Gisalbert, NBC studio engineer, discusses the very
early days of the NBC network.
In its earliest days NBC operated two networks: NBC Blue, headed by station WJZ, and NBC Red, headed by WEAF. This situation arose, due to NBC then owning two stations in New York (WEAF and WJZ). WEAF and the 'Red' Network became the flagship network and offered most of the established shows--and advertisers, and the 'Blue' Network carried most of the sustaining shows (e.g., shows without regular sponsors). How did they arrive at the names 'Red' and 'Blue'? The felt tip marker pen used to trace the routes of the WJZ-headed stations was blue, and the marker used to trace the WEAF-headed stations was red. This was a confusing situation for everyone but NBC and its sponsors and advertisers.
Those who catalog their Golden Age Radio collections generally refer to NBC Red as NBC, and simply include NBC Blue as NBC up until NBC sold the Blue Network to the American Broadcasting Company. Indeed, NBC's Blue Network became ABC in 1943, due to a landmark Supreme Court Ruling that held that NBC had specifically maintained the two parallel networks for the express purpose of stifling competition. NBC extricated itself from this sticky situation by subsequently selling NBC Blue to Edward Noble of the Lifesaver Candy Company, who first called his new network, simply 'The Blue Network', then 'The Blue Network of the American Broadcasting Company', and eventually in 1945, dropped the 'Blue Network' appellation completely after which time the old Blue Network was simply called the American Broadcasting Company (ABC).