Timeline: Discover WQXR's Historic 80 Years of Broadcasting

Friday, December 02, 2016 - 12:00 AM

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. 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)

On Saturday, Dec. 3, WQXR turns 80 and we couldn't feel or sound any better! Here's a look back at the station's rich history of bringing great classical music to New York City and beyond. You can view the timeline in widescreen here.

Are you an expert in WQXR's history. Take our quiz and find out.

Produced by:

Kim Nowacki


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Comments [17]

June Severino Feldman from NYC

So proud to be a fan and supporter of this remarkable and venerable station.

Dec. 05 2016 01:34 PM
Marjorie from Maplewood, New Jersey

I listened to Miss Duncan McDonald's talk show which, if memory serves, was "Other People's Business." Attended several performances of the weekly WQXR String Quartet in the auditorium at 229 West 43rd.

Dec. 03 2016 05:25 PM
Paul Bourdius from Bernardsville, NJ

Happy Birthday, WQXR! I too was born in the city 80 years ago, in fact I'm 217 days and some hours older than you. Thank you for filling my life with music ever since I learned to turn the radio on by myself.

Dec. 03 2016 04:38 PM
Andy Brandt from Wharton, NJ

Happy Birthday to WQXR and all the people who helped it get to its 80th birthday. I started listening in the 1960s when it helped inspire me to a career in classical music. After retiring I returned to the area and, thankfully, WQXR was still here! Thanks for all the music.

Dec. 03 2016 04:08 PM
Kevin Avery from Ridgefield Park, NJ

I heard just moments ago a brief shout-out (there) for the late Karl Haas, among the many other wonderful voices of WQXR over the years. I just want to second that, and cite with gratitude and affection Mr. Haas's indelible "Adventures in Good Music" program, broadcast in the morning many years ago. Today Mr. Haas has a worthy successor (nocturnally) in the knowledgable, fun-loving, even impish Bill McLaughlin and his "Exploring Music." But the morning strains of the Adagio of Beethoven's Second Piano Concerto (played, I think, by Mr. Haas himself) followed by Mr. Haas's generous "HellO- everyone!"--to say nothing of his simple, telling insights into the "how" of classical masterpieces big and small, are especially recalled with thanks and endearment. The warmth of Karl Haas was inseparable from his understanding.

Dec. 03 2016 12:02 PM

Many,many more birthdays to WQXR. I came here from Dublin 40 years ago and discovered this great station and my favorite program was 'The Vocal Scene' with the late George Jellinek---fond memories --he introduced me to so many opera singers and the interviews were always a highpoint of the program.
Is there any chance that we could have repeats of these programs in the future?
Thank you for existing--Happy 80th.

Dec. 03 2016 10:38 AM
Anita M Kneeley from New Jersey

I remember that Saturday afternoons in our home were devoted to ironing while we listened to the opera - this was about 1944-45. It took me almost 40 more years to get a subscription to the Met - and I still depended on WQXR for those Saturday afternoons. I may not iron very much these days, but I try not to miss the opera on Saturday. You are also the station of choice on the car radio - no radio in the car in those 40s models. Thank you - hope we each get another 80!

Dec. 03 2016 09:45 AM
Amy Kornfeld from Katonah, NY

I don't remember exactly when I started listening to WQXR – but it's been QUITE AWHILE!! But my most vivid and happy memories are listening to Duncan Pirnie. I always looked to forward to my drive home from work listening to Duncan. It always felt like I was listening to a good friend. What a wonderful announcer he was – witty, charming, intelligent – and that beautiful, mellifluous voice! I miss him terribly!!

Dec. 03 2016 08:16 AM
Les from Miami, Florida

Happy first 80th anniversary WQXR! Two programs that were syndicated in the days before the Internet that were produced at WQXR that I listened to religiously were "Music at First Hearing" hosted by Lloyd Moss and "The Vocal Scene" hosted by George Jellinek. The Metropolitan Opera broadcasts and the New York Philharmonic broadcasts have long been mainstays; and the relatively new "Live from Carnegie Hall" and the performances at the "Greene Space" are high on my list of listening priorities.

Dec. 03 2016 05:45 AM
Mary Heller from Poughkeepsie, NY

We had just moved to NYC from the midwest in l958 as newlyweds. My husband, just ordained, was assigned to a Lutheran church in the Bronx. Our little AM radio picked up heavenly music at 1560 AM....our introduction to WQXR! We graduated to far better receivers but have followed WQXR from the AM station to 96.3 FM to 105.9 and then to our upstate translator at 103.7. Thank you WQXR for EXCELLENCE!

Dec. 02 2016 11:45 PM
Katelin Roberts from New York City

Growing up on the Upper West Side, we had a beautiful wooden radio with two buttons, one for off/on and volume and the other for tuning. The tuning button never moved, and I did not realize there were other stations. Radio was WQXR and WQXR was radio. Later came WNCN, also a wonderful station. Thank goodness QXR did not disappear as well. Moving back to New York some years ago, my car radio came in range of QXR and there was Clayelle. I knew I was home.

Dec. 02 2016 12:35 PM
Annette Shandolow-Hassell from North Bergen, NJ

Wonderful! I have to re-read the book. It's been a while.

Dec. 02 2016 12:34 PM
Dick De Luca from Wayne, New Jersety

The earliest I can remember is around 1940; I was ten years old and we lived in a cold water flat in Clifton, N.J. Every Saturday around noon, while we were eating lunch, my father would advise my brother and me that the opera broadcast was beginning at 1 PM.
He told us that we could stay in the apartment if we were quiet; otherwise, to go out and play outsde!
So, I've ween an opera addict since 1940!

Dec. 02 2016 12:18 PM
Steve From White Plains, NY

What a history! A truly magnificent tapestry! I started listening to WQXR in college, and missed it while I was away in Buffalo. Since coming back I've been a steady listener and since you went listener sponsored, I've been a sustaining member. I'm glad you stream live on the web as my area of White Plains, NY receives signal 'sub optimally', even your relay station, WQXW, Ossining, comes in with much static. Here's to another eighty years! Oh, and tell Jeff Spurgeon that he 'makes my mornings' Monday through Friday. Happy Holidays to all at 'Q', and a 'classic' New Year's!

Dec. 02 2016 09:44 AM
Doug Douglass from Manhattan

Arriving home from school everyday in the 50s, my mother was "Listening With Jacques Fray." The waltz from "Der Rosenkavalier" reminds me of him. I remember when the station refused singing commercials, Nescafe's ad agency created the "Sonata for Forty-three beans."

Dec. 02 2016 08:38 AM
Anita Bushell from Brooklyn, NY

I grew up listening, and still do, to WQXR daily.

My father graduated from Juilliard and listening to the radio was his way of staying in touch with new piano recordings, artists and the teachers he had studied with. I cannot imagine my life without WQXR, which has introduced me to more music than I can say.

I can, however, say "Brava!" and congratulations!

Dec. 02 2016 06:25 AM
John Mueller from Seattle

Happy birthday WQXR! You gave me classical music, a gift I continue to treasure to this day. I grew up in New York in the 50's and 60's, and remember wonderful hosts like Duncan Pernie and Pru Devin and her "Nights in Latin America." But mostly you gave your listeners the span of the repertoire, and you still do. Thank you, thank you. I hope it is not too gauche to mention your wonderful radio companions/competitors in those days, most notably and most eccentrically, Bill Watson and de Koven. You have never been better. Here's to another 80 years!

Dec. 02 2016 12:08 AM

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