Andy Fisher’s Memories

Thank you, Dennis, for this wonderful website, honoring what truly was the best network radio program ever.. on the first great radio network.

I don’t know if I heard the very first Monitor broadcast, but I was a regular listener very early on. My parents and brother Al and I were listening the weekend of December 3-4, 1955, as we stayed in the Somerset Hotel in Boston, waiting for my brother Steve to be born. Steve came along on the 5th; there must have been some subliminal influence, because he had his own local radio show before he was out of high school, and was graduated magna cum laude from what was then the School of Public Communications at Boston University, just up the street from the Somerset Hotel!

I remember Monitor being a constant companion on family car trips between Albany, NY, where we lived, and my grandparents’ home in Boston. I remember Fibber McGee and Nichols and May and any number of bizarre and intriguing features; one treasured memory is Sunday nights, when I would hear “Sentimental Journey” by Les Brown, and then the inimitable Garroway: “Hello, tiger…” Once again I could escape from Albany, through my little clock-radio.

I went to college at Columbia in New York, working for the wonderful WKCR, doing a weekend comedy show called “Cook’s Tour”. For one humorous feature, we somehow obtained a copy of the Monitor Beacon sounder, and intoned, “You’re on the JANITOR beacon.. going places and CLEANING things,” a spoof on the Monitor announcement about “going places and doing things”.

And after college and the Army and 19 years with the unforgettable WNEW in New York City.. as everything from copy boy to news anchor.. it was my turn to walk into 30 Rock as a correspondent for NBC News. The unchallenged high point of this high adventure was knowing that in 1981, long after Monitor was gone, I was working with copy editors Bill O’Connell and Charlie Garment, who had actually been Monitor producers.

They told me wonderful stories — Monitor had a human side, too. One November a producer ordered the staff to do a special series on “how Thanksgiving is celebrated in countries around the world.”

And as has been mentioned by other contributors, the network toyed with the idea of reviving Monitor in 1987. As a piece for the “Source Report” — part of the highly profitable but underappreciated network “The Source” — I had covered the New York Auto Show, highlighting such unexpected treats as the fact that all the models displaying the cars seemed to be clones of
Vanna White of “Wheel of Fortune” fame and the additional fact that a model was LIVING in a car on the lower level for the whole two weeks of the show. Several teams of correspondents did demonstration segments for the Monitor proposal.. and I was honored that they had all chosen to include my Auto Show spoof. In a very real way, I had made it onto Monitor, my favorite show.

Later I spent 10 years writing for Pat Weaver’s other stroke of genius, the Today show. But I will never forget Monitor.. “going places and doing things” as no show had ever done.. or has done since.

Andy Fisher, CNBC, Fort Lee, New Jersey