A Visual History of WQXR

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

WQXR has a long and storied history. Our slideshow illustrates milestones from the eight decades that WQXR has been on the air in New York.

WQXR has been on the air in New York for almost 80 years. During that time, the station has stayed true to its commitment to provide New Yorkers with access to great works of classical music. This slideshow illustrates some of the milestones in WQXR's history.

WQXR was founded by John Hogan. In the late 1920s, he launched a radio station originally called W2XR: the '2' meant that the station was non-commercial and the 'XR' stood for 'Experimmental Radio.'
“Rebel in Radio: The Story of WQXR by Elliott Sanger.”
WQXR was founded by John Hogan. In the late 1920s, he launched a radio station originally called W2XR: the '2' meant that the station was non-commercial and the 'XR' stood for 'Experimental Radio.'
In 1936, Hogan partnered with Elliot Sanger and turned W2XR into WQXR, the first licensed high fidelity station in the U.S. and a commercial venture. Above: an early production booth at 730 Fifth Ave.
WQXR Archive Collections
In 1936, Hogan partnered with Elliot Sanger and turned W2XR into WQXR, the first licensed high fidelity station in the U.S. and a commercial venture. Above: an early production booth at 730 Fifth Ave.
WQXR acquired its first commercial sponsor in May, 1936: Martinson’s Coffee. Other early sponsors included Wanamaker's Department Store, Simon & Schuster, and Random House.
WQXR Archive Collections
WQXR acquired its first commercial sponsor in May, 1936: Martinson’s Coffee. Other early sponsors included Wanamaker's Department Store, Simon & Schuster, and Random House.
In June 1936, WQXR began producing a monthly program guide, sold over the air for 10 cents a copy.
WQXR Archive Collections
In June 1936, WQXR began producing a monthly program guide, sold over the air for 10 cents a copy.
On September 1, 1938, WQXR became the first station in the United States to broadcast taped content on the air. The station broadcast the first act of the opera Carmen.
WQXR Archive Collections
On September 1, 1938, WQXR became the first station in the United States to broadcast taped content on the air. The station broadcast the first act of the opera Carmen.
Co-founders Jack Hogan (Right) and Elliott Sanger listening to the WQXR hi-fidelity radio in 1943. WQXR became the first licensed FM station in New York City in November 1939.
“Rebel in Radio: The Story of WQXR by Elliott Sanger.”
Co-founders Jack Hogan (right) and Elliott Sanger listening to the WQXR hi-fidelity radio in 1943. WQXR became the first licensed FM station in New York City in November 1939.
WQXR was sold to The New York Times for $1 million on January 25, 1944. The New York Post broke the story of the sale the following day. In July, 1946, the Times began broadcasting news on WQXR.
WQXR Archive Collections
WQXR was sold to The New York Times for $1 million on January 25, 1944. The New York Post broke the story of the sale the following day. In July, 1946, the Times began broadcasting news on WQXR.
Many of classical music’s biggest stars came to the WQXR studios throughout the 1940s and '50s, including Jascha Heifetz (right), seen here sitting next to WQXR music director Abram Chasins.
“Rebel in Radio: The Story of WQXR by Elliott Sanger.”
Many of classical music’s biggest stars came to the WQXR studios throughout the 1940s and '50s, including Jascha Heifetz (right), seen here sitting next to WQXR music director Abram Chasins.
The WQXR-FM antenna on the 54-story Chanin Building at 42nd St. and Lexington Ave. went into operation on Dec. 15, 1941. Previously in Long Island City, it moved to the Empire State Building in 1965.
WQXR Archive Collections
The WQXR-FM antenna on the 54-story Chanin Building at 42nd St. and Lexington Ave. went into operation on Dec. 15, 1941. Previously in Long Island City, it moved to the Empire State Building in 1965.
WQXR-FM became the first New York City radio station to broadcast in stereo on September 7, 1961. Pictured is WQXR’s 50,000-watt transmitter at Maspeth, Long Island.
WQXR Archive Collections
WQXR-FM became the first New York City radio station to broadcast in stereo on September 7, 1961. Pictured is WQXR’s 50,000-watt transmitter at Maspeth, Long Island.
In the late 1990s, WQXR partnered with Disney/ABC to broadcast Radio Disney over the airwaves of its AM sister station, WQEW. Disney/ABC bought WQEW outright in 2007.
WQXR Archive Collections
In the late 1990s, WQXR partnered with Disney/ABC to broadcast Radio Disney over the airwaves of its AM sister station, WQEW. Disney/ABC bought WQEW outright in 2007.
WQXR moved out of The New York Times Building - its home since 1950 - to 122 Fifth Avenue in June 1989.
WQXR Archive Collections
WQXR moved out of The New York Times Building - its home since 1950 - to 122 Fifth Avenue in June 1989.
The New York Times announced the sale of WQXR in a deal with Univision and WNYC on July 14, 2009. On September 8, the FCC approved WNYC's application to operate WQXR at 105.9.
WNYC/flickr
The New York Times announced the sale of WQXR in a deal with Univision and WNYC on July 14, 2009. On September 8, the FCC approved WNYC's application to operate WQXR at 105.9.

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Comments [10]

Thomas smith from Washington State

I started listening to WQXR in 1962 shortly after I moved to NYC. During my first year in NYC I called the station and was given a personal tour by the night manager. He was a Black guy. I was positively impressed that my favorite radio station had a Black guy on its staff.

My favorite on air host was George Edwards. He was great. I recall listening to Symphony Hall, which exposed me to a lot of longer classical works. I came from a small town in North Carolina and almost no one in the town had any interest in classical music.

It would be good if someone wrote a history of the station. A history that included information the various hosts. It would be good if the website contained history of the station. History that should include information on the hosts and the shows of past years.

In the early 1970s, before I left NYC, I went on a four weeks bike trip in the Maritimes. I took a small pocket radio with me. I was able to pick up WQXR as clear as if it was broadcasting from Halifax or St John's.

I recall listening to Lloyd Moss (but not the name of the show).

WQXR was a great station. I hope that it will remain great under the new ownership.

Aug. 13 2013 12:53 AM
Bob Karpel from South Salem, NY

This morning, loyally listening to WQXR's retiring Midge Woolsey (my absolute classical music favorite for years!), and reading WQXR's Thank You! to her:

http://www.wqxr.org/#!/articles/wqxr-features/2013/jan/28/midge-woolsey-goodbye-and-sincere-thanks/?utm_source=local&utm_media=treatment&utm_campaign=carousel&utm_content=item0

.... I was reminded of WQXR's rich history of technical innovation, providng wonderful programs, and loved programmers like Ms. Woolsey.

Within this history, the little known audio recording that goes with the above slideshow, "WQXR at 75", slide #13, is included at the end of the below NY Times, ARTS blog I wrote at the time:

http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/07/14/wqxr-classical-radio-station-is-sold-by-new-york-times-company/?apage=3#comment-48855

Now, in 2013, we listeners have figured out new technical methods of staying with our beloved WQXR, and we'll add Ms. Wollsey to the gift that WQXR has been, and remains to us. For it is the Bach, and the history of technical innovation at WQXR that has given us, and continues to give us, so much joy.

- Bob Karpel

Jan. 30 2013 02:14 PM
Steve Lewent from New York City

I have been listening since childhood - the 1950's . My dad had WQXR AM on all the time.

Looking at the historical photos, I note that all the gentlemen shown were wearing suits and ties. Of course, that was the way people dressed in the 40's and 50's, even though they were invisible to the public. This made me wonder - what do the current announcers wear when on duty? Assuming they are much more casual, I also wonder when the change in attire occurred.

A trivial concern, but it would be odd to picture these sophisticated voices in cutoffs and tee shirts. Is WQXR willing to share this information? Anyway, thanks for about 55 years - and counting - of the highest quality broadcasting.

Dec. 04 2011 07:09 PM
tommyo_NJ from North NJ

Brief? Not a chance.
Introduced to classical music by my father in my preschool years, via his collection of 78's and home built hi-fi (very late forties,) I remember regularly listening to WQXR as a child in the early fifties. I knew what station it was because I remember that I had to tune the dial of our Lafayette bakelite radio all the way to the end to find that lovely music.

We moved to a new house in the late fifties and I had my own room with space for a surplus military receiver that tuned the broadcast band. It had a variable bandwidth control along with a push-pull output and a large speaker that allowed reception of QXR's wideband AM signal to be played at concert hall levels; followed by reprimands from my mother. It was true High Fidelity on the AM band. I remember rushing home from school to listen to a 30 minute musical program (Matinee?) introduced by the Cuckoo section from Respighi's "The Birds" followed by a program hosted by Jacques Frey. You dear Q were such a delightful distraction from homework. Of course DP followed with Cocktail Time and his lighter jovial style as we all enjoyed a drink before dinner ah C-R-E-S-T-A ___B-L-A-N-C-A.

I learned much and found the announcers and programs to be more informative and educational than any music appreciation course taught in my school or most schools I would wager.
George Elliot was my alarm clock. He got me up and sent me off to school each day. With my head full of great sounds.
Even when not home I carried my tiny Magnavox 6-Transistor radio so my friend and I could listen as we spent time outdoors.
"First Hearing" was a favorite of mine. I probably learned the basics of critical analysis from the likes of Ben Grauer and his colleagues. How I remember my good friend and I variably agreeing and disagreeing with them as we did our own critique of items presented.
You have filled my years with great music and now after all the others (WNCN, WNYC as well as so many major FM stations of the fifties and early sixties gave up classical for new formats) have faded away you persevere and survive.
Sometimes not in a style I agree with. Sometimes too repetitive and too talkative (play the music... it so well speaks for itself.)
But you’re always there, always reliable. I feel I have many friends even though we've never met except through the ether. There is nothing like the company of your overnight announcers while working on a project or just staring out the window at 3AM.

Thank you. Keep leading the way.

Nov. 23 2011 03:58 AM

Check my entry at http://musicsprings.wordpress.com

Apr. 26 2010 08:41 PM
Robert Aiken from Whitby, Ontario, Canada

We are long time fans from as far back as 1963 when we built a cottage on the Severn River about 200 km N of Toronto and tuned into 1570 every week- end thru all the atmospheric hash to listen to great music, clever Mad Avenue commercials and that most beautiful hostess voice. Welsh, I was sure! But, no! When she retired, a Sunday Times story said she had returned to her home in Cairo. History Please!

Apr. 26 2010 03:58 PM
Thomas Venturella

Congratulations on the move. So glad to hear that classical music is on still on the waves as you were our ONLY option!

While I'm certainly glad to be rid of "Night Skin" I do dearly miss "Legal Seafood".!!!

Oct. 13 2009 08:49 AM
Annette Shandolow-Hassell from North Bergen, NJ

Love the slide show!

Is there any chance of posting pictures of the former 'QXR announcers? I've been a listener since 1963 and don't know what they looked like.

Thanks, and good luck with the new station.

Oct. 10 2009 06:24 PM
Bruce M. Berman from Long Island, New York

I am an amateur radio operator (also known as a "radio ham") who currently holds the call letters W2XR.

I applied to the FCC for this call sign a number of years ago, and it was granted to me in September of 2006. I very much wanted this classic call to honor the memory and legacy of John V.L. Hogan, the founder of WQXR, and that of its predecessor, W2XR, and for all of the technology that resulted from W2XRs early experiments with wide-band high-fidelity transmission in the AM broadcast band. These experiments were very influential in advancing the radio art during that time, and were truly the foundation for modern high fidelity radio broadcasting.

As such, the call W2XR is still very much alive and on the air!

As Mr. Hogan, and Russell Valentine, the original Chief Engineer of WQXR, built much of the audio and transmitting equipment utilized by the station, particularly during the early years of operation, I too have designed and built much of the equipment employed here at the current incarnation of (amateur radio station) W2XR.

I have been a listener of the station since I was a young boy, as it was really the only AM or FM station my parents ever listened to. As I got older and developed a love for classical music, I too became a devoted listener of the station.

With regard to the recent passing of the long-held 96.3 Mhz FM frequency, sic gloria transit mundi WQXR.

Lastly, the photograph in your gallery of the large transmitter and the station engineer making an adjustment to it, is the old Westinghouse 50,000 watt AM rig that was installed in Maspeth during the early 1950s. It was considered one the finest AM broadcast transmitters ever built. I believe the engineer in front of the transmitter was Louis Kleinklaus, the chief engineer who replaced Russ Valentine upon Mr. Valentine's untimely death in 1951; Mr. Kleinklaus was responsible for the installation of the big Westinghouse rig, and for the conversion of WQXR-FM to stereophonic broadcasting in 1961.

Best of luck in your new home and new frequency!

With Warmest Regards,

Bruce M. Berman, W2XR

Oct. 09 2009 04:09 PM
Bob Evans from Dallas, Texas

As a former WQXR (and WNCN) staffer, I'm happy that the station is headed into the future under a business arrangement that should keep classical on the airwaves of New York City. Congratulations to all.

Oct. 08 2009 07:57 PM

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