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WNYC (93.9 FM and AM 820) is a public radio station and formerly a city owned television station (now WPXN-TVmarker) in New York Citymarker, New Yorkmarker. Broadcasting from lower Manhattan, it is a member station of National Public Radio and carries a mixed news and varied music format on two radio frequencies. The station is known for its nationally-syndicated news and culture programming and its Internet radio broadcasts. WNYC reaches more than one million listeners each week and has the largest public radio audience in the United States. Its AM transmitter is located in Kearny, New Jerseymarker; its FM transmitter is located in New York City.


WNYC produces 100 hours a week of its own programming, including nationally-syndicated shows like Studio 360, On the Media and Radiolab, as well as local news and interview shows like The Leonard Lopate Show, Soundcheck and The Brian Lehrer Show. The entire schedule is streamed live over the internet (and several shows also air over XM Satellite Radio); as a result the station receives listener calls from far-flung states and even has international listeners.

WNYC has a local news team of 18 journalists.

Studio 360 is a weekly one-hour program about arts and culture hosted by Kurt Andersen, the former editor of Spy Magazine. Taking current issues and trends as jumping-off points, the show explores a broad range of cultural ideas. Each program begins with a topical section of stories about the arts and culture from around the United States and around the world.

On the Media is a weekly nationally-syndicated one-hour program hosted by Brooke Gladstone and Bob Garfield of Advertising Age covering the media and its effect on American culture and society. Many stories investigate how events of the past week were covered by the press. Stories also regularly cover such topics as video news releases, net neutrality, media consolidation, censorship, freedom of the press, spin, and how the media is changing with technology.

The Brian Lehrer Show is a two-hour weekday talk show covering local and national current events and social issues hosted by Brian Lehrer, a former anchor and reporter for NBC Radio Network.

The Leonard Lopate Show is a two-hour weekday talk show hosted by Leonard Lopate, a painter who studied with Ad Reinhardt and Mark Rothko and the brother of writer Phillip Lopate. The show covers a broad range of topics including jazz and gospel music, literature, science and history.

Soundcheck is a one-hour weekday talk show hosted by John Schaefer about music and the arts. The show features interviews with musicians, critics, journalists, authors and others. It also features live musical performances in mix of genres, including indie rock, jazz, classical, and world music. The show also airs on XM Satellite Radio Channel 133.

WNYC broadcasts the major daily news programs produced by National Public Radio, including Morning Edition and All Things Considered, as well as the BBC World Service and selected programs from Public Radio International like This American Life and A Prairie Home Companion.

The station airs many long-running cultural and music programs, including Folksong Festival on Saturday nights that has survived battles with mayors and blacklists. Hosted by Oscar Brand, who debuted the show on December 10, 1945, and who was blacklisted in the McCarthy era, the show was one of the first radio programs in the United States to focus on issues of homosexuality and continues to shake up audiences with anti-American Revolution programs, "bad daddy" shows for Father's Day, "Evil Mothers" for Mother's Day, and more.

In 2006 the station began wnyc2 (lower case letters), an all-classical music channel broadcast on HD Radio and on the Internet. Their slogan is, "Five hundred years of new music", and most of their playlist comes from the late twentieth and twenty first centuries. The station's AM and FM channels carry primarily news and information programming on weekdays but maintain different broadcast schedules. The FM signal broadcasts musical programming after 7 p.m. It eliminated much of its weekday classical music programming in 2001,following the advice of consultants and the example of many other public radio stations such as Philadelphia's WHYY.

Locally-produced programs include:

  • Big Band Sounds - music from the 1920s to the 1950s
  • Concerts from the Frick Collection - New York debuts of nationally and internationally acclaimed classical musicians in partnership with the Frick Collectionmarker
  • Evening Music with David Garland - draws from the full history of classical music, sometimes emphasizing a particular composer, instrument, or compositional approach
  • Folksong Festival - devoted to the traditional and contemporary folksong
  • The Infinite Mind - examines scientific, existential, and social issues concerning the human mind with brain researcher Dr. Fred Goodwin
  • Jonathan Schwartz - American Popular Standards, classical music, rock, and jazz
  • Mad About Music - explores the emotional power of music on the lives of celebrities through interviews and hand-picked recordings
  • New Sounds - guest musicians from David Byrne to Meredith Monk to Ravi Shankar, presents performances and premieres new works from the classic and operatic to folk and jazz
  • The No Show - features music, satire, news commentary and comedy with Steve Post
  • Radio Lab - each episode is a patchwork of people, sounds, stories and experiences centered around one idea
  • Radio Rookies - Radio Rookies provides teenagers with the tools and training to create radio stories about themselves, their communities and their world.
  • Selected Shorts - actors read contemporary and classic short fiction, ranging from Chekhov, Maupassant, Malamud, and Singer, to Jhumpa Lahiri and Jonathan Franzen
  • Soundcheck - daily talk show about music covering all musical genres, the show focuses on the musical passions of performers, composers, and critics as well as the public radio audience
  • Spinning On Air - specializes in unusual, uncategorizeable music, with an emphasis on in-studio performances
  • The Takeaway - a weekday morning show co-produced with Public Radio International

Listenership and New Media

WNYC, comprising WNYC 93.9 FM, WNYC AM 820 and WNYC2, is the most-listened to commercial or non-commercial radio station in Manhattanmarker. It ranks 13th citywide, however, in competition with salsa, hip-hop and light FM, according to the radio ratings service Arbitron. WNYC had 99,378 paying members in 2006, up from 78,866 in 2001. With more than than one million unique listeners each week, WNYC has the largest audience of any public radio station in the United States. In 2005, the station won an award for recording the highest audience growth among non-commercial stations in the previous five years.

WNYC has been an early adopter of new technologies including HD radio, live audio streaming, and podcasting. RSS feeds and email newsletters link to archived audio of individual program segments. wnyc2 is a classical station that is delivered only via Internet and HD radio, 24 hours a day. WNYC also makes some of its programming available on satellite radio.


Funds for the establishment of WNYC were approved on June 2, 1922 by the New York City Board of Estimate and Apportionment. The AM station made its first official broadcast two years later on July 8, 1924. WNYC is one of the oldest radio stations in the United Statesmarker. It first began broadcasting on 570 AM with a second-hand transmitter shipped from Brazilmarker. The FM station began regularly scheduled broadcasts on March 13, 1943 at 93.9 FM. The call letters at the time were W39NY. In 1989 WNYC AM switched from 830 on the dial at 1,000 watts to 820 with 10,000 watts during daylight hours and 1,000 at night[44489].The AM transmitter and two towers on Kent Street in Brooklyn ceased operation, moving to Belleville Turnpike in Kearny, New Jersey sharing space on three towers of WMCA-570. WNYC AM&FM stations were established and owned by the City of New York until 1997, when they were bought by private citizens through the independent WNYC Foundation to continue the public radio mission of the stations.

WNYC radio personalities include Margaret Juntwait, an announcer and classical music host at WNYC for 15 years who left for the Metropolitan Opera in September 2006. She is now the announcer for the Met's Saturday Afternoon Radio Broadcasts and is only the third regular announcer of the long-standing broadcast series launched in 1931, and is also the first woman to hold the position. John Schaefer, a music show host at WNYC for 20 years, has written liner notes for more than 100 albums, for everyone from Yo-Yo Ma to Terry Riley and was named a "New York influential" by New York Magazine.

Early years

WNYC's history has been pioneering. H. V. Kaltenborn hosted radio's first quiz program on WNYC in 1926, The Brooklyn Daily Eagle's "Current Events Bee", a forerunner to shows like National Public Radio's Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me! In its early years the station lacked funds for a record library and would borrow albums from record stores around the Municipal Buildingmarker, where its studios were located. Legend has it, a listener began loaning classical records to the station and in 1929, WNYC began broadcast of Masterwork Hour, radio's first program of recorded classical music. Following the U.S. entry into World War II, Mayor Fiorello H. La Guardia made use of the station every Sunday in his Talk to the People program.

Great Depression and World War II

The station's transmitter was moved in 1937 as part of a WPA project and the next year the Municipal Broadcasting System was created. Up to this point, the station had been run by the New York City Commissioner for Bridges, Plant and Structures. Now, under an agency devoted singularly to its function and with the leadership of a new Director appointed by Mayor La Guardia, Morris S. Novik, WNYC became a model public broadcaster. Among its many landmark programs was the annual American Music Festival. On December 7, 1941 WNYC was the first radio station in the United States to announce the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbormarker.

Independence from the City

The previous logo of WNYC
The station's ownership by the city meant that it was occasionally subject to the whims of various mayors. As part of a crackdown on prostitution in 1979, Mayor Ed Koch tried to use WNYC to broadcast the names of "johns" arrested for soliciting. Announcers threatened a walkout and station management refused to comply with the idea; after one broadcast the idea was abandoned. See John Hour.

In 1995, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani split WNYC from its sister television station, and a risk arose that the radio stations would be sold off to corporate interests. In 1997 the station was saved by its sale to the nonprofit WNYC Foundation. This put an end to the occasional political intrusions of the past. The station's listenership and budget have continued to grow rapidly in recent years.

September 11, 2001

The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 destroyed WNYC's FM transmitter atop the World Trade Centermarker. The station's studios, in the nearby Municipal Building, had to be evacuated and station staff could not return to their offices for three weeks. The FM signal was knocked off the air for a time. WNYC temporarily moved its offices to the studios at National Public Radio's New York bureau in midtown Manhattan, where it broadcast on its still operating AM signal transmitting from towers in Kearny, New Jersey and by a live Internet stream. The station eventually returned to the Municipal Building.

Move To New Studios and the WQXR Acquisition

On June 16, 2008 WNYC moved from its of rent-free space scattered on eight floors of the Manhattan Municipal Buildingmarker to a new location at 160 Varick Street (aka 10 Hudson Square) near the Holland Tunnelmarker. The station now occupies two and a half floors of a 12-story former printing building.

The new offices have ceilings and of space. The number of recording studios and booths has doubled, to 31. There is a new 140-seat, street-level studio for live broadcasts, concerts and public forums and an expansion of the newsroom for a capacity of up to 40 journalists. In the Municipal Building, the journalists were not in a centralized newsroom, but scattered over many offices throughout the building.

Renovation, construction, rent and operating costs for the new Varick Street location amounted to $45 million. In addition to raising these funds, WNYC has been raising money for a one-time fund of $12.5 million to cover the cost of creating 40 more hours of new programming and three new shows. The total cost of $57.5 million for both the move and programming is nearly three times the $20 million the station had to raise over seven years to buy its licenses from the City in 1997.

On October 8, 2009, WNYC took control of WQXRmarker, in a deal which saw it exchange dial positions with WCAA, and which saw WQXR become a noncommercial outlet. With WQXR under WNYC control, WNYC-FM dropped its remaining music programming to broadcast news and information programming 24/7.

See also


  1. [1], WNYC's Web site.
  2. An Upstart Up Against a Jewel - New York Times
  3. [2]

External links

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