|Broadcast area||New York, NY (AM)
United States (SDARS)
Western Europe (SDARS)
Middle East (SDARS)
Eastern and Southeast Asia (SDARS)
|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.. Its transmitters are located in Carlstadt, New Jersey. WBBR's format is financial news, offering a mixture of domestic and foreign financial market updates and interviews with corporate executives and industry analysts, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
The station's origins go back to 1922 as WAAM and 1925 as WODA, both broadcasting from New Jersey. After a merger in 1933, the call letters became WNEW (meaning "The NEWest Thing in Radio!", or NEWark) in 1934. The frequency shifted from 1250 to 1130 on March 29, 1941.
The station broadcasts financial markets news and carries speeches by officials of the Federal Reserve as well as other noteworthy individuals in business, politics and the economy. The local broadcast day starts at 5:00am with Bloomberg the First Word which previews market activity and covers the release of government statistics at 8:30am like the monthly inflation figures consumer price index (CPI) and producer price index (PPI), labor statistics like payroll employment and the unemployment rate household survey. Also weekly first time jobless claims come out Thursdays. Bloomberg Radio features Monday through Thursday at 6 pm its popular Bloomberg on the Economy show, where Tom Keene interviews famous preeminent economic thinkers like Paul Krugman, Peter Lynch and Milton Friedman. Its weekend lineup has sports shows like Bloomberg on the Ball and Bloomberg Muse on arts and culture.
WNEW was one of the best-known radio stations in the U.S., pioneering the playing of phonograph records of current hit songs. Noted disc jockeys included Gene Rayburn, William B. Williams and Gene Klavan, and later Ted Brown, Jim Lowe, Bruce Bradley, and Jonathan Schwartz.
WNEW hatched the idea of a disc jockey when staff announcer Martin Block started to play records during breaks in the station's 1935 coverage of the Lindbergh-kidnaping trial of Bruno Hauptmann. Soon afterward, he presented records in an afternoon theater of the mind that was called "The Make-Believe Ballroom." From 1946 to 1952, Dee Finch and Gene Rayburn enlivened mornings with "Anything Goes", poking fun at their commercials from time to time; Gene Klavan, a master of voices and inspired anarchy, then worked alongside Finch before going it alone in 1969. The popular William B. Williams, who sounded so casual that he might have been hosting "The Make-Believe Ballroom" stretched out in bed, was a champion and pal of the singer he called "Francis" and "chairman of the board." Ted Brown, he of the cornball jokes and insatiable girl hunger, stood in amusing contrast to the intellectual Jonathan Schwartz, a former rock jock, who brought a freewheeling FM sensibility to the AM station when he started doing weekend shows in 1971
In 1941 a sponsor offered refrigerators during the Make Believe Ballroom show but only if listeners went to their store immediately. Over 100 customers braved a snowstorm to take advantage of the discount. Doubts about the viability of radio playing prerecorded music were assuaged and soon there was a waiting list for advertisers.
In 1942, WNEW was believed to be the first station to break for hourly newscasts, as prepared by the broadcast desk of the New York Daily News. In 1958, the station ended its association with the tabloid and spent lavishly to staff a home-grown news department with 13 reporters and writers, a number that would more than double in time. WNEW reporters went to Africa to interview Albert Schweitzer, they roamed the South to size up the Civil Rights Movement, they broadcast from Vatican Square, and Cape Canaveral. The news staff through the 50-70s included Reid Collins, Alan Walden, Bob Howard, Bill Diehl, Bob Hagen, Jim Gash, Christopher Glenn, Mort Crim, Ike Pappas, Edward Brown, and Jim Gordon.
WNEW continued to play a mix of popular music hits and pop standards for decades. Metromedia owned WNEW through the 1950s into the late 1980s. WNEW was also the home of New York Giants football broadcasts for many years, much of that in an era when radio listenership was high due to home games being blacked out on television.
During December 1992 and January 1993, ownership changed, WNEW came to an end, and the call letters and format changed to their current ones.
WBBR offers overflow coverage for WFAN's coverage of the New Jersey Devils and New Jersey Nets when they play at the same time as one of WFAN's other sports teams or during another major event WFAN is covering. It also carries ISP Sports' coverage of Notre Dame football games.
In the late 1950s, 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" stations, where the most popular songs were played frequently. Other stations played popular standards with some softer rock and roll sounds, and these stations became known as "Middle of the Road" (MOR) stations.
Unlike the top 40 radio fast-talking "jukeboxes" WABC and WMCA, WNEW's was largely a low-key personality-driven format, with a lineup of clever, glib voices whose clean, humorous approach to radio evolved into what today might be termed "shock jock radio". Dee Finch teamed up with Gene Rayburn, later Gene Klavan, on a long-running 50s-70s show that turned morning drive into a festival of humor that often playfully mocked its own advertisers, who in turn waited in line to have their products touted on the air. Each host had his own approach and, more often than not, his own music library. William B. Williams, Pete Myers, Ted Brown, Jim Lowe, Dick Shepard, later Julius LaRosa (of "Arthur Godfrey Time" fame) and Sandy Becker sat behind WNEW-AM's microphone holding court with listeners. Deejays often provided contextual background to the music, a dimension that set WNEW apart from the competition. Unlike many of their counterparts at other stations, WNEW's hosts made a point not to talk over their musical selections, allowing most music to play out in full.
In this period, WNEW opted to be an MOR station. They played artists such as Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Pat Boone, Peggy Lee, Ray Charles, Sonny James, The Platters, Johnny Mathis, Tony Bennett, Bing Crosby, Frankie Laine, The Four Aces, and The McGuire Sisters. They also played softer songs by artists such as Elvis Presley, The Everly Brothers, Jackie Wilson, Brenda Lee and Connie Francis.
Throughout the rest of the 1960s WNEW, which reported to Billboard as a MOR station, continued to play artists mentioned above along with 1960s artists such as Bobby Vinton, The Beatles, The Association, The 5th Dimension, The Mamas & the Papas, Peter, Paul & Mary, Petula Clark, Wayne Newton and Barbra Streisand. In addition, the station played an occasional big band song from the 1940s.
In the early 1970s, WNEW was shifting more towards an adult contemporary format with current artists, while playing the occasional song from Sinatra and Cole. Artists like Elton John, The Carpenters, Neil Diamond, James Taylor, The Stylistics, Carole King, Barry Manilow, and others would become core artists. The big bands were eliminated almost completely (with an occasional exception). The station, whose ratings at this point were in the top ten among New York City stations, had an airstaff at this time which included Bill St. James, Bruce Bradley, Brown, Williams (who hated most of the music the station played by then), Bob Fitzsimmons, Bob Jones and Jim Lowe. Jonathan Schwartz moved over from then-sister station WNEW-FM in 1976. He took a weekend shift where he played non-mainstream standards mixed in with relevant soft rock album cuts and songs from big bands.
Also in 1976, WNEW opted to begin a return to its roots as a pop standards station. That fall, the "Milkman's Matinee" was reinstated and the station played big bands and pop standards on overnights from 2-5:30 a.m. In the fall of 1979, the "Make Believe Ballroom" was reinstated much to William B Williams' joy. The station would gradually add more big band songs and pop standards, and by 1980, the station played big band songs and standards for most of the broadcast day, except from 6 a.m.-10 a.m. on weekday mornings and 2 p.m.-8 p.m. on weekday afternoons. By the beginning of the next year, the station would drop the adult contemporary format totally and officially and play big band songs and standards for the entire broadcast day. The station would have a slight change of format in 1986, as they began playing contemporary jazz music on overnights and even reported as a contemporary jazz station to Radio & Records.
In 1988, WNEW and WNEW-FM went through a major ownership change, as their owners, Metromedia, sold half interest in the stations to Westwood One. At this point, the station started to tighten their playlist, as they started to add standards artists such as The Lettermen, Al Martino and Vikki Carr into the station's rotation, while shifting their playlist to attract a younger audience. Eventually the station would also add soft adult contemporary songs to their playlist. The next year, the station added NBC Talknet talk shows which aired in the evening, and in 1989, the station started to air Larry King's radio show in the overnight. Mark Simone's afternoon music show, which had always featured many celebrity guests also added more talk elements, including listener calls. These changes would not help the station's ratings, as they would fall during this period.
In the Summer of 1991, the station decided to go back to playing popular standards of the 1950s and 1960s under consultant Tom Langmyer, while continuing to air shows from Talk Net and Larry King at night. This helped ratings, however the station was put up for sale late that year. After duopolies became legal, Salem Media made a bid for WNEW with plans to make the station a Christian station focusing on Christian music to compliment WMCA. But Bloomberg wound up outbidding Salem that summer and decided to change the format of the station to business news. In the period before the format change, the airstaff was given an opportunity to say goodbye, cumulating 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 a pre-recorded voice 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". The station signed off for a few seconds, then signed back on the air 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.
Note: WBBR should not be confused with WBBR (1330), an unrelated station in New York. WBBR (1330) was owned by the Jehovah's Witnesses.
WBBR is the flagship radio station of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish football of the National Collegiate Athletic Association. It also has occasional broadcasts of the New Jersey Devils and New Jersey Nets when flagship station WFAN airs the game of another team.
An audio simulcast of the station, which is titled Bloomberg on Satellite Radio, is played on XM Radio, Sirius Radio, and Worldspace Radio. XM runs WBBR on channel 129 from Monday through Friday from 5 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET, Sirius runs the station on channel 130 around the clock, and Worldspace runs it on channel 304 on its Afristar and Asiastar satellites, all the time.
Sporting events heard on WBBR (as stated above) and metro area traffic reports are not heard on the satellite feed.
In addition, most of WBBR's programming is carried by United Stations Radio Networks and syndicated to local radio stations across the country; it is only one of two stations (KPIG in Freedom, California being the other) that is broadcast in this manner.
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