The story of WNBC begins at its humble beginnings at the dawn of commercial broadcasting. The earliest forerunner to the station that eventually became WNBC was W2XY. A piece of radio history not commonly known, even by many in the radio business, is that at the start, in the months prior to 1920, the U.S. Commerce Department began issuing licenses for radio stations. In the very early days of broadcasting, all were Amateur Licenses. It wouldn’t be until 1922 that amateurs were prohibited from playing music and the first commercial licenses specifically for broadcasting would come about.
In the ensuing 66 years, the station known as WEAF and WRCA (and its first few years known as WBAY) entertained and informed a generation who experienced the great depression and World War II. As WNBC, another generation would come to know the station for pop and rock music, with deejays like Wolfman Jack, Cousin Brucie and Imus in the Morning.
I could sit here and write the entire story of WNBC, but so much has already been written and there’s little that can’t be discovered by a basic google search, or going to this page at Wikipedia for an abbreviated write up of the history of WNBC (AM)
The final airstaff of WNBC consisted of Imus, Ray D’Ariano, Dale Parsons (PD), Alan Colmes (WHN, Fox News Channel) and Time Machine personalities Dan Taylor, Jim Collins, Big Jay Sorensen, Jack Scott, Larry Scott and The Real Bob James (1220 WGAR). There were plenty of others on staff including a full newsroom, sports department, sales, weather and various office people. Many describe it as a close knit family atmosphere.
It all came to an end on October 7, 1988:
In November 1987, General Electric, which owned NBC at that time through its purchase of RCA in February 1986, announced that it would sell off the NBC Radio division. In February 1988, GE made a multi-station deal with Emmis Communications and, in New York, the WNBC license for 660 was included in the sale. Emmis announced it would move WFAN to 660. At the time, WFAN was located at 1050 AM and had a somewhat marginal signal in portions of the New York area. As the deal only included the license for WNBC and not the station’s intellectual property, GE shut down the station for good.
As the Summer of 1988 transitioned into Fall, everyone knew WNBC was going away, they just didn’t know exactly when. Ray D’Ariano alludes to that effect while describing the Weekend Time Machine jocks not knowing that they had done their last Time Machine shows.
This aircheck is a digitized cassette recorded (presumably) by contributor Bob Gilmore. The audio quality is stunning. This is an off the air recording which arrived at the airchexx studios partially unscoped. It begins with the final minutes of Imus in the Morning, joking around that he will be at Shea Stadium for the Mets game to be heard on WFAN, which was moving down from 1050 to 660 that afternoon, then moves on into the late morning Ray D’Ariano show. D’Ariano takes the time to mention some of the people he will miss and to describe a little about what’s going on. He also promotes a special at 12 noon by Dale Parsons (WNBC, The First 66 Years) which is coming up.
Somewhere on this site, we had the final moments of WNBC, which we never restored after the server crash of 2011. I will repair that in time for October 7 as we remember the 32nd anniversary of the end of WNBC.
ABOUT THE CONTRIBUTOR
Bob Gilmore is one of the nation’s top radio engineers. He has helped put several stations on the air, and built the studio you see on ESPN “Sports Center” as an engineer for ABC. Gilmore is an aircheck collector and has also recorded hundreds of radio station airchecks of his own. He is an accomplished radio personality, heard weekly on HitOldies.net, and a licensed Amateur Radio Operator.
Click the play button (below) for Audio-Only
Click below to watch a video version on our Official Airchexx YouTube Channel