NYPR Archives & Preservation
March 28, 2014 - Volume 13  Issue 11
Edition # 599


1925: Dr. Harry W. Redfield, a bacteriologist with the U.S. Bureau of Chemistry, answers the question: "What are imitation foods?"

1947: WNYC's Lily Supove talks with theater director Robert Lewis about his current musical, Brigadoon, on this edition of Weekend in New York.

1951: Brigadier-General Clement H. Wright talks about sneak attacks and radar on this episode of Plan for Survival.

1966: The Women's City Club of New York asks the question "Should the police be policed?" Speakers include,  Aryeh Neier, Executive Director of NYCLU and Richard H. Kuh, Coordinator for the NYS Council of Law Enforcement Officials.

1977: Walter James Miller interviews Nonie Carol Murphy about her novel Mutual Arrangements on this episode of The Reader's Almanac.

1989: Dave Sear presents a concert by Schooner Fare for The Folk Music Almanac.

2003: United Press Chief Correspondent and inveterate media watcher Martin Walker on the war in Iraq so far for On The Media.
Remote Broadcast in the Early 1940s
WQXR Co-founder Elliott M. Sanger (3rd from left) and staff at a remote WQXR broadcast during World War II. The man with the headphones appears to be announcer Charles S. Freed manning the microphone mixer which we also have in our collection. (Columbia University Library and Special Collections)


WNYC in 1950 Pulp Fiction

(or 'the dreamy hum of a DEAD station')


WNYC made an appearance in a serial thriller published by the Los Angeles Times in 1950.  In the story, a New York City police lieutenant joins a game of canasta at the penthouse of a well-to-do couple.  During the game, the two-timing wife of the resident card player is tragically electrocuted while taking a bath: as she is listening to WNYC, her radio ‘falls’ into the tub.  Consequently, a fuse blows and the card players make the grizzly discovery.  The time is 11 PM and her money-grubbing husband has clearly been playing cards.  But New York’s finest knows that WNYC AM goes off the air at 10 PM and she wouldn't have been listening to dead air for an hour before the radio fell in and zapped her. The sleuth figures a scarred penny in the betting pool had been used to delay the apartment fuse for an hour, thus providing the murderer with an ingenious alibi.  Here are selected excerpts:

 â€œâ€¦Jim Evarts...kissed his wife’s ear. ‘Such a little music lover.  She eats, breathes and bathes New York City’s own radio station these days.’  ‘You should learn to love WNYC, too, dear.’ Molly Evarts patted his rugged blond face with ironic affection. ‘Splendid for the savage beast,’  She blew a rather toothy kiss at Redfield. ‘Good night all.’…”

 â€œâ€¦Trant [the cop], very alert, retrieved the radio from the tepid water.  Its automatic station button for WNYC was pressed down.  He followed with it into the bedroom.  Arlene was calling a doctor while the two men hovered.  ‘The radio!’ Jim Evarts’ face registered dazed understanding. ‘Molly was listening to that symphony.  She must have bumped against the shelf and knocked the radio into the water and…’ “

 â€œâ€¦â€™See?’ Trant indicated the pressed station button on the radio he was still holding. ‘She’d been listening to WNYC. WNYC goes off the air at ten o’clock.  You can hardly imagine a music lover lying for a full hour in a tub listening to the dreary hum of a dead station.’  ‘But it must have been eleven,’ insisted Redfield. ‘When the radio hit the water, it must have blown the main fuse.’ “

 â€œâ€¦â€™You’d planted Arlene’s coat in your wife’s bedroom so she’d be almost sure to discover the body.  An obvious accident took place at eleven, and there were three witnesses to prove you’d been in the living room at the time.’ He smiled sadly.  ‘But you should have taken your wife’s advice and learned to love WNYC.  Then you’d have known it would double-cross you by knocking off at ten.’ "

Source: Excerpts from "Death and Canasta," “A This Week Short Story,” by Q. Patrick in the Los Angeles Times, October 22, 1950, pg. H16.
WNYC First day of broadcast, July 8th, 1924. 
(Municipal Archives Collection).

    WQXR - 'Long Reads' from WWII

WQXR Penetrates the Backwoods of Kentucky

"No period of my life is so intimately connected with music as the six years my family spent in that isolated valley in the forested hills of Kentucky. I suppose that the isolation, and a desire created in part from it, helped to make music so crucial to Jean [his wife] and me.

Except for WQXR, the radio station of the New York Times, the surrounding hills interfered with broadcast reception; because of some quirk caused by topography, WQXR reached our living room (but nowhere else in that little town, and here only after dark) with all the clarity and volume of a local station.

Martin Bookspan, who each evening announced the selections of a long program of classical music, became a nightly presence, an incorporeal traveler from another realm whose ethereal passage had been paid for by a retailer of records named Sam Goody..."

Source: Source: James McConkey, writing in Stories of My Life With the Other Animals, David R. Godine, 2010  pg.155


WNYC's 90th year of broadcasting is upon us. (The actual anniversary is next July 8th.) In this space we'll be linking to various WNYC champions and milestones. This week: WNYC's First Music Director is a Pioneer in the Broadcast of Classical Music.

Commercials are obviously not something WQXR has had to consider since October, 2009. But at one time, early in its history, singing commercials were an issue of concern. Read more at: A Statement Regarding Singing Commercials.

This week marked the 103rd anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire. Check out the archival audio at: TRIANGLE

Also note: From the Fire, Change: An Oratorio Remembers Triangle.

Many thanks this week to George I. Shirley, The J. Edgar Maddy Distinguished University Emeritus Professor of Music (Voice) at the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance. Dr. Shirley has donated to the archives twenty reels of programs from his 1970s WQXR interview series, Classical Music and the Afro-American.

It's WOMEN'S HISTORY MONTH for just a few more days.

Hello Future, Can You Hear Me? Another report from the trenches of archiving.

The WNYC Facebook page has a station timeline (1922-present) with more than 607 milestones, photos, and links to audio. (Right hand column)

We're also working on the WQXR Facebook timeline. (1929 - present)

Do your friends want to subscribe to this newsletter? Have them sign up at: NEWSLETTERS.
Check out the @mayorlaguardia Twitter feed straight from the WNYC broadcasts! His Honor now has 537 followers.
The WNYC Archives is on Twitter with 1883 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 9,100 followers. Check it out at:
WNYC Archives in the…
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