. The whole thing of it was is that the FCC didn't deintermix VHF and UHF enough. I know there a few cases but it was obviously nowhere near enough. Also all-channel TVs weren't mandated anyways near as soon as they should have been. As it was, my parents once told me that they wanted UHF on their first TV back in the mid-50s and for whatever reason the set that got delivered to the house didn't happen to have it. One thing any UHF station owner would have been smart to to would have been to buy up every UHF convertor box and UHF antenna they possibly could and give them away for free. I got this idea when I was reading about when the owners of CFTO channel 9 in Toronto were getting that ready, only in this case since 9 was obviously VHF it was antenna roters that that staion was giving away. The reason they did that was because it was discovered that most TV antennas in the Toronto area were pointed to Buffalo.

  2. Indeed, that also doomed WAKR-TV, because instead of being on channel 11 (which was prior to the VHF freeze following the upgrades of VHF signals across the country) they wound up on channel 49. Therefore, they didn't have any equal footing against WEWS when both were dueling ABC affiliates.

    One wonders about the early fate of UHF, not just for the small broadcasters and radio operators, but also the public television stations. Who knows what direction public TV might have taken... after all, the strongest NET/PBS stations were in Boston, Philadelphia, New York, St. Louis and Pittsburgh... all VHF.

  3. I don't know how true this is but supposedly WAKR-TV was helped at least somewhat by moving from 49 to 23. I'm sure that ABCs's rise to #1 in the ratings during the mid to late 70s didn't hurt either. What was great about that station was that you could always rely on it anytime 5 didn't clear a network show.

  4. I am originally from the Youngstown area. I recall being able to pull in WFMJ (Ch. 21) in over the air on channel 73 (it's original channel) as late as the 80's early 90's. Am I crazy, or were they still sending out a signal on UHF 73?

  5. Interesting about Findlay channel 53 ... I never knew that! And Lima does have channel 35, I don't know how long WLIO has been on the air, but it's currently an NBC station.