In the New York City Municipal Archives WNYC Sound Collection, we hear the voices of presidents, dignitaries, world leaders, artistic revolutionaries, musical geniuses, luminaries of the literati, and cultural icons. The sounds of a city and a nation are captured through nearly a century of transformations, tribulations, and triumphs. WNYC microphones were present when Admiral Byrd returned from his historic flight over the North Pole in 1926 and when Colonel Charles Lindbergh returned from his solo flight to Paris the following year. Perhaps best known are New York City Mayor F. H. La Guardia's weekly Talk to the People broadcasts over WNYC throughout World War II.
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Monday, February 18, 2013
Amiri Baraka died January 9th after weeks of failing health. He was 79. A playwright, poet, critic and activist, Baraka was one of the most prominent and controversial African American voices in the world of American letters. Speaking at the Overseas Press Club ( and airing on WNYC) in 1965 following the release of his Obie award-winning play The Dutchman, Baraka presented himself as a no-nonsense artist who was not about to compromise his message for anyone. The talk catches Baraka (still known as Leroi Jones) at the height of his radical voice in the 1960s and is critical because it was delivered just four days before the assassination of Malcolm X.
The writer and activist LeRoi Jones (who would later be known as Amiri Baraka) speaks here on February 17, 1965, four days before the assassination of Malcolm X, an event that catapulted him from a charismatic Greenwich Village maverick into a radicalized black nationalist in Harlem.
Friday, February 15, 2013
Wednesday, February 13, 2013
In 1958, former Secretary of State Dean Acheson was out of power but not out of opinions. At this Book and Authors Luncheon the influential statesman weighs in on the pressing foreign policy question of the day: our relations with the Soviet Union.
Friday, February 08, 2013
These two 1947 broadcasts mark the start and finish of the Friendship Food Train's U.S. journey, a project conceived to help the people of Europe get through the winter.
Wednesday, February 06, 2013
The violent anti-American demonstrations occasioned by Vice President Richard M. Nixon's recent trip to Latin America are the subject of this 1958 International Interview with Edward W. Barrett, dean of the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism.
Monday, February 04, 2013
"What Is Modern Photography?" is the question posed at this symposium hosted by the Museum of Modern Art's Edward Steichen. An all-star panel of photographers, including Margaret Bourke-White, Walker Evans, Irving Penn, and Ben Shahn, give (or refuse to give) their individual, often contradictory, definitions of the controversial medium. The gathering provides a great snapshot of the state of the art in 1950.
Friday, February 01, 2013
Focused, uncompromising, and yet essentially pragmatic, Whitney Young, executive director of the National Urban League, answers questions at this 1966 meeting of the Overseas Press Club.
Wednesday, January 30, 2013
"All that I have told in this story is true, down to the last butterfly or flower," claims Marguerite Young in this talk at a 1966 Books and Authors Luncheon.
Friday, January 25, 2013
Herman Wouk, appearing in this 1955 Books and Authors Luncheon, contests what he perceives as the common view of his being "a conformist."
Monday, January 21, 2013
Walter White, head of the NAACP, ponders race and foreign relations at the Great Hall of Cooper Union, in New York City, in this 1949 recording.
Wednesday, January 16, 2013
Monday, January 14, 2013
In this 1956 appearance at the Books and Authors Luncheon, Grover A. Whalen takes us from his childhood on the Lower East Side to his role in assuring that the United Nations would build its headquarters in New York City.
Friday, January 11, 2013
In this amusing, time-capsule of a talk, given at a 1956 Books and Authors Luncheon to promote his best-selling novel Island In the Sun, Alec Waugh explains how he came to write about the West Indies.
Wednesday, January 09, 2013
In 1954, entertainment superstar Danny Kaye became UNICEF's first Ambassador at Large, a post he held until his death in 1987. This is Mr Kaye's personal recounting of his first East Asian tour visiting many of the world's impoverished children.
Wednesday, January 09, 2013
Virgil Thomson is the guest on this 1948 edition of The Reader's Almanac. Not Virgil Thomson the composer, though, but Virgil Thomson the critic, whose collection, The Art of Judging Music (1948), had just been published.
Monday, January 07, 2013
Rex Stout, the creator of Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin, addresses the audience at this 1966 Books and Authors Luncheon as if they were his "Committee on Grievances."