RKO Television

From the Audiovisual Identity Database, the motion graphics museum


RKO Television was the identity used by RKO General in its television assets, most notably WOR-TV (now WWOR-TV) in Secaucus, New Jersey (also serving New York City) and KHJ-TV (now KCAL-TV) in Los Angeles. RKO General became infamous for dishonest practices and corporate misconduct, causing them to be in near constant investigation starting in the 1960s. In 1987, the FCC ruled that RKO General was unfit to be a broadcast licensee, forcing the company to divest all of its broadcasting assets. The final television station to be sold was Memphis, Tennessee-based WHBQ-TV in 1990, with the remaining radio assets being sold by 1991.

Logo (1983-1989)

Visuals: On a black background, a glowing orb leading a segmented white-lined rectangle slides in from the left of the screen. A bolt of lightning strikes the rectangle and reveals the RKO logo at the time (a red equilateral triangle pointing down with a "thunderbolt" drawn 3/4 through it). An RKO General copyright notice appears below, and the words "RKO TELEVISION" are drawn in by red laser beams on the left and right of the triangle, which pulsates twice at the end. The logo of either WOR-TV or KHJ-TV slides in from the left with several multicolored lines, stopping above the logo.


  • This is essentially a cel-animated version of the RKO Pictures logo, which would provide a template for other RKO divisions at the time.
  • Although the logo utilizes the 1981 RKO Pictures theme, the earliest known usage of the logo did not occur until 1983.


  • A later variant for WOR-TV exists, where four lines in different colors wipe in, with parts of the logo. The lines then form a circle cut-out, with the logo fully forming shortly after.
  • Similarly, a later variant for KHJ-TV has a gold "9" (from the station logo) already present in the middle and a black/dark purple/black gradient in the background. 16 lines ranging from light blue to dark blue slide in from both sides of the screen; eight from the left and eight from the right.
  • WHBQ-TV used their "13" logo and station ID which flips into place above the completed logo, the copyright then grows into place, differentiating from WOR-TV and KHJ-TV.
    • A later variant for WHBQ-TV has the completed "RKO Television" portion slide upwards to reveal a purple grid background, their "Thirteen/13" logo then flips into place and animates underneath the company name as "WHBQ-13 Memphis" appears written on the right corner. A copyright then appears in the left corner.

Technique: 2D cel animation.

Audio: Same as the 1981 movie logo. On rare occasions (such as on local newscasts), a generic or stock theme will play over this logo instead.

Audio Variants: On School Beat, the ending theme of the show transitions into the logo's theme.

Availability: This was only known to appear on programming supplied from the RKO General TV stations such as Romper Room, School Beat, Straight Talk, sports games and various newscasts. The WHBQ-TV variants were only known to have appeared on the channel's newscasts.

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