About WABI 5

WABI-TV was the first television station in Maine. It began broadcasting on January 25, 1953, and aired an analog signal on VHF channel 5. It was owned by the Community Broadcasting Service, which was founded in 1949 by former Governor Horace Hildreth when he purchased WABI radio (910 AM, now WTOS; and 97.1 FM, now WBFB). It was managed in its early years by Murray Carpenter. The station was a primary NBC affiliate, but carried secondary affiliations with the other three major networks of the day (CBS, ABC, and DuMont). It lost CBS to WTWO (channel 2) in 1955; that station had been founded by Carpenter. It lost DuMont soon afterward when that network shut down. After Carpenter sold WTWO to the Rines-Thompson family in 1959, the new owners changed that station's calls to WLBZ-TV and swapped affiliations with WABI-TV, making channel 5 a primary CBS affiliate. The two outlets then began to share ABC programming, which had previously been exclusive to WABI. This ended when WEMT (channel 7, now WVII-TV) signed-on in 1965 and took the affiliation. During the late 1950s, WABI was also briefly affiliated with the NTA Film Network.

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