NYPR Archives & Preservation
February 19, 2016 - Volume 15  Issue 08
Edition # 697


1941: Benny Goodman and a band consisting of Cootie Williams, Charlie Christian, George Auld, Artie Bernstein, Johnny Guarnieri and Dave Tough jam in the studio, to the delight of host Ralph Berton.

 WNYC Music Director Suspected of 'No Good'

The above declassified FBI office memo from September 5, 1947, states that a (name redacted) State Department official believes that some of the material in WNYC's 6 o'clock evening broadcast, "was nothing more or less than subtle Soviet propaganda." The document goes on to suggest that station Music Director Herman Neuman is responsible.

"It is further stated that Newman [sic] has been designated to proceed to Poland on a conductoral [sic] tour. The State Department is a little skeptical of this in view of the fact that there are no Polish orchestras over 22 pieces in Poland which would necessitate the visit of a foreign conductor. He further stated that Newman [sic] was not musically inclined as an orchestral conductor, and thus the State Department suspicion, although not substantiated by fact, that Newman [sic] is going to Poland for clandestine program purposes."

By August 27, 1949, however, the State Department is resting easy. Billboard reports Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs, George V. Allen "has commended Herman Neuman...for giving successful concerts of American music in Europe." In fact, as early as June 1936 Broadcasting magazine reported Neuman had been granted a three-month leave from WNYC "to study education by radio abroad and conduct All-American concerts over ten government-owned stations in Europe." His first concert was in Oslo, Norway.
(Photo: WNYC Archive Collections)


On the Overnight

For many, many years While the City Sleeps was WNYC-FM's trademark classical program during the wee hours of the morning. In the April, 1987 WNYC Program Guide, listener Yvonne Forrest of East Rockaway wrote, "While the City Sleeps was named as a result of a contest held in the late 1940s by a young WWII veteran who was attending Fordham University on the G.I. bill and studying to the sounds of the late night program, whose emcee offered a prize for the best name submitted. Marc Belth won a 3-record album of Madame Butterfly, sung by Eleanor Steber and Richard Tucker. He went on to become a much-lauded professor and educational philosopher and author recognized both here and abroad."

Editor's note: Of course, there were a few wiseguys in-house who regularly referred to the program as Why the City Sleeps. 
WNYC first day of broadcast, July 8, 1924 (Municipal Archives Collection)
CPUSA Buys Time
Two major networks, CBS and Blue, will be linked, along with two independent stations WQXR, New York and WENY Elmira, N.Y. to carry quarter hour studio talks by Thomas Dewey, Republican candidate for Governor...The Communist party, in addition to buying time on WQXR New York for 16 broadcasts, is using quarter-hours on stations throughout the state. The party is introducing music and dramatizations in its programs using the March of Time technique."

Excerpts from: "CBS Blue Linked in Empire Politics," Broadcasting, September 28, 1942, pg. 47.
WNYC celebrated its 91st anniversary last July. Just think, 8-and-a-half short years to the big centennial. In this space we'll be linking to various historical WNYC champions, broadcasts and milestones celebrating nearly a century on the air in the public interest. This week: Amiri Baraka reads "The Revolutionary Theater."

This week's NEH-funded Annotations blog series feature: The Semi-Roast of Frank Lloyd Wright.

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WNYC's Way Back series - This Week: Before Bernie, There Was Shirley Chisholm

Thanks go out this week to Susan, Elizabeth and David Wagner for generously donating to the archives the 38 opera-related interviews done by their father Alan Wagner for his WNYC program Living Opera. The Sunday morning program aired in the 1950s and 60s and his collection includes notable talks with Lucia Albanese, Franco Corelli, Richard Tucker, Beverly Sills and many other opera greats. We'll aim to get them on the web before the end of the year.   

Thanks also this week to Raouf Grissa for stopping by and allowing us to digitize a rare segments from WNYC's 1939 Give Me Liberty series which he recently found during some record sleuthing. We'll be adding it to the link above.
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