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City of license New York City
Broadcast area New York City metropolitan area
Branding WNYC 93.9 FM/820 AM
Frequency WNYC: 820 kHz
WNYC-FM: 93.9 MHz
(also on HD Radio)
93.9-2 FM: WQXR-FM simulcast
93.9-3 FM: WNYC (AM) simulcast
First air date WNYC: July 8, 1924
WNYC-FM: March 13, 1943
Format Public Radio
Power WNYC: 10,000 watts (day)
1,000 watts (night)
ERP WNYC-FM: 5,200 watts
HAAT WNYC-FM: 415 meters (1,362 ft)
Class WNYC: B
Facility ID WNYC: 73357
WNYC-FM: 73355
Transmitter coordinates

WNYC: 40°45′10.00″N 74°06′15.00″W / 40.7527778°N 74.1041667°W / 40.7527778; -74.1041667
WNYC-FM: 40°44′55″N 73°59′08″W / 40.74861°N 73.98558°W / 40.74861; -73.98558

Callsign meaning W New York City
Affiliations NPR
Owner New York Public Radio
Sister stations

WQXR-FM, New Jersey Public Radio, WQXW

webcast = WNYC-FM Webstream

WNYC is a set of call letters shared by a pair of co-owned, non-profit, public radio stations located in New York City.

WNYC (AM) broadcasts on the AM band at 820 kHz, and WNYC-FM is at 93.9 MHz. Both stations are members of NPR and carry distinct, but similar news/talk programs. The stations are known for their nationally syndicated news and culture programming and Internet radio broadcasts. WNYC reaches more than one million listeners each week and has the largest public radio audience in the United States.

The WNYC stations are co-owned with Newark, New Jersey-licensed classical music outlet WQXR-FM (105.9 MHz), and all three broadcast from studios and offices in the TriBeCa section of Manhattan. WNYC's AM transmitter is located in Kearny, New Jersey,[1] and WNYC-FM's transmitter is located on the Empire State Building in New York City.[2]

WNYC also owns and operates New Jersey Public Radio, a group of four northern New Jersey noncommercial FM stations acquired by WNYC from the New Jersey Public Broadcasting Authority on July 1, 2011.


Early years

WNYC is one of the oldest radio stations in the United States. Funds for the establishment of the station were approved on June 2, 1922 by the New York City Board of Estimate and Apportionment. WNYC made its first official broadcast two years later on July 8, 1924, at 570 AM with a second-hand transmitter shipped from Brazil. With the commencement of WNYC's operations, the City of New York became one of the first American municipalities to be directly involved in broadcasting.

In 1928 WNYC was forced into a time-sharing arrangement on 570 AM with WMCA, another pioneering New York radio outlet. This situation lasted until 1931, when the Federal Radio Commission (a forerunner to today's FCC) moved WNYC to 810 AM. The frequency move did not help WNYC from an operational standpoint as it now shared its frequency with the more-powerful WCCO in Minneapolis, over 1,200 miles to the west. WNYC was now limited to daytime-only operations, broadcasting from sunrise to sunset.

Great Depression and World War II

WNYC's transmitter was moved in 1937 from the top of the Municipal Building to City-owned land at 10 Kent Street in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, as part of a Works Progress Administration project. In 1938 the Municipal Broadcasting System was established by the City of New York to run the station. For its first 14 years, WNYC 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 new director Morris S. Novik, appointed by Mayor LaGuardia, WNYC became a model public broadcaster. Among its many landmark programs was the annual American Music Festival.

In 1941 the North American Radio Broadcasting Agreement shifted WNYC's dial position a second time, to 830 kHz. WCCO was moved to 830 as well, and was given clear-channel authority. WNYC would remain a 1,000-watt, daytime-only outlet for the next 48 years (it actually broadcast until 11:00 pm, which was 10:00 pm in Minneapolis, for many of those years). Later that year, on December 7, WNYC was the first radio station in the United States to announce the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

WNYC began regularly scheduled broadcasts on the FM band March 13, 1943 at 43.9 megacycles. Known originally as W39NY, the FM outlet adopted its present WNYC-FM identity and its present frequency of 93.9 MHz within a few years. In 1961 the pair were joined by a television operation, as WUHF (channel 31) took the air in an experimental format. The following year the station was renamed WNYC-TV.

The Municipal Broadcasting System (which was renamed the WNYC Communications Group in 1989) helped to form National Public Radio in 1971, and the WNYC stations were among the 90 stations that carried the inaugural broadcast of All Things Considered later that year.

In 1990 WNYC (AM) moved from 830 kHz to 820 kHz, commenced around-the-clock operations, and increased its daytime power to 10,000 watts while maintaining 1,000 watts at night, to protect [2]

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, then-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.

Independence from the City

Shortly after assuming the mayoralty in 1994, Rudolph W. Giuliani announced he was considering selling the WNYC stations. Giuliani believed that broadcasting was no longer essential as a municipal entity, and that any financial compensation would be used to help the City cover budget shortfalls.[3] The final decision was made in March 1995: While the City opted to divest WNYC-TV (now WPXN-TV) through a blind auction, WNYC-AM-FM was sold to the WNYC Foundation for $20 million over a six-year period–far less than what the stations could have been sold for if they were placed on the open market. [4] While this potential sale put an end to the occasional political intrusions of the past, it required the WNYC Foundation to embark on a major appeal towards listeners, other foundations, and private benefactors. The station's audience and budget have since continued to grow since the split from the City.

The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 destroyed WNYC-FM's transmitter atop the World Trade Center. The station's studios, in the nearby Municipal Building, had to be evacuated and station staff was unable to return to its 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

On June 16, 2008 WNYC moved from its 51,400 square feet (4,780 m2) of rent-free space scattered on eight floors of the Manhattan Municipal Building to a new location on Varick Street, near the Holland Tunnel. The station now occupies two and a half floors of a 12-story former printing building.

The new offices have 12-foot (4 m) ceilings and 71,900 square feet (6,680 m2) 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.[5]

Acquisition of WQXR

On October 8, 2009 WNYC took control of classical music station WQXR-FM. WQXR's intellectual property (call letters and format) was acquired from the New York Times Company as part of a three-way transaction with Univision Radio.[6] WNYC also purchased the 105.9 FM frequency of Univision's WCAA (now WXNY-FM), and moved WQXR-FM there. The deal resulted in WQXR becoming a non-commercial educational station, and WNYC-FM dropped its remaining classical music programming to become a full-time news/talk station.

New Jersey expansion

On June 6, 2011, the New Jersey Public Broadcasting Authority agreed to sell four FM stations in northern New Jersey to New York Public Radio. The transaction was announced by Governor Chris Christie, as part of his long-term goal to end State-subsidized public broadcasting. The four stations were previously the northern half of New Jersey Network's statewide radio service. Upon taking control of the four stations on July 1, 2011, they were rebranded as New Jersey Public Radio.[7]

Past personalities

Past WNYC radio personalities include H. V. Kaltenborn, who 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 Manhattan Municipal Building, where its studios were located. Legend has it, a listener began lending 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, New York mayor Fiorello H. La Guardia made use of the station every Sunday in his Talk to the People program.

Margaret Juntwait, an announcer and classical music host at WNYC for 15 years who left for the Metropolitan Opera in September 2006, 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.


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 that include 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-FM offers a diverse format of NPR news and cultural programs, while WNYC-AM focuses mostly on news programming.

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.[8]

WNYC broadcasts the major daily news programs produced by NPR, 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.

Locally-produced programs include:

  • Big Band Sounds - music from the 1920s to the 1950s
  • 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
  • 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
  • Radiolab - 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[9]

Listenership and new media

Combined, the WNYC stations and WQXR-FM is the most-listened-to commercial or non-commercial radio station in the borough of Manhattan. It ranks 13th citywide, however, in competition with salsa, hip hop and WLTW, according to the radio ratings service Arbitron. WNYC had 99,378 paying members in 2006, up from 78,866 in 2001. With more 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.

See also


External links

  • WNYC website
  • Query the FCC's AM station database for WNYC
  • Radio-Locator Information on WNYC
  • Query Nielsen Audio's AM station database for WNYC
  • Query the FCC's FM station database for WNYC
  • Radio-Locator information on WNYC
  • Query Nielsen Audio's FM station database for WNYC
  • WNYC Flickr photo page
  • Short WNYC News Historical Profile (1978)
  • listing of all public radio station including WNYC
  • WNYC (New York Public Radio) Broadcast Schedule
  • WNYC 80th Anniversary Timeline (2004)
  • WNYC Archives and Preservation Landing Page
  • Porter Anderson announces Challenge Grant for WQXR's Q2 Music
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