NBC made its first network broadcast at 8 PM EST on November 15, 1926.
22 stations in the East and Midwest participated in the hook-up. Among the performers were the New York Symphony Orchestra, soprano Mary Garden, comedian Will Rogers, vaudevillians Weber and Fields, Vincent Lopez and his Orchestra, and numerous other dance bands.
The next day, the newspapers announced that the four-hour extravaganza had cost over $50,000 -- the biggest expense was paying the many famous performers. NBC announced that in subsequent broadcasts, advertising would defray the cost of the performances.
Beginning on January 1, 1927, NBC ran two networks, identified by "Red" and "Blue" lines on the AT&T diagrams, and eventually named their two network services NBC-Red and NBC-Blue until forced to sell off the Blue to Edward Noble to form the basis of the new ABC network.
According to some historians, it seems:
NBC also was the originating body for several other networks, labeled White, Orange and Gold.
NBC - Orange was a west coast leg of
NBC's national service, comprising: KGO, KFI, KGW, KOMO, KHQ. It began distinct
operations in November 1931.
NBC - Gold was a west coast leg of NBC's national service, comprising: KPO, KECA, KEX, KJR, and KGA. (NBC Gold was disbanded in March 1933, and some programs were transferred to the Orange Net.)
The White Network, or Watchtower Network, was religious in content and operated in the late 1920s and 1930s.Original NBC stations: (18 Red, 6 Blue)
Other interesting events in the NBC timeline:
11/29/29: NBC beings use of the Chimes, as a way to alert stations of programming activity.
5/6/37: NBC first uses the four tone sequence.
1941: The Blue Network Co. was set up in December.
1943: NBC Blue sold to Edward Noble in August for $8 Million. (See ABC)
1955: On June 12, NBC began the long running Monitor
program, which ran each weekend until January 26, 1975.
1975: NBC inaugurated the NBC News and Information Service. It ran around the clock except for a few hours on Sunday. Described as a "subscription service," it utilized the excess time between normal NBC feeds (the hourly news, etc). NIS ran on a relatively few stations, and died in 1977. Among the few affiliates that signed on (fees were as high as $10,000/month for larger markets) were: WPOP, Hartford, CT; WERE, Cleveland; KARM, Fresno; KJOE, Shreveport, LA;. There were even a few FM stations, including KLYX, Houston, that were signed up.
1979: NBC tried "The Source", a newsfeed primarily directed at Rock stations, and fed at :20.
1987: NBC Radio (the old Red network) was purchased by Westwood One August 26, 1987.
1993: An agreement is made for Westwood One to be managed by Infinity
1999: NBC is essentially gone.... as Westwood discontinues use of the "brand name."
Most regular network operations ended in 1999, with some weekday morning programming surviving into 2000.