How Geopolitics Shaped WNYC’s Iconic Station Identification

WNYC's Iconic ID and How It Came To Be

Friday, June 13, 2014 - 04:00 AM

Every radio station has a government mandated station identification - a host is required to announce a station's call letters every hour, on the hour. Here's a look back at some of the most unique station IDs from the past 90 years. 

This station ID is from November 25, 1936.

Change came in 1938. With the storm of World War II less than a year-and-a-half away, the fascist governments of Italy and Germany were bombarding resource rich South American countries with shortwave radio broadcasts with the hope of gaining new allies. Mayor La Guardia and then Station Director Morris Novik decided to counter this propaganda. On May 27, 1938, WNYC initiated a series of half-hour programs extending 'good will greetings' to South America through General Electric's shortwave station (W3XAF) in Schenectady, New York. Each program ended with this statement[1]:

"This program comes from WNYC, New York City's own station, where seven-and-a-half million people, who have come from all parts of the world, are now living in peace and enjoying the benefits of democracy."

Soon after it was slightly modified and adopted as WNYC's regular station identification as heard in this February 22, 1941 clip, the one you now hear on our air a few times each day.

Following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December, 1941, the phrase "in peace" was dropped. [2] It remained absent until the end of World War II. Sometime after the war the station ID was reworked to include the chimes from the clock at New York City Hall and sounded like this through much of the 1950s:

It is interesting to note, however, that as a consequence of WNYC's effort to respond to fascist broadcasts, it decided to set up its own shortwave station W2XVP, operating with 1,000 watts of power at frequency of 26.1 megacycles. The original idea was to broadcast programs in Spanish or Portuguese to South America.[3] But it appears that by January, 1941 the notion of WNYC successfully countering the shortwave punch of the Axis powers was a bit over-extended. The facility instead went on the air for a couple hours a day following WNYC-AM's regular sign-off at sundown, repeating the classical music program The Masterwork Hour, along with other selected music, news and commentary.[4] These shortwave broadcasts continued until WNYC-FM went into regular service in March, 1943.


[1] The New York Journal American, May 26, 1938.

[2] Associated Press report, December 13, 1941.      

[3] A History of WNYC, unpublished drafts of 1940 WPA manuscript, New York City Municipal Archives microfilm.

[4] "WNYC on Shortwave," The New York Sun, January 4, 1941. p. 20.




More in:

Comments [1]

Harriet Shalat from Forest Hills, HY

Who's the announcer we hear today? Can you tell us anything about his career at WNYC?

Apr. 29 2014 10:04 PM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Get the WNYC Morning Brief in your inbox.
We'll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.


About NYPR Archives & Preservation

Mission Statement: The New York Public Radio Archives supports the mission and goals of WNYC and WQXR by honoring the broadcast heritage of the radio stations and preserving their organizational and programming legacy for future generations of public radio listeners. The Archives will collect, organize, document, showcase and make available for production all original work generated by and produced in association with WNYC and WQXR Radio.

The NYPR Archives serves the stations staff and producers by providing them with digital copies of our broadcast material spanning WNYC and WQXR's respective 90 and 77 year histories.  We also catalog, preserve and digitize, provide reference services, store, and acquire WNYC and WQXR broadcast material (originals and copies) missing from the collection. This repatriation effort has been aided by dozens of former WNYC and WQXR staff as well as a number of key institutions. Additionally, our collecting over the last ten years goes beyond sound and includes photos, publicity materials, program guides, microphones, coffee mugs, buttons and other ephemera. We've left no stone unturned in our pursuit of these artifacts. The History Notes is a showcase for many of these non-broadcast items in our collection. 

In fact, if you’ve got that vintage WNYC or WQXR knick-knack, gee-gaw, or maybe a photo of someone in front of our mic, an old program guide or vintage piece of remote equipment and would like to donate it to us, or provide a copy of the item to us, write to Andy Lanset at   

The Archives and Preservation series was created to bring together the leading NYPR Archives related, created, or sourced content material at


Supported by