Flagship station: Wikis


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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

In broadcasting, a flagship station is the broadcast station which originates a broadcast network, or a particular radio show or TV show, primarily in the United States and Canada. This includes both direct network feeds and syndication, but generally not backhauls. Not all networks or shows have a flagship station, as some originate from a dedicated radio studio or TV studio.








A flagship radio station is a radio network's principal station from which programs are fed to affiliates (The term "flagship station" is also used in television, see Television flagship stations).

The term derives from the naval custom where the commanding officer of a group of naval ships would fly a distinguishing flag (see flagship - naval term). In common parlance, "flagship" now is used to mean the most important or leading member of a group, hence its various uses in broadcasting.


Radio network flagship stations

In the United States, traditional radio networks currently operate without flagship stations as defined in this article. Network operations and those of the local owned and operated or affiliated stations in the same city are now separate and may come under different corporate entities.

In the US, ABC Radio programming is produced by ABC News and distributed by Citadel Radio, which owns and operates WABC in New York and KABC in Los Angeles (among other stations). CBS Radio produces programming for distribution by Westwood One but local stations WCBS and WINS in New York and KNX and KFWB in Los Angeles are operated separately from the network radio news operation. WWRL in New York is an affiliate of Air America Radio and carries some of its programs (along with those from other distributors) but is separately owned and operated and does not produce any programs for the network. Previously, Air America Radio leased WLIB as its New York station, although the station was completely automated and produced no local programming.

Former flagship stations for now-defunct networks in American radio's "Big Four" era of the 1940s–1980s were:

WNBC 660, New York (now WFAN)
WYNY FM 97.1, New York (now WQHT)
KNBR AM 680, San Francisco
KYUU FM 99.7, San Francisco (now KMVQ-FM)
WOR AM 710, New York
WGN AM 720, Chicago
KHJ AM 930, Los Angeles

Syndicated radio program flagship stations

For syndicated radio programs, it refers to the originating station from which a program is fed by satellite or other means to stations nationwide, although the show may also originate elsewhere or from a home studio via an ISDN line. Some programs such as Imus in the Morning are simulcast on television (Fox Business Network in this case). Others are simulcasted on XM Satellite Radio and / or Sirius Satellite Radio. Flagship stations of prominent syndicated radio programs currently include:

Notable former flagship radio stations

  • WABC had been the original flagship of The Rush Limbaugh Show before Limbaugh moved to West Palm Beach, FL and a subsidiary of Clear Channel Communications began distributing the program.
  • WNBC and WFAN were the flagships of Imus in the Morning from 1971-2007. He was dropped after his controversial remarks about the Rutgers University women's basketball team but picked up by WABC later that year.


In sports broadcasting, the flagship radio station is the sports team's primary station in the team's home market that produces game broadcasts and feeds them to affiliates. For example, WJZ-FM is the radio flagship station of the Baltimore Orioles baseball team, which feeds Orioles' games to 20 stations in Maryland and adjacent states.


A flagship television station is the principal television station of a television network in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom.[1] The term "flagship station" is also used in radio broadcasting.

The phrase derives from the naval term flagship, referring to the custom where the commanding officer of a group of naval ships would fly a distinguishing flag on his vessel. Thus, "flagship" in common parlance has come to mean the most important or leading member of a group.

In the late 1920s, network owned-and-operated stations (or "O&O") for radio in New York began producing live entertainment and news programs, fed by telephone lines to network affiliates. These eventually were dubbed flagship stations.

Entrance to GE Building, New York, home of WNBC-TV, the flagship station of NBC

When television networks were formed in the United States in the late 1940s and grew during the early 1950s, network-owned stations in New York became the production centers for programs originating on the East Coast, feeding affiliates of ABC, CBS, and NBC in the eastern three-fourths of the country. Stations in Los Angeles similarly started producing programs on the West Coast, feeding affiliates in the Pacific Time Zone, Alaska, and Hawaii. Consequently, the networks' New York stations became known as the "East Coast flagships" of their respective networks and the networks' Los Angeles stations became known as the "West Coast flagships".

However before the 1950s, San Francisco was also considered a West Coast flagship market for the networks, with much of the CBS and NBC network's West Coast news programming originating from that city. This is seen the calls of CBS's KCBS (AM) being based in their original city of San Francisco instead of Los Angeles (the use of KCBS-TV in Los Angeles only dating back to 1984), while KNBR (which was subsequently sold to another party by NBC in 1987) was formerly known as KNBC before the network moved those calls to KRCA-TV in Los Angeles in 1962.

ABC, CBS, and NBC are headquartered in New York, which is the largest television market in the U.S., so their respective New York radio and television stations are considered the overall network flagship stations. As programming schedules increased and modern technology improved transmission to affiliates, the networks set up operations centers in New York (for the East Coast feed) and Los Angeles (for the West Coast feed). Los Angeles is the second largest television market in the U.S., and traditional home to the motion picture industry and its pool of popular talent, one of the reasons the radio networks set up operations there in the 1930s and 1940s.

This arrangement is reversed for the Fox Broadcasting Company. When Fox was launched in 1986, its network operations center was (and still is) based in Los Angeles. However, Fox's parent company, the News Corporation, is headquartered in New York, along with their news division. Fox-owned WNYW in New York is considered the network's overall flagship, while sister station KTTV in Los Angeles is considered a second flagship station.

The term is also used for stations that operate satellite stations in other cities. For example, KSNW in Wichita, Kansas is the flagship station of the Kansas State Network, a chain of NBC affiliates in western Kansas.

While the Public Broadcasting Service in the United States does not have an official flagship television station, the television industry has long considered WNET in the New York area with that title, based on its official flagship role with PBS's predecessor, National Educational Television.

It is also used to identify a station in terms of ownership. A flagship can be located in the market where the owner is located, or in the largest market where that owner operates. For example, WSB-TV in Atlanta is the flagship of Cox Enterprises, because Cox's headquarters is located in Atlanta (although Cox owns KTVU in San Francisco/Oakland, which is larger than Atlanta). Gannett lists three flagship stations (WXIA Atlanta, WUSA Washingtion, and KUSA-TV Denver)[citation needed].

Flagship television stations of nationwide networks

United States

Network East Coast flagship West Coast flagship
WPSG (Philadelphia)
KBCW (San Francisco)
WPXM-TV (Miami)
WPXP (W. Palm Beach)
Telemundo WNJU (NY)
WSCV (Miami)
Univision WXTV (NY)
WLTV (Miami)
TeleFutura WFUT-TV (NY)
WAMI-TV (Miami)
  • Notes: East Coast flagships are located in the New York DMA, while the West Coast flagships are located in the Los Angeles area. The CW's Philadelphia & San Francisco stations are listed as the largest CW stations owned by CBS Corporation (and thus are directly owned), while Tribune owns KTLA and WPIX. Miami stations are listed for Univision, Telemundo, and TeleFutura due to their operations being major production bases for those networks. The Miami area stations for Ion Television are also listed due to their parent company being based out of West Palm Beach; however none of the Ion stations listed originate programming for the national Ion network.


In sports broadcasting, the flagship television station is the sports team's primary station in the team's home market that produces game telecasts and feeds them to affiliates. For example, WWJ-TV in Detroit is the flagship station of The Detroit Lions Television Network, which feeds Detroit Lions pre-season football games to 6 affiliates in Michigan, so anyone in the state can view the games no matter where they live.[2] However, the "sports flagship television station" is rapidly becoming a thing of the past, with the growing popularity of cable and satellite only regional sports networks such as Fox Sports Net and Comcast SportsNet who hold exclusive broadcast rights to several teams in their market; but in some places they share rights with broadcast stations.

Regional and religious networks


Network East Coast flagship West Coast flagship
  • Notes: East Coast flagships are located in Toronto, except for CBFT in Montreal, while the West Coast flagships are located in Vancouver. CIII-TV-41 had always been considered the flagship station of Global in Toronto despite being a technical satellite station of CIII-TV, which transmits from Paris, Ontario. However since July 2009, the CRTC has considered CIII-TV-41 the "the originating station" of Global Ontario[3].

United Kingdom

Network Flagship station
BSkyB Sky1

Note: All flagships are located in London.

Notable American flagship stations of syndicated television programs



  • Until the consolidation of the ITV franchises during the 1990s, the majority of primetime programming on the ITV network originated from a group of franchises known as "The Big Five" (Thames Television, LWT, ATV/ Central, Yorkshire, and Granada)

Station group flagship stations

In the United States, the term "flagship station" may also be used in the broadcasting industry to refer to a station which is co-located with the headquarters of its station group and considered the company's most important station. For example, WDIV in Detroit is the flagship station of Post-Newsweek Stations. Some broadcasting groups have both radio and television flagship stations: i.e. in Chicago, both WGN-TV and WGN Radio are the respective flagship stations of Tribune Broadcasting.

See also



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