The Chicago-based Museum of Broadcast Communications recently released Chicago Television, a survey of the city’s first fifty years of TV broadcasting. Chicago TV stations WBKB (now WBBM-TV), WENR (now WLS-TV), WGN, and WNBQ (now WMAQ-TV) began commercial broadcasting in the 1940s, launching Chicago as one of the first centers of TV production in the US. The broadcasting style in the early years, particularly at WNBQ, established the “Chicago School of Television,” which compensated for a lack of resources with creativity. MBC’s Encyclopedia of Television describes the “Chicago School” as “an almost totally scriptless-improvisational approach reliant on interpretive camera work and creative use of scenery, costumes, props, and lighting.” In later days, Chicago made it’s mark nationally with such shows as At the Movies (which began locally as Opening Soon… at a Theater Near You at WTTW in 1975) and The Oprah Winfrey Show (nationally syndicated since 1986).
With the release of Chicago Television, featuring over 200 photographs of TV in the Midwest metropolis, visit as well the Archive’s pages on some of the shows that have defined the city’s TV programming:
Kukla, Fran & Ollie (1947 WBKB; 1948-57, NBC, ABC)
Garroway at Large (1949-54, NBC)
Studs’ Place (1949-1952, NBC, ABC)
Siskel & Ebert & the Movies (1980s-90s, syndicated)