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|Broadcast area||Tri-State (NY-NJ-CT)(AM)|
|First air date||1922|
Satellite Radio Station
|Callsign meaning||Bloomberg Business Radio|
(Bloomberg Communications Inc.)
WBBR is a radio station broadcasting at 1130 AM in New York City. It airs Bloomberg Radio, a service of Bloomberg L.P. WBBR's format is general and financial news, offering local, national and international news reports along with financial market updates and interviews with corporate executives, economists and industry analysts.
The station's origins go back to 1922 as WAAM and 1925 as WODA. The station was acquired in 1934 by businessmen Milton Biow and Arde Bulova, who changed the call letters to WNEW, for "the NEWest thing in radio".:2 A radio institution throughout the majority of the 20th century, WNEW is known for its music selection as well as its staff of radio personalities including Martin Block, Dee Finch, Gene Rayburn, Gene Klaven and William B. Williams. WNEW is credited with pioneering the role of the disc jockey, as well as for developing the modern morning radio show format and debuting the first all-night radio show. In addition to its music and entertainment programming, WNEW featured an award-winning news desk and became "the voice of New York sports" for its coverage of New York Giants football games.
After years of declining ratings and management changes in the 1980s, WNEW was purchased by Bloomberg L.P. in 1992 and changed to WBBR. The first WBBR station (WBBR 1330) was created in 1924 and was owned by the Jehovah's Witnesses.
The original Bloomberg Radio news format divided each hour of the day into six 10-minutes segments, each of which contained financial market updates, business headlines, traffic, weather, sports, a human interest piece or a general updates about cultural happenings. However, by 2010, Bloomberg Radio had shifted from a headline service to a discussion-based format in order to offer more in-depth market and economic analysis. Each day, the station broadcasts more than 20 live interviews with economists, market analysts, authors and politicians on shows such as Bloomberg Surveillance with Tom Keene and Ken Prewitt which airs weekday mornings from 7 a.m to 10 a.m.
In addition to its business programming, WBBR has radio broadcast rights to several of the national Sunday morning news programs such as Meet the Press, Fox News Sunday, and This Week and airs each of them twice on Sundays.
WBBR serves as an overflow station for WFAN and airs games from New York and New Jersey teams, mainly the New Jersey Devils and Brooklyn Nets, when there are scheduling overlaps. WBBR is also the flagship station for the Notre Dame football-ISP Sports Radio Network and carries St. John's basketball games. It provides Westwood One's coverage of the annual Masters Tournament.
An audio simulcast of selected Bloomberg Radio programming is available from satellite radio providers XM Radio and Sirius Radio. Additionally, most programming is carried by Dial Global Networks and syndicated by United Stations Radio Networks to local radio stations across the country; it is one of three stations (KPIG in Freedom, California and 660, The Fan in New York City being the other two) that are broadcast in this manner. Bloomberg Radio is also streamed live on Bloomberg.com.
WNEW was acquired in 1934 by advertising executive Milton Biow and watch manufacturer Arde Bulova after the Amalgamated Broadcasting System failed and began selling off its radio stations. New York socialite Bernice Judis was hired as WNEW's first General Manager.:2
As a small, independent radio station, WNEW lacked the funds larger networks Columbia Broadcasting System, Mutual Broadcasting System, and the National Broadcasting Company used to produce daily programming common for that time such as comedy shows, soap operas and dramatic programs. However, Judis was not discouraged, and even welcomed the opportunity to develop her own schedule of innovative programming that included playing recordings of popular music throughout the day, creating the first all-night radio show, Milkman's Matinee, and cultivating a line-up of popular morning radio show personalities.:5
In 1935, WNEW pioneered the concept of a disc jockey when staff announcer Martin Block needed to fill time between new bulletins during his coverage of the Lindbergh kidnapping trial of Bruno Hauptmann. Block did not have access to a live orchestra to play music during the breaks as most network stations did, so he played records instead. Soon afterward, he piloted a 15-minute experimental show called the Make Believe Ballroom, during which he played records from popular bands and singers, posed as a live performance in an imaginary ballroom. During Block's tenure as host of Make Believe Ballroom, the show attracted 25% of the listening audience in New York City. The show continued in sporadic runs until the station's end in 1992.:8
In 1936, as the popularity of recorded music grew, WNEW was the defendant in a lawsuit initiated by bandleaders Paul Whiteman, Sammy Kaye and Fred Waring claiming that the playing of records on radio broadcasts was undermining performers' network contracts, which often called for exclusive services. The court ruled that WNEW, after purchasing each record, was allowed to broadcast it regardless of the resistance from artists. WNEW's victory subsequently authorized radio stations across the country to start playing recorded music and brought about the modern radio programming landscape.:13
In 1942, Judis set up a broadcast desk at the New York Daily News and WNEW became one of the first stations to carry hourly newscasts, something that would become commonplace in the industry over the next fifteen years.:22 The station ended its association with the Daily News in 1958 and went on to build its own news department with 13 reports and writers.
Through the 1950s and 1960s, WNEW's programming was largely based on a low-key, personality-driven format, with a line-up of deejays whose approach to radio evolved into what today might be termed "shock jock radio". Dee Finch teamed up with Gene Rayburn, and later Gene Klavan, on a long-running morning show, Anything Goes, that often playfully mocked its own advertisers, who in turn were still eager to have their products touted on the popular show.
During this time, pop music was dividing between rock and roll and popular standards. Some stations moved to a predominantly rock and roll format and became known as "Top 40" station, where the most popular songs were played frequently, while others played popular standards with (later) some softer rock and roll sounds, earning the name "Middle of the Road" (MOR) stations. At WNEW, deejays Ted Brown, Al Collins and William B. Williams helped define the MOR musical character of WNEW, lending their own "professionalism and elegance" to popular standards programming that included Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Pat Boone, eventually softer songs by artists like Elvis Presley and The Beatles, Wayne Newton, Dean Martin, Johnny Mathis, and an occasional big band song from the 1930's and 1940s.
The independent news desk at WNEW flourished in the late 1950s and early 1960s and was considered the most elaborate news operation at an independent radio station during that time. WNEW sent reporters around the world to places like Cuba to interview Fidel Castro and to Africa to interview medical missionary Albert Schweitzer. In 1960, the station won a Peabody Award and an Associated Press Award for the best regularly scheduled news program in New York.:40 Aerospace author Martin Caiden anchored live broadcasts for WNEW of early American space launchings in the 1960's, actually traveling to Cape Canaveral to report on-site.
Long-time General Manager Bernice Judis left WNEW in 1959 and was replaced by John Van Buren Sullivan, who is best known for starting the station's affiliation with the New York Giants football team in 1960. Since home games were blacked out on television, as much as 60% of the New York radio audience relied on WNEW for play-by-play game coverage. WNEW broadcast Giants games, and later, Mets, Rangers and Knicks games, as "the voice of New York sports" for more than 30 years, until it was sold to Bloomberg L.P. in 1992.:43
The 1960s and 1970s marked a period of programmatic confusion for WNEW as listeners' musical tastes continued to evolve and the station struggled to maintain an adult pop standards audience that was being replaced by an expanding youth market. In an effort to attract young listeners, WNEW began to air Top 40 hits, despite resistance from established deejays like Williams who helped build WNEW's pop standards tradition. In the early 1970s, WNEW shifted its programming again and evolved into an adult contemporary format. The station also cut back on music during morning and afternoon drive times and shortened programs like Milkman's Matinee, which as renamed The Nightmare Show.:54
WNEW remained an adult contemporary station throughout the 1970's, while the station opted to return to its roots as a pop standards station in 1976, reinstating Milkman's Matinee on overnights. In October of 1979, Make Believe Ballroom was reinstated on middays. In 1980, WNEW began mixing more standards into their adult contemporary format, which was gone completely by early 1981.:56
By 1981, WNEW focused on Album Cuts by Big Bands and Standards Artists. The morning show focused on more hit based easy listening standards with some big bands mixed in. Middays focused on music from the 1930's and 1940's playing a mix of big bands and crooners. Afternoons focused on a mix of deep cuts by vocalists along with some big bands. Late nights emphasised traditional jazz. WNEW continued this focus through the 1980's. On overnights, WNEW launched a Jazz show blending traditional, modern, and smooth Jazz in 1986.
In 1988, WNEW went through a major ownership change, as their owners, Metromedia, sold half interest in the stations to Westwood One for $22 million. Even with new additions to programming such as Larry King's radio show, the station's ratings continued to decline and Westwood One was forced to cut costs and downsize staff in an effort to attract potential buyers. By 1988, WNEW began to focus on bigger hits by standards artists. While still playing big bands, the music focused more on 50's easy listening artists. In 1990, WNEW began mixing in soft hits by baby boomer pop artists like Elvis Presley, Neil Diamond, Beatles, Righteous Brothers, Barry Manilow, among others. Late in 1991, WNEW backed off this type of music and focused again on traditional standards artists. WNEW continued cutting staff and local news in order to attempt to remain profitable.
WNEW was put up for sale in 1991, and Bloomberg L.P. purchased the station for $13.5 million shortly after.. In the period before the format change, the airstaff was given an opportunity to say goodbye, culminating on December 10 and December 11, 1992, when the station had one big farewell show. During this farewell show, the airstaff reflected and talked very deeply about the loss of WNEW. The show would end at about a quarter after 8 p.m. on the 11th, as Mark Simone signed off for the last time with the entire current and many living former airstaffers at his side. WNEW joined NBC Talknet in progress followed by Larry King as usual.
Then after Larry King, beginning at 2 a.m. Saturday morning and throughout that day WNEW would simulcast WYNY, and would continue for the next three days. The station broke away for Giants' Football, Talknet, and Larry King. On December 15, the sale of WNEW to Bloomberg became final, and the station continued simulcasting WYNY until 4 p.m. Then, after airing the Perry Como Christmas Special, shows from Talk Net, and the first hour of Larry King (cutting it off a few minutes before midnight), the station would sign off forever at 11:59 p.m. As the station signed off, they abruptly ended Larry King and the pre-recorded voice of Director of Engineering Alan Kirschner went on and stated "At this time 1130 WNEW New York will leave the air forever...Thanks for your support over the years...This is WNEW, New York". At the transmitter site, engineer Rene Tetro then turned off the transmitter for two minutes, changing the program feed during that period to the new feed from the Bloomberg offices. The station signed back on the air at 12:01 a.m. with the callsign WBBR. The station would then simulcast WQEW, which was a standards station that had just signed on some two weeks earlier. The simulcast would continue until January 4, 1993, when WBBR's business news format debuted.
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