Mutual Broadcasting System

The Mutual Broadcasting System (Mutual or MBS) was an American radio network, in operation from 1934 to 1999. In the golden age of U.S. radio drama, MBS was best known as the original network home of The Lone Ranger and The Adventures of Superman and as the long-time radio residence of The Shadow. For many years, it was a national broadcaster for Major League Baseball, including the All-Star Game and World Series, and for Notre Dame football. From the mid-1930s and for decades after, Mutual ran a highly respected news service accompanied by a variety of popular commentary shows. Toward the end of its run as a major programmer, it introduced the country to Larry King.

Of the four national networks of American radio's classic era, Mutual had for decades the largest number of affiliates but many of them were AM outlets with a power output of 1,000 watts or less (as opposed to ABC, CBS, and NBC, each of whom had several 50,000-watt powerhouse stations as affiliates). Mutual also for part of its history the least certain financial position. For the first eighteen years of its existence, MBS was owned and operated as a cooperative, setting the network apart from its competitors: Mutual's members shared their own original programming, transmission and promotion expenses, and advertising revenues. From December 30, 1936, when it debuted in the West, the Mutual Broadcasting System had affiliates from coast to coast. Its business structure would change after General Tire assumed majority ownership in 1952 through a series of regional and individual station acquisitions.

Once General Tire sold the network in 1957, Mutual's ownership was largely disconnected from the stations it served, leading to a more conventional, top-down model of program production and distribution. Not long after the sale, one of the network's new executive teams was charged with accepting money to use Mutual as a vehicle for foreign propaganda. The network was severely damaged, but soon rebounded. Mutual changed hands frequently in succeeding years—even leaving aside larger-scale acquisitions and mergers, its final direct corporate parent, Westwood One, which purchased it in 1985, was the seventh in a string of new owners that followed General Tire.

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... August 2011, can still trace its lineage directly to Mutual ... The current incarnation of Meet the Press, which launched on Mutual in 1945, has a simulcast on Dial Global ... Country Countdown USA, founded as a Mutual program after the Westwood One purchase, continues to air in its original format as CMT Country Countdown USA ...
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