Monday, November 17, 2008


Did you know TV and radio station call letters almost always stand for something? When I was little, I noticed the obvious ones--I didn't think it was a coincidence that WNYC was a New York station. And growing up in the NYC metro, our local stations just used the network letters, WNBC, WABC, WCBS.

But I didn't really know that every station will try to come up with something that fits. I remember when my small town of Ridgefield got an AM station, WREF-850, people would say "Ridgefield Eighty Five," but I thought that was someone coming up with an acronym after the fact, not that the station actually named it that on purpose.

Later I started learning of other ones. It's fun to try and figure out the codes. Well, not that fun. Now I'm looking some up:

The first owner of WTIC TV in Connecticut wanted the letters WETG in honor of Ella T. Grasso, but they were taken, so they ended up "borrowing" from the radio station WTIC (which I'll be on tomorrow afternoon with Colin McEnroe).

WTNH in New Haven has the "NH" in there. The Connecticut CBS station, WSFB, is named "broadcasting division president Frederick S. Beebe," according to Wikipedia. The station we'd get Friday and Sunday Red Sox games (i.e. the only ones we'd get, if we were lucky), WVIT, "was sold to Viacom in 1978, and changed its call letters to WVIT (for "Viacom International Television") to reflect its new ownership."

So, yeah, there seems to be a story behind every one. Let me know if you find any super-awesome ones. By the way, have I written this exact same post before?

WCVB is pretty clever; I like to think it stands for "Channel 5 Boston," using the V as the Roman numeral for five.

Did you know that before it was WFSB, Channel 3 in Hartford was WTIC, which along with its sister radio station was owned by Traveler's Insurance Corp?

News radio station WPOP cracks me up - it started as a top 40 station. But my all time favorite is PBS station WQED.

Nothing like being home sick to shake some useless factoids out of your head.
Nice. Your roman numeral example reminds me of one I forgot to mention. "The college station" where I grew up was WestConn's WXCI 91.7 FM. (Still there, by the way.)

I only found out in the last decade that the XCI was done on purpose: 91 in roman numerals.
There's a TV station in Bangor, Maine... Channel 7, WVII.

Of course there's WBOS in Boston... There's also WTOS in central-western Maine... Top of Sugarloaf.
WLVI-56 in Boston -- LVI is the Roman Numeral for 56.

WLKY-32 in Louisville -- LKY = Louisville, Kentucky.

And now I'm cheating with Wikipedia (Wikipedia on the right sidebar, sometimes includes "Call letters' meaning")...

WSBK-38 in Boston -- SBK (stock ticker symbol of former owner Storer Broadcasting)

WDRB-41 in Louisville -- DRB = "Derby"
We have KFH - Kansas Farm & Home

Did you know that the NBC chime are the notes G, E & C for when the General Electric Company owned NBC?
Thanks for all these.

Didn't know about the chimes. (Doesn't GE still own NBC?)

I also just learned that beeping at the top of every hour on WTIC (which I'd hear during all the Sox games growing up) was Morse Code for the letter V.
Not really interesting, but WOON, a Woonsocket AM radio station.

Out west, our city's radio stations were KAAA (the AM station) and KZZZ (the FM station). KZZZ was pretty accurate, since it went off the air at 11pm.
I should have said when GE became a shareholder of NBC. They do now own NBC outright.

Also the Morse Code for the letter V (dot, dot, dot, dash) has a sound equivalency of the famous four notes of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. This was much played in England during WWII to represent V for victory.
Beethoven's 5th, or as I call it, "No bo dy's hoooome." (From "Crazy Calls 7".)

JS, thanks.
"Crazy Calls 7"

Yeah, thanks, I really needed to be reminded of those ads. Sheesh...

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