NBC Chicago prepares to mark 75th year on the air

NBC’s Chicago station is kicking off its 75th anniversary year.

WMAQ, which used the calls WNBQ from 1948 to 1964, considers Oct. 8, 1948, as its birthday, so 2023 will mark its 75th year on the air.

The NBC-owned station began slipping in 75th-anniversary looks during Sunday night NFL coverage Jan. 15, 2023.

Right before the 10 p.m. news began, the station aired a 5-second ID that featured vintage audio of an announcer saying “This is the NBC television network,” as two previous NBC logos were shown, including the so-called “snake” logo that was used from 1959 to 1975 and the “proud N” iteration that the network used from 1979 to 1986, which itself was built off the trapezoid “N” logo that debuted in 1976. 

It’s worth noting that WMAQ itself has a separate logo history that is not shown in this brief animation. 

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The final screen features the standard NBC 5 Chicago logo lockup in gold set against a dark background with subtle spotlight and particle accents, but with a “7” tucked in behind the peacock to create the appearance of the number “75.”

This follows a trend of stations turning 75 in recent years, including KTLA and KSDK, who also happen to brand under the number five using a similar strategy (meanwhile, WCVB in Boston used its “5” to create a logo for its 50th).

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The ID also includes purposeful static and glitch effects. 

Also during the game, WMAQ also aired a separate 5-second ID for its NBC 5 Investigates franchise that included a fast series of the station’s previous logos appearing on-screen (albeit out of order).

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WMAQ’s 75th anniversary logo does not appear in the “Investigates” version but the tagline is “a legacy of integrity.”

Overall, that logo is a bit awkward, thanks to the fact that the peacock covers about two-thirds of the bottom portion of the “7.” The very bottom of the diagonal stroke of the “7” is visible peaking out from under the peacock.

That said, the design is largely saved by the fact that, despite much of the numeral being covered, there’s not really any other way for the “7” to be read and the diagonal is a pretty strong hint that there is a “7” there.

WMAQ is one of only two stations in the NBC-owned station group that uses the number 5.

The other, KXAS in Dallas/Ft. Worth, Texas, also happens to turn 75 in 2023, but its logo design typically has the peacock at about half the height of its number, meaning adding a “7” in front of it would allow more of that digit to be visible (WMAQ’s peacock is typically about two-thirds the height of its “5”).

Like many anniversary logos, WMAQ’s two digits also overlap each other — with the upper right part of the “7” tucked slightly behind the upper left of the “5.”

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