This is the Broadcast History section of
The Broadcast Archive

Maintained by:
Barry Mishkind - The Eclectic Engineer

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What's this about a "wandering call sign?"

The story is how KYW went from Chicago to Philadelphia to Cleveland and then back to Philadelphia. In 1934, with the government quota for stations in the Chicago area full, Westinghouse was forced to move to Philadelphia in order to keep the clear channel frequency. Total mileage moved: around 1400.

Later, a swap between Westinghouse and NBC sent KYW to Cleveland for nine years, but it returned to its original Philadelphia facility in June 1965 after several court cases.

Another interesting story is how WTOP started its life in Brooklyn as WTRC, changed calls to WTFF and moved to Virginia, then finally landing on 1500 in Washington, DC, 215 miles away.

In 2013, the FCC granted moves for Channel 3 in Ely, NV to Middletown, NJ (2159 miles, more or less) and Channel 2 in Jackson, WY to Wilmington, DE (about 1828 miles) under order from the US Court of Appeals, citing a 1980s law that guaranteed VHF licenses to TV stations relocating to states without them.

Side note: We ought not forget the Portable Stations, a special class that existed until 1928. Some were used as demonstration purposes by manufacturers. C.L.Carrell had a half dozen or so portables, which he took to different cities and state fairs in the midwest. The FRC finally ruled that all portables had to become "fixed" in one location or lose their licenses. Most ended up in midwestern towns.