History – New York City Gets Cable TV

Cable television had been around since the late 1940′s when someone figured out how to import over-the-air signals to non-receiving areas. Usually, this was behind a hill or mountain. In 1957, the first premium cable-movie service began. Of all places – Oklahoma.

Most early cable systems used the 12-channel VHF spectrum, so – there was always an empty channel. It wasn’t long before someone figured out – they could offer alternative programming even with this limited channel space.

In places such as Philadelphia, where – all-of-a-sudden, there were three commercial UHF -TV stations – cable proved to be a huge benefit to those stations and viewers. Over-the-air UHF required more “technical” skills to warrant a clear picture. With cable – no such thing – as VHF and UHF came in clear.

By the mid-1960′s it was obvious – there was something to cable-TV. Not many big cities had it. Microwave paths were enabling cable systems to carry “out-of-town” TV stations – and – you could charge a premium for such a service. By the end of the 1960′s – it was clear – you could offer premium (almost) first-run movies – and charge even more. Home Box Office saw this potential – and, using microwave transmission (and wide-band phone lines) – began offering their premium service to independent cable operators. The year was 1972 – and from there – cable-TV became a part of pop culture.

Here’s something interesting – as cable-TV finally came to New York City. It’s interesting to see – exactly – the give-and-take. Before the end of the decade, premium programming was being offered – but, isn’t it fascinating to see, at least in the beginning – it wasn’t allowed? In the beginning – the whole idea was to give better over-the-air reception to the concrete jungle of Manhattan, where “ghosting” was prevalent. Cable-TV in Manhattan would also usher in color-TV programming – as all three networks would offer (mostly) color beginning with the 1966 TV season. Color looks much worse with a bad, ghosting signal.

According to this, Cable TV in NYC began on April 1, 1966:

cable tv history 1966


Talk Radio History – 1966 Saw A Few More Stations & Syndication

History Of Talk Radio – 1966

talk radio history - 1966 wnbc  mrpopculture.com

1966 was an interesting year for radio. Top-40 AM radio stations were (finally) doing quite well as advertising for teens and young adults was hitting record highs. All-news radio was beginning to take off with the four (then) news stations – WINS, NY; KYW, Philadelphia; XETRA, Tijuana and WNUZ – Chicago.

Another format – talk-radio was getting a lot of attention as stations began adding the format: WBBM – Chicago, WNAC and WEEI in Boston.

WOR, New York and KABC/KLAC Los Angeles had good ratings and newcomer WNBC New York saw some ratings uptick.

Another interesting trend was talk radio syndication with the likes of LA’s Joe Pyne and New York’s Barry Gray being syndicated. These were live shows – taped, so, you couldn’t call in per se. Click pics for larger appearance.

Gary West

talk radio history joe pyne barry gray


WPIX-TV History – 1966 – Cartoons/Frankie Crocker

1967 WPIX-TV Cartoon LineupIf you were lucky enough to have seven TV channels (in New York and Los Angeles) – there was always something to watch. After school – New York’s WNEW-TV (channel 5) and WPIX-TV (channel 11) gave us a diverse line-up of kid’s shows and cartoons. It was also the era for local personalities. Here, WPIX-TV has six.

There was plenty to go around: cartoons, super marionation (Stingray), live action (Superman) and of course – Bozo the Clown.

Back then, WPIX-TV children’s programming brought in the bulk of the station’s advertising dollars – and, as you see here – a 1966 advertiser presentation pitching the channel 11 kid’s lineup. WPIX-TV scheduled this programming around noon – then again late afternoon into early evening – as late as 7pm.

Here’s a rare look at just what the station was telling the advertising community – and a fond look back at “the old” channel 11.

Check out the “Barney Google” cartoon. It’s the first time I heard the word, “Google.”

Below – New York radio DJ icon Frankie Crocker did a short stint hosting a Saturday night music show over WPIX-TV. “Electric Village” didn’t last long and at the time, Crocker was a “Soul” DJ at WWRL – but wanted to broaden his appeal. A year later – he would be heard on top-40 station WMCA. This was after Clay Cole left his music show and comes to us from September, 1968:

Frankie Crocker WPIX-TV Show 1968

What? –  New York’s Joe Franklin Endorsed An Elvis Presley Replacement?

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Gary West 

Three Memorable Radio Jingles/Commercials – 1960′s/1970′s

There’s just no comparison to the art of the radio ad – yesterday and today. What’s missing? Besides clever, creative writing – it’s the art of the jingle. Or just jingles (so very few today). I picked three memorable campaigns that – decades later – listeners still remember – and – if you’ve never heard these – you just might like them.     Gary West

First one – is a clever re-write from the catchy “Georgy Girl” theme/song for the East Coast-based “White Rock” soda people. This ran for several years beginning in 1966:


Next up – another soda – this time Canada Dry and “tastes like love” from the mid-1970′s:


“Pick-A-Pack” 1970′s Juicy Fruit Gum:

Radio History 1950′s-1970′s – When Night Disc Jockeys Ruled

The Hours Between 6p And 11p Could Be Moneymakers For Stations

Teen Idol” DJ’s 

Since Alan Freed began playing rock ‘n roll on evening radio – there was no doubt – the evening DJ could bring in tons of ratings and revenue. Back then – many radio stars were born out of the 6p-11p area time slot – even with prime-time television viewing. Mostly teens and young adults listened, but, if you had them – you could have big ratings. At times – their average audience share could be bigger than the rest of the station.

The teen DJ set the tone for the next morning as well. If you listened at night – chances are – you had the same station tuned-in the following morning.

Every city had these night DJ stars – and New York City was no exception. Besides Alan Freed – there was – Paul Sherman, Bruce Morrow, Murray the K, Scott Muni, B. Mitchel Reed, Gary Stevens, George Michael, Chuck Lenoard – and others.

Unlike today, this could be a huge advertisingrevenue. I found this  from Spring of 1966. Holding the 7 to 11p shift at WMCA – Gary Stevens was then, New York City’s #1 evening personality – and within a year – had served-up over 200 sponsors. Unheard of in modern radio.

Stevens just came off 20 shares in the New York radio ratings – beating big-time rival “Cousin” Bruce Morrow – with a 12 share.

This was an era when all evening radio was live. In many places today, it can be voice-tracked – especially in medium and smaller markets – and, some large markets contain voice-tracking between 6p and 6a.

Most of those who grew up during the 1960′s and 1970′s – can name their favorite DJ – and usually – they came from the evening hours. Do you remember?

WMCA - Gary Stevens - May 1966

Gary West


Radio History – WCBS Goes News – August 28, 1967

Not “All News” – Yet

WCBS Tower Hit By Plane – 12 Hours Before Format Change


New York City was about to get a new “news” competitor – with more news than all other New York radio stations with the exception of one – WINS. The ad below talks about all the marvels of “Newsradio 88.” You notice it doesn’t say, “all news?” WCBS would have to wait a few years – as the CBS radio flagship still had to carry CBS radio programs, including the midday “Arthur Godfrey” show. Back in 1967 –  most stations – music or otherwise, carried 5 minutes of news at the top and bottom of each hour.

To look at the ad, you’d think everything was in place on that Monday morning. 50,000 watt 880 had/has a great signal off a tower located in Long Island Sound. But – the morning of August 28, “Newsradio 88″ could only be heard on 101.1FM – WCBS-FM. Late afternoon the previous day – the tower was hit by a private plane – killing five. It was through a thunderstorm and the pilot wasn’t supposed to be flying that plane. One of the top stories of the morning – “five dead as plane hits WCBS radio tower.”

The same tower complex housed another 50,000 watt radio station – at 660 and WNBC. It too, was off the air. Both stations scrambled – 880 was back on later in the day on one of the WLIB (1190) towers and  WNBC got a hand from WABC (77), using their smaller auxiliary tower. Limited power.

By Friday – both stations were back to their original location – City Island with a temporary tower at 200 feet tall. For the time being – WCBS operated with 10,000 watts and WNBC – at 5,000 watts.

As far as radio format changes – this one had to top them all. August, 1967:

WCBS News Radio signs on 1967

Gary West

Some 1010WINS Radio History – New York.

1010 WINS Morning Men

Murray the K Most Popular – 1961

And Other New York DJs – 1961/1963


1010WINS, New York will be celebrating 50 years as an all-news station in 2015. That’s an amazing run. The station still has decent ratings given the exodus of AM radio listeners. This, as of July/2014.

When the station played top-40/pop music – it was on top from 1958-1962. With a team of DJ’s centered around Jack Lacy, Stan Z. Burns (Bernstein) and later, Murray the K – WINS always had problems with mornings – going through a morning man a year since the death Irv Smith in 1960.

Here’s one of those forgotten 1010WINS morning men – Dick Clayton, who replaced Lonnie Star late in 1962. Clayton would be replaced by Ed Hider in late 1963.

This comes to us from 1963, courtesy the WCBS-AM site – apparently Avon was doing a new radio campaign and selected certain New York DJ’s for targeted live reads. You can see two from WINS/1963 – Jack Lacy – and Dick Clayton.

Clayton came to WINS from WIL, St. Louis – a station that also gave New York City amazing radio talent such as Dan Ingram, Ron Lundy, Jack Carney, Gary Stevens and Bob Dayton

New York Radio History 1010 WINS 1963

More 1010WINS – Murray the K owned nights in New York between 1961 and 1962. Here’s a Murray the K/WINS item from 1961:

murray the K  1961 1010WINS


Gary West 

Radio History – 1010 WINS Adds The Mutual Network 1961

1010 WINS Radio History – 1961

It was big news back in the summer of 1961 – The Mutual Broadcasting Service – trying to re-invent itself (as did all radio networks back then) – became the news network for independent stations. Mutual just lost WOR radio – then landed 1010WINS – back then, one of the top radio stations in New York.

WINS was of course, a music station in those days and this ad lists all the DJ personalities on the station. Murray Kaufman is of course, “Murray the K” and his nightly show was hitting 20-25 shares – mostly teens.

WINS Ad - August 1961

Pop Culture TV History – CBS-TV – Debut Listing – “The Prisoner” – 1968

CBS-TV Summer Replacement Series – “The Prisoner” 1968


U.S. – When “The Prisoner” debuted in 1968 – viewers were a little confused. What was this really about? By the end of the debut episode, you either liked it, loved it or hated it. Here’s a TV Guide listing from the very first CBS-TV airing of “The Prisoner” starring Patrick Magoohan. It already had an ending. Interestingly – when the series debuted on CBS-TV during the summer of 1968 – all 17 episodes had already run in its native Britain. Also, was “The Prisoner” part of, or a continuation of “Secret Agent/Danger Man” of which, Magoohan also starred? Agent No. 6 was used in this series as well – so – it could be very confusing. Whose side was he on? There was nothing like it then or now.

This is from a New York TV Guide with WCBS-TV/2 and WTIC-TV/3.

The Prisoner TV Debut CBS-TV