The Earliest Identifiable WNYC Recording: Lindbergh at City Hall in June, 1927

History Notes: Volume 2, Issue 4

Tuesday, January 25, 2011 - 03:46 PM

Col. Charles A. Lindbergh receives a medal of valor from New York City Mayor Jimmy Walker, June 13, 1927. The aviator stood in front of the WNYC and network microphones, having just garnered tributes in Washington, D.C. for his historic non-stop solo flight across the Atlantic. 

Following a massive ticker tape parade and what The New York Times described as an outpouring of four million well wishers, Lindbergh made his way to City Hall, where WNYC's announcer Tommy Cowan pushed a microphone toward him. 

Grover A. Whalen, Chairman of the Mayor's Committee on Receptions, told the radio audience and thousands who jammed City Hall Park, "One short month ago, it was my distinguished privilege to clasp hands and bid godspeed to a typical American boy, who, armed with sublime courage in himself, was seated in the now famous monoplane, the Spirit of St. Louis. This is the brave young American lad, who that morning was unknown and unsung and little dreamed of the world-wide honor this great deed was to win, set the propellers of his plane roaring and, with a rush that thrilled all of us who watched him, sped off alone down that 5,000-foot runway, the last touch of American soil he was to know until his wonderful flight over the measureless seas had won for him and for his nation, a fame that would be undying..."

Mayor Walker continued:

"...Colonel Lindbergh, New York City is yours -- I don't give it to you; you won it. New York not only wants me to tell you of the love and appreciation that it has for your great venture, but is deeply and profoundly grateful for the fact that again you have converted all the old rules and made new ones of your own, and kind of cast aside temporarily the weather prophets, and have given us a beautiful day..."

The above recording represents only a small portion of the event, following Walker's remarks through the first half of Lindbergh's. It is, however, the earliest known WNYC recording that includes one of our staff, announcer Tommy Cowan. When the audio of Lindbergh cuts off, he concluded his broadcast with the following:

"In regard to aviation, I would like to say a few words: that is, not to expect too rapid development. We are not going to have transatlantic service in a few months. We will have it eventually; it is inevitable, but it will be after careful development and experimental research. We should have it probably within five or ten years; but any attempt to fly across the Atlantic regularly without multimotors, without stations at intervals along the route, and without a flying boat that can weather some storm would be foolhardy. I want you to remember that aviation has developed on a sound basis, and it will continue to develop on a sound basis. I thank you."

Charles Lindbergh and Grover A. Whalen, June 13, 1927. Whalen is wearing the medal shown below. (Photo: WNYC Archive Collections)


Medal worn by Mayor Walker and others city officials at the City Hall Reception for Charles Lindbergh, June 13, 1927 (Photo: A. Lanset Collection)


Broadcast on WNYC Today in:

1926: The Black Diamond Serenaders perform live. "The Black Diamond Serenaders" was a pseudonym for The Original Indiana Five jazz band.

1930: Dr. H. Robinson Shiphead responds to the question, "Is radio good for anything but music?"

1949: City Hall reception for Sir Bernard Montgomery (1887-1976). Montgomery was a British general in World War II, famous for his victory at the Battle of El Alamein in November, 1942. He was nicknamed 'Monty.'

1950: British playwright Christopher Fry (1907-2005) discusses his play, The Lady is Not for Burning (1948). The work is a political farce told in verse in a medieval setting. The play is Fry's most popular, and its leading role of Thomas Mendip has been played by Richard Chamberlain, Derek Jacobi and Kenneth Branagh.

1962: College newspaper editors interview James R. Dumpson, NYC Commissioner of Welfare, about welfare in the city and around the nation on Campus Press Conference.

1996: The Radio Stage presents, The Rehearsal by Rufus Caleb and directed by John Pietrowski, in cooperation with Playwrights Theatre of New Jersey. In the play, Jimi Hendrix and Little Richard trade barbs and visions on a rainy night in Georgia. Cast: Jerome Preston Bates, Michael David Gordon, Mark Waters-Savant and Rae Langford. Musicans: Jonathan Best, Michael Collins, Bobby Dee. Produced by Sarah Montague with assistance from Zed Starkovich. Recording and mix engineer: Edward Haber.

2002: Brian Lehrer discusses Vice President Dick Cheney, Enron and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, with Michael Weisskopf, Senior Writer for Time. There's also discussion of the fate of New York Newsday, with City Edition Editor Les Payne.


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