Following the landfall of Hurricane Irene this past weekend, flood waters overtook the WNYC AM transmitter site in Kearny, NJ, causing the station to stop over-the-air broadcasting. WNYC has owned several other transmitters in its history -- indeed, the AM tower used to be in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, in the location that will soon become WNYC Transmitter Park. This AM transmitter was dedicated in a ceremony on October 31, 1937.
In this 1965 Overseas Press Club Luncheon, Hallie Burnett, novelist and publisher, describes her experience in Berlin in August, 1961. On assignment for Reader’s Digest, Burnett was charged with reporting on the conditions of the East German refugees, who were “coming over at that time at about 2,000 a night.” Amidst a quiet week, she describes the night of August 13 when the foundations for the Berlin wall were laid. She describes standing among Berliners at the Brandenburg Gate, who were so shocked they had not yet found their voices to protest.
The largest court in the United States Tennis Association's complex in Flushing Meadows, where the US Open has taken place since 1977, is named after Arthur Ashe, one of tennis's great ambassadors. Today we give you a chance to listen to the late Ashe, in a 1987 installment of WNYC's broadcast of Voices at the New York Public Library, where he spoke about his upcoming book on racism in sports.
The publication of the Pentagon Papers by the New York Times in 1971 caused more than a commotion --it precipitated the first of the "credibility gaps" between the US government and the American public. Listen to a interview with Sidney Zion, shortly after he broke the story on Daniel Ellsberg supplying the documents to the paper.
Tyne Daly appears in the Leonard Lopate Show this week to speak about her portrayal of legendary diva Maria Callas in Terrence McNally's Tony award-winning “Master Class.” Listen to this George Jellinek tribute to Callas in the WQXR show The Vocal Scene, aired just six days after the death of the great singer.
Philip Levine is set to become the nation's Poet Laureate this Fall, but he already was WNYC's Poet in Residence back in 2003. Listen to Levine read William Matthews' "Mingus at the Half Note," and how the poem relates personally to him.
The author Kurt Vonnegut (1922-2007) worked with WNYC producer Marty Goldensohn on a 1998 series known as Reports on the Afterlife. A year earlier, Vonnegut explained these reports would come as a result of "controlled near-death experiences."
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Woody Guthrie left California and arrived in New York City early in 1940. By summer he was making his first appearance on WNYC, on Henrietta Yurchenco and Paul Kresh's second Adventures in Music program on July 13. The show's theme was folk music of the mountains and the plains, featuring Jim Garland, Sarah Ann Ogan and Guthrie, who was introduced as "a modern troubadour who sings as he pleases and makes up his own tunes as he goes." Guthrie performed "Hobo Blues," "Dusty Old Dust," and "Tom Joad."
WNYC music critic, reviewer, audiophile and host Edward Tatnall Canby (1912-1998) began his nearly 25-year stint at WNYC in 1947. His show, The New Recordings, was described that first year as "a program of wide-ranging comment on music in general and the new records in particular." It was based on his weekly column in The Saturday Review. The name of the program was changed and is probably best recalled as Recordings, E.T.C.
Robert Sonkin and Charles Todd were working at the City College Department of Public Speaking when they decided to spend their summer vacations in 1940 and '41 at the Farm Security Administration (FSA) camps of central California. With the help of Alan Lomax, their project was underwritten by the Archive of American Folk Song at the Library of Congress. Carrying a "portable" 50-pound Presto disc cutter, they recorded cowboy songs, traditional ballads, square dance calls, camp council meetings, storytelling sessions and the personal experiences of the Dust Bowl refugees who lived in the camps. Drawing from more than 200 field recordings, the folklorists produced the above documentary for WNYC in 1942, one of three in a broadcast series called Songs of the Okies.
On July 2, 1946, David Randolph began a series of weekly broadcasts on WNYC called Music for the Connoisseur, later known as The David Randolph Concert.*
On his fourth broadcast, he surveyed the subject of humor in music. With that, David pioneered the thematic radio broadcast devoted to a single musical subject with commentary. Above, you can listen to the full broadcast of "Composers' Senses of Humor," David's 375th show that aired in June, 1954.
The programs were later syndicated nationally on the 72-station network of the National Association of Educational Broadcasters (NAEB). The broadcasts garnered four Ohio State University Awards as "the best programs of music and commentary in the nation," and aired for 33 years. They also resulted in invitations from 23 publishers to write a book, and This Is Music: A Guide to the Pleasures of Listening was published by McGraw-Hill in 1964. It was described by the New York Times as "one of the best of the year."