In the fall of 1978, I was an undergraduate at MIT, spending most of my time at WTBS the MIT FM radio station. The program director (Bob Connolly) and I received a call one day from someone claiming to be Ted Turner. He said he was interested in getting the call letters WTBS for his new “Superstation” WTCG in Atlanta. He offered to fly us down to ride his yacht (he was big in the America’s Cup back then) or to see a Braves game.
Anyway, after consultation with MIT big-wigs, station folks, lawyers, and the FCC, we decided to let him have the call letters in exchange for a $50,000 donation to the station. He gave us $25,000 on the date we released the letters, and $25,000 more when the FCC granted his application to obtain them. There was a chance that between the time we released them and he applied, someone else could have grabbed them…. hence the split payment.
By the way, WTCG stood for Turner Communications Group…. doesn’t have quite the ring of Turner Broadcasting System, does it?
The MIT radio station took the call letters WMBR which stood for “MIT Based Radio”, “Walker Memorial Building Radio”, or “Monkey Business Radio” depending on who you asked.