The roots of Capitol Broadcasting Company date back to 1937. That year Raleigh attorney A.J. Fletcher and four partners decided to form a company so they could compete in a new industry taking hold of a nation still struggling through the Great Depression. The business was broadcasting, and at the urging of his son Frank—a young communications lawyer at the Federal Communications Commission—A.J. Fletcher and his partners formed CBC with the sole purpose of obtaining a license to operate a radio station in North Carolina’s capital city.
The plan worked and on July 28, 1938 the Federal Communications Commission authorized Capitol Broadcasting Company to operate a new 250-watt AM radio station with the call letters W-R-A-L. That FCC action officially established a direct link between the Fletcher family and North Carolina broadcasting that exists today.
A.J. Fletcher was one of five original shareholders in Capitol Broadcasting Company, Inc., but he was not the first president. That distinction went to another local attorney, Earl C. Marshburn, who owned the most shares of the company at the outset. The other original CBC stakeholders were Howard E. Satterfield, Professor of Engineering at North Carolina State University; Attorney Charles E. Green; and E. Johnson Neal, an insurance executive.
As construction of WRAL-AM neared completion in early 1939, Capitol Broadcasting Company was reorganized. A.J. Fletcher purchased the shares owned by Marshburn and Satterfield, bringing his holdings to 105 of the company’s 150 original shares. With financial control firmly in place, A.J. Fletcher became President of Capitol Broadcasting Company, a title he would eventually pass on to his son Fred Fletcher and grandson Jim Goodmon.
Over the next seven decades CBC would establish itself as one of the most respected and innovative communications companies in the nation. The company that started with one tiny AM radio station has diversified to now include holdings in broadcasting, new media, real estate and professional sports.
This corporate expansion began in 1946 when the FCC awarded CBC the license for WRAL-FM, one of the first commercial FM radio stations in the country. The addition of a second radio station acted as a catalyst and set off a wave of innovative growth.
With WRAL-AM and FM as the foundation, CBC formed two pioneering radio networks that broadcast specialty programming across the state and region. The Tobacco Radio Network and the Dixie Network gained acclaim as providers of ACC sports, in-depth agricultural news and live event coverage.
In the early 1950s A.J. Fletcher’s attention turned to television. Mr. Fletcher realized that CBC needed to expand into this promising sector of the broadcast industry, so he set out to bring a TV station into the CBC fold. It would not be easy, but after a monumental struggle and months of arduous hearings at the Federal Communications Commission, CBC won the license to operate WRAL-TV Channel 5 in Raleigh.
WRAL-TV signed on the air December 15, 1956 and went on to become one of the premier local television stations in the nation. The CBC flagship is widely known for its award-winning news operation, technological leadership and far-reaching community service and support.
CBC’s growth and innovation has remained constant throughout its history. The company has founded, acquired and sold numerous business entities since its inception. These assets range from radio and television stations to new media startups, historic properties and professional baseball teams. A comprehensive record of many of these transactions can be found in the interactive timeline near the bottom of the CBC History website homepage.
Over the years CBC has taken on the flavor and persona of its generational family leader – from A.J. Fletcher’s astute business savvy to Fred Fletcher‘s flair for local entertainment to Jim Goodmon‘s fascination with engineering and technology. But no matter who was at the helm, three core values have always served as guiding lights for Capitol Broadcasting Company: an unwavering commitment to excellence, the fearless pursuit of new technology and innovation, and a genuine sense of responsibility to the community. That is how CBC defines success.