This is very helpful. Thanks! There's a pretty good history of WMGM/WHN on
the web, done by a guy in NJ who goes by something-pirate or
pirate-something, but his facts definitely match yours and he seems to have
done some research on that and several other NY/NJ radio stations. Also,
some further digging reveals that WMGM's studios were used for many Capitol
jazz sessions in the 1940's, both in their old location and at 711 5th
Avenue. One jazz producer I know pointed out that Capitol sessions done at
Radio Recorders in Hollywood at the same time generally sound much better,
which is probably true given Radio's stellar history and the ready
availability of Hollywood-trained sound men (Hollywood was definitely the
home of some of the best sound knowledge and practice in the 1940's).
Columbia Pictures bought 711 5th from MGM in 1956. It's now the Coca-Cola
building, acquired by Coke when they acquired Columbia Pictures (later sold
to Sony). I believe Columbia Pictures still has a screening theater in the
old studio space, which was two floors tall and thus ideal for a small movie
Now the only missing piece is World Broadcasting. It's an interesting piece
because the RCA custom 12x2 consoles that were in the studio were already
there when Fine Sound moved in. One of those consoles was in service until
1967! I think WMGM bought them, but they might have dated from World
Broadcasting. Their modules were circa 1940's, but I think RCA basically
made the same preamps and line amps from the early 40's until the mid-50's
or whenever they went to 9-pin tubes. So either World Broadcasting or WMGM
could have commissioned the consoles. I'm positive they were not mid-20's
technology, so they don't date from NBC Radio.
Didn't World Broadcasting become some government-owned or government-funded
And thanks for the NBC history lesson. It's interesting to think that
network radio was so young when those old radio shows were made. Everyone
sounds like they had been doing it forever.
-- Tom Fine
----- Original Message -----
From: "John Ross" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Wednesday, October 26, 2005 1:37 PM
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] History help needed
> At 10/26/2005 05:11 AM, Tom Fine wrote:
> >I'm trying to definitively gather the history of the studio spaces
> >at 711 5th Avenue,
> >NY, which were eventually home to my father's first studio, Fine Sound.
> >Here's what I know, but as you'll see, there are blanks in the timeline.
> A great source of information on the history of New York City radio
> stations is "The Airwaves of New York," by Bill Jaker, Frank Sulek
> and Peter Kanze, published by McFarland in 1998.
> >1. the studios were probably (likely) constructed by National
> >Co. as their first network studios, circa late 20's. I'm not sure exactly
> >when they opened for business, but it appears NBC was launched in 1926.
> "Airwaves" says NBC launched on November 15, 1926 with a broadcast
> from the old Waldorf-Astoria Hotel (now site of the main NY Public
> Library). WJZ (NBC Blue) was located across the street in the sixth
> floor of the Aeolian Building at 29 W. 42nd St. According to Banning
> ("Commercial Broadcasting Pioneer; The WEAF Experiment 1922-1926," by
> William Peck Banning, Harvard University Press, 1946), WEAF (NBC Red)
> was still using the studios on the fourth floor of the AT&T Building
> at 195 Broadway.
> WJZ moved into 711 Fifth Avenue in October of 1927. WEAF (NBC Red)
> joined them about a month later.
> >2. NBC occupied the studios until 30 Rockefeller Center opened -- in
> >Not sure of exact date NBC radio studios moved to Rock Center because
> >is conflicting info (surprise). Perhaps someone has an authoratative
> >of NBC?
> "Airwaves" says they moved to 30 Rock in the autumn of 1933.
> >3. World Broadcasting Co. occupied the studios before, during and after
> >WWII. I'm not sure if they were directly after NBC or if there was an
> >interim occupant. Retired Columbia engineer Frank Laico told me he worked
> >for World Broadcasting both before and after his WWII service, in that
> >4. In 1948, WMGM moved into the entire space, according to histories of
> >WHN/WMGM I've been able to locate.
> "Airwaves" confirms that WMGM moved into 711 Fifth Avenue in 1948.
> >5. When Loews/MGM bought an interest in Fine Sound in 1952 (they licensed
> >father's PerspectaSound 3-channel optical soundtrack system), they
> >apparently moved WMGM to smaller quarters in the space and took over the
> >studios (A, B, and C) for Fine Sound. By that time WMGM was moving more
> >music-playing and small-format talk radio, so they did not need the big
> >studios anyway. MGM may have taken over one or more of the big studios
> >previously to do movie-sound mixing before licensing PerspectaSound. I'm
> >clear on MGM's timeline except that WMGM was definitely in the space that
> >became Fine Sound Studio C later on as of 1949.
> >So the parts of the timeline I'm fuzzy on are between NBC and WMGM and
> >MGM movie studio was doing in the space (if anything) before 1952.
> Apparently, Loew's/MGM was producing network-quality programs for
> syndication, mostly based on MGM Movies such as "Dr. Kildare,"
> "Maisie," and the "MGM Theater of the Air" among others. The
> syndication operation was based at WMGM, but considering that many of
> the shows used Hollywood stars, it's likely that they were recorded
> on an MGM sound stage rather than a New York radio studio. WMGM also
> carried Dodgers baseball, Knicks basketball, Giants football and
> Rangers hockey games. WMGM moved to 400 Park Avenue early in 1958. In
> 1962, the call was changed from WMGM back to WHN.
> John Ross