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WCBS
City of license New York City
Broadcast New York City area
Branding WCBS Newsradio 880
Frequency 880 kHz (also on HD Radio)
101.1-3 FM WCBS-FM HD3 (HD Radio)
First air date September 20, 1924 (as WAHG)
Format Commercial; News
Power 50,000 watts
Class A (Clear-channel)
Facility ID 9636
Callsign meaning Columbia Broadcasting System
Sister stations(s) WCBS-FM, WFAN, WINS, WWFS, WXRK
Affiliations CBS Radio Network
Owner CBS Radio
Sister Stations WCBS-FM, WFAN, WINS, WWFS, WXRK
Webcast Listen Live to WCBS Newsradio 880
Website WCBS's Oficial Website

WCBS (880 kHz), often referred to as "WCBS Newsradio 880", is a radio station in New York City. Owned by CBS Radio, the station broadcasts on a clear-channel & is the flagship station of the CBS Radio Network. It's studios are located within the CBS Broadcast Center in midtown Manhattan & the transmitter is located on High Island in the Bronx, New York (the antenna is shared with WFAN). The station can be heard as far away as Baltimore, Maryland. At night the station can be heard in most areas east of the Mississippi River including Florida & well into eastern Canada & Southern & Northern Ontario. The station's signal cannot generally be heard west of the Mississippi, as to allow Nebraska station KRVN to broadcast.

HistoryEdit

Even though the station has been broadcasting as WCBS since November 2, 1946, it's history goes back to 1924 when Alfred H. Grebe started WAHG @ 920 kHz. WAHG was a pioneering station in New York & was 1 of the first commercial radio stations to broadcast from remote locations including horse races & yachting events. 2 years later, in 1926, Alfred Grebe changed the call sign to WABC (for his Atlantic Broadcasting Company) after concluding a business arrangement with the Ashland Battery Company (which had owned the call sign for a station in Asheville, North Carolina) & moved his studios to West 57th Street, not the last time the station would operate from 57th Street. (This station had no relation to the longtime ABC flagship that operates now @ 770 AM)

In 1928, the station moved to 970 kHz & became a part time affiliate of the Columbia Broadcasting System, which was looking for a full time radio presence in New York City. (CBS's first flagship was WOR, which today carries programming from CBS's Westwood One service.) After a short time broadcasting CBS programming 3 days a week, CBS president William S. Paley purchased WABC & it became a subsidiary of CBS.

Soon after this purchase the station moved to a new frequency, this time to 860 kHz. The station also moved it's studios into the CBS headquarters @ 485 Madison Avenue (corner of 52nd Street). The station, still operating as WABC, featured a mix of local interest programming, ethnic content & music shows from CBS’s national feed. As time went by WABC turned more & more to the national programming provided by CBS & it's affiliates & it's broadcast day was influenced by CBS’s growing interest in news programming. In 1939, the broadcasting studios were moved across 52nd Street from the headquarters to the new CBS Studio Building. In 1941, WABC moved to the frequency it currently occupies, 880 kHz & changed it's call letters to WCBS on November 2, 1946.

Over the next 20 years, WCBS developed a series of radio soap operas, afternoon talk shows & an all night easy-listening music show, "Music 'til Dawn" hosted by Bob Hall & sponsored by American Airlines. During this time, WCBS featured well-known personalities including Arthur Godfrey, future CBS News President Bill Leonard, author Emily Kimbrough & folk singer Oscar Brand.

Time AnnouncementEdit

Since 1924, WCBS has been notorious for announcing the time constantly every 3 minutes. This is because during the early 20th century, not all listeners had reliable time pieces. They relied on syncing their clocks up with the radio almost every day. To this day, WCBS still announces the time every 3 minutes. On the hour, WCBS plays the iconic & distinctive CBS network "ding" indicating that the time is on the hour. The time is distinctly referred to as "WCBS news time ___". This standard practice, with slight variations, is also used @ the other CBS O&O news radio stations nationwide, such as KNX, WBBM & KCBS.

'Fear On Trial'Edit

1 cause celebre involving WCBS emerged in the 1950s. 1 of it's daytime hosts, John Henry Faulk, was part of an anti-blacklisting wing (including legendary CBS newsman Charles Collingwood) that took over leadership of the flagship New York chapter of the broadcasters' union AFTRA.

After Faulk & WCBS came under pressure from anti-Communist group Aware, Inc., Faulk & attorney Louis Nizer sued Aware, Inc. for libel, a case often considered 1 of the key turning points in the battle against McCarthyism. Faulk was supported by fellow CBS broadcaster Edward R. Murrow, who was tipped off to Faulk's plight by Carl Sandburg. According to Murrow biographer Joe Persico, Murrow gave Faulk the money he needed to retain Nizer as his lawyer. Faulk finally won the case in 1963 & eventually became a radio personality in his native Texas & later, a national TV personality as a regular in the cast of the country music/humor variety show "Hee Haw".

WCBS actually fired Faulk because of declining ratings while he waited for the case to come to trial, but Stanley Cloud & Lynne Olson's book The Murrow Boys asserted that WCBS executive Arthur Hull Hayes admitted on the stand the station's overall ratings, not Faulk's specifically, had slipped.

The controversy became the subject of the 1975 CBS-TV movie Fear on Trial, based in part on Faulk's autobiography of the same name.

Now, the NewsEdit

By the late 1950s & early 1960s, WCBS evolved into a Middle of the road (MOR) music & personality format, which included limited talk programing ("Talk of New York" with erstwhile WCBS-TV weather girl Carol Reed & others). Personalities included legendary morning host Jack Sterling, Bill Randle & Lee Jordan. Like many MOR stations @ the time, WCBS did mix in softer songs by rock-&-roll artists, as it's ratings @ the time were ordinary compared to the higher ratings @ WOR & WNEW, both of which also had MOR formats & more distinct identities. Through it all, the variety show "Arthur Godfrey Time" remained a weekday mid-morning staple. Eventually, WCBS gained a foothold in local news coverage (WOR & WNEW's strengths) bolstered by it's standing as CBS's flagship radio station.

During the 1960s, William Paley was concerned about the station's low ratings & started a process that would lead to a highly successful all-news format that would become known as Newsradio 88. This format debuted on August 28, 1967 – although on WCBS-FM, as a small airplane had crashed into & destroyed WCBS-AM's antenna tower just a few hours earlier. It's original roster of anchors included Charles Osgood, Ed Bradley, Robert Vaughn (not related to the actor) & Pat Summerall. Later anchors included longtime anchor Lou Adler & others like Jim Donnelly, Harvey Hauptman & Gary Maurer.

Initially, the station had news in the drive time periods but stayed with a MOR format during middays & overnights, as within a couple of years, they were all-news except for overnights. Newsradio 88 began it's transformation into an all-news format in 1970 when the overnight American Airlines-sponsored Music Till Dawn ended in January of that year & completed the process in 1972 when Godfrey's weekday morning variety show came to an end. The station built a reputation as an all-news powerhouse during the 1970s & has continued with an all-news format to this day.

Although WINS has usually received the higher Arbitron ratings of the 2 all-news stations, WCBS has had the stronger ratings in the outlying suburbs because of it's broadcast-signal pattern. It's traffic reports & news coverage includes more of Long Island & the suburbs than WINS & it occasionally allows room for longer interviews & analysis pieces than does WINS. The station is less tightly formatted than WINS & formats @ a half-hour cycle instead of a 20 minute cycle.

In October 2000, WCBS made another physical move, this time from CBS corporate headquarters @ 51 West 52nd Street (the building known as "Black Rock") to the CBS Broadcast Center @ 524 West 57th Street. Around this time, the station began referring to itself on air as Newsradio 880.

WCBS's format now includes "Traffic & Weather Together" every 10 minutes "on the 8s." In 2007, the New Jersey-based band Fountains of Wayne released a song called "Traffic & Weather" on an album of the same name. In an interview on WCBS, the members of the band admitted that the station's "Traffic & Weather Together" was the inspiration for the song. A number of traffic reporters have also become familiar voices on WCBS after years of being heard on 880 AM. They include Tom Kaminski, Chris Maget, Laurie Jordan, Gene Michaels, Berni Veider, Ken Daniels, Lou Adams, Dave Steckel, Lisa Chase, Tom O'Hanlon & Bill Buchner.

WCBS & sportsEdit

In December 2001, WCBS won the rights to carry radio broadcasts of the New York Yankees beginning with the 2002 season. This contract has been renewed until the 2011 season despite CBS Radio's decision not to renew most of it's MLB contracts (though WFAN, a CBS Radio property, continues to air the crosstown New York Mets). The station had previously carried the Yankees from 1939-1940 (when the outlet had the WABC call letters) & from 1960-1966, a period that included a time in which the team was owned by CBS (prior to WCBS' conversion to an all-news format). CBS bought a majority interest in the Yankees in 1964 & sold the club to George Steinbrenner in 1973.

Until the advent of WFAN in 1987, WCBS was the primary outlet for CBS Radio Network coverage of professional sports events, including MLB. It also served as the flagship commercial station for St. John's University basketball games during the Johnnies' renaissance in the 1980s & 1990s. WCBS also served 2 tenures as the flagship station of the New York Jets.

In it's pre-all-news days, WCBS also carried the New York (Baseball) Giants (as part of the 1930s-40s Giants-Yankees home game package), the New York (Football) Giants & the New York Knicks.

WCBS served as a springboard to athletes-turned-broadcasters in it's pre-all-news period. Most notably, former football Giants Pat Summerall & Frank Gifford were employed in various capacities by WCBS & the CBS Radio Network late in their playing days. 1 of New York sports broadcasting's legendary figures, Marty Glickman, served as sports director during a time in the 1960s.

Mel Allen gained renown as an all-purpose broadcaster on WCBS & the CBS Radio Network before & during his tenure as a renowned sportcaster & the Voice of the Yankees. Decades later, Ed Ingles (now @ public WRHU-FM) established a 25-year career as sports director & morning sports anchor @ WCBS, reporter for the Jets & St. John's broadcasts & mentor to several veteran local & national broadcasters such as Barry Landers, Bill Schweizer, Spencer Ross & Bill Daughtry. The current sports director is Jared Max.

WCBS onlineEdit

In late 2004, WCBS began to simulcast the radio signal on the Internet, allowing for a clear signal worldwide. The biggest difference between the online feed & the AM broadcast is the absence of Yankee games, which are only available on MLB.com by paid subscription. (MLB Gameday Audio uses a feed of WCBS, including local commercials & IDs, for Yankee games.) During Yankee games, the WCBS webcast provides the same news coverage it airs the rest of the day.

Current PersonalitiesEdit

News

  • Wayne Cabot and Paul Murnane - mornings
  • Pat Farnack - mid-days
  • Steve Scott and Michael Wallace - afternoons
  • Levon Putney - overnights

Traffic

  • Chris Maget and Tom Kaminski - Chopper 880

Weather

  • Craig Allen - mornings (5-10am) and evenings (4-8pm)

See alsoEdit

External linksEdit

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