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Western Broadcasting Company, or WBC, and known as Johnson TV (JTV) from 1982 to 1991, is a major television network established in 1968. It is part of the "Big Six" alongside NBC, CBS, ABC, Fox, and The CW.

History

WBC's origins can be traced back to mid-1967, when then-Johnson Industries CEO Sheldon Johnson decided he wanted to try his luck at a TV network after seeing how successful NBC, ABC, and CBS were. Originally named the Johnson Broadcasting Network (JBN), the network was later renamed Western Broadcasting Company (WBC) to bring it in line with NBC and ABC.

On October 11, 1968, the network was launched as a viable fourth network alongside ABC, NBC, and CBS. Johnson Radio personality Don George anchored the network's news broadcasts from its inception until his death in 1995, at which point Tom Stephenson, the "Roving Reporter", took over and remains in the post to this day. WBC's first broadcast was of the launch of Apollo 7. Throughout the Apollo program, WBC provided its own brand of coverage, using models to illustrate the missions.

On June 1, 1981, Phil Stacker bought Johnson Industries. WBC began to suffer under Phil Stacker's regime. Many beloved shows were canceled because Stacker thought they were "old-school" and "not hip or cool". He replaced them with shows that are clearly products of the 80s, mainly using gaudy graphics, cheap production values, synth music by Johnson's new synth music department rather than the Johnson Philharmonic Orchestra (though in hindsight, much of the synth music was rather good), poor writing, cringe-inducing 80s slang, and bad acting. Only Luck o' the Truth, a game show from the network's inception in 1968 hosted by Jimmie Dale Armstrong, Tales from the Rails, a TV series from the network's inception in 1968 about a driver, named Francis McCue, played by Dick Van Dyke, and a fireman, named Edgar J. Cullen, played by Thurl Ravenscroft, and their locomotive, Baldwin 2-8-0 #1471, and Elk Cabin, again from 1968, designed to capitalize on the success of Green Acres and Petticoat Junction, about the Stevens family living in the titular cabin, remained on the air, but (for the latter two; the former kept its existing music) also with synth music.

One of the most infamous series in this timeframe was The Cool Adventures of Chocodile, running from June 17, 1984 to April 27, 1991, in which Chocodile was not only depicted by a man in a suit with an animatronic head (but still voiced by Mel Blanc, after his death, Gregg Berger took over), he was joined by two sidekicks: Vanillagator (voiced by Stan Freberg) and Caracaimin (voiced by Don Messick), both of whom were extremely annoying, with critics stating that Scrappy-Doo was a better character; conversely, Chocodile was the best-received part of the series, as he was used by the writers as an avatar to make their displeasure with the state of the company as a whole known, even creating an episode where a villain, SourBill (Billy Dee Williams), a crow who bears an uncanny resemblance to Phil, is planning to kick Chocodile out of his home. To make matters worse, a badly-dressed rock band, The Radicals (the idea of Stacker's wife Helga Stacker), with Den (played by Stacker himself) as lead singer, Becky Jo (Helga Stacker) on guitar, Dan (Phil's nephew Daniel) on drums and Betty (Daniel's older sister Phoebe Jo Setzer) and Ben (Phil's brother Bryan) as backup singers, became the network's mascots, and the network itself was renamed Johnson TV (JTV) on December 31, 1982, as Stacker didn't want to be associated with the other WBC (the Westboro Baptist Church), and because he wanted to build a brand new, "younger and hipper" identity.

On January 16, 1987, during a progress report meeting, Phil Stacker was informed of the decline of the company. Rather than brushing off these concerns, Phil was reported to have buried his face in his hands, muttering various obscenities and saying "oh god" over and over again. He soon began seeking ways to reverse the trend, and began restructuring JTV, and most notably, had production of The Transformers moved from Sunbow to JTV, along with moving production of The Chipmunks from DiC to JTV in 1990, and, for the former, began making a full fourth season, as well as eight more seasons from 1988-1989, and then 1993-1999 (1990-1992 were marked by three primetime specials: ZoneThe Decepticons Strike Back, and Operation Combination; seasons seven through nine carried the subtitle Generation 2, while the remaining seasons carried the subtitle Machine Wars, the series remains one of the longest-running American cartoons in history), and for the latter, a full ninth season was created, along with 28 additional seasons since 1990. JTV also planned to start a TV satellite service (scrapped with Johnson's 1992 PrimeStar buyout).

During the Stacker-Johnson transition, JTV was dead-air, only showing a vintage 1968-era test card, as well as episodes of The Transformers from the first and second seasons, and episodes of The Chipmunks from the first season.

JTV was rebranded back to WBC on December 31, with a new logo designed by Tammy Jo Johnson, the Radicals were removed from WBC (it was explained that the band was fired for being terrible, in keeping with the company's infamous reputation for being brutally honest; a mockumentary released in 2012, called Behind the Radicals, showed that after their firing, The Radicals tried and failed several times to reinvent themselves, eventually breaking up and being remembered solely for their involvement with the Stacker Era), the shows canceled by Stacker were revived, all shows produced under the Stacker regime were canceled (The Transformers was allowed to finish out, and The Chipmunks was allowed to continue, and both franchises have remained a part of Johnson up until the present day), and all synth music was excised from network bumpers. In fact, in a live event shortly after the network had signed on for the day, Chocodile brutally and unceremoniously killed Vanillagator and Caracaimin by shooting them in a P-51 Mustang privately owned by Don George, with the explanation that Chocodile secretly hated them since the moment they met, and had been planning on killing them for years, much to the relief of longtime viewers, with critics stating that it was assurance that Johnson "was back to its roots".

On February 1, 1994, WBC became the first network to switch to HD television. This move coincided with PrimeStar switching to widescreen around that time.

Current programming

News

  • WBC World News with Tom Stephenson (1995-present)
  • Local News (1968-present; name varies between affiliates)
  • The WBC Files (1992-present)
  • Hello World (1973-present)

Sports

Wbcsp

The WBC Sports logo.

  • MLB on WBC (MLB on JTV during the Stacker years; 1968-present)
  • Formula E on WBC (2016-present)
  • NASCAR on WBC (1969; 2014-present)
  • NFL on WBC (2015-present)

Animated Series

  • Chocodile's Nonsensical Adventures (2016-present)
  • Transformers: The Great War (2013-present; co-production with Hasbro Studios and Toei Animation)
  • The Chipmunks (1990-present; produced by Bagdasarian Productions and Ruby-Spears 1983-1987, Murakami-Wolf-Swenson 1988 and DiC Entertainment 1988-1990, rescued from NBC)
  • Duckman (premieres fall 2018; continuation)
  • Richie Rich (1993-present)
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (1995-present; rescued from ABC)
  • The Bugs Bunny-Road Runner Show (1992-present)
  • The Flintstones (1995-present)
  • The Jetsons (1995-present)
  • The Scooby-Doo Show (1993-present)
  • Spaceballs: The Animated Series (2007-present)
  • King of the Hill (2009-present; rescued from Fox)
  • Futurama (2003-present; rescued from Fox)
  • Bob's Burgers (2010-present)

Hybrid Series (uses both animation, miniature effects, and/or live-action)

  • Monster World (1998-2004; 2015-present)
  • Detective Jenny (1994-2001; 2017-present)
  • Vocaloid (2012-present)
  • WBC's Sgt. Frog (2013-present)
  • The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya (2013-present)
  • Lucky Star (2013-present)
  • CLANNAD (2016-present)
  • Nichijou (2015-present)
  • K-On! (2016-present)
  • Squid Girl (premieres fall 2018)
  • EarthBound (premieres fall 2018)
  • The Legend of Zelda (2013-present)
  • Mega Man (2013-2017; returns fall 2018)
  • Moesia (2015-present)
  • Hyperdimension Neptunia: The Space War (2017-present; reruns)
  • Pokemon (2006-present; Johnson version)
  • Star Wars: Alternity (2006-present)
  • Sodor High School: Thomas & Friends Tales (2011-present)
  • Thomas the Tank Engine (2013-present)
  • The Railway Series (2013-present)

Live-Action

  • The Last Man on Earth (premieres fall 2018; rescued from NBC)
  • Star Pirates (1990-present)
  • War Kingdoms (2007-present)
  • Project Apollo (2014-present)
  • The Reapers (1969-1981; 1992-present)
  • Bertram & Steve (1992-present)
  • The Illuminati (1972-1981; 1992-present)
  • Law & Order (2010-present; rescued from NBC)
  • Law & Order: Criminal Intent (2007-present; moved from NBC)
  • About a Boy (2015-present; rescued from NBC)
  • Bunheads (2014-present; rescued from ABC)
  • Roseanne (1997-present; rescued from ABC)
  • Smash (2014-present; rescued from NBC)
  • Firefly (2016-present; reboot with same production staff)
  • Guiding Light (2009-present; rescued from CBS)
  • As the World Turns (2010-present; rescued from CBS)
  • The Apprentice (2015-present; moved from NBC)
  • Elk Cabin (1968-present)
  • The Hatfields (1972-1981; 1992-present)
  • Link's World (1970-1981; 1992-present)
  • Tales from the Rails (1968-2005; 2011-present)
  • America's Funniest Home Videos (2013-present; moved from ABC)
  • The Muppet Show (2015-present)

Game Shows

Talk Shows

  • The Wayne Knight Show (2005-present)
  • The Steve Harvey Breakfast Hour (2008-present)
  • The Late Shift with Neil Patrick Harris (2008-present)
  • Fireside Chat with Tim Johnson (2011-present)

Documentary Series

  • War Scenarios (1992-present)
  • Kaiju (2001-2004; 2016-present)

Overnight Programming

  • WBC Yule Log (1968-present; only shown on Christmas Eve)
  • Graveyard Shift (2010-present; features preschool shows that have been redubbed and reanimated to be much more violent, raunchy, and realistic)

Former Programs

This list is incomplete.

News

  • JTV NewsTime (was WBC NewsTime during 1981-1982, 1981-1991)
  • WBC World News with Don George (1968-1995; was JTV World News with Don George 1982-1991)

Sports

  • Formula 1 on WBC (2002-2004)
  • NBA on WBC (NBA on JTV during the Stacker years; 1974-1998)

Animated Series

  • The Transformers (1987-1999; produced by Sunbow and aired in syndication 1984-1986)
  • Machines of War (1994-1996)
  • Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids (1993-2015)

Hybrid Series

  • Azumanga Daioh (2013-2017; subtitled)
  • Tengen Toppa Gurren Laggan (2013-2014)

Live-Action

  • EarthBound (1997-2015)
  • The Cool Adventures of Chocodile (1984-1991)
  • The Radicals (1982-1991)

Game shows

  • Match Game (1993-2005; combined with Hollywood Squares to revive The Match Game-Hollywood Squares Hour)