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The Disaster Dominoes trope as used in popular culture. Basically, instead of a single mess-up, the character manages to chain a lot of them into a bigger.
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The Titanic. Any one of about twenty things happens a tiny bit differently and 1,500 people don t die. Let s recap the more memorable ingredients of the recipe that takes 1,500 lives:
The pre-voyage hype. The largest ship in the world, the pinnacle of technology and luxury, White Star Line s crown jewel. Oh, and any four compartments can be completely filled with water and it won t sink. Even better, the ship has a double-bottom hull.
It s headed into the Atlantic with enough lifeboats for about half the people on the ship at the time, due to some outrageously obsolete law that no one s ever bothered to fix, and while the Titanic technically had more than required, it still wasn t enough. The designer intentionally meant for the ship to carry forty-six boats, but the Powers That Be hacked down that number to twenty, and they still felt that it was more than necessary because it was more than the legally required number of sixteen boats. And two of those boats, the collapsibles, were stowed on the roof of the officer s quarters, a completely and utterly ridiculous place to stow them, as getting them to the davits from there was all but impossible. It s not like we re gonna need them or anything.
Funny thing about those lifeboats: there wouldn t have been enough time to launch them all. The first proposal was for 64 boats. More people might have survived the disaster thanks to boats floating off the deck obviously these wouldn t be tied down but the Titanic barely had time to launch the twenty it had. Then again, they were delayed in actually getting boats launched.
Then there s the intrepid Captain Smith, a seasoned veteran who never blunders due to indecisiveness i.e. has long since forgotten when caution is needed and thinks he can handle anything. BTW, this is going to be his last voyage before retiring you can t make this stuff up, folks.
There s a coal fire in one of the front coal bunkers. They can t just put water on it because it would ruin the fuel. So instead they use a combination of smothering and removing the coal from that part of the bunker. Trouble is, that constant heat weakens the metal on one of the bulkheads. They don t put it out until two days before the disaster.
Four days out. A few ice reports come in. No prob, says Smith, just change the course ever so slightly southward, and we can continue charging ahead full speed without having to see if the correction was enough or any such foolishness. What, slow down and wait until light so we can see if we re in danger. Even if we re not, at worst we ve lost a few hours. What kind of stupid greenhorn sissy baby wimp do you take him for.
Uh oh, turns out the correction wasn t enough; the Titanic gets several warnings that it s headed right for a big ice field. Radio operator s response. Hey, I am outsourced, I work for the Marconi Company, I m not part of the crew. Bug off. Yes, he failed to inform the bridge of an unbelievably hazardous condition that threatened the lives of everyone aboard ship because HE DIDN T GET PAID TO DO THAT AND IT WAS NOT HIS RESPONSIBILITY.
The day of the disaster, there was a scheduled lifeboat drill. Nuked. It s too cold.
Titanic was triple screwed - one centerline propeller connected to a steam turbine and two wing propellers connected to reciprocating engines. Triple screwing is usually considered the poorest arrangement for propulsion - its only advantage is making the stern more streamlined. Triple shafts combine all the worst problems of a single propeller layout and a twin shaft system. About the only advantage of the triple shaft layout is that it eliminates the vulnerability of the single shaft layout to mechanical damage or accident. The design hydrodynamics is such that the effects of the centerline screw actual degrade the efficiency of the wing propellers.
So sure enough, someone sees that the ship is headed right toward a massive wall of ice. At the speed it s going, the ship is hard to turn. What makes it worse is that the first mate puts the ship in reverse. This isn t a sissy car. This is a 66,000 ton Ocean Liner. The churning water actually messes up the proportionally small rudder s ability to turn even more than the speeding. Furthermore, while the two wing props are run by reciprocating engines, the middle one, the one that s right in front of the rudder, is connected to a turbine, and it doesn t go in reverse. Congratulations William Murdoch: You have made a near miss into a solid hit. Epic Fail.
This wouldn t have been a problem had the iceberg been spotted earlier, but Frederick Fleet, the lookout, didn t have his binoculars with him, as they went missing at some point during one of the initial port calls. On top of that, the sea was calm, meaning that Fleet had to rely on moonlight which was rather difficult as the new moon wasn t even up rather than waves to notice a giant block of ice in the ship s path. Ironically, had he not seen it at all and they just rammed the thing, the damage would probably not have sunk the ship.
Whether a head-on collision would have been better is actually disputed. A 50-thousand ton ship hitting an iceberg of comparable weight at 21 knots head-on is not something that could simply be shrugged off. Some argue that not only would have the collision immediately killed a significant amount of people, the ship could have actually sunk even faster as a result because the iceberg would have probably destroyed the ship s keel, rather than its side.
Remember that double-bottom hull. That s only of any help if the ship runs aground. The sides of the ship are still just an inch of steel, made of plates essentially stapled together. And the rivets said staples were weaker in this area. Not because of budget cuts, but because there was a machine used to drive these rivets in, but it couldn t work properly in areas where there s a lot of curved metal to navigate: such as the extreme forward and aft ends of the ship. Therefore, they had to use rivets with more slag a glass-like substance that in trace amounts strengthens steel, but in higher ones weakens it to make it easier to be hammered in by hand. And that bulkhead next to the coal fire. It s believed that the steel was so weakened that the water pressure actually burst it later on in the sinking, accelerating the flooding.
Five compartments flooded. Four, the ship can be salvaged; five, forget it, it s toast. The flooding water will go over the top of each bulkhead of the compartment as it goes down, like in an ice tray.
This occurred because most of the Titanic s supposedly watertight compartment bulkheads did NOT extend all the way to the first continuous watertight deck like they were supposed to. The gap at the top allowed water from a flooding compartment to slop into adjacent compartments. While watertight compartments with properly designed bulkheads probably wouldn t have prevented the Titanic from sinking, it has been speculated that truly watertight bulkheads would have slowed the rate of sinking significantly and could have enabled the ship to remain afloat long enough for help to arrive.
In fact, the compartments made the ship sink faster. As the forward compartments flooded, the front of the ship went down first, causing the tail to stick and the ship to break in half. Also the ship had pumps, but they were located in the rear, which wasn t getting any water. If the water had flooded the ship evenly, it would have taken much longer to sink as much as ten hours.
Said pumps had hoses which were used to surpisingly great effect. One compartment was actually pumped dry before the entire bulkhead collapsed, rendering this small victory moot. The hoses, unfortunately, meant that quite a few manual watertight doors were opened or reopened to allow their passage, making the bulkheads resemble Swiss cheese.
There was one ship close enough to lend assistance the Californian, but her radio operator had already gone to bed. Thereafter, radios were required to be manned around the clock. The Titanic fired off flares, but there was no reaction from the Californian. Other radio operators were within range, but most had also gone to bed.
Oh, and the reason one of the aforementioned radio operators had gone to bed. He was annoyed with having to relay so many messages from the Titanic s passengers. Get a bunch of Upper Class Twits together on an exciting new ship and you re suddenly getting a whole bunch of Twitter-esque chatter clogging up the radio frequencies. At least one radio operator finally said Screw it, I m calling it a day, and wasn t awake to receive the one important message of the bunch.
And just in case this whole apocalyptic mess wasn t nearly hellish enough yet, despite the ship having enough lifeboats to save the lives of about half of the people on board, they don t even save that many, due to numerous lifeboats being launched at well below capacity due to confusion among the crew. Poor Communication Kills indeed.
Remember that Lifeboat Drill that got canned. Yeah, none of the crew were familiar with the new davits put on the ship because of it, causing a few close calls in the unloading process. These boys had to learn on the fly, costing time and potentially lives.
A few more people died due to a smaller, lesser-known boatyard hearing about the disaster that was the Titanic. One of their ships sank because it was carrying too many lifeboats.
None of these screwups would ve mattered if the iceberg hadn t been in that exact spot, at that exact time. Even a few minutes difference in the movement of either ship or iceberg movement, which thousands of fine shifts in current, wind, and surface chop dictated, never mind human intervention and they d have missed each other completely. The good news is that if the disaster hadn t happened, then regulations for ship safety wouldn t have been updated and we d probably still have ships with too few life boats and radio transmissions wouldn t be manned around the clock. So because of this disaster, we have updated rules and regulations for ship travel and safety.
If it wasn t that particular iceberg, the Titanic would ve run into another. A survivor s account mentions that, prior to the collision, when he looked out the porthole of his cabin which was down on one of the lower decks, he would sometimes see stars in the night sky being blocked out by something, then reappearing. This phenomenon has been occasionally witnessed with icebergs at night the ice temporarily blocks out light from stars, at least until they ve passed/been passed. The conclusion here is that, even before the collision, the Titanic was already deep in what was essentially a minefield of ice, and it was probably inevitable that she d have a head-on/glancing encounter with an iceberg.
The Tenerife airport disaster, the worst aerial disaster ever, happened when two Boeing 747s collided on a foggy runway at Los Rodeos Airport in Tenerife, killing 583 people. Likewise, if just one of twenty or so causes had been otherwise, nothing would have happened.
First, the Los Rodeos airport itself was a spare. There had been a terrorist bombing at Gran Canaria airport, so traffic was diverted to Los Rodeos. Both accident aircraft were originally intended to land at Gran Canaria, but instead got diverted to Los Rodeos.
Los Rodeos airport is located in a caldera, and that particular day was awfully foggy as has been known to happen at Los Rodeos, reducing visibility.
Los Rodeos airport has only one runway, while Gran Canaria has two. All air traffic, both landings and take-offs, happened on that single runway.
Los Rodeos airport was awfully crowded and busy that day. The airport was due to rerouting from the bombing forced to accommodate a great number of large aircraft, resulting in disruption of the normal use of taxiways.
Due to the large number of diverted aircraft, Los Rodeos main taxiway was used as an aircraft parking lot. All departing aircraft were therefore forced to taxi the length of the runway, then do a 180 degree backtaxi turn to get into takeoff position.
Both the KLM and Pan Am jets were heading to Gran Canaria. The Pan Am jet was ready to go, but the KLM jet was ahead of it, and was being refueled. The Pan Am had touched down 45 minutes after the KLM, which is why they were positioned this way. The KLM jet eventually taxied to the end of the runway, to wait for the start the take-off run, while the Pan Am jet taxied on the runway behind it.
The refueling took 35 minutes, allowing the fog to settle in. It also added forty tonnes of weight to the KLM jet, making it more difficult to clear the Pan Am when taking off.
And it increased the size of the fire from the crash that ultimately killed everyone on board the KLM jet.
Even worse, the refueling was completely unnecessary because the KLM jet already had more than enough fuel to fly to Las Palmas. It s also unclear what prompted the KLM pilot to decide he had to refuel after waiting for 2 hours. If he had refueled earlier, or not refueled at all, the accident would not have happened.
The Pan Am jet was directed to head on connection taxiway 3, which was on a 148 degree angle to the runway. The 148 degree turn was very difficult to perform on a fully laden Boeing 747, and the American crew instead decided to head to connection taxiway 4, which was only on a 45 degree angle to the runway.
The Los Rodeos flight control gave the KLM plane the IFR departure clearance, which is permission to fly to the destination. It is not a permission for take-off, though; the Dutch crew misinterpreted the clearance as permission for take-off.
There was a language confusion of Dutch, Spanish and English. The tower international communication was in Spanish and the KLM cockpit crew used Dutch for internal communication. The KLM crew spoke with heavy Dutch accents, making it impossible for the Spanish tower crew to understand them. The Pan Am crew spoke American English. The tower used non-standard phrases on communicating with the planes. There is a reason why no matter what airport you go to in the world, no matter what pilot you meet, they all are trained to speak English as the universal language of communication.
The KLM crew asked for permission for take-off. The tower denied it, but used a very heavy Spanish accent, which the KLM crew misinterpreted as permission.
At the same time the Pan Am captain spoke on the same radio channel as the KLM captain, causing a heterodyne a loud buzzing noise. Had he used any other radio channel, there would have not been any confusion.
The Pan Am jet had overtaken the connection taxiway 3 in the fog and was on its way to taxiway 4. Had it turned on taxiway 3 as instructed, it would have gotten out of harm s way.
The confusion meant the tower interpreted that the Pan Am jet had finished taxiing and turned and that the runway was clear. Had the Pan Am captain connected the tower on another channel, the tower could have commanded the KLM jet to stay put.
Some evidence suggests the controllers may have also been distracted, as sounds on the cockpit voice recorders from the KLM and the Pan Am suggested that when the crash was unfolding, the Spanish control tower crew may have been listening to a football match on the radio, blatantly violating the work regulations.
And the football match on the radio was so loud that the game was audible on radio communications with both KLM and Pan Am.
Los Rodeos airport did not have ground radar, and because of the dense fog, the tower did not have the faintest idea where the 747s actually were.
The KLM captain was impatient as the flight had been late for several hours. He decided to go, disregarding the tower. The Dutch legal limit on continuous working time had already been exceeded.
And disregarding also the KLM executive officer s advice. The XO didn t dare to oppose the captain as the captain Jacob Veldhuyzen van Zanten was the most senior KLM captain, and also the chief of the company flight security.
Captain Veldhuyzen van Zanten had acted as a simulator trainer for young pilots for some time, and just returned back as 747 captain. He had not yet recovered his flight routine on the 747.
When the KLM captain revved the engines and started the take-off run, the Pan Am jet had already reached the taxiway 4 and made the turn to the taxiway. Had there been 15 seconds more time, the Pan Am would have gotten out of the way with room to spare.
And had the KLM jet had original amount of fuel and not refuelled, it would have already reached the take-off speed a hundred meters earlier, thus clearing neatly over the Pan Am jet.
Even then, the extra fuel contributed to the size of the fireball, killing everyone onboard the KLM jet. With the original amount of the fuel, the fireball would have been much smaller and a lot of passengers would have survived.
The Linate Airport disaster in Milan, Italy on October 8, 2001 happened when a taking off Scandinavian Airlines System McDonnell-Douglas MD-87 collided in thick fog with a Cessna business jet on the runway, killing 118 people all 110 on the MD-87, all four on the Cessna, and four people in a hangar that the MD-87 slammed into. It is practically a smaller-scale version of the Tenerife Airport disaster for these reasons:
Both accidents happened in thick fog, at airports where there was no functioning ground radar system for tower controllers to monitor aircraft.
Like the Pan Am plane, the Cessna ended up on the runway in the path of an aircraft that was taking off. But unlike the Pan Am, the Cessna was way off course. According to this diagram, when it left the apron, it was to turn left and take the north taxiway, R5, to get to the main taxiway. This would get the Cessna to the taxiway without having to cross the runway. Instead, the plane turned south and took taxiway R6, which meant it crossed onto the runway, right in the path of the departing MD-87. The MD-87, Linate s analogy for the KLM plane, was not at fault because it was doing everything it was supposed to up until the moment of collision.
Further contributing to the problem was that the taxiway signage did not meet ICAO requirements, so once the Cessna was on the wrong taxiway, there was no way it could identify its position.
Neither pilot on the Cessna was certified for landings in visibility conditions shorter than 1,804 feet, but had landed at the airport anyway a few minutes before the disaster.
Speaking of conference re-alignments, NCAA Division I men s ice hockey was hit with a similar chain of events in the early 2010s. Due to its regional nature, college hockey is typically played in special hockey-specific conferences, such as the CCHA, Hockey East, ECAC, and the WCHA, instead of the major multi-sport conferences i.e. ACC, Big Ten, SEC, etc. in fact, many schools that field Division I hockey teams are actually in lower divisions II and III for major sports such as football and basketball. But, it was a major conference s entry into this brave new world that broke the ice for everyone else:
In 2010, Big Ten member Penn State announced that its men s hockey team would move from Division I in the American Collegiate Hockey Association s Division I an alternative sanctioning body primarily populated by schools with lower budgets to NCAA Division I as an independent beginning in the 2012-13 season. But then, the Big Ten Conference realized that they now had enough teams six, specifically to earn an automatic berth into the NCAA tournament if they were to officially recognize hockey. With that in mind, the Big Ten voted to do just that, beginning in the 2013-14 season. The domino had been toppled:
Five Big Ten schools were dragged out of their hockey conferences to begin Big Ten play for 2013-14: Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. Three were CCHA members, and the rest were in the WCHA.
With both conferences losing their most prominent members to the Big Ten, a new conference known as the National Collegiate Hockey Conference NCHC was formed by five WCHA members and one CCHA member Miami University, Ohio with aspirations to be as dominant as the Big Ten Divided By Two. Meanwhile, all hell broke loose for the rest of the CCHA; since they only had five teams left, the WCHA courted a number of CCHA teams along with independent Alabama Huntsville to join, Western Michigan got invited to the NCHC, and Notre Dame got invited to Hockey East. Needless to say, the 2012-13 season was the CCHA s last.
On an otherwise normal Vancouver morning in September 2001, a series of abnormal circumstances led to one of the most complex television network affiliation swaps ever since the New World/Fox debacle. Enter CTV affiliate CHAN-TV otherwise known as BCTV, the most-watched station in Vancouver. Its owners had a grudge against Toronto counterpart/CTV flagship CFTO, because they felt it had way too much influence over CTV programming it really wanted to do a national newscast for CTV, but a newscast for its sister stations had to do for now. So what did CFTO s owner, Baton Broadcasting, do about it. Take over CTV itself, of course. At the time, the network was a cooperative, and board positions were determined by station ownership; beginning in the mid-80 s, Baton went on a buying spree, thinking it would give them a larger degree of influence. All it did was trigger the redistribution of shares. But they kept on expanding.
In 1993, CTV restructured into a corporation with shares owned by its station owners, and reduced the amount of programming it provided. Baton began to subvert the establishment by creating a secondary network known as the Baton Broadcast System BBS, competed against CTV for rights to new U.S. imports a handful of Baton-owned independents and CBC stations also ran BBS, and aggressively promoted BBS as the main brand on all its affiliates. In 1997, the remaining CTV owners finally realized what was going on, and surrendered.
Baton now treated CTV as one network for the price of two: the BBS programs were still technically separate from the standard affiliation agreement which only covered 40 hours of programming per week, even though there was no on-air distinction between them the BBS name was replaced by CTV in local branding. But right after reaching a BBS affiliation deal with CHAN and Vancouver Island sister CHEK, Baton backstabbed them with the new independent station CIVT branded as VTV; gee, that sounds familiar and stole the BBS programming right back, leading to an awkward situation where CTV was split de facto across two rival stations though VTV logos overrode CTV whenever possible. Then, Baton began playing Executive Meddling by switching popular programs between the network lineup and BBS to screw with CHAN. With all this conflict going on, everyone just knew what was going when CHAN s affiliation agreement expired, but they didn t expect this
In 2000, Canwest owners of Global bought CHAN and CHEK s parent company Western International Communications: they planned to switch CHAN to Global, and make CHEK an affiliate of a new network, CH which would be populated with most of WIC s stations the network itself was named after CHEK s de facto sister in Hamilton, CHCH.
Canwest sold its existing Global station CKVU to CHUM, who planned to re-launch it as a local version of Toronto s Citytv. As it took time for the acquisition to be approved, the station was to temporarily drop Global and become an independent in the interim. Citytv would launch on the station in July 2002
Finally, as expected, CIVT was to become the sole CTV O O for British Columbia.
Conveniently, all of these changes were set to occur on the same day: September 1, 2001. As if this weren t chaotic enough, the Fraser Valley also got the new religious station CHNU just 14 days later, and CHUM launched a new Vancouver Island station CIVI for its The New XX network a month later. Oh, and about that national newscast CHAN wanted to do. September 3, 2001 saw the premiere of the CHAN-produced Global National with Kevin Newman.
So what did everyone gain and lose from the shuffle. CTV lost access to BCTV s massive network of rebroadcasters, having to rely on cable to get coverage outside of metro Vancouver this point soon became moot due to, ironically, the widespread adoption of cable in Canada. It also poached talent from CHAN to improve its own newscasts, and in an effort to further confuse the BCTV faithful, branded itself as BC CTV until Global s 2006 re-branding, CHAN branded its news programming as BCTV News on Global for name recognition; oddly enough, at the same time, Global stations began to use the same newscast titles that BCTV used. Said name was short lived, as all of CTV s O Os would soon drop local brands/call letters from their names entirely.
CHAN continued to have the most popular newscasts in Vancouver, CIVT overtook CKVU as the second-place newscast in Vancouver clearly, Vancouver did not like CityPulse, and Global s new home helped the network as a whole put a dent in CTV s dominance at the turn of the new century however, CTV would end up spending a lot more on programming to catch up, especially after it was acquired by Bell Canada and the Globe and Mail. Citytv began evolving into a national brand CHUM later bought Craig Media and its A-Channel chain, re-branding them as Citytv and moving the A-Channel name to its The New XX stations, Seattle independent station KVOS lost its prime slot on many local cable systems it was, for the longest time, a de facto Citytv affiliate, and Canwest now had a second network until it went bankrupt.
By 2011, there was only one programming oddity remaining as a result of this chaos; unlike the rest of the country, where it aired on CTV, The Oprah Winfrey Show still aired on CHAN instead of CIVT. This was a side-effect of how the rights to the show were distributed in Canada, which, unusually, was licensed to the individual stations, rather than with CTV itself for syndicated imports in Canada, usually the network owner itself acquires rights to the show, and treats it as a network program and sometimes puts alternate airings on its cable networks too, meaning that CHAN still held local rights to the show, even with the change in affiliation/ownership. CIVT most recently replaced Oprah with The Ellen Degeneres Show which normally aired on A-Channel/CTV Two ; Ellen would replace Oprah on a nationwide basis following its series finale.
Oh, that New World/Fox debacle of 1994. That was fun. New World Communications who you may know as producers of B-movies in the 70 s and 80 s, owner of Marvel Comics, and producers of The Wonder Years had a decent slate of stations in major markets most of which were previously owned by Storer Commmunications before they sold out to a junk bond king, George Gillett, and ended up with NW, and were about to expand further by purchasing stations from Argyle previously Times-Mirror and Citicasters previously Taft Broadcasting, owners of Hanna-Barbera, Worldvision and a chain of theme parks which later ended up with Paramount, and are now owned by Cedar Fair. Most were affiliated with CBS, but some especially the Argyle/Citicasters stations were affiliated with ABC and NBC too. Fox had recently acquired rights to the NFL, specifically, the NFC which, at the time, was the most prestigious of the two NFL conferences. Coinciding with this move, Fox looked to boost its image and prominence by getting established, VHF stations to become affiliates at the time, most of its affiliates were on UHF channels, which were often Com Mons with no real legacy and hilariously high channel numbers, especially in NFC markets, for obvious reasons only four NFC teams had Fox affiliates on the VHF band.
Right after finalizing the NFL deal, Fox announced that it would purchase a stake in New World, and that it would switch most of its stations to Fox. Some New World stations, particularly from the Argyle/Citicasters deal, were being sold off and/or held in trust because of FCC ownership limits at the time which forbade duopolies or a single company owning more than 12 stations, but also because some were in AFC markets. Citicasters would eventually sell WGHP-8 Piedmont Triadnote The western North Carolina cities of Greensboro, Winston-Salem and High Point, for those not familiar with the region and WBRC-6 Birmingham directly to Fox instead, and NBC bought up WVTM-13 Birmingham and KNSD-7/39 San Diego. Then, in a joint venture, Fox gained minority control of four more soon-to-be Fox stations owned by Burnham Broadcasting including those in Green Bay and New Orleans through the short-lived joint venture SF Broadcasting. NBC-instigated drama involving illegal foreign ownership ensued, and these stations were eventually sold to Barry Diller s Silver King Communications just nine months later today, all but one are owned by Media General which bought out former owner LIN Media in 2014, but they re all still affiliated with Fox and broadcasting on VHFnote Sort of, the 2009 transition to digital makes most of them VHF stations in virtual channel only, since most television stations now physically broadcast on UHF post-transition. Fox also bought an ABC affiliate in Memphis, WHBQ, from Communications Corporation of America under the presumption that the proposed Memphis Hound Dogs NFL expansion team would come to fruition that station was one of the stations previously owned by the infamous RKO General, which had engaged in a variety of illegal business practices and was forced to sell all its stations, read about it all here.
Yeah, a bunch of this one company s stations switched to Fox, and everyone lived happily ever after, right. Wrong. This is where things get complicated: in most markets, the affiliations just swapped between two stations in Kansas City, NBC would simply move from WDAF-TV to former Fox affiliate KSHB-TV. But in quite a few markets, chaos ensued as the result of broadcasters trying to protect their turf, backstab others, and even contribute to the growing The WB and UPN networks, using the New World deal as their soundtrack:
In Birmingham, Alabama, WTTO lost its Fox affiliation to former ABC station WBRC; however, this afforded ABC the option of finding a new affiliate since its existing contract with WBRC long Birmingham s top-rated station did not expire until September 1996, about a year after New World s sale of the station to Fox was announced. ABC offered its affiliation to soon-to-be independent station WTTO which was losing its Fox affiliation to WBRC, but its owner Sinclair Broadcast Group did not want to air any of the network s programming other than that aired during primetime or produce local newsnote That reasoning was somewhat fallible, since it could have expanded upon the resources of the news department operated by WTTO s Tuscaloosa satellite station WDBB; though this would be a non-sequitir anyway as WDBB s news operation was shut down in December 1995, ten months before WBRC was set to join Fox both were considered turn-offs for ABC. WTTO would ultimately join the newly-formed The WB instead.
CBS affiliate WBMG 42 was next on the list, and ABC even offered to buy the station outright. Instead, it decided to renew its CBS affiliation. ABC would have been better off without WBMG, given that this station was infamous for having a weak signal that could only be picked up in Birmingham proper as if The Rural Purge hadn t affected them enough already. Making problems more complicated for that station, WNAL a one-time satellite of WTTO in nearby Gadsden, dumped Fox to join CBS; however, it never bothered to start a news department, and just simulcast WBMG s.
But because of this, the neighboring markets of Tuscaloosa and Anniston also had CBS affiliates: WCFT-TV channel 33 and WJSU-TV channel 40. WCFT s owner Albritton Communications would successfully court WJSU into merging their operations with them, and jointly holding the ABC affiliation for Birmingham, creating what was ultimately known on-air as ABC 33/40. Only one problem: although Nielsen could count the two stations as one for ratings purposes, it would not count viewership in Birmingham because they were considered to be out-of-market stations. So they bought a low-power outlet in Birmingham W58CK, renamed WBMA-LP, and made it so that WBMA was technically the main station, and WJSU and WCFT were simulcasting it, despite the branding suggesting otherwise. The plan worked so well that Nielsen would also merge Tuscaloosa and Anniston into the Birmingham market in 1998.
WBMG now the sole CBS station in the region, after WNAL was bought by Paxson Communications and turned into a Pax TV owned-and-operated station in 1999 would be sold in 1997 to Media General which would eventually sell the station to New Vision Television, only to buy it back in 2014 when MG merged with New Vision s acquirer LIN Media, which significantly upgraded its facilities and rechristened it WIAT, hoping to distance itself from its Dork Age; the general manager hired by Media General even went as far as to shut down the struggling news department for several months during 1998, only to relaunch it that September, with a format that proved more successful.
Meanwhile, in Detroit, the E. W. Scripps Company was talked into switching its ABC affiliates in Cleveland and Detroit WEWS 5 and WXYZ-TV 7note The latter once owned by ABC until it sold WXYZ to Scripps in 1985, as its purchase of Capital Cities Communications put it over FCC television ownership limits to CBS to replace WJW and WJBK, which both were set to become Fox affiliates. ABC bought stations in nearby Toledo and Flint WTVG and WJRT-TV, the former switching from NBC from SJL Broadcast Group as a backup, just in case it lost WXYZ. Scripps ultimately agreed to keep ABC on the stations, under the condition that it also affiliate with four Scripps-owned stations in Baltimore NBC affiliate WMAR-TV, long an also-ran in the market, Cincinnati CBS affiliate WCPO-TV, Phoenix former Fox affiliate KNXV-TV and Tampa Bay former Fox affiliate WFTS.
And with that, CBS ran out of options in Detroit: everyone elsenote i.e., WXYZ and NBC affiliate WDIV; and it declined an offer by independent station WADL due to demands from that station s owners which CBS found unreasonable passed, and by virtue of its Paramount ownership, former Fox station WKBD was to join UPN instead. In an act of desperation, CBS bought WGPR a relatively obscure independent owned by the Freemasons and the first ever U.S. television station owned by African-Americans on channel 62. That, plus opposition to the deal and the poor performance of the network at the time, afflicted the station now known as WWJ-TV named after a sister news/talk radio station, which by contrast, is a lot more well-known and respected, Detroit s 62 CBS, with extremely bad karma.
CBS was faced with a similar dilemma in Milwaukee, where the network quickly affiliated with the equally obscure independent station WDJT on very short notice: unlike in Birmingham, where ABC had at least until September 1996 to resolve its affiliation problems, WDJT started its affiliation only seven days after it was negotiated, which meant that the entire station felt very slapdash until Weigel Broadcasting better known for its Chicago indepndent WCIU finally worked out all the bugs and gave it a full news department a year into the affiliation.
Thought we were done. No. As a result of a deal with Gaylord-owned independent station KTVT 11 in Dallas where KDFW had flipped to Fox, CBS also had to affiliate with fellow indie KSTW in Seattle; this resulted in KIRO 7, the network s longtime affiliate, which had just been sold by Bonneville International the broadcasting division of the Mormon church to the Providence Journal Company, affiliating with UPN. Eventually, because Belo bought ProJo and already owned KING, they engineered a multi-trade between Tribune Broadcasting, Meredith Corporation, Cox Broadcasting, Belo, and Paramount; Meredith acquired KCPQ 13 from Kelly Broadcasting, then swapped it to Tribune for WGNX 46 in Atlanta which has been struggling to this day as a CBS affiliate ever since WAGA left for Fox, and is now named WGCL ; meanwhile, Belo gave KIRO to Paramount in exchange for KMOV in St. Louis, the largest non-UPN station Paramount had inherited from Viacom; Cox which had bought KSTW the previous month from Gaylord would swap KSTW and 70 million to Paramount for KIRO. Hence, UPN joined KSTW and KIRO rejoined CBS.
But wait, there s more. Westinghouse got mad that Scripps backstabbed them in Baltimore to steal its ABC affiliation away from WJZ-TV. To seal the station s fate, a group affiliation deal was made between Group W and CBS; the company promised to run the full CBS schedule without preemptions on all its affiliates Westinghouse was known for pre-empting network programs for its own syndicated programming oh, I wonder where Baton got that idea from, and switched WJZ-TV, KYW-TV in Philadelphia, and WBZ-TV in Boston to CBS.
CBS already owned WCAU in Philadelphia, ceded the affiliation to KYW, and planned to sell the station to NBC. But due to the possibility of having to make massive tax payments, CBS decided to organize a trade with NBC for its Denver and Salt Lake City stations, which also switched to CBS. In turn, Denver s KMGH switched to ABC, and KUSA switched to NBC; while KUTV in Salt Lake swapped affiliations with KSL-TV and became a CBS station. Whoops. To compensate for the loss, NBC and CBS also switched signals in Miami: NBC O O WTVJ moved to channel 6, and CBS O O WCIX 6 moved to 4, and was renamed WFOR. All of these changes were timed to occur on September 10, 1995. Then KMGH s owner at the time McGraw-Hill its stations are now owned by Scripps decided to, for the benefit of all but one of its sister stations, do a group affiliation deal with ABC, which also forced KERO CBS in Bakersfield to do the affiliation conga with KBAK ABC.
Then Westinghouse bought CBS for 5.4 billion, making all of its stations CBS O O s. Eventually, Fox also bought out the rest of New World, making all of its stations Fox O O s.
In the end, at least 60 stations were otherwise involved in the chaos one way or another if this isn t further proof the National Football League is Serious Business, we don t know what is. With these moves, Fox ascended to its throne as the 4th major network, CBS who had a bad reputation under Laurence Tisch, lost the NFL, and was part of a disastrous Major League Baseball contract got the short end of a tree s worth of sticks, and NBC thrived because it wasn t affected as badly by the affiliation shifts. However, CBS has since recovered from Fox s bruises: it re-gained the NFL by picking up rights to the AFC, who had recently turned the tables in the NFL landscape over the NFC, and upon the turn of the century, new hits such as CSI, Survivor, and most recently The Big Bang Theory and NCIS helped CBS re-gain the title of top network, especially among younger viewers. ABC just seemed to have kinda stood there, given it was perhaps the least-effected network in all of this.
To this day, WWJ-TV is still CBS s weakest O O, and even with several attempts to re-brand the station including CBS Detroit and WWJ TV, before settling on just CBS 62 to standardize itself with its peers, it is still treated as the company s black sheep, and it barely airs any local programming beyond mandated public affairs shows since joining CBS, the station has dabbled in local news a few times, but never to the same extent as its rivals, nor for that long at a timenote After WKBD became a sister station through CBS 2000 merger with Viacom, it produced an p.m. newscast for WWJ-TV; however, WKBD made the downright baffling decision to shut down its news department in 2002 and outsource news production to WXYZ, causing the end of that program. WWJ s only other news attempts since then have been in the form of evening weather updates, a public affairs program and a short-lived morning show that aired on both WWJ and WKBD from 2010 to 2012. Though, this is also beneficial from a financial standpoint, as the station can maintain a presumably high profit margin that any attempt at a full news operation would eat into quickly. For reasons unknown, given that WXYZ didn t end up switching, ABC actually held on to WJRT and WTVG until 2011, when they were sold back to SJL. A few years later, SJL sold them again to Gray Television, a larger group that runs stations in mid-to-small markets.
So those New World stations: where are they now.
Only seven of them are still owned by Fox to this date: most of them particularly in the relatively smaller/AFC markets were sold to Local TV LLC previously the TV station division of The New York Times Company in 2008 which itself got bought by its BFF Tribune in 2013. Local TV would trade WBRC to Alabama s media powerhouse Raycom for Richmond s CBS station WTVR. Fox tried to sell WHBQ to them too given that the Memphis NFL team ended up being a Zonk, but Local TV couldn t buy it since they already owned CBS affiliate WREG.
In 2006, Media General would buy NBC s mid-market O Os, including WVTM, requiring them to sell WIAT to New Vision which was later acquired by LIN because that would be an illegal duopoly, and WVTM was not in the ratings basement. Karma bit Media General right after they sold it; New Vision also made significant investments in WIAT, anchored by the extremely heavy viewership it receives during CBS s SEC football games especially those involving Alabama and/or Auburn. In early 2015, Media General and LIN merged, meaning they had to sell one of those two stations again. This time, they shed WVTM to Hearst Television. Additionally, LIN sold WLUK to Sinclair so it could retain Media General s WBAY although WLUK is the home of most Packers games, WBAY has historically had better overall ratings performance.
Somehow Fox actually kept WHBQ until 2014, when Fox organized a deal with Cox Media Group to trade its prized San Francisco Fox affiliate KTVU home of the 49ers, and the largest Fox affiliate that wasn t an O O and sister independent KICU for WFXT in Boston a large-market station, but in an AFC market meaning that it only airs the odd Patriots game if it gets passed to Fox under the NFL s new cross-flexing rules, or they make it to the Super Bowl in a year Fox holds the rights and WHBQ. Fox also pursued KIRO in Seattle to displace Tribune s KCPQ home of the Seahawks, and later threatened to pull KCPQ s affiliation in January 2015 the company had reached a deal to purchase a station, KBCB, in nearby Bellingham as a strategic option. Instead, Fox reached a reverse compensation deal to maintain its affiliation through at least 2018, and said Bellingham station whose purchase by Fox was more a failed negotiation tactic, since KCPQ didn t bow to the offer, not to mention that Fox would have wound up with an O O that ironically doesn t produce much of a signal into parts of Seattle proper returned to its prior status as spectrum auction bait.
In 2013, Sinclair announced its intention to buy Albritton. As Loophole Abuse to dodge the FCC s Obvious Rule Patch and crackdown regarding joint sales agreements Sinclair already owns WTTO, as mentioned, and MyNetworkTV station WABM, and was originally planning on selling WABM to one of its, ahem, friends, so it could take WBMA s satellites; low-power stations are not subject to ownership limits, Sinclair surrendered WCFT and WJSU to the minority broadcaster Howard Stirk Holdings they re friends with Sinclair in a few other markets, but they ve pledged to run it on their own this time, and moved WBMA s simulcast to subchannels of WABM and WDBB a translator of WTTO, now part of The CW, owned by Cunningham. WCFT became WSES and now affiliated with Heroes Icons originally affiliating with Heartland until October 2015. WJSU became WGWW and also airs H I, but continues to simulcast WBMA on its second digital subchannel. WBMA still calls itself ABC 33/40, as ABC 17.2/40.2/58/68.2 would have probably been a little much.
Throughout the whole mess, Fox Kids, then at the height of its popularity, got screwed over the block was seen as toxic by most of the switched affiliates, especially the weekday portion, since most of the stations wanted a better lead-in for their newly expanded local newscasts. This resulted in the block being relegated to UPN, WB or independent stations in many markets; the only real exception was in St. Louis, where the ex-ABC station, KTVI-2, was forced to pick up the block; they had tried to put it on local religious independent station KNLC, but thanks to their reverend owner deciding to replace ad breaks with editorials from him on things like abortion, plus a crappy signal even on cable, this didn t work, and KTVI had to pick it up. This was one of the reasons they sold the block to Disney, not to mention all the problems they had with Fox Family.
The Chernobyl disaster:
When the plant was built, the process was a bit rushed, and proper materials weren t all available. For example, using bitumen in the roof.
A safety test was scheduled, and it concerned a flaw in the timing of a backup generator.
That safety test was postponed. Instead of waiting for the next day-shift who were more experienced and prepared, they did the test using the less experienced and prepared night shift, thinking What Could Possibly Go Wrong..
A power failure cropped up, and when they fixed it, the reactor was putting out minimal power.
To fix this, many control rods were removed. Meanwhile, deep in the reactor, a hotspot formed that the sensors didn t detect until it was too late.
When they finally did notice things getting out of hand, they turned on more pumps, seriously altering the normal coolant flow. Superiors gave orders to continue the test as planned, even though conditions by now were very different.
They decided to plunge the control rods into the reactor. Not only were there not enough of the rods, but they were also tipped with graphite, which actually caused a surge in power. This is why more up-to-date reactors use water or other more stable materials as moderators, instead of graphite.
The result was that pressure built up, causing two explosions, one that blew the extremely heavy cover of the reactor right off.
The graphite moderators caught fire, sending more radiation into the atmosphere.