Mutual Broadcasting System

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Mutual Broadcasting System

Postby rcrask » Wed Mar 10, 2010 12:49 am

Greetings to all interested in Mutual Radio. My name is Dr. Raymond C. Rask and I was employed by Mutual from 1977 through 1982 as Director of Network Engineering, Director Satellite and Corpoate Engineering, including owned and operated stations WCFL Chicago and WHN New York. I helped to build the Arlington, Virginia network headquarters studios, designed and supervised the construction of the Bren Mar, Virginia, satellite uplink facilities, and oversaw corporate engineering operations at WCFL and WHN and the Mutual Southwest Radio Network originating from Dallas, Texas.

Mutual's financial operations between 1975 and 1980 were the most successful in its history. The many, many millions of dollars made for the network's shareholders during that same time was probably more profit than the network made during its entire history. It is really too bad that the sale of the company to the Amway Corporation ended that great run, as the management team at Amway did not have a clue. Martin Rubenstein, Amway's had picked network president was a complete disaster. Marty had been imported from ABC Radio and frankly did not have a clue about generating sales. Many of the people Marty brought on board were former employees of ABC, and they just burned money like there was no end to the pot of gold. Finally after one disaster-after-another financially, Amway forced Mutual to sell WCFL and WHN, then eventually sold Mutual to Westwood One.

Mutual was really at the end of its financial rope by the end of the 1960's. The network was saved in the early 1970's quite by accident, by a rough and tumble radio station owner named Charles Edward Little "Ed Little". To cut the long story short, Ed Little was on the Mutual affiliates board at a time when then Mutual's shareholders has invested about all they were going to continue to invest in Mutual's money loosing operations and had announced to the affiliates board that they were going to terminate operations. Now the real facts from this point forward are a bit sketchy, and open for some debate, but the bottom line is Ed Little stepped up and convinced the shareholders to let him take over as President of Mutual. Now, as Ed Little told the story (and Ed could really spin a story) Mutual's board gave him a very short period of time and essentually little or no funding to continue on and to make some progress financially. And if he failed, the gig was over and the network would be shutdown.

Ed Little was loud, overbearing, and nearly impossible to work for, but he new what he was doing and he did what had to be done to buy some time. He made some seemingly impossible deals with companies like Sears, GM and others, started Monday Night Football on radio and got the revenue flowing. When Ed took over, the network was drowning in debt and the largest debt holder was AT&T. Mutual owed millions of dollars in past due bills to AT&T for its long-lines network, connecting Mutual with its affiliate stations. Ed manuvered and pulled a number of stunts to keep AT&T from shutting down Mutual's network. But in the end, Mutual under Ed's leadership, paid off the AT&T bill over a period of years and all the other debts the network struggled with over many years and started making record profits....

The story will continue in future postings... Hope it was interesting so far....

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Re: Mutual Broadcasting System

Postby Lou » Wed Mar 10, 2010 12:22 pm

Always good to read "behind the scenes" history (both technical and political) to see how radio stations & networks worked.

Your information is appreciated!

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Re: Mutual Broadcasting System

Postby Monsterwax » Thu Jun 03, 2010 1:52 pm

Ditto. Love here more on Mutual. The fact they were the one OTR company that allowed the local stations to produce shows, and them distributed them over the network, always scored a lot of points with me.

Sam West
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Re: Mutual Broadcasting System

Postby Sam West » Wed Oct 05, 2011 1:20 am

Thanks, Mr. Rask. I would very, very much like to see some photos and/or hear some first person stories about Mutual radio shows during the great radio days like "The Shadow" and "Boston Blackie." I have seen only one photo taken at WOR. I recognized Jackson Beck. There were at least six actors hovered around one mic! :) And the sound effects man was hard at work in shirtsleeves at three turntables off to the side.

I recall Jean Shepherd had dug out some music from the great days of OTR there. And Larry King when he had his show in DC had dug out some organ music cues for fun.

So again, I'd surely like to hear some first-hand accounts from folks working for Mutual during the great drama and detective shows. And also anyone who has something to say.

I have lots more to say from my days with a Mutual news affiliate. Some great radio voices.


Sam West

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Re: Mutual Broadcasting System - Photos

Postby Rick1031 » Mon Jan 23, 2012 3:53 pm

There are some 1977 Washington D.C photos taken during the strike posted at: ... tions.html

Scroll down a bit.

Rick B.

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Re: Mutual Broadcasting System

Postby melody » Sun Mar 03, 2013 3:25 pm

In response to C. Edward Little, I was his secretary when he was President and General Manager of WGMA Radio in Hollywood, Florida. My name is Melody Antonini and he was just good at what he did and was totally consumed by it. Would like to know what happened to him as he wasn't so hard to work for. He tackled everything with full speed ahead. A great guy!

Jim Stokes
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Re: Mutual Broadcasting System

Postby Jim Stokes » Sun Aug 31, 2014 10:33 am

That was a great post about Mutual before Amway. I recall working at two Mutual affiliate radio stations. I hope to post memories those wild and wooly days later.

Would be great if an insider could talk about the grand old days of WOR/Mutual in the 1950s. I've scoured the web for information. There is a general overview from a couple of sources, but no FIRST-HAND information. Why not?

Thanks! Jim Stokes

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