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 â€˜fallsâ€™ 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 Yorkâ€™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 wifeâ€™s ear. â€˜Such a little music lover. She eats, breathes and bathes New York Cityâ€™s own radio station these days.â€™ â€˜You should learn to love WNYC, too, dear.â€™ Molly Evarts patted his rugged blond face with ironic affection. â€˜Splendid for the savage beast,â€™ She blew a rather toothy kiss at Redfield. â€˜Good night all.â€™â€¦â€
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. â€˜The radio!â€™ Jim Evartsâ€™ face registered dazed understanding. â€˜Molly was listening to that symphony. She must have bumped against the shelf and knocked the radio into the water andâ€¦â€™ â€œ
â€œâ€¦â€™See?â€™ Trant indicated the pressed station button on the radio he was still holding. â€˜Sheâ€™d been listening to WNYC. WNYC goes off the air at ten oâ€™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.â€™ â€˜But it must have been eleven,â€™ insisted Redfield. â€˜When the radio hit the water, it must have blown the main fuse.â€™ â€œ
â€œâ€¦â€™Youâ€™d planted Arleneâ€™s coat in your wifeâ€™s bedroom so sheâ€™d be almost sure to discover the body. An obvious accident took place at eleven, and there were three witnesses to prove youâ€™d been in the living room at the time.â€™ He smiled sadly. â€˜But you should have taken your wifeâ€™s advice and learned to love WNYC. Then youâ€™d have known it would double-cross you by knocking off at ten.â€™ "
Source: Excerpts from "Death and Canasta," â€œA This Week Short Story,â€ by Q. Patrick in the Los Angeles Times, October 22, 1950, pg. H16.