NYPR Archives & Preservation
May 22, 2015 - Volume 14  Issue 21
Edition # 659


1954: Media critic Gilbert Seldes discusses the ban on Charlie Chaplin and Ingrid Bergman films. He goes on to talk about the movie Prince Valiant, based on a the comic strip. He also talks  a "candid mic" show, a program that recorded people unaware.
Mayor F.H. La Guardia purchases the first ticket for the World's Fair from fair chief Grover A. Whalen, February 23, 1939. (WNYC Archive Collections)

Brooklyn Janitor Pulls Plug on WNYC

During World War II New York City civil defense officials orchestrated 'blackout' drills in case of an enemy attack at night. On May 6, 1943, The Brooklyn Daily Eagle reported the following: "The rule is keep your radio going during a blackout, but those who were listening to the city radio station, WNYC, when last night's blackout test started couldn't do so with that station at 9:17 p.m. WNYC suddenly went off the was explained today that the station was using its auxiliary transmitter operating from Brooklyn Technical High School for the first time. When the blackout started, a custodian or assistant custodian pulled all the switches, including those operating the radio station..."

Tree Branch Breaks WNYC Antenna

"One big event was when the [1939] World's Fair came and Dick Pack and a few of us were out at the Fair and we wanted to describe the arrival of the King of England. And it was one of those things where somebody says, 'jeez, there we'll be where the announcer stand [is] and they'll come by in a car and we'll describe them waving to the crowd and they're gone in 20 seconds.'  And Pack had gotten from the Army or the Navy one of the first portable transmitters that you strapped on your back and had an aerial and you could ride alongside of a car, and then broadcast from there to the studio....So, here comes the King's car, and here's Dick with this thing on his back, running alongside the car, describing the great Pierce Arrow...and the King and the aerial -the whip aerial - hit the branches of a tree and broke off, and there was dead air. That was another of our great  inventions."

Source: Oral history session with former WNYC newsman Jack Goodman, April 10, 2001.
WNYC first day of broadcast, July 8th, 1924 (Municipal Archives Collection)

WWII Era Essays from the WQXR_ Program Guides


WQXR Inspired` Modern Art

"Rothko had taught himself to play the mandolin and the piano. He loved classical music, particularly Mozart, and in the 1930s he liked to work with his radio tuned to WQXR, New York City's classical music station...."

Source: Breslin, James E., Mark Rothko, A Biography, University of Chicago Press, 1993, pg. 126.


WNYC celebrated its 90th anniversary last year. We're now officially a nonagenarian radio station. In this space we'll be linking to various historical WNYC champions and milestones. This week: The Reader's Almanac, With Walter James Miller.

A little bit of WNYC's history gets animated.

The WNYC Facebook page has a station timeline (1922-present) with more than 600 milestones, photos, and links to audio. (Right hand column).
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Check out the @mayorlaguardia Twitter feed straight from the WNYC broadcasts! His Honor now has 571 followers.

The WNYC Archives is on Twitter with 2,562 followers @wnycarchives. We tweet daily reminders of, and links to, WNYC broadcasts from that day in the past.
We’ve got a Tumblr page too! More than 10,000 followers. Check it out at:
WNYC Archives in the…
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