ERIC Number: ED361811
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1993-Aug
New York City's Municipal Broadcasting Experiment: WNYC, 1922-1940.
Stavitsky, Alan G.
The originators of municipal radio station WNYC foresaw radio as a means of extending city government and an instrument to educate, inform, and entertain the citizens. Because the municipal radio concept emerged in the early 1920s, before the medium's industrial structure was entrenched, an opportunity existed to develop an innovative model of broadcasting. Grover Whalen, New York City's Commissioner of Plant and Structures and Maurice E. Connolly, Queens Borough president were instrumental in getting the station on the air. WNYC began broadcasting on July 8, 1924. What distinguished WNYC from commercial stations was the presentation of civic education programs, health information, and "police alarms." WNYC was hampered, however, by political and economic pressures, limiting its impact on New York City's civic life. Programming deficiencies and disputes were compounded by serious technical and regulatory difficulties. A committee of three prominent local radio executives reported to mayor Fiorello LaGuardia on October 25, 1934 that the station was in a "rundown condition" and made recommendations for increasing the station's competitiveness. Programming in the late 1930s was dominated by classical music, consumer service programs, and educational programs. The station's program schedule lacked substantial discussion of public affairs, with the exception of its broadcast of the meetings of the New York City Council from 1938 to 1940. The failure of New York City's municipal broadcasting experiment illuminates the chronic inability of noncommercial broadcasters to define their mission and play a central role on the United States airwaves. (Eighty-seven notes are included.) (RS)
Publication Type: Speeches/Meeting Papers; Historical Materials
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: New York (New York)