The weakest of the three legacy broadcasting networks for several decades, the American Broadcasting Company’s (ABC) news division has since the 1970s become a serious contender in net- work news competition. Building on a fairly weak foundation, news division director Roone Arledge helped develop ABC News into a ratings power- house. Time and again, ABC has made effective use of journalists who had built their initial reputation at either CBS or NBC. Radio Origins ABC came into being as the Blue Network in 1943, the result of a U.S. Supreme Court decision that broke up NBC’s longtime ownership of two radio networks. Blue was sold by NBC to Edward J. Noble, who had made his fortune with Life Saver candies. In 1945, the Blue Network changed its name to the American Broadcasting Company.
The radio network was the first to break the national network ban on use of recordings on the air. As the fledgling network lacked the funding to enter television networking, in 1953 the company was taken over by Paramount Theaters under the direction of Leonard Goldenson. Beginning in the late 1950s, ABC fed hourly newscasts to its affiliates five minutes before the hour.
Over the years, the network enjoyed the work of a number of distinguished journalists. Raymond Graham Swing (1887–1968) was one of them, broadcasting Blue Network and then ABC News until 1947, sharing time with Elmer Davis (1890– 1958). After a long career, including heading a government information agency during the war, Davis spent his last decade providing news and comment on ABC, offering liberal views and editorials against the communist witch hunts of Senator Joseph McCarthy. Paul Harvey (1918–2009) began his long radio net- work career on ABC in 1951 and was still on the air with his Paul Harvey News and Comment broad- cast from Chicago more than a half century later.