The Real Bob James on The Time Machine, 66 WNBC New York | 1988
Right off the master cassette it was recorded from, Here’s the Time Machine at its best.
By this point in 1988, the WNBC Time Machine had really got the format down to perfection. All the elements are there. The reverb level is perfect. The Jocks have one liners, sort of like
how Dan Ingram over at WABC a decade earlier could do a one liner over everything and make people laugh! The presentation is smooth as glass.
For those who don’t understand, the WNBC Time Machine was a format that played music from the early 1960s through about 1972. They billed it as the music of the 60s, but you will hear an occasional tune from the early 70s. Because the Time Machine was all about creating the authentic WABC sound from the 1960s. It was only performed on weekends. The WNBC weekday lineup was different. The had noontime oldies – an hour of music from the 1960s, but without the reverb or time machine imaging. For a time, while NBC brass tried to figure out which direction to take WNBC, the station seemed somewhat adrift. Not quite knowing what to put on the air, first it was Imus in the Morning. Don Imus was a staple of WNBC and he was still allowed to play whatever hit records he wanted for his show. Soupy Sales came on late morning with a comedy show with callers. Noontime Oldies with Ray Darien at 12. Not sure who had early afternoons but late afternoons, first it was Howard Stern (mid-1980s), then Joey Reynolds. Reynolds was let go in early 1987. The final afternoon host was Alan Colmes who would later join CNN for a primetime show. By the time Colmes arrived, WNBC was playing very little music, except for the Time Machine
There was a moment in 1988 when WNBC brass was ready to take the Time Machine fulltime. It would be interesting for historians like us to be able to analyze that move if it had happened to see
what would have worked on AM and what didn’t. Inevitably, the station was sold to Emmis Broadcasting, who turned in the WNBC license to the FCC and the real truth is, the whole broadcast station that once was WEAF and WRCA and WNBC was dismantled and the studios at 30 Rock taken apart. What Emmis did was to move the station he had at 1050, WFAN, down the dial to 660. After some transmitter and tower work, on October 7, 1988, WNBC went off the air for the final time, and WFAN fired up its new transmitter on 660 and began its first broadcast from Shea Stadium where Don Imus was there for the first pitch! WHIlE IT WAS NEVER OFFICIALLY ANNOUNCED, WFAN BROADCAST IN C-QUAM AM STEREO until its plant conversion to IBOC HD radio in the early 2000s.
This tape arrived in excellent condition in 2004. It’s been in storage ever since and the tape has held up well over the years. Listen to the overal sound of WNBC. You will not be able to find any tape hiss in this. The audio is clean and crisp. This is how all good AM stations should sound. The tape itself is in excellent condition, although as the years go by, the oxide coating on recording tape gets brittle and needs more attention to environmental storage conditions than when first manufactured.