This is the MBS section of
The Broadcast Archive

Maintained by:
Barry Mishkind - The Eclectic Engineer

The Mutual Broadcasting System essentially started in 1929 as the Quality Network.

Original stations:

  • WOR New York
  • WLS, Chicago
  • WLW, Cincinnati
  • WXYZ, Detroit (optional outlet)

October 15, 1934: a new agreement led by stations WOR and WGN re-labelled the Quality Network as The Mutual Broadcasting System. WGN replaced WLS, and WXYZ Detroit was added. (Possibly KHJ, too, at times).

WLW's continued cooperation was in return for having Red Barber designated the Mutual announcer for the 1934 World Series.

Unlike NBC and CBS, which distributed programs to affiliated stations, the original Mutual was an arrangement among its four founding stations to share programs produced at the stations. In practice, much of Mutual's programming until the 1950's originated at WOR in New York, although there were many famous shows from other stations, such as The Lone Ranger from WXYZ.

Mutual's name also tells a tale about its distribution method: the early Mutual network used a minimum of Telco bridging service, and rather relayed its program from affiliate to affiliate in a tandem series of lines. The old-timers tell how the periodic Mutual network telco failures were a real pain to resolve because they had to call upstream from station to station to find out whose link was broken when there was an outage. (dk)

In 1935, WXYZ went to NBC, and was replaced by CKLW, Windsor, Ontario.

In September 1936, Mutual begins its effort to go nationwide by adding:

  • KWK
  • KSO
  • WMT
  • KOIL
  • KFOR.
  • 13 stations of the New England-based Colonial Network
  • 10 stations of the West Coast-based Don Lee Network.

23 more came not long after from the Texas Network.
Other regional services came to include the Yankee Network, the Allegheny Mountain Radio Network, and The InterMountain Network (IMN) - in the Mountain time zone.

By 1947, Mutual had 400 affiliates.
By 1952, it had 560 stations.

In 1972, Mutual inaugurated a service aimed at black audiences: The Mutual Black Network. This later became the Sheridan Network. Newscasts were fed at :50
In 1972, Mutual also opened a spanish language service: The Mutual Cadena Hispanica. With newscasts at :45, the Mutual Spanish Network lasted into 1973 before being closed down.

By 1979, Mutual had 950 stations.

August 31, 1998 - The Mutual Network as a stand alone entity ends, generic news is fed from CBS to Mutual (and NBC).

April 17, 1999 - Mutual ends its regular programming history, as the last newscasts are run under the Mutual logo. The Mutual "brand" and sounder were used on occasion for a short while. Mutual is essentially now just a corporate trademark, but currently is not offering programming.

Other interesting events in the MBS timeline:

Mutual was purchased by General Tire in 1952.
Mutual was sold the the F.L. Jacobs Company, (Hal Roach Studios) in 1958.
Mutual was purchased by 3M in (between 1955-62).
Mutual was purchased by Amway in 1984.
Mutual was purchased by Westwood One in September 1985 for $39 Million..