WOR – ABC – NBC – VIDEO TAPE CENTER/ 67th Street Studios
This link is to the RCA Broadcast News magazine from the fall of 1950. Starting on page 46, this 27 page article gives us a complete and total tour of the new WOR Television Center on 67th Street, AND, some interesting SURPRISES!

What makes this a major history update is not only the amazing detail of the article on the facility, but the associated dates and events reported here, unlock answers to other studios in the city.

Surprise 1. Who knew that this property on West 67th street, was the “67th Street half” of the Durland Riding Academy building that ABC bought in 1948 as their major studios building? ABC proper was just around the corner on West 66th Street. The way this is written [bottom pg 46] makes it sound like WOR bought the property from ABC. Although money was tight at ABC, giving up this prime studio space is hard to imagine since they made so many other acquisitions on 66th Street. ABC eventually bought the property back and made them TV 18 and 17 in April ’70.

Surprise 2. When WOR Television debuted on October 5, 1949, their studio was The New Amsterdam Theater [pg 70,71]. They built out the stage for TV, and added a new control room under it. Four months later, they moved to 67th Street on February 1, 1950.

This unlocks details of Bob Hope’s fist ever television special on Easter Sunday, April 9, 1950. NBC was adding theater style studios as fast as possible, and in an arrangement with WOR, they took over the lease just in time to add their own equipment and do the Hope special. Lucky for NBC, WOR had already done the stage expansion and added all the cabling.

Surprise 3. WOR used 7 cameras at Ebbets Field for their Red Barber – Dodgers broadcasts, and had a control room at the stadium! Only 4 camera were shooting the game, with one pedestal mounted camera in a small studio next to the control room for Shaffer’s Beer commercials. Two more cameras were in yet another commercial studio in the stadium for the post game “Bob Edge Show”. For 1950, this is pretty impressive!

Surprise 4. When NBC began broadcasting the late night, Steve Allen hosted “Knickerbocker Beer Show” in August of ’53, it was done from these 67th Street studios, but by then WOR had moved, and was complete gone. I, like others, had assumed NBC was just renting studio space from the station in off hours, as WNBC’s “11th Hour News” was also done from here for a while. Now we know that in late ’52, all 24 hours a day were “off hours” at 67th Street.

Just a few years after this building was completed, Macy’s sold their broadcasting division to the General Tire & Rubber Corporation in 1952, and after a transitional period, WOR relocated their TV operations to their headquarters at 1440 Broadway and to a new compact studio facility at the Empire State Building. In early 1954, NBC officially sublet the 67th St. facility (both building and TV equipment) for three years with options for extensions.

As you’ll see in the studio diagrams, A and B were the largest stages, but when NBC debuted the “Home” show from there, with Arline Francis as host, the wall between A and B came down to make it one huge studio with two concentric turntables built into the floor and a 10 position circular set. Shown below are two shots from the “Home” show that show their exclusive, custom built over head camera crane suspended from the ceiling and operated by the two men in the elevated booth. Enjoy and share! -Bobby Ellerbee


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