Leonard H. Goldenson: Third broadcasting giant
The Walt Disney Company acquired ABC, one of the nation's three major television networks, for $19 billion in 1995. At the dawn of commercial television, however, ABC was worth a pittance of that amount, running a distant third behind William Paley's CBS and David Sarnoff's NBC. Even years later ABC was in such dire straits that Milton Berle suggested: "The way to end the Vietnam War is to book it on ABC. It would be canceled in 13 weeks." Leonard Goldenson, the third patriarch of broadcasting, was not as pessimistic, propelling ABC from rock bottom to the pinnacle of broadcasting in virtually one fell swoop. In 1926, RCA acquired AT&T's radio assets and network to augment its fledgling National Broadcasting Company and its own radio network. As a result, NBC ended up with two networks, NBC-Blue and NBC-Red. As the two related networks made their debut with a simultaneous broadcast, Leonard Goldenson, a Harvard senior, was digging into his books. Whether Goldenson heard the broadcast is unknown. If he had, he would never have guessed the role he would come to play in the future of NBC-Blue, later to become ABC, or American television.