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WNBC, channel 4, is the flagship station of the NBC television network, located in New York Citymarker. WNBC's studios are co-located with NBC corporate headquarters at 30 Rockefeller Plazamarker in midtown Manhattanmarker. WNBC is the sister station to Linden, New Jerseymarker-based WNJUmarker (flagship of the co-owned Telemundo network) and the two stations have some cross promotion.

In the few areas of the eastern United States where viewers cannot receive NBC programs over-the-air, WNBC is available on satellite via C band, and to subscribers of DirecTV, which also provides coverage of the station to Latin America, the Caribbeanmarker and JetBlue Airways's LiveTV inflight entertainment system. DirecTV also allows subscribers in the Greater Los Angeles Area to receive the channel for an additional monthly fee. The station is also seen on certain cable providers in markets where there is no local NBC affiliate. As of March 4, 2009, WNBC is once again available on Dish Network as part of All American Direct's distant network package.

Early history

Experimental operations

What is now WNBC-TV traces its history to experimental station W2XBS, founded by the Radio Corporation of America (a co-founder of the National Broadcasting Company), in 1928, just two years after NBC was founded as the first nationwide radio network. Originally a test bed for the experimental RCA Photophone theater television system, W2XBS used the low-definition mechanical television scanning system, and later was used mostly for reception and interference tests. The station left the air sometime in 1933 as RCA turned its attention to all-electronic cathode ray tube (CRT) television research at its Camden, New Jerseymarker facility, under the leadership of Dr. Vladimir K. Zworykin. The station originally broadcast on the frequencies of 2.0 to 2.1 megahertz. In 1929, W2XBS upgraded its transmitter and broadcast facilities to handle transmissions of sixty vertical lines at twenty frames per second, on the frequencies of 2.75 to 2.85 megahertz. In 1928, Felix the Cat was one of the first images ever broadcast by television when RCA chose a papier-mâché (later Bakelite) Felix doll for an experimental broadcast on W2XBS. The doll was chosen for its tonal contrast and its ability to withstand the intense lights needed in early television and was placed on a rotating phonograph turntable and televised for about two hours each day. The doll remained on the turntable for nearly a decade as RCA fine-tuned the picture's definition, and converted to electronic television. ( Photo of Felix doll)

In 1935, the all-electronic CRT system was authorized as a "field test" project and NBC converted a radio studio in the RCA Building -- now the GE Buildingmarker -- in New York City's Rockefeller Centermarker for television use. In mid-1936, small-scale programming began to air to an audience of some 75 receivers in the homes of high-level RCA staff, and a dozen or so sets in a closed circuit viewing room in 52nd-floor offices of the RCA Building. The viewing room often hosted visiting organizations or corporate guests, who saw a live program produced in the studios many floors below.

Viewership of early NBC broadcasts was tightly restricted to those authorized by the company, whose installed set base eventually reached about 200. Shortly after NBC began a semi-regular television transmission schedule in 1938, DuMont Laboratories announced TV sets for sale to the public, a move RCA was not yet contemplating. In response, NBC ceased all TV broadcasting for several months.

Firsts for W2XBS

As W2XBS, the station scored numerous "firsts", including the first televised Broadway drama (June 1938), live news event covered by mobile unit (a fire in an abandoned building in November 1938), live telecast of a Presidential speech (Franklin D. Roosevelt opening the 1939 New York World's Fair), the first live telecasts of college and Major League Baseball (both in 1939), the first telecast of a National Football League game (also in 1939), the first telecast of a National Hockey League game (early 1940), and the first network telecast of a political convention (the 1940 Republican National Convention, held June 24-28 in Convention Hallmarker in Philadelphiamarker).

First commercial TV station

The station began commercial television operations on July 1, 1941, one of the first two fully licensed commercial television stations in the United States, along with what is now WCBS-TVmarker. The NBC and CBS stations were licensed and instructed to sign on simultaneously so that neither of the major broadcast companies could claim exclusively to be "first." The call letters were changed to WNBT and it originally broadcast on channel 1. On July 1, 1941, WNBT broadcast the world's first television commercial before a baseball game between the Brooklyn Dodgers and Philadelphia Phillies. The ten-second spot for Bulova watches, for which the company paid $9.00, displayed a picture of a clock superimposed on a map of the United States, accompanied by the voice-over "America runs on Bulova time." The Voice of Firestone, a mainstay on NBC radio since 1928, became the first TV program not featuring news or sports, when it began on WNBT on November 29, 1943.

During World War II, RCA diverted key technical TV staff to the U.S. Navy, who were interested in developing a television-guided bomb. WNBT's studio and program staff were placed at the disposal of the New York City Police Department and used for Civil Defense training, with only a limited number of weekly programs for general audiences airing during much of the war. Programming began to grow on a small scale during 1944. During that period, WNBT began feeding The Voice of Firestone Televues, a pioneering news and information magazine show, each week to a small network of stations including General Electric-owned WRGBmarker in Schenectady, New Yorkmarker and Philco's WPTZ-TV (now KYW-TVmarker) in Philadelphiamarker. This program is considered to be the NBC television network's first regularly scheduled program in its history.

On May 8, 1945, WNBT broadcast hours of news coverage on the end of World War II in Europe, and remotes from around New York City. This event was pre-promoted by NBC with a direct-mail card sent to television set owners in the New York City area. At one point, a WNBT camera placed atop the marquee of the Astor Hotel in New York City panned the crowd below celebrating the end of the war in Europe. The vivid coverage was a prelude to television's rapid growth after the war ended.

In 1946, the station changed its frequency from channel 1 to channel 4 after VHF channel 1 was removed from use for television broadcasting. Channel 4 was previously occupied by WABD (now WNYWmarker) before that station moved to channel 5. In October 1948, WNBT's operations were integrated with those of sister station WNBC radio (660 AM, now WFANmarker).

The station changed its call letters on October 18, 1954, to WRCA-TV (for NBC's then-parent company, RCA) and on May 22, 1960, channel 4 became WNBC-TV. NBC had previously used the callsign on its television station in New Britain, Connecticutmarker, from 1957 until it was sold earlier in 1960. That station is now WVITmarker, and is once again an NBC-owned station.

WNBC-TV also earned a place in broadcasting history as the birthplace of The Tonight Show. It began on the station in 1953 as a local late-night program, The Steve Allen Show and NBC executive Sylvester "Pat" Weaver brought it to the network in 1954. Studio 6B, the NBC studio from which Tonight was broadcast during the Jack Paar and early Johnny Carson years (it first originated at the Hudson Theatre on 44th Street) had been WNBC-TV's main news studio up until 2008. It is now used as the studio for Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.

On June 1, 1992, channel 4 dropped the -TV suffix from its call letters and became simply WNBC, with the new branding slogan 4 New York. The accompanying station image campaign was titled We're 4 New York and featured a musical theme composed by Edd Kalehoff. WNBC was rebranded again as NBC 4 on September 5, 1995, with its newscasts being renamed Newschannel 4.

During the September 11, 2001, attacks, the transmitter facilities of WNBC, as well as eight other local television stations and several radio stations, were destroyed when two hijacked airplanes crashed into and destroyed the World Trade Centermarker in New York City. WNBC broadcast engineer Bill Steckman died in the tragedy, along with six other engineers from other television stations. After resuming over-the-air transmissions, the station broadcast from the Armstrong Towermarker in Alpinemarker, New Jerseymarker. Since 2005, WNBC is broadcasting its signal from the Empire State Buildingmarker in New York City.

In 2004, WNBC served as the model station for NBC Weather Plus, a twenty-four-hour digital weather channel that airs on its second digital subchannel (4.2) and on several local cable television systems. Other NBC-owned stations launched their own Weather Plus channels in 2005, although Weather Plus was phased out at the end of 2008.

Digital television

The station's digital channel is multiplexed:

Digital channels
Channel Name Video Aspect Programming
4.1 WNBC-DT 1080i 16:9 main WNBC/NBC programming
4.2 New York Nonstop 480i 4:3 with 16:9 Letterbox Entertainment and lifestyle programming
4.4 Universal Sports 480i 4:3 Sports

WNBC previously programmed NBC Weather Plus on subchannel 4.2, from 2005 until that service was discontinued in late 2008 following NBC Universal's purchase of the Weather Channel. The subchannel continued to provide local weather information after NBC officially ended Weather Plus at the end of 2008. On March 9, 2009, New York Nonstop took over the subchannel.

Analog-to-Digital Conversion

WNBC-TV ended programming on its analog signal, on VHF channel 4, on June 12, 2009 as part of the DTV transition in the United States, and continued to broadcast on its pre-transition digital channel 28, using PSIP to display WNBC's virtual channel as 4. WNBC was one of two stations in New York City participating in the "Analog Nightlight" program, and did so through June 26, 2009.

News operation

News 4 New York opening, since 2008.
Over its history, WNBC-TV has enjoyed success with its news department, in terms of ratings and critical acclaim. During the 1960s, channel 4 battled with WCBS-TVmarker for the top-rated news department in the New York market. They also remained a strong player even during the late 1970s and early 1980s, when the NBC-TV network was at its nadir in the ratings. WNBC's hallmark over the years has been strong coverage of breaking stories and a straight news product that feaures entertainment elements as well as information. Prime examples of this are Live at Five and Today in New York, which provide a mix of news, features and interviews.

WNBC's news team is one of the most stable in the country ; many of its personalities have been at the station for twenty years or more. Chuck Scarborough has been the station's main anchor since 1974. Since 1980, he has been teamed with Sue Simmons at 11 p.m., and the two have been together longer than any anchor team in New York City television history. Senior correspondent Gabe Pressman has been at the station since 1956, except for a seven-year stint (from 1972 to 1979) at WNEW-TV (now WNYW).

WNBC-TV was the first major-market station in the country to have success with a 5 p.m. newscast, adding that program to its Sixth Hour show at 6 p.m. in 1974 and renaming all its local newscasts NewsCenter 4. (Three of NBC's other owned-and-operated stations, in Chicagomarker, Washington, D.C.marker, and Los Angelesmarker, also adopted the NewsCenter name.) The moniker remained until October 1980, when they were renamed News 4 New York. Shortly before then the 5 p.m. time slot was renamed Live at Five, and the hour was reformatted from a straight news program into a mix of news and celebrity interviews. Live at Five eventually became the most-successful local program in New York City, a feat that resulted in landing the show's cast on the cover of New York magazine.

For most of the time from 1980 to 1990, it used various themes written by Jim McAllister. His theme for News 4 New York was based on a synthesized version of the NBC chimes, with a graphics package featuring a lightning bolt striking its logo from 1980 to 1990, a fancy die-cut "4". In 1992, the station began calling itself 4 New York and the campaign song, written by Edd Kalehoff, was quickly adopted as the theme for the newscast. The theme was briefly brought back after the September 11, 2001, attacks. In 1995, after the station rebranded itself as NBC 4 and its newscasts as Newschannel 4, Kalehoff wrote a new theme called "NBC Stations" featuring the NBC chimes, the chime sequence is the musical notes G-E-C. It remained in use for eight years, along with a graphics package using a simple red line for the lower thirds. While very popular, it made the station look somewhat dated at the turn of the century.

The 2003 graphics package was created by Emmy Award-winner Randy Pyburn of Pyburn Films. Pyburn has produced several promotions for the station and the now-defunct Jane's New York specials hosted by former WNBC reporter Jane Hanson. The graphics package was also used on other NBC stations. The music was written by Rampage Music and featured a brassy version of the NBC chimes, and lower thirds featured a shimmering peacock. In March 2008, the 4 New York branding was revived, and in November 2008, the Pyburn graphics and previous theme was dropped. The new theme music as of November 2008 was composed by Frank Gari (who also composed the theme music used by WABC-TVmarker and WCBS-TVmarker) and the new graphics follow an orange and blue motif.

Many WNBC personalities have appeared, and have also moved up to the NBC network, including: Marv Albert, Len Berman, Chris Cimino, Maurice DuBois, Tony Guida, Jim Hartz, Janice Huff, Matt Lauer, Al Roker, Scarborough and Tom Snyder. In the past, Albert, Berman, DuBois, Guida, Roker, Lauer, Scarborough and Snyder have worked on channel 4 and at the NBC network at the same time. Huff and Cimino currently do both.

One popular monthly feature is Berman's "Spanning the World", a reel of odd and interesting sports highlights from the past month, including a recorded introduction and closing by legendary NBC staff announcer Don Pardo. This segment also airs on NBC's Today on a monthly basis.

When Simmons joined the station in early 1980, she was paired with Scarborough on both the 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. newscasts. However, for most of the time until 2005, WNBC-TV's weeknight anchor rotation had Simmons and another male anchor (including Jack Cafferty, Lauer, and briefly Scarborough) at 5 p.m.; Scarborough and various anchors (John Hambrick, Pat Harper, and Michele Marsh among them) at 6 p.m.; and Scarborough and Simmons together at 11 p.m.. That changed in 2005 as Live at Five anchor Jim Rosenfield jumped back to WCBS-TV, where he had once been the noon and 5 p.m. anchor and took on the role as lead anchor for their 5 p.m. and 11 p.m. newscasts. Former reporter Perri Peltz returned to WNBC to co-anchor Live at Five with Simmons, making New York City one of the few large markets with two female anchors on an evening newscast. The move harkened back to three decades earlier, when the station paired Pia Lindström with Melba Tolliver on its 5 p.m. news hour, creating one of the first all-female anchor teams on a major-market American television station.

Although a notable event, it was short-lived as Simmons and Peltz were both displaced from Live at Five because of changes in the station's early evening news line-up that went into effect on March 12, 2007: David Ushery and Lynda Baquero became co-anchors of a truncated, thirty-minute-long Live at Five broadcast, followed by Peltz with a thirty-minute, soft-news program, News 4 You. Simmons was moved to co-anchor at 6 p.m. with Scarborough.

On September 13, 2006, WNBC-TV became the first New York City television station to broadcast its newscasts in high definition.

In early May 2007, WNBC brought back its popular campaign song "We're 4 New York", composed by Kalehoff, after nearly six years off air (after the September 11, 2001, attacks). In early Autumn 2007, this brought additional changes to WNBC's early-evening lineup. On September 10, the station moved the newsmagazine series Extra to 5 p.m., and cancelled Live at Five. News 4 You remained at 5:30 p.m., but was replaced on October 15 with a traditional newscast, anchored by Simmons and Michael Gargiulo. The 6 p.m. newscast is now anchored by Ushery and Baquero, and New York Nightly News, a new half-hour newscast with Scarborough as sole anchor, debuted at 7 p.m.. Unfortunately, these changes didn't result to an increase in WNBC's ratings in the November 2007 sweeps period. The most shocking of WNBC's ratings decrease is their 11 p.m. newscast as it fell to third place, behind WCBS and WABC. WNBC altered their 5 p.m.-6:00 p.m. hour on January 2, 2008, swapping the half-hour news at 5:30 with Extra. On March 9, 2009, with the launch of New York Nonstop on digital subchannel 4.2, New York Nightly News was moved to the subchannel and expanded to one hour, while Extra was moved back to 7 p.m. and the 5 p.m.-6 p.m. hour returned to a full hour of news. Still, WNBC's ratings have struggled: In the March 2009 sweeps period, its newscasts were a distant third in all time slots except weekday mornings.

On May 7, 2008, NBC Universal announced plans for a major restructuring of WNBC-TV's news department. The centerpiece of the restructuring is the creation of a twenty-four-hour all-news channel, which operates on WNBC's second digital subchannel (4.2). Channel 4's current news operations were revamped and melded into the all-news channel, which serve as a "content center" for the station's various local distribution platforms.

The digital news channel was launched on March 9, 2009. If WNBC is successful, NBC Universal will use this model as a template for a possible future expansion to its other television stations.

In the fall of 2008, WNBC started beta-testing a new website which is apparently poised to be one of the major platforms for their content center.

On November 17, 2008, WNBC moved its news studio from Studio 6B to 7E, along with a new set design. This move comes after months of planning of the new content newsroom with its twenty-four-hour-news digital sub-channel. Studio 6B is now used for Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.

Currently WNBC cooperates with radio station WINSmarker (which is owned by CBS Radio) during its morning newscasts to provide additional coverage of traffic in the New York City area through Shadow Traffic.


On June 16, 2009, WNBC announced that its 5 p.m. newscast would be replaced in September by a one-hour daily lifestyle and entertainment show by LX.TV entitled LX New York. After this change, WNBC will, with only three hours per day of local news, have the shortest airtime devoted to local news of any station owned and operated by a "big 3" network.

On July 30th, 2009, WNBC introduced a new look to their websites. In the fall of 2009, WNBC began sharing its news helicopter with Fox owned-and-operated WNYW (channel 5). The SkyFox HD helicopter operated by WNYW on-air is now called "Chopper 4", when used by WNBC.




  • Lynda Baquero
  • Lynn Berry
  • Greg Cergol — Long Islandmarker reporter
  • Pei-Sze Cheng
  • Roseanne Colletti — consumer-affairs reporter
  • Jonathan Dienst — investigative reporter
  • Cat Greenleaf
  • Tom Llamas
  • Megan Meany — fashion/style reporter
  • Tim Minton — investigative reporter


  • John Marshall — weekend evenings
  • Raphael Miranda — weekend mornings


  • Scott Stanford


  • Megan Meany — main traffic reporter
  • Adrienne Watson

  • Tom Zweier

  • Jamie Shupak

Chopper 4

  • Kai Simonsen — reporter

  • Chris Cristi — photojournalist

Notable alumni

News/Station presentation

Newscast titles

  • The Sunoco Newscast with Lowell Thomas (1940-41; simulcast with the NBC Blue radio network)
  • The News of World War II (1941–1944)
  • The Camel News Caravan (1944–1951)
  • The News with John McCaffrey (1951–1956)
  • The Shell Oil News (1956–1960)
  • Gabe Pressman and the New York Area News (1960–1963)

  • The (Gabe) Pressman-(Bill) Ryan Report (1963–1966)
  • The Sixth Hour News (1966–1974, 6 p.m. newscast)
  • The Eleventh Hour News (1966–1974, 11 p.m. newscast)
  • NewsCenter 4 (1974–1980)
  • News 4 New York (1980–1995; 2008–present)
  • NewsChannel 4 (1995–2008; used with NewsChannel 4 HD branding from 2006–2008)

Station slogans

  • We're 4 (1975-1979)
  • Channel 4, Proud as a Peacock! (1979-1981; local version of NBC network advertising campaign)
  • Channel 4, Our Pride is Showing (1981-1982; local version of NBC network advertising campaign)
  • We're Channel 4, Just Watch Us Now (1982-1983; local version of NBC network advertising campaign)
  • Channel 4 There, Be There/News 4 New York, Be There (1983-1984; local version of NBC network advertising campaign)
  • Channel 4, Let's All Be There (1984-1986; local version of NBC network advertising campaign)

  • Come Home To Channel 4 (1986-1987; local version of NBC network advertising campaign)
  • Come on Home To Channel 4 (1987-1988; local version of NBC network advertising campaign)
  • Come Home To The Best, Only on Channel 4 (1988-1990; local version of NBC network advertising campaign)
  • Channel 4's the Number One Place to Be (1990-1992; local version of NBC network advertising campaign)
  • We're 4 New York (1992-1995 and 2007/2008-present)
  • The Tri-State News Channel (1995-2003)

See also


  2. NBC History - About Us News Story - WNBC | New York
  7. CDBS Print
  9. "WNBC(TV) analog nightlight shutdown - the final 2 minutes", archived video at YouTube, Retrieved 23 October 2009.

External links

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