The Andy Man

Andy Fisher seemed always beside himself.  That is, there seemed to be two of him who were beside themselves, and that made four Andy’s beside themselves and thus he did multiply  to populate many realms of reporting.   He’s been all over the map, excelled at all assignments (except one) and carries with him an enviable reputation as a journalist.   There’s more to the story, below.  

Andy Fisher arrived at WNEW in 1962 as an 18-year-old Columbia sophomore, having begun his journalism career at the age of 11 with a summer column in a weekly newspaper in Massachusetts.  He spent the rest of his college years as a copy boy in the newsroom, adding the duties of political researcher during the election year of 1964. 

WNEW 1973
 After three years as a Special Agent in U.S. Army Intelligence and a year and a half at WNEW’s Metromedia sister station WIP in Philadelphia, he returned to WNEW in 1969 as night news editor. 
 
He anchored morning sports in 1975 and 1976 and his picture appeared on the media page of the New York Mets yearbook in those years.  He became the overnight newscaster in 1974 and moved to WNEW-FM as morning news anchor in 1979. 

In 1981, he went to NBC News as a radio news anchor, serving as the radio network’s religion correspondent and anchoring NBC’s radio coverage of the 1988 Olympic Games in Calgary and Seoul. 

NBC Seoul Sept.1988

In 1989, he became the principal news writer of the Today show, transferring to CNBC as a financial journalist in 1999 and ending his career as writer of the popular stock blog on CNBC.com. 

During his career, he taught and served as guest lecturer at Columbia, Rutgers, Seton Hall and New York Universities and at Ramapo and Barnard Colleges. He was a recipient of the gold medal of the International Radio Festival, New York, for his Olympic work; of the National Headliner Award for network reporting; of media awards from American Women in Radio and Television and the New York State Bar Association; and of a WEBBY award from the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences. In 2011 he was named Distinguished Alumnus of his alma mater, the Albany Academy. 

His first wife, Sharon, a musician who died in 2006, worked at WNEW as a desk assistant in the summer of 1972.  Andy lives with his wife Ann, a stepson, a dog and two cats in Denville, NJ. 

(Now, about that one assignment that didn’t go well.  In a recent e-mail, after attending a WIP anniversary event in Philadelphia, Andy wrote)

“I am one of the few people who worked at WNEW first and then moved to WIP.  A desk assistant (copy boy) job in the awe-inspiring WNEW newsroom helped put me through college, and set me up for an on-air job at WIP when I graduated. “

“It is ironic that WIP is now so successful as a sports-talk station.  I may have been — no, I know I was — am — the worst sports broadcaster WIP ever employed.  During that first summer I worked at the station, the sports director was the great Philadelphia Eagles tight right end, and later general manager, Pete Retzlaff.  One afternoon he called in sick, and the news director summoned me to do his afternoon sportscasts.  “What can be so hard about sports?” I asked myself.  “AP sends across a fresh sportscast every hour.”  I knew that the top story had to be that afternoon’s Phillies home game.  At 4:05, I went on the air saying something like, “After eight and a half innings out at Connie Mack Stadium, the Phillies are in front of the Cubs, 2 to 1.”  An hour later, there was, of course, no score from the bottom of the ninth, and I dutifully went on the air saying something like, “Still no score from the bottom of the ninth, but after eight and a half, the Phils were leading, 2 to 1.”  When I left the studio, every phone in the radio station was ringing.  I think even the phones in the bank downstairs were ringing.  The caller on the one I picked up said graciously, “YOU IDIOT!  Don’t you know that if the home team is in front after eight and a half innings, THE GAME’S OVER??!!”

“I went on to be WNEW’s morning sportscaster in 1975 and 1976 (and on WNEW-FM through 1981), anchor morning sports on the NBC Radio Network in 1986 and 1987, cover the 1986 World Series for NBC Sports, and anchor NBC Radio’s coverage of the 1988 Olympics in Calgary and Seoul, so I did manage to learn a few things after that awful afternoon at WIP.”

WIP Anniversary 3/21/12

“Those who also worked at both WNEW and WIP were me (far left), Dean Tyler (fifth from left), Dick Carr (seventh from left), Bill St. James (eighth), and Don Cannon (ninth).  Here’s a link to the organization that sponsored the tribute luncheon on March 21, 2012 to celebrate WIP’s 90th anniversary.”  http://www.broadcastpioneers.com/

 (Here’s what Andy Fisher’s prep-school alma mater, the Albany Academy, has been running on its website for the past year: )

http://www.albanyacademies.org/podium/default.aspx?t=142049 

Says Andy, about winning in 2011 the Acadamy’s Distinquished Alumnus Award, “It’s the same award won by my fellow alumnus Andy Rooney, class of 1938, in 1976.  It only took him 38 years; it took me 50.”

WIP, at 90, Lives On

WIP Philadelphia has a celebrated history of its own, but to many former WNEW staffers, WIP, during years it was owned by Metromedia, was  the other side of a revolving door, through which people came and went to promotions or exile.  Two of the many people who worked both sides of that door, Andy Fisher and Dick Carr, attended  WIP’s 90th birthday party yesterday (March 21) and took notes.  Andy’s note, posted on the  NY Radio Message Board, is also reproduced below 

http://www.musicradio77.com/wwwboard/messages/394271.htm

Andy Fisher — A radio station that has at times served as a farm team for New York talent celebrated its 90th birthday today, at a luncheon sponsored by the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia at the Bala Country Club in Philly.  Speakers at the WIP anniversary event included programmers Dick Carr and Dean Tyler and air personality Bill St. James.  Jerry Del Colliano, founder and former publisher of the industry newsletter Inside Radio, and a former news anchor and programmer at Philadelphia stations, was master of ceremonies.
         Speakers recalled WIP’s founding by — and at — the Gimbel department store in center city Philadelphia,  the purchase of the station by Metromedia in the late 1950s and its heyday as a standards station, its acquisition of the rights to Eagles football play-by-play, and its current success in sports talk radio.
After a lifetime at 610 on the AM dial, WIP recently began duplicating its broadcasts on FM and billing  itself as 94 WIP.

Dick CarrDick Carr posted his WIP notes on his Big Bands, Ballads and Blues blog:            www.bigbandsballadsandblues.com

 

Jim Donnelly (WNEW 1968-1972)

Read Andy Fisher’s comments (below the David Hinkley story) about working shifts with Jim Donnelly, especially two nights when the number 13 figured in the news. Andy is also quoted by Hinkley.   And, thanks to Bob Gibson for reminding us that March 28th is the anniversary of Jim’s birth.

Jim Donnelly Set Standard For All-News Radio

BY DAVID HINCKLEY DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER

Tuesday, April 23, 2002

Jim Donnelly, one of the defining voices of all-news radio in New York, died Saturday night at the age of 69. Donnelly, who retired in 1992 from WCBS-AM after a 20-year career as co-anchor of the morning newscast there, had suffered from Parkinson’s disease. “Jim’s been gone from ‘CBS for 10 years and people in our newsroom today still consider him a legend,” WCBS-AM news director Steve Swenson said yesterday. “Almost anyone who was here during his years talks about him as a role model.”

Robert Vaughn, Jim Donnelly
Jim Donnelly (right) with Robert Vaughn

Friends remembered him yesterday as an old-school newsman who wrote his own copy and pushed relentlessly for precision and maximum objectivity in news reporting. 

 “Jim was the consummate professional,” Andy Fisher wrote on the New York Radio Message Board. Fisher was Donnelly’s colleague in the news department at WNEW-AM from 1969 until Donnelly left for WCBS-AM in 1972. Fisher also recalled a man who was “a patriot at a time when patriotism was not fashionable” and said it was “very difficult for him to accept the changes that came over radio toward the end of his career,” when much of the medium moved toward a more informal news style.

Donnelly helped pioneer the two-anchor team in morning drive and was partners over the years with Lou Adler – who hired him from away from WNEW – Robert Vaughn and Brigitte Quinn. Harvey Nagler, former news director at WCBS-AM, suggested after Donnelly retired that the most telling mark of his professionalism was that he never became the story. For 20 years, he kept the focus on the news.

That’s something that’s not true for all news personalities today

Photo added by WNEW1130

A Note from Andy Fisher — At WNEW, before he got the morning gig, Jim worked an evening shift that started at 5 — but his first cast was not until 8.  By 8, he would have all five of his hourlies written, and would just tweak them in the unlikely event that news broke.
Jim’s conservative political bent — way out in front of the neocons, evangelicals, etc. — was legendary.  He kept an 8×10 headshot of his brother, a Philadelphia police captain, in the top drawer of his desk, and would prop it up against his telephone as he worked his shift.
On  the night that the Apollo 13 astronauts came home, we devoted the 11PM news to a montage of all the day’s events, starting with the separation of the command and service modules, through the re-entry and the nation’s (especially New York’s) reaction to it, and ending with the prayer of the chaplain on the recovery ship Iwo Jima.  Jim wrote all the newscasts and let me devote the evening to preparing the montage.  It included an exchange that did not make it into the Apollo 13 movie, and went something like this:
Mission commander Jim Lovell, getting his first look at the damaged command module from the separated re-entry vehicle:  “One whole side of that spacecraft is missin’!  All the way back from the high-gain antenna!”
Mission control:  “Well, James, if you can’t take any better care of a spacecraft than that, we might not give you another one!”
After the Giants’ first Monday-night football game, a messy game with Dallas in which there were ten turnovers, Jim encouraged me to create a montage of Marty Glickman’s play-by-plays of all those miscues.  It was hilarious.
Conservative as he was, Jim encouraged my adventures in radio production, especially in sports, which came in very handy as WNEW became more and more of a sports station over the next several years.
Andy

 Editors’ Note– Apollo 13 landed on April 17, 1970.  The  Giants lost to Dallas, 20-13 on October 11, 1971.  And here’s the fumble festival:

http://wnew1130.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/Fumbles.mp3

A “Milkman” Returns

MARTY WILSON  

(WNEW 1981-1986)

Marty wilson Marty became interested in broadcasting at a very young age.  His parents surprised with him with tickets to be in the Peanut Gallery on the “Howdy Doody Show.”  He spent more time looking at the cameras, mike booms, and production staff than he did at Buffalo Bob and the puppets!

 A few years later he took the tour of NBC Radio and was hooked.  In junior high school he became a member of the Cousin Brucie Fan Club and would visit the WABC studios on West 66th Street.  He then worked for Bruce backstage at Palisades Amusement Park.

 After enrolling at City College he majored in cutting class to work at the college radio station where he became Assistant Station Manager and hosted a number of shifts.

symphony sid 1909-1984
Symphony Sid (early 1970's)

 In 1968 he got a job at WEVD as a summer and part time engineer. In addition to learning how to understand commercials in 16 languages, he met Symphony Sid.  One night at a remote from the St. George Hotel in Brooklyn, Sid became a little “under the weather.”  He turned to Marty and said, “You finish the show, I’m going home.”  Marty then moved to the other side of the glass.  He became a staff announcer, and when Sid retired, Sid gave him his record collection and later Marty hosted his own show, “Jazz Through The Night,” at times broadcasting from his Upper East Side apartment in a studio he built.

 After leaving WEVD, he worked briefly at WHLI with the “Music Of Your Life” format.

 During the “Jazz Through The Night” years he met Bob Jones, who was on the air at WNEW.  Bob convinced PD Jim Lowe to give him an audition.  The audition consisted of, “Here’s a reel of tape, there’s the studio, there’s the record library, do an hour.”

 He was hired as the weekend host of the ”Milkman’s Matinee” and shortly thereafter became the full time Milkman following in the footsteps of a number of great hosts.  He introduced a number of features during that time including an audience participation novelty called “It Could Be Verse” where listeners would try to guess what song was playing just by listening to the verse. Ted Brown enjoyed his style and insisted that Marty be his vacation substitute. 

 In 1987 Marty also conceived the idea for a syndicated program, “A Moment Of Musical History”, a daily feature, that was heard nationally and is still on the air as of this writing in 2012!

 After leaving WNEW, he and a college buddy of his bought a station in New Haven, Connecticut, which he ran for nine years. After selling the station he joined the staff of “Jukebox Radio,” doing afternoons and then middays.

 Now he concentrates on doing voice-overs and producing commercials for a variety of clients and agencies from his own studio in sunny South Florida.

Editor’s Note: Symphony Sid: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Symphony_Sid

Kid In The Kitchen

“How I Got This Way”  by Regis Philbin

Chapter I  Bing Crosby

Young Regis PhilbinIt all began with Bing Crosby during the Depression of the thirties. I must have been six or seven years old at the time. My family lived on the bottom floor of a two-story house on Cruger Avenue in the Bronx, and every night at 9:30, I sat by my little radio in our kitchen and listened to a half hour of Bing’s records regularly spilling out over WNEW. His voice was so clear, so pure and so warm that after awhile I thought of him as my good friend. Even though he was out in faraway, glamorous Hollywood and I was in the humble old Bronx, in my mind we truly were friends and would always spend that special half hour together, just the two of us.

I listened to those songs of the Depression era and, even as a kid, I understoodBing Crosby that the songwriters were trying to give hope to a struggling and downtrodden public. I grew to love those lyrics and what they said to me. I swear to you that those same songs have stayed with me for the rest of my life, and during various dark periods when I hit those inevitable bumps along the way, I would actually sing them to myself. Like “When skies are cloudy and gray, they’re only gray for a day. So wrap your troubles in dreams, and dream your troubles away.”

Thanks to Bill Diehl for reminding us of the excerpt above from the Regis Philbin autobiography “How I Got This Way,” Doubleday Book Club. Photos added by WNEW1130 editors.

 

Definately Not An Undercover Assignment

In What’sNEW#1, posted February 2nd, mention was made of one of WNEW’s red mobile units, taking News Director Lee Hanna, Tech. Supervisor Shel Hoffman and engineer Howie Epstein to Washington D.C., Aug. 26, 1963 to cover  the March On Washington. A photo of one of those Chrysler red hots, was discovered just a few days ago by chance on  the internet.  The photo, taken by Bill Cotter in April, 1965, shows the wagon in front of the Irish Pavillion, during the 1964/65 New York World’s Fair. Cotter posted the photo, and others, in 2010 on “World’s Fair Community.org. 

 http://www.worldsfaircommunity.org/topic/10385-wnew-news-at-the-fair/

wnew-wagon worlds fair

When trade-in time came, WNEW stayed with the Chrysler New Yorker, but in quieter white.     

http://www.worldsfaircommunity.

WNEW News “busting out all over”

john crosby herald tribuneJohn Crosby, was a  columnist for The New York Herald Tribune from 1935 to 1941 and, after WWII military service, from 1946 to 1965.  

He continued newspaper and novel writing into  the mid-seventies, but is remembered best  as the Tribune’s chief radio/TV critic during the 1950’s.  This line of his about CBS-TV cancelling Edward R. Murrow’s “See It Now,” helps explain why Crosby was so well regarded: “See it Nowis by every criterion television’s most brilliant, most decorated, most imaginative, most courageous and most important program. The fact that CBS cannot afford it but can afford “Beat The Clock,”is shocking.”  Another worthy observation of his concerned WNEW’s new, (1958) full-time news department and its “brash young news staff” whose news coverage was “busting out all over.”  Read on.  

  John Crosby 1959 column

The image above is a recreation of a 1959 John Crosby column as published in the New York Herald Tribune.  Thanks to Bill Diehl for finding a copy of the original column. E.B.

What’sNEW#1

Another geyser from Bill Diehl’s deep memoribilia wells.  Bill has come up with  scores of 1960’s paid pieces WNEW placed  in New York newspapers. Background on  how the PR pieces were created, later on.  Right now, here’s What’sNEW#1 on Martin Luther King Jr.’s March On Washington, Aug. 28, 1963, published  a few days later.
 Reid Collins sept 63

Art Ford And The Night Visitor

 Art Ford and the Night Visitor

Tom Saunders watercolor of Art Ford

The watercolor (above) by Tom Saunders is based on the  photo (below) published in Arnie Passman’s book, “The Deejays,”* But, the woman in the painting is not the woman in the photo.  Explanation, below.

 As WNEW’s first Station Manager, Bernice Judis often dropped in on shows at any time of the day or night. In the photo above, she is seen during an after-midnight visit to “The Milkman’s Matinee” when it was hosted by Art Ford. (1942-1954) In an e-mail to long-time friend, and ‘NEW alum, ABC’s Bill Diehl, Saunders explained: “I read that Bernice Judis was the manager who fired Art Ford for playing too much ‘jazz and international’ music, so I purposely eliminated her and put in a blond groupie instead.” Saunders identified correctly the cause of Ford’s firing, but not his executioner. Judis retired from WNEW in 1954 after 20 years with the station, and about four years before Ford got word while in Europe in April, 1958, that his services were no longer desired.

Continue reading Art Ford And The Night Visitor

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