Radio: Network Without Ulcers

"The Blue Network," mused dapper, cinnamon-blond Mark Woods, tweaking his buttonhole carnation, "was a dump."

He was speaking literally. Before the Blue left home (NBC) in 1942, it had nothing to wear but castoffs—speeches, discussions, classical music—from its flashy big sister, NBC's Red Network. When NBC got rid of the Blue (by request of the Federal Communications Commission), Woods became its first president. His first job: to auction off "the dullest, speechingest network you ever heard," a 116-station property that brought in a slim $14 million in 1942. It took Mark a year and a half to find a buyer.

But in five...

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