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.
One hundred years after the sinking of the British passenger liner RMS Titanic, the tragic story of the unsinkable ship fascinates as much today as it did on that fateful day, April 15, 1912. Though many today are most familiar with James Cameron’s 1997 blockbuster film "Titanic," the story was first mass-popularized by acclaimed author Walter Lord, whose 1955 book A Night to Remember was drawn from first-hand accounts of 63 survivors on that maiden voyage.
"This microphone is not an ordinary instrument,
For it looks out on vistas wide indeed:
My voice commingles now with northern lights and
asteroids and Alexander's skeleton,
With dead volcanoes and with donkey's ears
It swims with minnows and it's in the Sphinx's jaw.
It drifts among whatever spirits pass across the night.
Here is a thought to fasten to your throat:
Who knows who may be listening? And where?"
The conclusion to Seems Radio Is Here to Stay
Al Arkus started at WNYC by producing, directing and reading newscasts. He also directed and announced for Edward Tatnall Canby, David Randolph and Oscar Brand. Children’s programming became one of his favorite genres: he wrote, produced and narrated The Music Maestro, a weekly educational music program, and appeared regularly on The Children’s Story Fair, a show with a cast of 'kids' wandering on a magic midway to adventures in an opera house, a record room, a side show, a concert hall and similar locations. Al also wrote, directed and produced Here's Heidy, a children's program with storyteller Heidy Mayer that moved to WOR in 1949.
On January 3, 1934, Mayor Fiorello H. La Guardia swore into office Seymour N. Siegel as WNYC's Assistant Program Director. Immediately after Siegel affirmed his commitment to the people of the City of New York, the mayor promptly ordered him to "go across the street and close down the joint." The "joint" was WNYC. One of La Guardia's campaign promises was to close the station and just a few days earlier he had released his cost-cutting program of ten major reforms. Number nine on the list was "abolition of the municipal broadcasting station, WNYC." But after carefully surveying the situation Siegel determined there wasn't anything a little good management and TLC couldn't fix. A panel of experts was convened, a thorough study was done and recommendations were made and implemented. Because of Sy Siegel, WNYC became a political asset for the mayor and a ground-breaking public broadcaster.
Long before language mavens Patricia T. O'Conner or Richard Lederer ever matched puns with Leonard Lopate, WNYC had Frank Horace Vizetelly (1864-1938). Known in his day as the "Dean of Lexicographers," Vizetelly was a major force behind the Funk and Wagnalls Dictionary. The etymologist, however, was not limited to the discussion of words and their origins: on WNYC he covered a wide range of topics. Among his talks were "The Ant and Its Ways," "The Story of the Sneeze," and "The Story of the Garter." Before WNYC he was on WOR, and after WNYC he moved to WJZ and WABC.
Between 1924 and 1925, world traveler, inventor, geologist, archeologist, metalurgical chemist and researcher James Churchward delivered more than two dozen lectures over WNYC. A former colonel in the British Army, Churchward gave talks based on decades of research that focused on what he called, 'the motherland of man,' the lost continent of Mu.
On New Year's Eve, 1944, Mayor F. H. La Guardia devoted the first few minutes of his weekly "Talk to the People" broadcast to bidding a somber farewell to a harsh year of international war, domestic hardship and staggering loss of life. Listen to his short address to New York City citizens, delivered on the last day of a year many Americans were glad to see end.
On December 30, 1924, The New York Times radio listings* for WNYC included a remote broadcast from the Newspaper Club of New York. It was a children's Christmas party for the sons and daughters of newspaper men. The entertainment line-up included Marilyn Miller, the Duncan Sisters, The Singer Midgets, George Haas and his singing canaries, Betty Bronson, Toto, Bob Miller, Gedney and Magee, Winifred Toomey, Rachel Mastrota, Richard B. Gilbert, Sam Wooding's Orchestra and Teddy, the baby elephant. Who were they? Let's find out.
Keeping Fit was a regular series of health and exercise talks by Joe Ruddy on WNYC in 1926.
Americans had plenty to celebrate in December 1945. The Second World War had just ended in September, making this the first peacetime holiday season they had seen in several years. In his regular Sunday "Talk to the People" broadcast on Christmas weekend, Mayor Fiorello H. La Guardia recited the Nativity story and told New Yorkers to "resolve to live the spirit of Christmas."
Thornton Fisher (1888-1975) began his broadcasting career in 1923 at AT&T's WEAF in New York as one of radio's earliest sports commentators. He switched to WNYC the following year, not long after the municipal station began broadcasting. The Evening Leader of Corning, New York praised Fisher's Tuesday and Thursday evening program, Sports Analysis, and said, "he is one of the keenest sports writers and cartoonists in the world of journalism. His love for all sports, coupled with his sparkling wit and understanding of every phase of every game, have created an immortal place for him as chronicler of the progress of sports."
On December 9, 1926, the Locust Sisters sang popular tunes in our studio. The Locust Sisters were a singing quartet with a fifth sister, Mathilda, on the piano. Known as the "miracle makers of harmony," they were featured as missionaries in the 1927 Vincent Youmans Broadway musical Hit the Deck. Reviewing the performance in The New York Times, Brook Atkinson wrote, "the thin harmonies of the four Locust Sisters, admirably introduced, are artless and delightful." They also appeared in a five-minute movie short in 1928, the first of their two appearances for MGM Metro Movietone Revue. The sisters also briefly recorded for Columbia Records. Watch and listen to them in their 1930 MGM short at: LOCUST SISTERS.
Seven years after Sputnik 1 was launched into orbit, and just six weeks after the U.S. space probe Ranger 7 sent back the first close range photos of the moon, civic leaders and Nobel Laureates gathered in Flushing Meadow, Queens, on a hot September day in 1964 to dedicate the World's Fair Hall of Sciences as a permanent structure committed to science education and exploration in New York City.
Preservation is moving toward center stage in the audio world, and nowhere is this more patent than at the AES Convention. Marquee names (Chuck Ainlay, Bob Ludwig) are expressing concern over the legacy of their work, and their talks are increasingly well attended by the rank-and-file membership, who increasingly face challenges that require coordinated solutions.
The second installment of the Archives' celebration of Thanksgiving continues today with a 1952 show focusing on cayenne peppers, featuring Mrs. Gannon, WNYC's Mistress of Markets. Tune in to learn all about incorporating this "pepper-upper" into your diets -- and be sure to catch her recipe for cheese croquettes!