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Anniversaries

America’s ‘Longest Married Couple’ Blankets Media

John and Ann Betar, the 102-year-old husband and 98-year-old wife who celebrated their 81st wedding anniversary Monday, have been all over the news lately. They have been celebrated by outlets that both pre-date (New York Daily News, Daily Mail) and post-date (Gawker, TODAY) the days when he courted her at the wheel of a Ford Roadster.

The most shameless, bad-pun headline that occurred to this writer would have begun: “For Betar or Worse: Connecticut Couple…” Thankfully, the closest anyone came to that was: “Who Said It Wouldn’t Last?….”

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(VIDEO) Reunion of WHN Personalities for Country Station’s 40th Anniversary

Jessie, Arnold, Fitzgerald, Taylor, Colmes, and Salamon on panel to celebrate 40 years since WHN’s country debut.

Country is alive and kicking on Cumulus’ NASH FM, a first in 17 years on New York. It was also a rare flip to Country 40 years ago today, February 26, 1973. The WHN call letters started in 1922 at 1050. But country would have to wait several more decades and format adjustments.

By the 1960s, Beautiful Music was in full effect as WHN was resurrected for the second time. Owner Storer made the move to Country. Like today with Cumulus’ NASH FM, Country was never a hotbed for New York listeners. Nearby WJRZ in Hackensack, New Jersey, was one of the few area Country/Western spots. But it was gone by 1971, setting the stage for WHN to fill the void.

Related: FishbowlNY, NASH FM Hires First Air Personalities

The station was sold to the Mutual Broadcasting System in the late 1970s. It got its strongest format competition when WKHK was born in 1980. By 1984, it would become WLTW. WHN prevailed, but the heyday was in the rear view mirror. Two years later, in what was the final nail in WHN’s coffin, Emmis purchased the station. It added sports talk programming to the Mets baseball games, which started in 1983. The Mets also called WHN home in the early 1970s.

On July 1, 1987, WHN’s Country format ceased in favor of the nation’s first all-sports format–WFAN. THe last voice on WHN was Dan Taylor, now WCBS-FM morning man. He talks about the station’s success, and credits program director Ed Salamon for making the difference.

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NY1 Dedicates Week to Programming for Grand Central Terminal’s 100th Anniversary

It’s a symbol of New York. The structure is an architectural wonder. Grand Central Terminal is turning 100, and NY1 is marking the occasion with a week-long series of reports.

Grand Central Terminal at 100:  All Aboard, hosted by Lewis Dodley, will delve into the station’s iconic history, hidden treasures, and art. In addition, NY1 will look at the commuter hub’s place in pop culture, including several backdrops in New York films.

Reporters Roger Clark, Stephanie Simon, Bobby Cuza and others take a look at the rails and their stories each day on NY1.

The week’s reports will be shown in a half-hour special on Saturday, February 2 and Sunday, 3 at 6:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.. It will also be available on NY1 On Demand on channel 1111.

Photo courtesy: grandcentralterminal.com

WNET Looks Back at 70s for Second Installment of Pioneers of Thirteen

Don’t put away your bell bottoms just yet!

The calendar has turned to another year, but the 50th anniversary celebration continues hasn’t ended at PBS’ Channel 13. In the second installment of the Pioneers of Thirteen, the 1970s are recalled in detail.

Three-time Oscar winner Meryl Streep narrates The ’70s – Bold and Fearless, which takes viewers into an exploration of Thirteen’s second decade on air. It was an era in public television that was defined through creative experimentation. Streep had a connection with PBS before hitting it big in movies (Oscar winner in 1979 for Kramer vs. Kramer). Look for her shining in Wendy Wasserstein‘s first play Uncommon Women and Others from 1978.

Perhaps most important to the 1970s was the political scandal by which all others would be measured going forward–Watergate.

The gavel-to-gavel coverage on WNET in 1973 brought newsmen Robert MacNeil and Jim Lehrer together. It was the precursor for their long-running nightly newscast.

Channel 13 also helped promote the budding career of actor Morgan Freeman (The Electric Company).

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As WNET Marks a Golden Age, Here’s a Look Behind the Scenes at Thirteen’s Lincoln Center Studios

In continuing our series about WNET’s 50th anniversary celebration, the public broadcaster reaches the milestone with new digs. The studios at Lincoln Center were built in 2010, leading to the move of WNET from its antiquated facility near the West Side Railyards on 34th Street. The Lincoln Center locale has no room to fit office space. Regular Thirteen staffers recently moved to the updated WorldWide Plaza on 49th Street between 7th and 8th Avenues.

At Lincoln Center, passersby notice the street-level studio directly behind the number 1 subway station, the first such studio in the country for public TV.

Unlike the typical studios of the same ilk, WNET keeps a black curtain down during all tapings. PBS constructed the studios at Alice Tully Hall, but they were constrained by what was in front of them. Most notably, the walls are not sound proof.

Even with the curtain drawn the sounds, perhaps a siren bellowing on Broadway, permeate. To counteract, the station says it doesn’t have much live content from the Lincoln Center studio.

Therefore, as a spokesperson told FishbowlNY during our recent tour of the studio that any objectionable sounds from the street can simply lead to a “re-do.”

In the secondary studio above 66th Street, there are no audio concerns during taping, and the screen is not pulled down.

Look for a video “tour” of the upstairs portion after the jump, and you’ll notice the proximity to the studios of WABC/Channel 7 in the background.

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Thirteen Takes Stroll Down Memory Lane for 50th Anniversary

FishbowlNY readers are well aware that Channel 13 is celebrating the Big 5-0. And if we’re running a series a pieces dedicated to the major achievement, you can be sure that Thirteen has some unique plans.

Tonight, New York’s first public TV station begins anniversary celebration with a special four-part series, Pioneers of Thirteen. The first episode: The 60s–Expermental Days, dust off the WNET archival footage for memorable moments in station, if not television, history.

Interspersed are interviews with early Channel 13 staffers and managers, including the WNDT (13′s original call letters) founding general manager Richard Heffner.

But the show comes alive with the vintage clips, some not seen they aired decades ago. In the precursor to Great Performances, viewers will be treated to a young but talented Dustin Hoffman performing Journey of the Fifth Horse. It was 1966, a year before Hoffman breakout role in The Graduate.

Other were already established, such as A Conversation with Muhammad Ali, featuring, of course, “The Greatest.”

Jazz Casual has clips of Blues great, B.B. King and Mel Torme, while Aaron Copland is featured on Music in the 20s.

That only scratches the surface to the decade and in turn the one-hour program.

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Reflections of TV Pioneer Joan Ganz Cooney as WNET Prepares for 50th Anniversary

Joan Ganz Cooney may not be a household name. But Joan Ganz Cooney revolutionized viewing habits from toddlers to teens. Cooney is co-founder of the Children’s Television Workshop, a mainstay on Channel 13 since its launch in 1969. It is a perfect inclusion to FishbowlNY’s special series of interviews and posts dedicated to WNET’s 50th anniversary.

The CTW was producing programming solely for public television. Like national syndication today, it was made available for public TV stations across the country. The first show that Cooney and her CTW employees created was Sesame Street.

While each station made the decision when to air Sesame Street, Cooney had strong views for the start time.

“I didn’t want it in competition with Captain Kangaroo [8 a.m. on CBS], the only other quality children’s show at the time,” Cooney says.

To avoid the “Captain’s wrath,” CTW was encouraging PBS stations to air Sesame Street at either 7 a.m. or 9 a.m.

WNDT, (the original call letters of WNET), was not as accommodating. In a rarely remembered tibdit, Sesame Street actually had its debut on WPIX/Channel 11.

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(Video) Neal Shapiro, WNET President and CEO, Reflects on Thirteen’s Fiftieth

When the independent station taking up space at Channel 13 became a non-commercial station, history was made. It was September 16, 1962. CBS News icon Edward R. Murrow introduced new WNDT (New Dimensions in Television), thus unveiling New York City’s first educational TV station. (Watch the video clip below)

Murrow opened the initial telecast saying, “Tonight, you join me on a great adventure… This instrument can teach, it can illuminate, yes, and it can even inspire, but it can do so only to the extent that humans are determined to use it to those ends.”

So it is only fitting that FishbowlNY honors the remarkable achievement with a series of articles commemorating the 50th anniversary of Channel 13.

FishbowlNY recently sat down with WNET president and CEO, Neal Shapiro.

While searching for clips to use in an anniversary documentary/retrospective, Shapiro says Channel 13, which became WNET in 1970, felt like more like a museum, unearthing station artifacts.

“Fifty years ago, the station was just starting and having to reinvent everything,” Shapiro tells FishbowlNY. “Fifty years later, we’re still doing some of that because in the process of discovering our history in turns out things were stored sort of haphazardly. The mediums are different…much of it uncatalogued.”

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Happy 20th Birthday to NY1!

We were a couple months away from electing Bill Clinton to his first term as president. Time Warner Cable debuted a 24-hour channel, NY1. To blow out the 20 candles on the cake, NY1 got the “Empire State Building treatment.” Our sister site TVSpy reports the iconic structure was lit in the station’s blue and yellow colors yesterday.

NY1 mainstays Pat Kiernan and Roma Torre had a hand in the lighting ceremony. TVSpy has more on the story.

(VIDEO) Howard Stern Marks 30th Anniversary of New York Debut at WNBC

Howard Stern was a personality that radio would not soon forget. But in 1982, listeners in the New York City area could only imagine what the hype was about.

And then August 30 happened.

Thirty years ago, Stern arrived in New York at WNBC Radio (clip below), complete with sidekick Robin Quivers, who first worked with Stern in Washington a year earlier. Of course, with his roots in rough and tumble Roosevelt, Long Island, this was Howard’s homecoming.

As characterized in his book and film, Private Parts, Stern dealt with internal clashes from day one at WNBC. Specifically, his verbal barrages with program director Kevin Metheny, not-so-affectionately called “Pig Vomit” in the film (“Pig Virus” in real life). Stern slightly altered the immortalized version of Metheny, changing his name to “Kenny Rushton,” played exquisitely by Paul Giamatti.

“The book and the script are fascinating, engaging, and entertaining,” Metheny tells FishbowlNY. “I think [there's] a fair and appropriate amount of artists’ liberties taken with factual elasticity in order to make a more interesting project.”

In one memorable scene, Giamatti’s Rushton attempts to teach Stern the key to success, announcing the call letters properly (W-N-N-N-N-B-C). (See clip after the jump)

“I’m certain that I was a pain in the tush with respect to putting the emphasis on the “N” in WNBC,” Metheny says.

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