Directed by archivist Andy Lanset, the department provides a central repository for thousands of audio recordings, photographs, memorabilia, reports, news items, program guides, institutional records, and promotional materials.
Among its holdings are more than 50,000 recordings in a variety of formats, from early lacquer and acetate discs, to reel-to-reel tapes, to digital audio tapes and compact discs.
"Ten o'clock each morning serves the housewife and the homemaker Monday through Saturday." So proclaims WNYC announcer Tommy Cowan at the beginning of the first presentation of "Have Fun with Your Children" (sometimes called "City Fun with Children"), a public affairs program produced specifically for mothers by author Becky Reyher. For three years, Ms. Reyher welcomed experts on local cultural events and educational programs into the studio to discuss ways to entertain children in the city. In honor of Mother's Day, we're taking a closer look at this show and its dynamic hostess.
The Flanagan Brothers were the most popular group of Irish entertainers in New York City between the early 1920's and the late 1930's. Joe, Mike and Louis (who is not pictured here and played harp guitar) were born in Waterford City, Ireland in the 1890's and emigrated to the United States with their parents at the turn of the century. They settled in Albany, New York. The brothers, all self-taught, played at concerts, dances, bars, clubs, and on WNYC. They recorded 160 songs for several labels and their discs sold well across the U.S, Britain and Ireland. Many have since been reissued in anthology collections. Here is an original version of the Kerry Mills Barndance courtesy of the Irish Traditional Music Archive.
Nikola Tesla, the father of alternating current and one of the greatest inventors of all time, died on January 7, 1943 at the New Yorker Hotel. Three days later, WNYC broadcast this memorial to him. The Croatian-born violinist Zlatko Baloković performed Ave Maria live in the studio, as well as a piece known to be a favorite of Tesla's, identified as Therefore Beyond the Hills is My Village, My Native Land. Mayor F. H. La Guardia read a moving tribute to Tesla written by Slovenian-American author Louis Adamic. Announcer Joe Fishler concluded the program this way:
In 1952, the New York Department of Public Works opened up the Owl's Head Pollution Control Plant in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, one of three new plants designed to combat the massive pollution running in and around the city's public shores. But as this dramatization points out residents were conflicted about the impact the plant would have on their communities.
In 1937, WNYC opened a new transmitter site in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Flanked by two 304-foot towers, the site featured massive, illuminated WNYC call letters and a north symbol so that planes flying overhead on a clear night could easily get their bearings. WNYC-AM left the site in 1990, and the towers came down about 10 years later. The 10 Kent Street site is now a project of the New York City Economic Development Corporation, which is in the process of creating WNYC Transmitter Park.
This week we celebrate National Library Week, an event close to the hearts of Annotations’ archivists. Since we're both graduates of library school and avid readers, delving into the collection for some library-related audio was a no-brainer for us. The only difficulty came in choosing which instance of library radio to select. From a World War II-era discussion of book burning in Germany to public library dedications through all five boroughs, libraries play a notable role in the historic WNYC collection.
From the mid-1930s to early 1940s, the federal Works Progress Administration (WPA) distributed thousands of transcription discs to hundreds of radio stations around the United States, including WNYC.
“Headlines in Chemistry” premiered on WNYC in 1947. Produced in cooperation with the American Chemical Society’s News Service, the show aimed to "present a program of interest to the lay public on the latest scientific developments in the chemical fields." Within four years the show was carried on about 80 stations nationwide , and by 1952 it was "beamed overseas in 42 languages .”
WNYC's Chief Engineer Isaac Brimberg, from a 1930s photo. Brimberg was a pioneer in radio broadcasting. He joined WNYC at its opening in 1924 and was named Chief Engineer in 1929. He oversaw the WPA construction of our new studios and our state-of-the-art transmission facilities at Greenpoint, Brooklyn--both opening in October 1937. Brimberg was also responsible for setting up our shortwave facility W2XVP in 1941 and our experimental FM station W39NY, now WNYC-FM. Major Isaac Brimberg was in the Army Signal Corps in 1943 when he died tragically on leave in a car accident at the age of 40.
From May, 1934 to April, 1948 Gladys M. Petch was heard regularly over WNYC talking about Norway. The programs Sunlit Norway Calls, Spirit of the Vikings, and News of Norway were underwritten by the Royal Norwegian Information Service. While most of these broadcasts were aired via transcription disc, it appears that during WWII, Petch was in the WNYC studios, as evidenced by these two 1944 News of Norway broadcasts we found at the National Library of Norway site.
On March 12, 1945, when Governor Thomas E. Dewey signed in to law the Ives-Quinn Anti-Discrimination Bill, New York became the first state to enact legislation curtailing the practice of discriminating against job applicants and employees on the basis of race, religion, or creed.
Undoubtedly readers of the Annotations blog have been waiting with bated breath for the next installment of the Archives Mixtape, and we are happy to oblige with a double feature!
Moscow's Park of Culture and Rest was one of the topics in a controversial series of travelogues aired by WNYC in late 1937 and early 1938. Critics of the station charged the broadcasts were Soviet propaganda meant to gloss over the dictatorship of Joseph Stalin.
Hom Hong Wei (1915-2011) at his WNYC engineering shop workbench in the early 1940s.