NBC Chicago station marks its 75th birthday, begins to roll out special content

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WMAQ, the NBC-owned station in Chicago, is officially celebrating its 75th anniversary with special programming, an image spot and more.

The station signed on Oct. 8, 1948, under the calls WNBQ. It changed to WMAQ in 1964. Those calls were inspired by a radio station in the market that had been originally randomly assigned by the government. The station eventually backcronymed them to mean “We must ask questions.”

WMAQ has a long history, including being the first full-time color TV station in the country. It was also the first station in the market to broadcast in stereo. 

In addition to technology, the station has also embraced diversity, including having the first Black anchor at 10 p.m., first female co-anchor for the late news and first female solo anchor.

“Throughout the month of October and through the end of the year, WMAQ will be celebrating its 75th Anniversary and viewers will be treated to a trip down memory lane as the network will look back at the historic moments that helped shape the City of Chicago and detail how WMAQ’s legendary team members covered these pivotal, life-changing stories,” the station announced.

“Since the advent of local broadcast television, WMAQ has been at the forefront of innovation, creativity, integrity, and connectivity to the Chicago community,” said Kevin Cross, president and general manager, NBCUniversal Local Chicago in a statement. “As we celebrate WMAQ-TV’s historic 75th anniversary this month, NBC Chicago will relive numerous stories that occurred over the decades and honor the on-air and behind-the-scenes trailblazers who helped define our legacy.”

On-air, the station is airing image spots that look back at the station’s history, including vintage footage from the construction of the NBC Tower, the Chicagoland Tylenol scare and key moments in the civil rights movement. 

The spots also include an updated take of the station’s 75th anniversary logo that first started appearing earlier in the year that still retains its golden feel but gets a sleeker, more vibrant look. 


On-screen text set in Arthouse Owned appears in white and gold-yellow.

In addition to the promo campaign, the station is also planning the following:

  • Segments airing on the 10 p.m. news the week of Oct. 9, 2023. Each day will focus on a different area, including station history, politics, weather, the 1985 Chicago Bears season and a viewers’ choice look at most impactful story of the 1980s. Segments will feature discussions with current and past NBC Chicago talent.
  • On Tuesdays through the rest of 2023, the station will continue to air special segments focusing on anchor team stories, covering news and how it’s changed, investigative and consumer reporting, history of the “talk tower,” celebrity sightings and the future of news.
  • Separate sports features will sports segments will spotlight the station’s coverage of Michael Jordan, Mike Ditka, the White Sox World Series in 2005, Cubs World Series in 2016, Blackhawks Stanley Cup in 2010, Sky WNBC champs in 2021 and sports managers and egos.
  • On Fridays in October, the station will feature “Flashback Fridays.” These segments will spotlight the most memorable story from the 1980s, 1990s, 2000s and 2010s as voted on by viewers. Voting begins each Monday in October. 
  • “Chicago Today” hosts Cortney Hall and Matt Rodrigues will relive WMAQ’s most memorable moments covering the entertainment industry featuring first-hand recollections via Bob Sirott, along with archived WMAQ clips featuring the late Warner Saunders and Harry Volkman, along with celebrity interviews with Maya Angelou, Chris Rock, Dana Carvey and Mike Myers among others.
  • Throughout the month of October, “NBC 5 News Today” will present viewers with a daily 75th Anniversary Chicago trivia question heading into commercial breaks with the answer to the multiple-choice question revealed coming out breaks. Trivia questions will challenge viewers on variety of Chicago history topics ranging from news, sports, entertainment, politics and more. Trivia will air from 4 to 7 a.m. local time Monday through Friday.
  • An online hub of archival footage of pivotal moments in the station’s history.
  • Digital content on the station’s social media platforms.

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