In 1988 General Electric purchased RCA and with it NBC. Due to FCC ownership fules at the time, GE could only keep either the NBC Television stations or its Radio stations. Obviously the radio stations were the ones to go. Emmis Broadcasting, which owned 1050 WFAN and 103.5 WQHT saw this as a perfect opportunity to upgrade the signals of its New York outlets and triggered one of the most complex frequency swaps in radio history. WFAN moved from 1050 to 660, WUKQ debuted on 1050 with a non-commercial Spanish format, but only until Spanish Broadcasting could complete the swap for 97.9 WEVD, while 97.1 WYNY and 103.5 WQHT swapped as well. In the end, this deal was most important for the demise of WNBC and NBC Radio in general. What was once the flagship station of the biggest network in America was biting the dust. Don Imus, and Knicks and Rangers broadcasts did stay put on the frequency with the move in of WFAN. However, the legend of radio at a complex that included Radio City Music Hall was over. By the 1990’s WFAN established itself as the highest billing station in the country and ushered in the development of the sports format nationwide.
See WNBC Bids Farewell to hear the end of 66 WNBC
I don’t know why 1050 didn’t take the callsign WNBC instead of WUKQ. I think 1050 WNBC would be a good station and it would continue the heritage of the station. I think that 1050 could also have an HD feed. If WNBC moved to 1050, the station would still be thriving.
@Josh Diaz, because WNBC was already being used WNBC-TV and it’s parent company NBC probably didn’t want to give away the rights to what it perceived as its intellectual property.
Pete Franklin never caught on in New York. Sad in a way, he was a pioneer of the aggressive sports talk approach while in Cleveland back in the 1970s and early 1980s.
In theory, NBC could have allowed Emmis to continue using the WNBC calls for a licensing fee; that’s happened to radio stations uncoupled from CBS and ABC… and with WMAQ 670 at the time.
But as it was, NBC only sold the license of 66 WNBC to Emmis (along with the Knicks and Rangers contracts) and Emmis could only own one AM station at the time. There was no scenario in which the WNBC calls could ever have remained on the radio dial whatsoever.
Actually FCC rules at the time mandated that the calls of one station couldn’t be the same as an unrelated station on another band; Emmis owned the WNBC radio calls (which have now passed down to Audacy most likely if they have the intellectual property still, otherwise any station can take the calls because the above rules no longer exist) but couldn’t use them because NBC still owned the TV station (which certainly wasn’t changing it’s calls). Plus the WFAN calls at the time were more popular compared to the declining WNBC. And as to the other comment regarding a possible WNBC 1050, Emmis had to sell 1050 to comply with (also now moot) FCC rules. The new owners (ethnic broadcasters IIRC, sold the station quickly?) would want their own calls, and again the 1st rule applied, so no 1050 WNBC.