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The Networks


Maybe you remember the three networks – ABC, CBS, and NBC. We also remember three networks – ACD, BEC, and NCN (and we can't overlook that scrappy non-network local station, Ch. 45). And they weren't on TV, they weren't on radio – they were on quarter-inch, reel-to-reel, four-track tape. Now they're on the internet!


The Story Behind the Networks

Once upon a time there were four school chums (l-r): Alan Saly, Christian Doherty, Tom Soter, and Tom (“Siny”) Sinclair...

They were all born in 1956, a momentous and important year. From 1968-72, rather than play baseball, football, or basketball, they would assemble – sometimes two of them, sometimes three, sometimes all four – and improvise stories, with characters, music, and lots of action. Luckily (or unluckily, depending on your point of view), these stories were recorded – at first on reel-to-reel quarter-inch magnetic tape, later on audio cassettes. The recordings were of spy tales, science-fiction epics, mysteries, even offbeat comedies, with such titles as PLANET OF THE NUNS, MR. DOT: PROFESSIONAL MURDERER, GUN FOR HENRY, T.H.E. HICK, UP THE RIVER, HUCK FINN, and THE ASSASSINS.

And then, as if making these shows wasn’t enough, the quartet would occasionally gather and assemble eight or nine of these programs into a “broadcast day,” complete with commercials, station breaks, and editorial opinions. There were three of these “networks”: Christian and Tom ran ACD (with Alan and Siny guest-starring); Siny and Tom ran BEC (with Christian guest-starring); and Alan and Christian ran NCN. Everyone was involved in Ch. 45 (WJAK/WCAR, a local, non-affiliated, inept station, based on WNEW and WPIX as they were in 1968-72).

(The four fine fellows also published magazines of short stories, with such titles as STRANGE & UNKNOWN, THE PSYCHEDELIC EYE, and THE WARTHOG READER, and created Super-8 movies. The movies can be seen by clicking here.)

What follows on these pages is a selection of audio shows from those days and essays by the people who made them.

As for the four school chums? They lived happily ever after. Sort of…


Before we get started, you may want to hear an important Editorial Opinion from the vice president and general manager of Channel 45, Christian DuBrane.

What do YOU think? We'd like to know. Send your comments to us at soterink@earthlink.net or sundaynightimprov@earthlink.net. Or go to our Facebook page.