original call letters



WCBS
ON THE AIR!

History & Times
of a Legendary Radio Station


compiled by Don Swaim






History of WCBS in
The Airwaves of New York


by Bill Jaker, Frank Sulek, Peter Kanze
HERE
________________________________________


click to enlarge this water view
COLUMBIA ISLAND
The WCBS Transmitter

WCBS (then called WABC) announces its 'Columbia Island' Transmitter Tower in Fortune Magazine, 1941. To read about it and see other photos click HERE

click to enlarge this aerial view

EKKO Radio Verification Stamps were a passion for radio buffs in the 1920s --
and WCBS was part of it. Read about it HERE

BEFORE ALL NEWS...

...there was JACK STERLING

click HERE
________________________________________

WCBS's JOHN HENRY FAULK
1950s WITCH HUNT VICTIM

Long before Newsradio88, Texas humorist John Henry Faulk, later a fixture on TV's "Hee-Haw," was a star on WCBS Radio -- until he was blacklisted during the right-wing communist witchhunts of the 1950s. After his ordeal at WCBS, which he wrote about in his book Fear on Trial, Faulk recorded a delightful Christmas story for National Public Radio. Click HERE to read and listen to it. Back in Texas, Faulk failed in a bid for elective office. He died in Austin on April 9, 1990. Hear Faulk discuss how WCBS Radio's former management caved in to the far right. Go to the AUDIO FILES PAGE.


________________________________________


KENNETH BANGHART: WCBS RADIO'S
PREMIER ANCHORMAN BEFORE ALL NEWS

Same ad, different approaches, different venues, six months apart.
click to enlarge
Print ad from the July 24, 1962, issue of The New Yorker magazine. Note the great names of CBS journalism cited in the ad. Banghart left CBS in 1967.

Print ad in the January 28, 1963, issue of Playbill for the opening night of "An Evening with Maurice Chevalier" at the Ziegfeld Theater, Manhattan.


HARVEY HAUPTMAN REMEMBERS
PAT SUMMERALL

The late great Giants place-kicker became WCBS morning anchor, Sports Director,
and celebrated play-by-play broadcaster


PLUS -- a related postscript by Bob VanDerheyden


Summerall-- not in a Newsradio 88 jersey but actually wearing his Giants 88 uniform.
Read HERE


CBS BROADCAST LEGEND JOE WERSHBA

While Joe Wershba, who died in 2011 at the age of ninety, earned his reputation as a producer and reporter for Edward R. Murrow and later with 60 Minutes, he was also a News Director of WCBS Radio (before it became all-news). In the film Good Night and Good Luck, Wershba was portrayed by Robert Downey, Jr. More on Wershba's life and career at CBS News.

Joe Wershba


l-r: George Clooney as Fred Friendly, Robert
Downey, Jr. asWershba, David Straithairn as Murrow
  • For an excellent ten-minute interview with Joe Wershba and his wife Shirley about the Edward R. Murrow days at CBS, check out the estimable NPR broadcast On the Media of May 20, 2011. It includes both the transcript and the complete audio. Go to: ON THE MEDIA

  • Note from Don Swaim: Joe Wershba, a dedicated book collector, was a casual friend of mine. While on a trip to Zurich, Switzerland, in 1983, Joe found a copy of Of Mice and Men. Knowing I admired the author, John Steinbeck, Joe mailed the book to me. It was in German! (Von Mausen und Menschen). At the time, I wasn't sure I wanted an inscription in the book, but, now, Joe's inscription means much more than the book.

  • OLDE TYMES AT WCBS

    WCBS Radio Newsroom, 52nd Street & Madison Avenue, ca 1962. L-R: Jerry Melamed, director; Jim Brooks, writer (later co-creator of "The Mary Tyler Moore Show"; Harvey Hauptman, producer & head-writer; Ken Banghart, anchor; Sis Aurelius, assistant. More details at Hauptman Remembers.


    BEHIND EVERY GREAT BUILDING...
    IS A GREAT ARCHITECT -- AND CONCRETE!

    photo: Black Rock before Black Rock
    Don Swaim on the history of the elegant CBS Building
    Read HERE




    THREE BROADCAST LEGENDS

    Election night, New York, 11/7/06
    Rich Lamb, WCBS; Stan Brooks, WINS; Mitch Lebe, Bloomberg Radio (ex-WCBS)
    Combined broadcasting experience: 130 years (rough estimate)


    PICS FROM PAYNE
    Collection of 1970s newsroom photos from retired anchor Palmer Payne. View HERE


    ONE CLASSY JOINT

    click to enlarge

    The paper goods at CBS were part of the design unity created by Lou Dorfsman, Creative Director of Advertising and Design for more than forty years. Even the Black Rock cafeteria's (51/20 Club) coffee cups and sugar packets displayed the famous CBS typefont known as Didot, as well as the stationery and interoffice envelopes.

    Don Swaim's two-part mp3 interview with Lou Dorfsman HERE

    WCBS LOBBY, BLACK ROCK
    click "88" image below to enlarge

    Longtime staffers will remember the huge decorated plywood "88" (another Lou Dorfsman creation) in the WCBS lobby on Black Rock's 16th floor. For a while there was a receptionist. Later, an in-house phone was installed next to the door, so visitors had to call someone to be allowed in. Because of demonstrations, sit-ins, and bomb threats WCBS became locked as tight as a drum. Each staff member was given a key, later a digital ID card, which served as a key.



    NEW YORK MAYOR ED KOCH
    1924-2013



    LAST DAY AT BLACK ROCK

    bye bye

    In 2000, WCBS Newsradio 88 abandoned its historic (but cramped) newsroom on the sixteenth floor of Black Rock, the world-famous CBS Headquarters building at 51 W. 52 St., for fresh quarters at the CBS Broadcast Center [the station is now relocated to Hudson Street -- see below]. Anchor and archivist Wayne Cabot, assisted by reporter Rich Lamb, fashioned a super, nostalgic video of the last day at Black Rock -- posted here for the first time.

    Watch it HERE

    WCBS RADIO MOVES TO HUDSON SQUARE

    The CBS flagship station joined five other CBS O&Os (WCBS-FM, WINS, WFAN, WWFS, and WXRK), in relocating downtown to new facilities at 345 Hudson Street on Friday, December 1, 2011. The station's original home was at Steinway Hall, 113 W. 57th. In 1929, it moved to 485 Madison Avenue [description by Harvey Hauptman HERE] and remained there until the completion of the new CBS headquarters building [Black Rock] at 51 W. 52 St. in 1965. In August 1967, WCBS became Newsradio88, and operated from Black Rock until 2000 when it moved to the CBS Broadcast Center at 524 W. 52 St.

    Anchor Wayne Cabot Describes the New Home of WCBS

    I don't think any of us were keen about leaving the Broadcast Center with all of its history and all those legendary people walking the halls. But that melancholy evaporated the minute we walked through the glass doors and saw the elegance and class that went into every detail of our new newsroom. The studios and workstations let us create and air virtually anything from anywhere. We can even record sources from the air console as needed during breaking news.


    345 Hudson St.

    The newsroom design is intelligent, comfortable and full of redundancies should phone lines or systems fail. Tim Scheld, Rob Bertrand, Steve Swenson, Rob Sanchez, Barry Siegfried and some very smart people I'm just now meeting poured their hearts into this.

    The decor is a work of art. The newsroom wall facing the air studios features a floor-to-ceiling panorama of the Manhattan skyline taken from the Empire State Building by Martin Untrojb who, when he isn't playing an urban Ansel Adams, is newswriter by morning, Spanish voice-over king by afternoon.



    Cabot in new studio -- photo by co-anchor Steve Scott

    The opposite wall is wrapped with historical photos of newsrooms, newsmakers and news reporters past and present. These are heritage shots: a bank of teletype machines at Black Rock; a shiny old 88 mobile unit; our High Island tower that would get knocked down by a plane on August 26th, 1967 - the eve of our first day as Newsradio 88.

    A third wall has an image of Edward R. Murrow that, like the legend himself, is larger than life. The founding father of CBS News can be seen holding radio copy, tilted to reveal his timing calculations scrawled on the back.

    Inspired by a proud past, built for a promising future. The entire newsroom is walking a bit taller. --Wayne Cabot

    - To hear Wayne's on-the-air salute on the occasion of the move, with many famous WCBS voices: LISTEN

    For an account of the move to Hudson Square by FishBowlNY go HERE.


    For Laughs?

    return to main WCBS Appreciation Site page