WJZ: New York’s First Station

WJZ_RemoteThe WJZ Radio Project honors pioneer radio station WJZ, whose call letters were used on radio from 1921 to 1953. Here is a timeline of important events during the long history of the broadcasting outlet.

  • May, 1921—WJZ first licensed at unspecified frequency.
  • June 30, 1921—Westinghouse joins Radio Trust of patents held by General Electric, RCA and AT&T.
  • July 2, 1921—RCA launches WJY as a one-day temporary station for a broadcast of the Jack Dempsey/George Carpentier fight.
  • Fall, 1921—Westinghouse constructs shack atop of its Newark, N.J. manufacturing plant for WJZ. The 500-watt transmitter was a duplicate of KDKAs unit.
  • Sept. 30, 1921—WJZ, Bound Brook, N.J., receives 360 meter license (License #230, 833 kHz and later 660 kHz); anouncer Thomas H. Cowan borrows phonograph from inventor Thomas A. Edison a day in advance of WJZs formal opening.
  • Oct. 1, 1921—First broadcast.
  • Fall, 1921—Vincent Lopez band begins live WJZ broadcasts.
  • Late, 1921—WJZ opens New York City studios at the Waldorf-Astoria. Audio was sent to Newark transmitter via Western Union telegrah lines because of an internal battle with AT&T.
  • Feb. 19, 1922—The first stage show for broadcast, The Perfect Fool, airs on WJZ with Ed Wynn.
  • Bertha_BrainardSpring, 1922—Bertha Brainard, who became known as the First Lady of Radio, begins WJZ series, Broadcasting Broadway, offering reviews and other theater information.
  • August, 1922—Milton J. Cross hired as singer and anouncer at WJZ. His would become a familiar radio voice.
  • 1922—Paul Whiteman, The King of Jazz, begins broadcasts from WJZ.
  • May 15, 1923—Westinghouse turns WJZ over to RCA, to be operated jointly with a new WJY in mid-New York from Aeolian Hall. The two stations would be promoted as Broadcast Central.
  • 1923—A part of one of the first network style links, linking to WRC.
  • Jan., 1924—Federal Trade Commission cites as illegal the GE, Westinghouse, RCA and AT&T pact.
  • April, 1924Dramatic shows, produced by the WGY (Schenectady, N.Y.) Players, aired over WJZ via Western Union lines. (WGY originated radio drama two years before.)
  • 1924—WJZ authorized to begin broadcasting 50,000 watts.
  • July 7, 1926—GE, Westinghouse, RCA and AT&T resolve differences, leading to the creation of the National Broadcasting Co. (NBC) NBC would be owned by all except AT&T. AT&T would sell its New York station, WEAF, to NBC for $1 million and retire from broadcasting.
  • Nov. 15, 1926—NBC programs reach the air through a network of radio stations coast-to-coast. Bertha Brainard (above) of WJZ becomes program manager, while WEAF salesman George McClelland becomes general manager.
  • Jan. 1, 1927—NBC organized into two networksRed and Bluewith WJZ feeding the Blue Network of 5 stations and WEAF feeding the Red Network stations.
  • April 22, 1927—Power increases to 45 kW.
  • June 1, 1927—Power decreases to 30 kW.
  • Nov. 11, 1928—Moves to 760 kHz at 25 kW + 5 kW experimental.
  • Oct. 24, 1930—Licensee name changes to NBC.
  • Nov. 3, 1932—Power increases to 50 kW.
  • Nov. 21, 1932—Consent decree with Justice Department issued, leaving RCA and NBC independent of GE and Westinghouse.
  • April 11, 1936—Application for 500 kW operation. Dismissed June 16, 1942.
  • March 29, 1941—Moves to 770 kHz.
  • Dec. 10, 1944—NBC, after earlier being ordered to divest itself of one of its networks, WJZ and the Blue Network were sold to Edward J. Noble. Noble later buys the name American Broadcasting Co. (ABC) from smaller chain.
  • Feb. 9, 1953—American Broadcasting-Paramount Theatres Inc. acquires WJZ.
  • March 1, 1953—call letters become WABC.
  • Aug. 5, 1957—In rare instance of reverting back to an earlier three-letter call, Westinghouse obtains permission to name Baltimore television station, WJZ-TV.
  • May 10, 1982—Format changes to Talk Radio.
  • June, 1986—Merged into CapCities/ABC.
  • Present—Now owned by Disney.

Portions courtesy of Barry Mishkind—Thanks!

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