NBC New York: Radio City TV Studios & Theaters Chronology 1935 -1956
This is the first ever, known, chronological listing of the conversions of NBC’s Radio City studios. Included in this exclusive Eyes Of A Generation time line, are the outside performance theaters, and their conversion dates to NBC Television theaters. This compilation gives us the clearest and most concise guide yet to the production and technical operations of television’s early days, and the network that pioneered so much of the new medium.
As we have only recently learned, many shows were done as “remotes” in NBC radio studios with in-house mobile camera units, and predate the official conversion date which signifies when each studio had a major overhaul to install lights and control rooms.
For instance, it is known that “The Voice Of Firestone” was telecast locally from 8H as early as 1943. It was first seen on the NBC Television Network in April 1944 and continued occasionally until January 1947, as an in-house remote as 8H was not converted till 1950, and with the size of the orchestra and audience, that was NBC’s only studio big enough to handle the show.
Eyes Of A Generation, would like to offer a huge thanks to the many past and present NBC people that helped, but most especially to Frank Merklein (NBC 1947-1961) Joel Spector (NBC 1965-2001), Dennis Degan (NBC 2003 to present), historian David Schwartz (GSN) and Gady Reinhold (CBS 1966 to present) for their first hand knowledge and help. Bobby Ellerbee
1st Television Facility and 1st Studio Converted
Studio 3H…1935 (Became 3K September 12, 1955):
3rd Floor, 30 Rockefeller Plaza (Converted from Iconoscope cameras to Image Orthicon cameras around April of 1946. “Howdy Doody” was done here).
2nd Television Facility
5F… Film/Telecine 1936 : 5th Floor, 30 Rockefeller Plaza
2nd Conversion and 2nd Studio
Studio 8G…April 22, 1948 : 8th Floor, 30 Rockefeller Plaza
(First broadcast May 9, 1946 when it was still a radio studio, show was “Hour Glass”).
3rd & 4th Conversion and 3rd & 4th Studios
Studios 3A and 3B… Summer of 1948 : 3rd Floor, 30 Rockefeller Plaza (3B used before 3A. “You Are An Artist” with Jon Gnagy, and “Television Screen Magazine” were the first shows from 3B, in November of 1946).
5th Conversion and 5th Studio
Studio 6B… June 8, 1948 : 6th Floor, 30 Rockefeller Plaza
(First broadcast June 8, 1948, “Texaco Star Theater”).
6th, 7th & 8th Studios (Studios A, B and C, F was film/telecine)
Uptown Studios December 1948 : 105 E 106th St
(NBC announced the Dec 48 opening in a “year end wrap up” press release. “Camel News Caravan” came from Studio C).
International Theater…January 29, 1949 : 5 Columbus Circle
(First regularly scheduled broadcast of “Chesterfield Supper Club” with Perry Como, September 8, 1949. January 29,1949 debut of “Admiral Broadway Review”, this was also the home of “Your Show Of Shows”).
6th Conversion and 10th Studio
Studio 6A…May 29, 1950 : 6th Floor, 30 Rockefeller Plaza
(First use December 24, 1948, fifteen minute simulcast “Chesterfield Supper Club” with Perry Como, first use as TV studio, May 29, 1950 debut “Broadway Open House”).
7th Conversion and 11th Studio
Studio 8H…January 30, 1950 : 8th Floor, 30 Rockefeller Plaza
(November 29, 1943, “Voice Of Firestone”, covered as a remote with Iconoscope field cameras, local WNBT. NBC Television Network did April,1944 VOF remote here. Debut as a TV studio was “Robert Montgomery Presents”. 8H went color in the spring of 1963 when the 4 RCA TK41s from The Ziegfeld Theater were moved here).
Hudson Theater… Sept 25 1950 : 145 W 44th Street
(First broadcast, “Kate Smith Show” debuted Sept 25, 1950. This was also where “Tonight” started, with Steve Allen).
Center Theater…November 25, 1950 : 1230 Sixth Avenue
(Simulcast of ‘Voice Of Firestone’, new home debut after move from 8H for conversion).
New Amsterdam Theater…September 19, 1951 : 214 W 42nd Street (First broadcast April 9, 1950, Bob Hope’s first NBC special, covered as a remote)
Colonial Theater…November 8, 1952 : 1887 Broadway
(“Your Show Of Shows”, one time event November 8, 1952. First live use of NBC’s first color facility, no color burst on broadcast, back and white only except for closed circuit engineering loop. Historic colorcasts did not start till August 30, 1953).
NBC 67th Street Studios (A, B, C, D) 1953-1961 : 101 West 67th Street (First use, WNBT’s local broadcast, “Steve Allen Show” fall of 1953, pre “Tonight”).
Studio 5H…December 1953 (Control Center) : 5th Floor, 30 Rockefeller Plaza (Built for use as an assignable control room and ingest of feeds from multi remotes)
NBC Brooklyn Studio I… November 12, 1954 : 1268 East 14th Street (First use, “Satin And Spurs” color spectacular starring Betty Hutton).
The Century Theater…June 1, 1954 : 932 Seventh Avenue at West 58th Street (Broadcasting Magazine date. First show may have been “Mr. Peepers”. First known broadcast was October 2, 1954 with debut of “Imagine Coca Show” here).
Zeigfeld Theater…Sept 22, 1956 : 1347 Sixth avenue and 54th Street (“Perry Como Show” debuts in color from this newly converted for television theater. A few years later, 1961, Como moved to Brooklyn, and the color cameras went to Studio 8H in 1963).
NBC Brooklyn II…Fall 1956 : 1268 East 14th Street
(First use, “Esther Williams Aqua Spectacular”, November 29, 1956. The famous buried swimming pool, built just for this special was under floor of Studio I).