First Breath of Life for WNEW AM

Edward Brown
Feb 13, 1970


When this newscast began about eight minutes ago, it marked an anniversary of some note. It was at 7pm, February 13, thirty-six years ago tonight, that President Franklin D. Roosevelt pressed a gold key in the White House, which transmitted an electronic impulse to New York City, which activated a broadcast transmitter and put WNEW on the air for the first time.

Thirty-six years is a long time. A lot of things said. A lot of music heard. Many careers beginning here or spending some time here. It would be interesting to be able to hear a recording of that first day’s broadcast. But in those days it was all-live. So the only memories that can be recalled are those carried around in the mind.

I do know that that night’s programming included an organ recital and a dramatic skit featuring Kay Reed who remains with WNEW to this day, as do a number of people who were here for those very first minutes.

For the people who have worked here or who have grown up with WNEW, memories vary. Some can remember when Frank Sinatra and Dinah Shore sang here and when programs like “The Make Believe Ball Room” and the “Milkman’s Matinee” were brand new and set a style which became the standard of the industry. And you’ll forgive me if I contend that WNEW remains the standard.

As for myself, it’s really quite odd sitting here and for the moment making the only noise coming out of radios dialed to 1130. Years ago, when I first started as a newsman and was working at small suburban stations, the thought of working here one day was so paramount for me that once in a while I’d give my boss a coronary by inadvertently giving WNEW’s call letter on his radio station.

As William B. Williams points out from time to time, it isn’t all caviar and bright lights. But there is something about being able to meet every day with people you cannot see and rarely meet but, in a way, get to know very well, sharing current events and old memories and trying to stay young together.

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