Taft Broadcasting

Taft Broadcasting
Taft Broadcasting Company
Former type Corporation
Industry television and radio network
Fate Acquired by Clear Channel Communications
Successor Clear Channel Communications[1]
Founded 1939
Defunct 1999
Headquarters Cincinnati, Ohio

The Taft Broadcasting Company, also known as Taft Television and Radio Company, Incorporated, was an American media conglomerate based in Cincinnati, Ohio.

The company is rooted in the family of William Howard Taft, the 27th President of the United States. William Howard's half-brother, Charles Phelps Taft, purchased the Cincinnati Times-Star newspaper in 1879; its later publishers included Charles' son Hulbert Taft Sr., and grandson Hulbert Taft Jr.

The company is notable for having been the owner of such major media and entertainment properties as Hanna-Barbera Productions, Worldvision Enterprises, Ruby-Spears Productions, KECO Entertainment and many television and radio stations.

It also owned 50% of CIC Video's Australian operations, CIC-Taft Home Video.

In a bit of an ironic twist, the company's last headquarters building in the Mount Auburn neighborhood, today houses studios for Cincinnati's NBC affiliate, WLWT.



The Taft family's involvement in broadcasting began in 1939 as Radio Cincinnati, Inc., when the Cincinnati Times-Star purchases WKRC radio from founding owner Kodel Radio Company.

In 1949, Taft's first TV station, WKRC-TV in Cincinnati begins broadcasting.

In 1953, Radio Cincinnati purchases WTVN-TV (now WSYX) in Columbus, Ohio, from Picture-Waves, Inc., controlled by Toledo attorney and broadcaster Edward Lamb.[2]

In 1954, the company buys WHKC radio in Columbus from United Broadcasting, then-owners of WHK in Cleveland; WHKC is renamed WTVN.

In 1956, Jay Birdwell, owner of WBIR-AM-FM-TV in Knoxville, Tennessee sells his shares in those stations to Gilmore Nunn, Robert Ashe, John P. Hart, and Radio Cincinnati (which acquires 30 percent ownership).

In 1957, Radio Cincinnati purchased WBRC-AM-FM-TV in Birmingham, Alabama, from Storer Broadcasting.

In 1958, the Cincinnati Times-Star is merged into the Cincinnati Post, published by the E.W. Scripps Company. Radio Cincinnati also purchases WKYT-TV in Lexington, Kentucky, from local interests.

In 1959, the company acquires the remaining 70 percent of WBIR-AM-FM-TV in Knoxville. Also during this year, the Taft family merges its broadcasting subsidiaries into one, using the Taft Broadcasting Company name.

The Taft logo from 1959-1973.

In 1960, Taft sold the WBIR stations to WMRC, Inc. (later to become Multimedia Inc.) of Greenville, South Carolina. The company also launches WTVN-FM in Columbus (it is now WLVQ).

In 1963, Taft purchases several stations from Transcontinent Television Corporation: WDAF-AM-FM-TV in Kansas City, Missouri, WGR-AM-FM-TV in Buffalo, New York, and WNEP-TV in Scranton, Pennsylvania.[3]

In 1967, Taft purchased the Hanna-Barbera cartoon studio from its founders, Joseph Barbera and William Hanna. Taft also sells WKYT-TV to a subsidiary of Kentucky Central Life Insurance Company.

In 1969, Taft purchased WIBF-TV in Philadelphia and changes its calls to WTAF-TV. The FCC initially grants Taft a waiver to keep both WTAF and WNEP, but later reversed itself in 1973 (four years later) and sold WNEP-TV as a result due to FCC regulations at the time prohibiting one company from owning two television stations with overlapping coverage areas.

In 1970, Taft forms Rhodes Productions, a television syndication arm for various independent TV programs, including those of Hanna-Barbera.

In 1972, Taft opened its first theme park, Kings Island, outside of Cincinnati. Taft owned five other theme parks through is KECO Entertainment division. WBRC radio and WBRC-FM in Birmingham are sold to Mooney Broadcasting.

In 1974, Taft acquired Top 40 station KQV and rock outlet WDVE, both in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, from ABC Radio.

In 1975, Rhodes Productions is sold to Filmways. Taft, H-B Program Sales and Taft, H-B International are established as the new domestic and overseas television distribution arms.

In 1979, Taft purchased WDCA-TV in Washington, D.C. from the Superior Tube Company. Around this same period, Taft also acquires independent distributor Worldvision Enterprises (formerly a division of ABC) and production company QM Productions.

In 1980, Taft acquires Sunn Classic Pictures and two additional Schick divisions.

In 1981, Taft acquired Ruby-Spears Productions from Filmways. Around this time, most references to Taft on TV and radio are split into 2 "subdivisions": the "Taft Entertainment Company" (which housed Hanna-Barbara, Ruby-Spears, Worldvision, the theme parks, and the TV and movie producing and distributing companies). The other was the "Taft Television & Radio Co, Inc.", (which housed the TV and radio stations).

In 1982, KQV is sold to General Manager Robert W. Dickey and other investors under the "Calvary, Inc." banner.

In 1983, Taft exchanged WGR-TV to General Cinema Corporation's Coral Television subsidiary in return for WCIX in Miami.

In 1984, Taft purchased Gulf Broadcasting, which included KTXA in Fort Worth, Texas, KTXH in Houston, WTSP in St. Petersburg, Florida, KTSP-TV (now KSAZ-TV) in Phoenix and WGHP in High Point, North Carolina.

In 1987, Taft sold its independent stations (WDCA-TV, KTXA, and KTXH) and Fox affiliates (WCIX and WTAF-TV) to the TVX Broadcast Group. Taft also sells WGR radio in Buffalo to Rich Communications.

Cincinnati-based billionaire Carl Lindner, Jr., becomes Taft's majority stockholder and renames the company after his Great American Insurance Company to Great American Broadcasting (also known as Great American Communications), following a major restructuring of its operations. Great American spun-off WTVN-TV to Anchor Media, a new firm composed of former Taft Broadcasting board members led by Texas millionaire Robert Bass. Another new company, led by former Taft Broadcasting president Dudley S. Taft Jr., retained WGHP and later purchases another Philadelphia station, WPHL-TV.

In 1988, Great American Broadcasting sold Worldvision to Aaron Spelling Productions. Included with Worldvision is outright ownership of all of Great American's programming assets, except for the Hanna-Barbera and Ruby-Spears libraries, which remain owned by Great American for the time being. However, Worldvision continued to hold syndication rights until the two animation studios found new owners.

In 1991, Hanna-Barbera, along with much of the original Ruby-Spears library, is acquired by Turner Broadcasting, which becomes part of Time Warner in 1996. As part of this deal, syndication rights to the libraries passed to Turner Entertainment Co. and Turner Program Services (the latter is now Warner Bros. Television Distribution). The Ruby-Spears studio is spun off to a different, as yet unknown, owner.

In 1992, KECO Entertainment, Great American's theme park division, were sold to Paramount Communications (the parent of Paramount Pictures formerly Gulf+Western) and became Paramount Parks, later to be acquired by Viacom. (These parks were sold to Cedar Fair Entertainment Co. by CBS in 2006.) Great American also reacquires WGHP from Dudley Taft.

In 1993, Great American filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and renamed to Citicasters Communications. It also sells WKRC radio to Jacor Communications and shuts down Electra, a teletext service operated as a joint venture between Zenith, Taft, and Turner's WTBS-TV (now WPCH-TV).

In 1994, Citicasters sold most of its TV stations, including WDAF-TV and KSAZ-TV to New World Communications, and WBRC and WGHP to the News Corporation's Fox Television Stations unit, which would later acquire the New World chain.

In 1996, Citicasters, by then the owner of owned and operated 2 television stations, 5 AM radio stations and 14 FM radio stations, merged with Jacor, which became a subsidiary of Citicasters. Three months after the merger is completed, Jacor exchanged WTSP to Gannett in return for Gannett's radio stations in Los Angeles, San Diego and Tampa. In 1997, as a condition of the merger, Jacor sold WKRQ and the original WDAF-FM (by then KYYS, now KCKC) to American Radio Systems, which would become acquired by Infinity Broadcasting (now CBS Radio) in 1998. Also in 1997, Jacor sells WDAF-AM (now KCSP) to Entercom Communications.

In 1997, the Worldvision properties that had previously been under Taft and Great American (with the exception of the Hanna-Barbera and most of the Ruby-Spears material) are incorporated into Republic Pictures (today part of Paramount Pictures).

In 1999, Clear Channel Communications acquired Citicasters & Jacor. The Citicasters name lives on as a holding company and licensee under the Clear Channel corporate structure.

Stations formerly owned by Taft/Great American/Citicasters

Television stations

  • Does not include ownership by the second Taft Broadcasting Company, a company formed in the wake of the Great American takeover of the original Taft Broadcasting.
Current DMA# Market Station Years Owned Current Affiliation/Owner
4. Philadelphia WTAF-TV 29
(now WTXF-TV)
1969–1987 Fox owned-and-operated (O&O)
5. Fort Worth-Dallas KTXA 21 1984–1987 Independent owned by CBS Corporation
9. Washington, D.C. WDCA-TV 20 1979–1987 My Network TV affiliate owned by Fox
10. Houston KTXH 20 1984–1987 My Network TV affiliate owned by Fox
12. Phoenix KTSP-TV 10
(now KSAZ-TV)
1984–1994 Fox owned-and-operated (O&O)
14. St. Petersburg-Tampa WTSP 10 1984–1996 CBS affiliate owned by Gannett Company
16. Miami-Fort Lauderdale WCIX 6
(now WFOR-TV 4)
1983–1987 CBS owned-and-operated (O&O)
31. Kansas City, Missouri WDAF-TV 4 1964–1994 Fox affiliate owned by Local TV
33. Cincinnati WKRC-TV 11/12 1949–1996 CBS affiliate owned by Newport Television
34. Columbus, Ohio WTVN-TV 6
(now WSYX)
1953–1987 ABC affiliate owned by Sinclair Broadcast Group
40. Birmingham, Alabama WBRC-TV 6 1957–1995 Fox affiliate owned by Raycom Media
47. High Point - Greensboro -
WGHP 8 1984–1987 Fox affiliate owned by Local TV
51. Buffalo, New York WGR-TV 2
(now WGRZ)
1964–1983 NBC affiliate owned by Gannett Company
54. Scranton - Wilkes-Barre, PA WNEP-TV 16 1964–1973 ABC affiliate owned by Local TV
59. Knoxville, Tennessee WBIR-TV 10 1959–1960
(also held a 30% stake
from 1956–1959)
NBC affiliate owned by Gannett Company
63. Lexington, Kentucky WKYT-TV 27 1958–1967 CBS affiliate owned by Gray Television
  • WKRC-TV was the only television or radio station built and signed-on by Taft.

Radio stations

(a partial listing)

AM Stations FM Stations
DMA# Market Station Current owner
24. Pittsburgh KQV-1410 Calvary, Inc.
WDVE-102.5 Clear Channel Communications
29. Cincinnati WKRC-550 Clear Channel Communications
(now WKRQ)
Hubbard Broadcasting
32. Kansas City, Missouri WDAF-610
(now KCSP)
Entercom Communications
(now KCKC)
Wilks Broadcasting
37. Columbus, Ohio WTVN-610 Clear Channel Communications
(now WLVQ)
Wilks Broadcasting
52. Buffalo, New York WGR-550 Entercom Communications
(now WGRF)
Citadel Broadcasting
57. Birmingham, Alabama WBRC-960
(now WERC)
Clear Channel Communications
(now WBPT)
Cox Radio

Taft Broadcasting Company LLC

In 1988, Dudley Taft Jr. established a second but much smaller company with the same name. Its headquarters are now located at Houston, Texas. It also owns Pentagon Channel, a joint venture with American Forces Network.


TV Stations

Current DMA# Market Station Affiliation
1. White River Junction WNNE-TV NBC

Radio Stations

DMA# Market Station
1. Houston KODA-AM
2. Fort Worth, Texas KRXV-AM
3. Oklahoma City KTOK-AM
  • WNNE-TV (NBC), White River Junction, Vermont


  1. ^ Other large owners of former Taft assets include National Amusements (some TV and radio stations, as well as most of the programming assets once owned by Taft), News Corporation (some TV stations), and Time Warner (most of Taft's animated library).
  2. ^ "TV station is purchased." The New York Times, Jan. 13, 1953, pg. 32.
  3. ^ "Radio-TV concern to sell stations." The New York Times, Aug. 3, 1963, pg. 21.

External links

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