This page will attempt to showcase the histories of New York City AM Radio stations,
past and present.
Please feel free to e-mail me with any information you would like to contribute to this page and
you will be credited.
Some information provided by:
"The Airwaves Of New York:
Illustrated Histories Of 156 AM Stations In The Metropolitan Area, 1921-1996"
WBOQ - 860 AM, New York
WBOQ, owned by the Alfred H. Grebe Radio Company of Richmond Hill, went on the air March 26, 1925 on 950 AM as a share-time sister station to WAHG (later to become WABC, then WCBS - see below).
Studios and offices were shared with WAHG.
Calls stood for "Borough Of Queens."
Programming on WBOQ was intermittent, however some Hollywood superstars of the day were featured such as Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks.
At the end of 1926, the Atlantic Broadcasting Company was formed, with WAHG becoming WABC and WBOQ continuing with its calls and intermittent schedule.
In 1927, WBOQ featured the Nick Carter mystery series, "Atlantic Air Theatre."
Also in 1927, WBOQ moved from 950 AM to 920.
In 1928, the station moved twice: from 920 to 970 and then from 970 to 860 AM.
In the fall of 1928, the Atlantic Broadcasting Company was sold to the fledging Columbia Broadcasting System.
The call letters were officially hyphenated as WABC-WBOQ.
But, as WABC continued to grow, WBOQ remained the "silent partner."
When CBS put up a new transmitter at Wayne NJ, testing took place under the WBOQ calls.
The "phantom call" was used on a few occasions in the 1930's, but in 1940 the FCC eliminated all dual call letter assignments, so on May 28, 1940, WBOQ, a radio station that hardly ever broadcast, ended its 15 year history. WCBS - 880 AM, New York
The origins of this station date back to October 24, 1924 when WAHG signed on at 920 AM, owned by Alfred H. Grebe.
Grebe also owned WBOQ (see above) and two mobile unit stations: WGMU (a 100-watt mobile unit installed in a Lincoln sedan operating on 63 meters shortwave) and WRMU (a maritime transmitter aboard the yacht MU-1).
Among the pioneering remote broadcasts on WAHG were yachting events and horse races (the latter service was said to have ruined business for some bookies).
In 1925, WAHG carried the commentary of Brooklyn Eagle editor H.V. Kaltenborn direct from the newspaper's own studio.
Also in 1925, WAHG moved from 920 to 950 AM.
Among the early announcers were George D. Hay (who later went to WSM in Nashville and created the Grand Ole Opry program) and a 16 year old named Nancy Clancy.
On December 16, 1926, Grebe reorgnaized his operations and formed the Atlantic Broadcasting Company and changed calls to WABC, after reaching an agreement with the Ashland Battery Company in North Carolina.
New studios were located in the 17th floor penthouse of Steinway Hall at 113 W. 57th St.
In 1928, WABC moved to 970 AM.
It was Grebe's original intent to make the Atlantic Broadcasting Company a network operation, much like what NBC was doing at the time.
In September 1928, an opportunity arose when the struggling Columbia Broadcasting System was looking for a full-time affiliate in New York.
At the time, WOR refused to clear any additional time for the CBS network, so WABC stepped in to become the second affiliate.
So, for a few weeks in 1928, WABC was the CBS affiliate on Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday and WOR carried the rest of the days, but soon WOR dropped CBS completely.
In November 1928, Columbia offered to buy either of its New York affiliates and President William S. Paley negotiated with both Grebe and Bamberger (owner of WOR).
While WOR's facilities were surperior, Paley chose the less-expensive WABC, and in December the Atlantic Broadcasting Company became a subsidiary of CBS.
The sale price was $390,000, though the appraised value of the studios and transmitter was just $130,000.
Also, around this time, WABC changed frequencies again to 860 AM.
In July 1929, CBS and WABC moved into 6 floors of a new building at 485 Madison Ave.
The network would eventually occupy the entire building as well as one across the street and various other locations around town.
The CBS contract provided affiliates with unsponsored programs free of charge all day long with the understanding that they would clear the time for all sponsored shows.
It made sense for WABC to carry a good portion of the network feed.
Soon, programs of purely local interest, including a few ethnic broadcasts aimed at Jewish and African-American listeners, were displaced by enjoyable but often undistinguished hours of music and talk for the national audience.
Some of these, such as Rudy Vallee's program, had been on the local WABC schedule earlier, but CBS soon added new national performers to its fold: Bing Crosby, George Burns and Gracie Allen, Kate Smith, "Street Singer" Arthur Tracy, plus such irresistables as "Buck Rogers In The XXV Century."
As radio's news-reporting capabilities developed, CBS made a major effort to become "The News Network."
There were as many newscasts as radio-newspaper agreements would allow and news analysts by the first generation of CBS commentators, including H.V. Kaltenborn, Elmer Davis and Edwin C. Hill.
"The World Today" brought in reports via shortwave from overseas news centers - a radical innovation for the time.
But, while all this news enhanced the value and prestige of CBS, it added little in the way of local news in the New York area.
In 1941, WABC moved to 880 AM.
On November 2, 1946, calls were changed to WCBS.
In an effort to feature local content, CBS hired a recently discharged US Navy radioman named Bill Leonard to lead in to Arthur Godfrey's Washington-based wakeup show, with an offbeat local public-affairs and feature program called "This Is New York."
The program would remain on the WCBS lineup for 17 years, capping its run as part of the evening schedule.
It was one of the first programs to take wire and tape recorders into the field.
In March 1949, the CBS network passed NBC to lead in the national ratings.
When Godfrey left the morning show in 1948, he was replaced by Jack Sterling, then program director of CBS's Chicago station.
WCBS also developed a lineup of afternoon talk shows, including author Emily Kimbrough and Texas storyteller John Henry Faulk.
Singer Lanny Ross had a chat-and-variety show in the 1950's.
Galen Drake's "Housewives' Protective League" program was one of many local broadcasts of that title heard with other hosts on other CBS-owned stations.
American Airline's all-night program, "Music Till Dawn" premiered on April 13, 1953.
WCBS announcer Bob Hall was the model for hosts on that program around the nation.
Network entertainment shows, including some of radio's most beloved soap operas, were cancelled by the block in the early 1960's, but WCBS continued to maintain a staff orchestra and programs were hosted by vocalist Martha Wright and folk singer Oscar Brand.
WCBS tried to build its local news coverage in 1955 by hiring WOR news director Dave Driscoll, who brought in newscaster Lou Adler and Westbrook Van Voorhis, the muscular voice of "The March Of Time."
In the early to mid 1960's, WCBS had a co-located transmitter site on Pea Island (later Columbia Island).
This transmitter was eventually de-commissioned and razed in 1965.
In the mid-1960's, WCBS began an afternoon drive-time news and information program called "Up To The Minute," anchored by Adler and Kenneth Banghart.
CBS Chairman William Paley was impressed with the program (and admired the all-news format that WINS - see below - instituted in April 1965) but was concerned about his flagship's otherwise low ratings.
Despite management warnings to Paley that an all-news operation would lose $5 million a year, "Up To The Minute" was the prototype for what would become "Newsradio 88."
Joseph Dembo was hired away from NBC to develop a format that would build on CBS's respected world news operation and provide a service to the metropolitan area.
At 4:21pm, August 27, 1967, the day before it was to start its continuous news service, WCBS found itself in the headlines when a light plane crashed into the High Island tower that it shrared with WNBC.
The news format was temporarily switched to WCBS-FM, which had to delay the premiere of it's "Young Sound" format.
The AM signal returned weakly via WLIB's old transmitter and antenna in Astoria, Queens.
Two weeks later, the High Island site was back in operation, albeit with only 10,000 watts into a temporary 200 foot tower.
It didn't resume it's 50,000 watt power until the end of the year.
The original anchors at Newsradio 88 included Lou Adler, Robert Vaughn and Steve Porter from Philadelphia, former WMCA "Good Guy" Jim Harriot and ABC newsman Charles Osgood.
Sportscaster Pat Summerall, who had replaced Jack Sterling on the wake-up show in 1966, reportd sports in the morning; Harvey Hauptman reported in the evening.
But, it was still "all news, part of the time" until WCBS cancelled Arthur Godfrey's weekday variety show.
"Music Till Dawn" played its last record at dawn on January 4, 1970.
Fittingly, the record was the series theme song, "That's All", composed by WNEW (see below) DJ Bob Haymes, in a haunting arrangement by the Sy Mann Orchestra.
Although WINS had been all-news for nearly 5 years and frequently led WCBS in the ratings, Paley's gamble with Newsradio 88 seemed to pay off.
The only discrete program to remain was "Let's Find Out", a Sunday discussion slot that had premiered in 1956.
In 1970, Pasquale Tominaro (aka Pat Parson) became a newscaster on WCBS and remained with the station until 1990, when he left to attempt to start up his own station on 98.5 FM.
In 1995, Westinghouse and CBS merged and New York's two all-news stations continued to compete under the same corporate leadership.
In December 2001, it was announced that WCBS had picked up the rights to carry New York Yankees baseball.
An "appreciation site" for Newsradio 88 has recently been put together by Don Swaim.
It can be found here.
(Thanks to Bryan Vargo for an old WCBS-AM logo)
(Thanks to "JohnA" for some of this information)
WPAT - 930 AM, Paterson
See: NJ AM History Page 4 WINS - 1010 AM, New York
This station dates back to October 24, 1924 when it signed on as WGBS, owned by the Gimbel Brothers Department Store, on 950 AM.
Their premiere broadcast was one of radio's classiest nights.
Eddie Cantor was the master of cerimonies and the guests included George Gershwin, Rudolf Friml, Cliff "Ukelele Ike" Edwards, Rube Goldberg, the Dolly Sisters, and the Vincent Lopez Orchestra.
Issac Gimbel welcomed listeners.
The program was also fed to its sister station in Philadelphia, WIP.
Two days later, WGBS presented a rare, early broadcast of a Broadway play, Morris Gest's production of The Miracle.
When the Ziegfeld Theater opened, WGBS covered the event, including scenes from the play Rio Rita.
In February 1926, the WGBS transmitter was carried from the store and installed in Astoria, directly across the East River from Carl Shurz Park.
The improved facilities included the latest in metering equipment and a recording device to monitor distress signals.
Back at the store, WGBS added a second studio, "so that one orchestra may be tuning up and be in readiness to broadcast immediately after its predecessor has gone off the air, thus doing away with one of the worst nuisances of radio," the long pauses between programs.
WGBS believed it was the first broadcaster to originate a program from an airplane; it was involved in early transatlantic shortwave tests and presented shows direct from the ocean liner Leviathan.
Also in 1926, WGBS instituted a regular network connection with WIP, as well as a link to a studio in Atlantic City.
As the radio industry burgeoned, WGBS seemed to be in the prefect position to become one of the nation's major broadcasters.
WGBS initially presented some of the first transcibed programs, using a wax-recording device called a homophone.
In 1927, WGBS moved from 950 to 860 AM.
On November 28, 1928, Gimbels reorganized its radio operation as the General Broadcasting System (GBS) and with WGBS and WIP as key stations, planned to spread across the country.
But, their plans were thwarted by the Federal Radio Commission, which assigned the Gimbel stations in New York and Philadelphia to share time on the same frequency, undermining them in both markets.
Also in 1928, WGBS moved again, from 860 to 1180 AM.
In 1929, another move took place to 600 AM, before moving back to 1180 in 1931.
On October 10, 1931, Daley Paskman, J.W. Loeb and Fred Gimbel sold WGBS to William Randolph Hearst, who in January 1932, changed the call letters to WINS.
The calls stood for Hearst's International News Service, then one of the nation's three major wire services.
In July 1932, WINS moved out of the old WGBS studios in the Hotel Lincoln to a Park Avenue locale at 110 E. 58th St., the Ritz Tower.
WINS experiemented with television in the 1930's, operating the Jenkins mechanical scanner through experimental transmitter, W2XCR.
On March 29, 1941, WINS became a beneficiary of the reallocations caused by the North American Regional Broadcasting Agreement (NARBA), and it switched to full-time operation on 1000 AM.
This was the widest of some 18 NARBA shifts on the New York dial, the result of good planning and early application by Hearst engineers.
By moving from 1180 AM, it opened up 1190 for later occupancy by WLIB.
At this time, WINS also moved to new studios at 28 W. 44th St.
Programming consisted of popular msuic and low-budget quiz shows.
There was also news reporting by "Mr. & Mrs. Reader", a couple who read the papers to each other every morning.
At about the time of its frequency and power upgrade, WINS had to shut down its transmitter at Carlstadt NJ, due to interference with WHN (see below), 50 kilocycles up the dial, but just a half-mile away in East Rutherford.
WHN let WINS move to its old transmitter site in Astoria until it could occupy a permanent plant in Lyndhurst NJ.
But, signal problems caused WINS to temporarily return to daytime-only operation until it became full-time at 1010 AM on October 30, 1943.
In 1946, Hearst sold WINS for $2 million to another media powerhouse, the Crosley Broadcasting Corporation, owner of WLW in Cincinnati.
In October 1946, Crosley began feeding WLW's programs to WINS.
The schedule even included concerts by the Cincinnati Symphony.
But, New Yorkers repsonded weakly to being plugged in to WLW, and the Crosley network was phased out.
In 1953, Crosley sold WINS to the Gotham Broadcasting Corp., a West Coast organization controlled by Seattle businessman J. Elroy McCaw.
More lively programming soon followed.
Stan Shaw conducted "The Original Milkman's Matinee" at night, veteran NBC sports director Bill Stern presented a breakfast-time talk show and disk jockey Alan Freed and his record collection came to WINS on September 8, 1954.
Often cited as the man who coined the expression "rock n' roll", Freed was certainly a pioneer; he had already garnered an audience in the New York area through his Cleveland program syndicated over WNJR in Newark.
He stayed with WINS through 1958, at a time when the station had one of the strongest lineups in the city.
Transcripts from this period are available here.
Bob Elliott and Ray Goulding moved over from WNBC in 1954 to fill the morning slot, bringing newscaster Peter Roberts with them.
DJ Jack Lacy played records on "Lacy On The Loose" and "Listen To Lacy" and Bob Garrity presented live late-night jazz from Birdland.
In 1956, Herbert G. "Jock" Fearnhead became general manager, and under his leadership and efforts of programmer Rick Sklar, the rock and roll revolution seized complete control of WINS.
In August 1957, WINS moved its studios to 7 Central Park West, overlooking the park and Columbus Circle.
It was a roach-infested building topped by a Coca-Cola sign and had been constructed, coincidentally, for William Randolph Hearst.
News director Tom O'Brien, Lew Fisher, Brad Phillips and Paul Sherman reported the news at 25 and 55 past the hour.
Each newscast opened with the words, "Sounds make the news!" and some significant noises.
Les Keiter covered pro, college, and even high school sports.
DJ patter was heard through a "Soundarama" echo chamber, which WINS introduced after surrepitiously operating on reduced power for a couple of hours to make the new sound even more impressive.
A Western Union wire brought in record requests and dedications through a constant stream of audience-participation gimmicks and contests.
Burned by the payola scandal that threatened renewal of the station's license and a 4 month announcers' strike in 1958, and losing its rock n' roll audience to WABC and WMCA, WINS briefly stepped back to a more middle-of-the-road format.
Stan Richards inherited the 6-10am program in the autumn of 1959 and Cousin Brucie Morrow was on from 7-11pm.
Murray "The K" Kaufman joined WINS in 1958 and handled the overnight chores, following Alan Freed at 11pm.
He quickly developed an audience that was large enough to allow him, after Freed left the station, to displace Bruce Morrow, who briefly took over Freed's
prime time slot.
Over the course of the next seven years, until the station's switch to all-news in 1965, Kaufman's show was the dominant ratings leader, topping WOR-AM's John Gambling, who had been the perennial favorite for
When the Beatles arrived in 1964, Kaufman had already
established himself as the most powerful DJ in the most powerful music market in the country.
He'd been producing and hosting rock 'n' roll shows at the Brooklyn Fox theater since 1961 (after first hosting shows at the Paramount in 1960 and Manhattan's Academy of Music), he'd proven himself to be a
reliable hit maker (he'd co-written "Splish Splash", picked "Walk On By" over Dionne Warwick's now-forgotten A-side song, promoted black entertainers like Little Anthony & the Imperials, Ben E. King, Chuck Jackson, and others, putting them on totally integrated bills at the Fox, and put together local TV specials that were broadcast on WNEW and WOR and showcased the top acts at the time), and visited
practically every club in the city looking for promising talent, such as the Ronettes who became Kaufman's first Murray the K's Dancing Girls.
The bandleader at one of the Fox shows aspired to be a singer and asked Kaufman for a break, and Murray gave Bobby Vinton his first gig as a singer.
Though he seemed an unlikely choice, Kaufman booked a
new kid named Wayne Newton on a Fox bill and helped extend the singer's audience beyond a white-only crowd.
After the British Invasion, Kaufman arranged for the Rolling Stones to appear at Carnegie Hall, introducing the group to concert master Sid Bernstein, and he suggested that they cover the R&B tune "It's All Over Now," which became their first #1 hit.
After leaving WINS in 1965, Kaufman was program director and prime time DJ at 98.7 WOR-FM, setting the standard for virtually all FM rock stations to
Though WOR-FM survived in its original format for only a year, Kaufman managed to change the image of rock DJs from high-powered, fast-talking hipsters into advocates for radio's listeners, and he championed singer/songwriters ranging from Bob Dylan (whose first electrified New York concert at the Forest Hills
Tennis Stadium was hosted by Kaufman) to John Lennon, The Lovin' Spoonful, and Janis Ian (Kaufman was the first DJ to play the full versions of Dylan's "Like A Rolling Stone" and Ian's "Society's Child").
At his final New York rock 'n' roll show, Kaufman introduced America to two seminal groups -- Cream and The Who -- on a program that also included Simon & Garfunkel, Mitch Ryder & The Detroit Wheels, Wilson
Pickett, Phil Ochs, Smokey Robinson & The Miracles, and his newly discovered group, which first served as Murray's "house band" at personal appearances, The Young Rascals.
Another DJ featured around this time was Pete "Mad Daddy" Meyers, who had moved over from mid-days on WNEW.
Besides doing a mid-day show on WINS, he also hosted a 10 to midnight show which featured him DJ'ing in rhyme, ad-libbed .. even the commercials were in rhyme.
Late in 1960, WINS briefly replaced WOR as Mutual's New York outlet.
On July 28, 1962, Westinghouse purchased WINS for $10 million.
As part of the Group W stations, WINS beefed up its news and public-affairs programming.
In addition to 5 minute summaries every half-hour, there was Charles Scott King's 30 minute "Radio Newsday" each evening at 6.
John Henry Faulk hosted a weeknight call-in, "Contact."
Sunday evenings were four hours of public-affairs and cultural programming, including the "WINS Press Conference" and special reports on transporation, race relations and science.
There were even comedy and quiz shows from the BBC.
On April 19, 1965, the station shut off the music and went to an all-news format.
Its last record was the Shangri-La's "Out In The Streets."
Westinghouse had commissioned a survey to ascertain the best-possible format for their New York outlet.
The survey indicated that a "talking newspaper" would have a good chance and WINS became the first 24 hour radio news source in the metropolitan area.
In 1995, Westinghouse and CBS merged, bringing the other news station in the city, WCBS (see above), under the same corporate umbrella as WINS.
(Thanks to Peter Altschuler, "Ralph B" & Peter Tosi for some of this information)
WBMC - 1020 AM, Woodside, Queens
WBMC broadcasted briefly in 1926 and 1927.
WEPN - 1050 AM, New York
This station started out as WHN on August 28, 1922, located on 360 meters (833 AM).
Originally owned by the Ridgewood (NY) Times newspaper, the original studio for the station was located in the Ridgewood Chamber Of Commerce meeting room.
WHN went on the air with a schedule that included talks by schoolchildren on the "WHN Radio Forum" at 4:45 each afternoon.
As WHN grew in power and popularity, George Schubel, president of the Ridgewood Times, was approached by Nils Thor Granlund, publicity chief of the Loew's Theatre Organization, with one of the first offers of its kind in the radio industry.
On July 28, 1923, WHN was purchased by Loew's and their studio was transferred over to the Loew's State Theatre at 1540 Broadway in Manhattan in September.
The station also shifted frequency over to 830 AM.
At first, the station wasn't sold, but was leased by Schubel to Loew's for $100 a week.
Granlund brought Al Jolson, George Jessel and other stars to the WHN microphones.
Later, a new AT&T transmitter was installed and WHN took its first steps into the new field of "toll broadcasting," or selling commercial time.
This precipitated one of the watershed legal cases in the history of broadcasting.
AT&T (the American Telephone & Telegraph Company) contended that WHN had no right to sell commercial time, since it had never been granted a license to operate commercially - a license from AT&T, that is.
In March 1924, AT&T filed suit against WHN.
Throughout the industry and among many public officials and the citizenry at large, there was a feeling that AT&T was trying to establish a monopoly.
Since AT&T's patents covered some circuitry found in nearly all radio equipement, it was difficult for a radio station to operate without at least a professional debt to the communications giant, which stated that obtaining its permission was merely a formality.
The case was later settled out of court in favor of AT&T, for even WHN had to recognize the validity of patent rights.
AT&T would receive a license fee of $1500 from WHN, but the case also earned AT&T general ill will and sent the message that the telephone company could not monopolize the American airwaves.
Meanwhile, under the guidance of Granlund, WHN became a prime outlet for jazz and the "snappy dance music" of the 1920's.
Sophie Tucker, Fletcher Henderson and mind reader Prince Joveddah were part of the WHN schedule.
Probably the most culturally significant of WHN's programs were the pickups from the Cotton Club in Harlem featuring "Duke Ellington's Jungle Music."
In the fall of 1926, WHN arranged to carry all of Columbia University's home football games with sportscaster (and part-time WHN PD) Ted Husing at the microphone.
In 1927, WHN changed frequency to 760 AM.
In October 1928, George Schubel officially sold WHN to the Loew's organization; the licensee became the Marcus Loew Booking Agency.
The station changed frequencies again to 1010 AM.
Since 1923, WHN was sharing time with New Jersey stations: WQAO, WPAP and WRNY.
Then, on January 9, 1934, WHN absorbed its share-time radio partners and broadcasted full-time on 1010 AM.
Some major stars debuted on WHN: It was on his weekly Broadway gossip show in 1932 that columnist Ed Sullivan provided comedian Jack Benny with his first exposure to a microphone and young Judy Garland gave her first radio performance on WHN.
Through the early 1930's, WHN was managed by one of America's leading showmen, Edward "Major" Bowes.
It was Bowes who debuted "The Original Amateur Hour" on WHN in April 1934 and it became such a hit that the CBS network picked up the show.
So, for the next couple of years, New Yorkers heard two "Amateur Hours" a week: the national show hosted by Major Bowes and the local show, hosted by Jay C. Flippen.
However, Major Bowes' national success with the "Amateur Hour" took him away from his duties at WHN, and in March 1935, he was fired.
Around 1936, local PS 166 teacher Louis Wolfe started hosting "Kid Whizzards", a Saturday morning program where listeners would send in questions for a panel of children to answer - with prizes awarded to the submitter and correct responder alike.
From 1937 to 1939, WHN had network affiliation as the New York City outlet for the Yankee Network, a New England regional chain.
For a short while in 1938, WHN also carried some programs from Cincinnati's WLW.
In 1939, WHN presented an idea to NBC for it to become the flagship station for a new "NBC White Network" (to join the then-current Red and Blue networks), but NBC wasn't interested.
On December 1, 1941, WHN boosted power to 50,000 watts and moved to 1050 AM.
However, back on October 28, WHN had begun testing its new 50kw transmitter and discovered that the signals were causing interference to WINS (see above), whose transmitter was 3000 feet away in Carlstadt NJ.
So, WHN loaned WINS its old 5000 watt transmitter in Astoria and took on the responsibilty of demolishing the WINS towers.
WHN was an innovator among New York stations.
"Radio Newsreel" at 6am and 11pm was renamed "Newsreel Theater" in 1945.
This program established the kind of cycle that would later be adopted by all-news stations: a 10 minute newscast was repeated 5 times and the final minutes of the hour were left for other annoucements.
WHN news analysts included Fulton Lewis Jr. and George Hamilton Combs as well as a "Commentators Round Table".
Combs also hosted "Now You Decide", which dramatized court cases with the home audience in the imaginary jury box.
Brooklyn Dodgers baseball moved to WHN from WOR in 1942, with Red Barber at Ebbets Field.
Giants football and Rangers hockey were also heard, which is where Marty Glickman perfected the art of describing a basketball game.
Another popular sportscaster was Bert Lee, the on-air name of WHN executive Bertram Lebhar Jr.
"The Avenger", a weaker version of "The Shadow", debuted on WHN in July 1941 before moving on to national syndication in 1945.
Much of the broadcast day was popular music, live and recorded.
The late-night "Music To Read By", an undistracting hour of songs without words, was later referred to as the most imitated program in radio.
On September 15, 1948, WHN changed calls to WMGM.
With the change of call letters came a change of address, from Loew's State Theatre to "new million-dollar studios" at 711 5th Ave., the old NBC location.
The premiere broadcast from 8p-11p on September 15 originated from both coasts.
Live from New York were stars including Lena Horne, Vic Damone, Morton Downey and Morey Amsterdam as well as two full orchestras.
The Hollywood hour featured a salute from Frank Sinatra, Gene Kelly, Esther Williams, Red Skelton and the 128-piece MGM orchestra.
The gala broadcasts continued for 4 more evenings.
In 1949, WMGM syndicated the radio version of the "Dr. Kildare" movies, with Lew Ayres and Lionel Barrymore reprising their movie roles, and the "Maisie" series, which had begun on CBS radio, was revived by WMGM in 1949 with its original star, Ann Sothern, and a supporting cast that included Lurene Tuttle, Frank Nelson, Hans Conreid and Sheldon Leonard.
Other MGM attractions included "Crime Does Not Pay," "Judge Hardy's Family" starring Mickey Rooney and the hour-long "MGM Theater Of The Air."
There were Hollywood chat shows conducted by Paula Stone, George Murphy and Lionel Barrymore.
The Hollywood connection helped give WMGM a "big network" sound, however, the station retained many of the local programs developed during the WHN era.
"Newsreel Theatre" was all-news for an hour from 6a-7a, then Robert Q. Lewis carried on with his record show till 9a.
Sports remained an important part of the schedule with Brooklyn Dodgers baseball, Giants football, Knicks basketball and the Rangers hockey games in season.
In 1950, Robert Q. Lewis left for CBS and into the morning slot slipped Ted Brown and the Redhead (his real-life wife, Rhoda Brown).
Actress Sylvia Miles later played the Redhead.
Ken Roberts, Hal Tunis and Aime Gauvin hosted daytime record shows abd Joel Herron's orchestra continued to perform live 3 times a day.
The most celebrated of the WMGM disk jockeys during its first years was former WHN PD and CBS sportscaster Ted Husing, who greeted listeners to his twice-a-day "Bandstand" with "Hello, kiddies...".
Husing remained at WMGM till 1954, when ill health forced an end to his 30 year career.
On December 10, 1951, WMGM began an affilation with the Liberty Broadcasting System (LBS), a Dallas-based chain that specialized in studio recreations of baseball games (and thus was shut out of major-league cities).
The LBS was founded in 1949 and went silent in May 1952.
It was heard in New York for only 6 months.
The mid-morning hours were aimed at a female audience, with nutritionalist Carlton Fredericks followed by a record-and-chat show called "It's A Woman's World," hosted by Aime Gauvin and other male announcers.
Even beofre the advent of Top 40 programming, WMGM was pushing the day's big hits on the "Record Bandwagon," "Best Sellers" and "Your Hits Of The Week," which allowed the station to make an easy transition into the rock n' roll era.
Big Joe Rosenfeld's "Happiness Exchange" came to WMGM in 1955, after filling the late-night hours on 3 other stations.
When Big Joe left for WABC in 1959, the late-night spot was taken over by singer Johnny Johnston.
In the spring of 1957, Jerry Marshall departed WNEW's "Make Believe Ballroom" to join the station.
Other personalities included Dick DeFreitas, Norm Tulin (aka Norm Stevens), Bill Silbert, Ed Stokes and Phil Goulding (brother of Ray Goulding of the Bob and Ray comedy team.)
Vaudevillians Blossom Seeley and Benny Fields had their own show and Harold Peary, the actor who created, and later abandoned "The Great Gildersleeve," also become a WMGM DJ.
In 1957, the corporate name changed to WMGM Broadcasting Co., and then two years later to Loew's Theatres Broadcasting Co.
Early in 1958, WMGM moved from 5th Ave. to an even more splendid address, 400 Park Ave, across 53rd St. from Lever House.
Hotel owners Larry and Robert Tisch, who had been on the Loew's board of directors since the mid-1940's, gained control of the corporation in 1960.
In October 1960, the Crowell-Collier publishing company announced it would buy WMGM for $11 million, but the FCC denied the application, citing Crowell-Collier's mismanagement of its Los Angeles station, KFWB.
In 1960, DJ Peter C. Tripp and music director Joe Saccone were charged with accepting bribes from record companies.
Tripp had received over $35,000 in payola since 1958.
Tripp was fined and given a 6 month suspended sentence; charges against Saccone were dropped.
Tripp's suspension, however, capped a noteworthy career that at one point made medical history.
Beginning on January 20, 1959, Tripp remained awake for over a week, broadcasting from the Armed Forces Recruiting Station in Times Sqaure as fund-raising stunt for the March Of Dimes.
He was under constant observation by doctors, who studied Tripp's physical and mental strain.
Periods of clarity alternated with moments of hallucination and at one point, he forgot the name of the charity he was supporting.
Finally, after 201 hours and 10 minutes, Tripp, the March Of Dimes and WMGM reached the end of the marathon.
Tripp played his final record, a tune by the Bell-Notes called "I've Had It!," and went off to nap for 13 hours.
In the wake of the payola scandals, Mike Lawrence took over Tripp's programs and Saccone was replaced by WINS music director Rick Sklar.
With the addition of overnight service in 1960, WMGM brought in one of the city's first female DJ's, Bea Kalmus, and Bill Edmonds moved into the "swing shift" from 2:30a-5a, carrying over the contemporary daytime sound.
The station now specialized in rock n' roll, though the music on the Ted Brown and Jerry Marshall shows stayed midde-of-the-road.
News, featuring WMGM's news team "The Minute Men" who crusied the streets looking for breaking news, was doubled to 5 minutes every half-hour.
In approximately 1961, the WMGM theme song went as follows ...
He was a US Marshall and Jerry was his name
So they called him Jerry Marshall and widespread was his fame
He went to catch the outlaws, Bob Callen and Ted Brown
Who were roping old Dick Shepherd's sheep and herding them to town
Sing a song about Western hero men
Will never ride the range again
They're on 1050 WMGM!
A montage of vintage WMGM jingles (including the one referenced above) can be heard here.
In 1962, Loew's agreed to sell WMGM to Storer Broadcasting for $10,950,000.
It was a record sum for a single radio station, but also the same price that Crowell-Collier had offered two years earlier.
At 5:30pm on February 28, 1962, Bob Callen played the "Peppermint Twist" and WMGM said goodbye with a half-hour show that was actually a preview of the music soon to be heard on 1050, renamed once again as WHN.
The music featured easy listening staples, from Mantovani to Les Elgart.
News was provided by a new audio service called Radio Press International (RPI), founded by WHN alumnus George Hamilton Combs.
RPI was soon sold to R. Peter Strauss, who owned WMCA, and WHN affiliated with the Mutual Network in October 1962.
Also in late 1962, the comedy team of Bob & Ray came to WHN from 4p-7p on weekdays and 4p-8p on Saturdays.
Soon, morning fixture Ted Brown left and after a short stint by Dick Shepherd, Bob & Ray moved to mornings.
Lonny Starr and Jack Lazare came over from WINS (see above), veteran broadcaster Jim Ameche (Don's brother) took over the mid-day slot, Hans Andersen did afternoons and WMGM alumnus Dean Hunter handled overnights.
In 1964, WHN began coverage of New York Mets games.
Bob & Ray left the morning show in 1964, to be replaced by Lonny Starr, then by Jim Ameche, and then, in 1967, by long-time WCBS (see above) morning man Jack Sterling.
In 1970, WHN began a middle-of-the-road music policy and brought in another established wake-up man, Herb Oscar Anderson.
In 1972, WHN dropped its Mutual affiliation and signed with ABC's American Entertainment Network.
On February 26, 1973, WHN switched to a country format.
The first country tune played on "1050 Country" was "The Race Is On" by George Jones, introduced by "the kosher cowboy from Coney Island," Jack Spector.
Making the transition from MOR to country were Lee Arnold, Stan Martin and Del DeMontreux and they were joined by Big Wilson, Sheila York and Dean Anthony.
Gene Ladd and Dirk Van did the news and Jim Gordon was the voice of New York Rangers hockey.
Jessie Scott did evenings from 1975 to 1981.
Ed Salamon joined WHN as Program Director in June 1975 and helped the struggling station regain some footing in the ratings.
By 1976, WHN was right behind WABC in the ratings.
The key to its success was that it never called itself a country radio station, just a station that played country music.
Plus, it was a time that country was becoming cool, helped along by the CB radio craze.
Ed and WHN won some prestigious awards during this time, with articles being featured in Broadcasting, Billboard and Radio & Records magazines.
At one point, WHN was considered to be the most listened to Country station in America.
Dan Abernathy was the news director and morning anchorman at WHN between 1977 and 1980.
Dan's press pass from 1978, plus pictures of the WHN newsroom, can be seen here.
On February 29, 1980, WHN was sold by Storer to the Mutual Broadcasting System for $14 million.
WHN dropped its ABC Entertainment affiliation and picked up Mutual News.
Dirk Van, who started as a street reporter for Dan Abernathy, replaced Dan in 1980.
In January 1985, Mutual sold WHN to Doubleday Broadcasting, a subsidiary of the publisher whose holdings at the time included the New York Mets.
The deal also included 103.5 in Lake Success NY.
In July 1986, Doubleday moved WHN's facilities out of Manhattan to 34-12 36th St. in Astoria, Queens.
A month later, WHN was sold to Emmis Broadcasting.
On July 1, 1987, 1050 switched to an all-sports format as WFAN.
On October 7, 1988, the sports format and WFAN calls moved over to 660 AM and 1050 became WUKQ, then WEVD on February 1, 1989.
WEVD was owned by The Forward Association and agreed to sell WEVD-FM (97.9) for $30 million, and moved the programming over to the AM side.
Initially, WEVD featured mostly ethnic programming, but by the mid-1990's, had started to add some of the nation's top syndicated talk shows.
In September 2001, ABC took control of WEVD and the station was converted to a sports format as an ESPN Radio affiliate.
In 2003, ABC bought the station outright and on April 28, 2003, calls changed to WEPN.
On April 30, 2012, 1050's sports programming moved to 98.7 FM.
Both stations are expected to simulcast each other until September, when 1050 will become Spanish as "ESPN Deportes."
1050 became Spanish "ESPN Deportes" on September 7, 2012 at 2pm.
(Thanks to Bryan Vargo for an "ESPN 1050" logo)
(Thanks to Daniel Abernathy, Hans Andersen, "Ralph B", Laura Bulawski, Paul L. Chessin, Ed Salamon & Jessie Scott for some of this information)
(WHN logo, courtesy of knowston.tripod.com)
(WHN Earth logo, courtesy of Dan Abernathy and Broadcasting magazine - July 4, 1977)
(Thanks to Joe Tedd for the WMGM jingles) WBBR - 1130 AM, New York
The frequency of 1130 in New York is, of course, best known for WNEW, which signed on February 13, 1934 as the result of the merger of two New Jersey stations: WAAM in Newark and WODA in Paterson.
The call letters, WNEW, were not chosen necessarily to stand for Newark, the station's original home, or even New York, but because it was going to be "the newest thing in radio."
WNEW's original transmitter was a secondhand unit that had been used by CBS's station WABC (see above) in Wayne NJ.
WNEW's first day schedule was filled with WAAM holdovers like the "County Roscommon Boys," an "Old Farmer's Almanac," the "Homespun Philosopher," several children's shows and 7 "to be announced" listings.
During its first year, WNEW offered a standard mix of popular and classical music, sports, and news commentaries.
Its first newscaster was WMCA veteran A.L. Alexander.
In February 1935, during the trial of Bruno Hauptmann for the kidnapping of Charles Lindburgh's infant son, WNEW announcer Martin Block beagn the practice of broadcasting phonograph records, during breaks in the trial.
Up until this point, most stations at the time would have live orchestras provide the music for their programs.
Once the trial was over, Block's record show, dubbed the "Make Believe Ballroom," continued as a Monday, Wednesday and Friday feature from 11:15 to 11:30am, and soon grew to 90 minutes a day.
The original format of the show was to have one performer featured for a quarter-hour, supposedly performing beneath a "crystal chandelier."
Soon, most of WNEW's schedule was recorded music, although live performances continued from WAAM's old studio in the RKO Theatre building at 1060 Broad St. in Newark.
WNEW also occupied Manhattan studios at 501 Madison Ave.
On October 26, 1936, WNEW officially adapted New York as its "city of license" and by April 1938, it had closed the Newark studio.
Audience response to "platters" was enthusiastic, but bandleader Paul Whiteman and RCA sued WNEW for violating the "not for radio broadcast" warning written on every record label.
In 1940, a federal court ruled that copyright protects against reproducing a work and that WNEW "never invaded any such right."
Besides the recorded music, some vocalists to appear live on WNEW in the 1930's were Frank Sinatra, Dinah Shore, Bea Wain and Helen Forrest.
Merle Pitt and the Five Shades Of Blue was the station's house band and Roy Ross also led the WNEW studio orchestra.
Another innovation put WNEW in a class by itself - it was the first station to regularly remain on the air 24 hours a day.
All-night operation was not unknown in radio - in the 1920's some stations would stay on through the night for the benefit of distant listeners, then sign off at dawn.
But, WNEW recognized that there was a significant overnight audience in the New York area and on August 5, 1935, Stan Shaw began a record show that woud join the "Make Believe Ballroom" as one of the anchors of WNEW's schedule.
At first, "Milkman's Matinee" began at 2am and ran until "Dolly Dawn" (Teresa Stabile) and the "Dawn Patrol" started at 7am, making it as much a wake-up show as an overnight program.
Art Ford took over the "Milkman's Matinee" in 1942.
During this time, WNEW was located on 1250 AM and shared time with Newark station WHBI.
In March 1941, WNEW and WHBI were both reassigned to 1280.
Then, on December 1, 1941, a swap of call letters and frequency took place between WNEW on 1280 and WOV on 1130.
WOV moved to 1280 (to later become WADO) and WNEW moved to 1130 and assumed full-time status.
Alan Courtney had originated WNEW's "1250 Club" in 1937.
With the frequency change, it became WNEW's "1280 Club" and Courtney stayed with the show at that spot on the dial, continuing on WOV until the mid-1940's.
Although WNEW took the International News Wire in 1939, it was not really a "music and news" station until the outbreak of World War II, when arrangements were made with the Daily News to provide "news around the clock" on the half-hour.
There was also a "War Diary" each evening at 7:35 with commentator George Brooks, who was actually chief announcer John Jaeger.
Commentator Richard Brooks delivered a commentary of his own, earlier at 5:15pm.
Newscaster Henry Walden did a Sunday morning children's program reading comic strips and nursery rhymes, accompanied by Merle Evans and the Circus Band.
At this point, programming featured several country music programs, including the Sons Of The Pioneers and "singing cowboy" Elton Britt.
During this era, WNEW dispensed with the position of Program Director, and programming decisions were made by a committee.
With the hands-on guidance of General Manager Bernice Judis, the station cultivated a smooth, sophisticated personality.
During the summer of 1942, WNEW organized the Atlantic Coast Network and fed programs to ten stations from Boston to Washington, including Philadelphia's WPEN.
In 1946, WNEW began to awaken New Yorkers each day with zany DJ teams.
The pioneers were Gene Rayburn and Jack Lescouilie.
They created a dawn-breaking gagfest called "Scream And Dream With Jack And Gene," soon re-titled "Anything Goes."
After a year, Loscouilie was fired and staff announcer Dee Finch took his place.
Rayburn and Finch, who were close friends before they became a radio team, entertained New Yorkers until 1952.
In that year, WNBC tried to recruit the team and Rayburn signed a contract, but at the last minute, Finch insisted on remaining at WNEW.
A replacement was quickly found for Rayburn: Washington DJ Gene Klavan.
The abrupt change and similarity in their names made the switch almost imperceptible for some listeners.
The Klavan and Finch partnership lasted until 1968, when Finch retired; Klavan continued solo until 1977.
Gene Rayburn eventually made a name for himself on TV, hosting a variety of game shows, most notably "Match Game."
On August 24, 1946, the station moved to 565 5th Ave., a small 2nd floor balcony fronted by large golden letters, "WNEW", and became a genuine midtown landmark.
In 1949, WNEW was sold for over $2 million to a group headed by Rhode Island businessman William S. Cherry and including Bernice Judis and her husband, sales manager Ira Herbert.
In 1954, ownership was passed to Richard D. Buckley and in that year, Judis ended her two-decade leadership of WNEW.
The rock-n-roll era of the 1950's should have signaled the end of WNEW's big band and ballad sound, but ironically, the rise of the rockers and the demise of big-time network radio made WNEW the most listened to and profitable station in the New York market.
Martin Block continued the "Make Believe Ballroom" through the end of 1953, when he departed for WABC.
On January 1, 1954, Jerry Marshall took over the show for 3 years, eventually surpassing Arthur Godfrey in the morning ratings.
Al "Jazzbeaux" Collins played jazz nightly, and also hosted "Collins On A Cloud" in the afternoons.
And, well into the 1950's, there were daily live variety shows featuring singer-announcers such as Bob Haymes, Bill Kemp and Bill Harrington.
Over the years, the "Milkman's Matinee" had some 20 different DJ hosts.
"Jazzbeaux" Collins took over from Art Ford, but was fired after spending the entire night repeatedly spinning one record, the Cordettes' "Mr. Sandman."
Ed Locke, from WIP in Philadelphia, took over the show from that point.
"Genial" Jack/Jake LaZare was also a "Milkman" for a time.
In 1957, the station was sold for $7.5 million, the biggest price paid till that time for a single radio station, to the DuMont Television Network.
DuMont was then bought by John Kluge's MetroMedia, and WNEW became the radio partner of TV Channel 5 in New York.
In 1958, WNEW established its own news department, when its TV involement forced an end to the association with the Daily News, which owned Channel 11 at the time.
WNEW gained respect as a news source through the work of such journalists as Ike Pappas, Marlene Sanders, John Laurence, Jim Gash, sportscaster Chip Cipolla and former CBS coorespondent David Schoenbrun.
The newscasters at that time included John Dale, Mike Rich, Bob Howard, Joe Given and Hans Andersen.
By the 1960's, WNEW was earning over $7 million a year, with stars like Pete "Mad Daddy" Myers, a unique comic talent who had moved to WNEW from WINS.
But, he fell into debt, and fearing that WNEW would move him out of his afternoon time slot, in 1968, Myers, an avid gun collector, committed suicide.
The 1960's saw WNEW as an MOR station, mixing in any soft AC songs on the charts.
Two memorable DJ's debuted around this time: William B. Williams and Ted Brown, both of which stayed with WNEW through the 1980's.
An attempt in 1971 to mix in light versions of current rock-n-roll hits bombed with listeners, as did the try at an "adult contemporary" format.
The station expanded its sports coverage, including New York Giants football, and the "Milkman's Matinee" (reinstated in 1976) even had its title changed temporarily to "The Nightmare Show."
WNEW's record library, which some considered to be the world's largest, began to dwindle starting in the mid 1960's, when DJ's, who had their own personal collections, were told to vacate their offices of the albums.
By the mid-1970's, WNEW started playing some rock tunes again, and nixed the library even further.
Nearly 10,000 records - LP's, 45's, and even some classic station jingles - were all placed in a hallway; staff members and visitors were told to help themselves.
Additional purges depleted the library until it consisted of some 2000 cartridge tapes and a cabinet of scratchy albums.
In mid-1980, WNEW featured Big Bands & Standards on weekends.
Then in late fall, droped their AC format altogether and went back to Standards full-time.
By the mid-1980's however, WNEW was on the selling block often.
In 1986, MetroMedia divested itself of the property and sold out to some of its own executives, d/b/a Metropolitan Broadcasting.
Also in 1986, they added a Contemporary Jazz show during overnights.
In 1988, the Westwood One network bought a 50% interest from struggling Metropolitan.
Westwood's talk shows soon took over the night-time hours, with Larry King displacing "Milkman's Matinee."
Standards were still featured overnights, however.
Seven months later, Westwood One sold out to Legacy Broadcasting.
From 1989 to 1991, WNEW mixed in Soft AC cuts with the Standards, before going back to Standards later in 1991.
In August 1992, WNEW was sold to Bloomberg Business Radio, headed by Michael Bloomberg, for $13.5 million.
WNEW ended live programming on December 11, 1992 at 8pm; they then ran their regularly scheduled talk shows.
During overnights and on the weekend, WNEW simulcasted Country WYNY, except for Giants games and the evening talk shows.
December 15, 1992 marked the end of WNEW programming.
At 4pm that day, WNEW ran the Perry Como Christmas Show, then the talk shows from 7 to midnight.
At 11:59pm, they cut in to Larry King, did an ID and signed off forever.
Some of the personalites from WNEW, including Jonathan Schartz and program director Stan Martin, renewed the name and format of the station, on 1560 AM, soon to be called WQEW.
From December 16 to Janaury 4, 1130 AM simulcasted WQEW.
Then, on January 4, 1993, at 11:50pm, 1130 AM became the home of WBBR, featuring an all-business news format.
Studios were built at Bloomberg headquarters at 499 Park Ave.
In the late 1990's, WBBR shifted to an all around news format, before going back to business news again.
In November 2001, Michael Bloomberg was voted as mayor of New York City and on January 1, 2002, was officially sworn in by Rudy Giuliani.
(Thanks to Lance Venta for digging up an old WNEW logo)
(Thanks to Hans Andersen, Lou Califano & Mark D for providing some of this information)
WEBJ - 1170 AM, New York
WEBJ signed on September 9, 1924 on 1100 AM, owned by the Third Avenue Railway Company.
Back in March of 1923, the company had instituted a "carrier current" communications system, built by General Electric, which radiated messages through its trolly wires to motormen and conductors.
It was simple to turn this into an information service for the captive audiences riding the streetcars, and was a natural step into the new field of broadcasting.
Offcies and studios for WEBJ were located at the trolly barn at 2396 3rd Ave. at 130th St.
The antenna was suspended between two 60-foot towers on the roof.
WEBJ presented some lively programming, including appearances by caberet artists who were "rushed by car to 130th St. and 3rd Ave. and then returned in time to their next appearance on the stage."
Some entertainment apparently came from within the company, with performances by the Conductors' Band and the Motormen's Quartet.
Program director Henry Bruno, who was an aviator, presented his "Radio Airplane Travelogue" two evenings a week.
The Red Trolly Station reviewed plays and movies, broadcast both jazz and classics, and offered much off-beat entertainment.
WEBJ gained a substantial audience, even though Bruno had to advise listeners looking for the station to "tune carefully so as not to pass through our carrier wave without detecting it."
Other programming included educational talks, such as regular appearances by the Third Avenue Railway executives who spoke about transportation and safety topics.
WEBJ's target audience included the 3000 employees of the railway and their families.
In 1927, WEBJ moved to 1170 AM, and shared time with other stations: WLTH and WBBR (not the current WBBR, of course).
Then in June 1928, the owners decided to "voluntarily discontinue operation" of WEBJ.