chapter  7
27 Pages

Conflicts in the Air

On the morning of January 12, 1949, NBC ran an advertisement in East Coast newspapers announcing the premiere of “ ‘Kukla, Fran and Ollie’—The greatest family show . . . Tonight and every night, Monday thru Friday.”1 This puppet program wasn’t new to TV. Kukla, Fran and Ollie had been televised weekdays since October 1947 on Chicago’s WBKB, where it originated, and for the past few months on NBC’s Midwest network. What was new on January 12, however, was an AT&T cable connection between Cleveland and Philadelphia, via Pittsburgh, that for the first time linked together the Eastern and Midwest networks. Now, a live TV program could air simultaneously from New England to Virginia and west to the Great Lakes.