of NBC Monitor
So what did
NBC Radio's weekend-long Monitor sound like? Like nothing ever heard
before, or since, on network radio.
the program featured a kaleidoscope of news, music, comedy, sports,
variety, remotes, live interviews and taped snippets.
nearly 20-year run, Monitor was on the air for 20,000 hours.
Below is a
sampling of what you might have heard on a typical weekend on the
for Winter 2013-2014
Sunday night Monitor '73
Hello, again, Monitor fans!
Monitor clip just below -- from Sunday night, November 4, 1973 --
("new" because this is the first time anyone, anywhere,
has had it) symbolizes the true beginning of the end of Monitor.
nothing to do with the host -- Tony Taylor, a well-known
and well-liked DJ on WNBC and other New York radio stations.
It has everything to do with the "new" Monitor format
that began that weekend in November.
In an effort
to "update" Monitor's sound, NBC Radio made drastic changes
in the program. Beginning that November weekend, the network
programmed news and sports "updates" at :15 and :45 after
each hour. That, of course, crippled Monitor because it did
not allow enough time after each hour's program began (following
News on the Hour) for any significant content to be introduced before
the first cutaway.
-- which always had prided itself on "going places and doing
things" -- was no longer able to go to as many places or do
as many things.
starting that weekend, the program's features were considerably
shortened to create a "faster pace." By that weekend,
the program's famous long-time hosts had been peeled away.
Gone were Gene Rayburn and Bill Cullen
and Jim Lowe and Art Fleming, and
in their places were disc jockeys Big Wilson, Tony Taylor and Bruce
Bradley and TV gameshow host John Bartholomew Tucker. Tucker
was the only one who could claim any national prominence.
one more thing -- that same weekend, NBC Radio stripped the Monitor
Beacon off the beginning and end of News on the Hour -- using, instead,
the same sounder that weekday News on the Hour had. So "Monitor
News on the Hour" was no more -- and stations that no longer
carried Monitor did not have to worry about the weekend newscasts
sounding "different" than the weekday versions.
a series of network missteps that heralded the upcoming demise of
Monitor in 1975 -- a demise that did not have to occur, but did
because of incredibly poor decision-making by Jack Thayer, the then-president
of NBC Radio.
the clip below is not representative of Monitor at its finest, it
is completely indicative of what NBC Radio had turned Monitor into
near the end of its great run -- a classy DJ show, but not the ground-breaking,
pre-eminent, "big-sounding" network weekend radio service
that creator Pat Weaver had envisioned two decades earlier.
on a completely unrelated note -- if you haven't already, check
out this link at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AMIj1bW-0aA.
discovered it. Amazing. A band playing the Monitor
theme at a festival last year -- the theme that Buddy
Rich first recorded back in the 1960's.
had quite an impact on American pop culture, didn't it?
Taylor Hosts Sunday Night Monitor '73
About 55 minutes
on Sunday night, Nov. 4, 1973, this clip symbolizes the beginning
of the end of Monitor. The program would endure until early
1975, but this Sunday night was the first under Monitor's new
format, which included "updates" at :15 and :45 after
the hour, a much faster pace, shorter features and more music.
Here, WNBC disc jockey Tony Taylor hosts the
7-8 p.m. ET hour on Monitor. Included are those news and
sports updates, a brief clip of Bill Cosby, some kind of other
comedy "drop-in" material, clips of W.C. Fields and
an interview with Fields' grandson.
of Louis Castaing, who recorded this off a New Orleans radio station
in the Central Time Zone -- thus the local announcer's time designations
that are an hour behind the Eastern Time airing of Monitor.)
about 40 minutes
April 1, 1955, Sylvester L. "Pat" Weaver
-- NBC's president -- went on his radio network's closed-circuit
line to announce to affiliates that a radically new program concept
would soon debut on NBC Radio. That, of course, was "Monitor"
-- and this is rare audio of the announcement about the program
that would become network radio's greatest endeavor. (Courtesy
of Gene Garnes Sr.)
(in Real Audio format)
Time: 31 seconds
was Monitor's audio symbol for the program's entire 20-year run.
It was used to cue stations to join the network or cut away forlocal
Time: 50 seconds
Here's the Beacon
in MP3 format (courtesy of Steve Rood, formerly of KNBR in San
Here you go, Monitor fans -- virtually every theme
the program used, over its many years on the air!
about 20 minutes
is -- the first moments, ever, of what would turn out to be network
radio's greatest program, on Sunday, June 12th, 1955, at
4 p.m. ET. The first hour of the program was simulcast
on NBC-TV. This first broadcast lasted 8 hours -- until midnight.
Starting the next Saturday, Monitor would air 40 consecutive hours
each weekend, from 8 a.m. Saturday to midnight Sunday. (The
first voice ever heard on Monitor -- Morgan Beatty's.)
(Courtesy of Louis Castaing; copyright National Broadcasting Company;
used with permission
Dave Garroway -- the
first host of the "Today" Show on NBC-TV -- also hosted
Sunday night Monitor from 1955 until '61. Here is a short
piece from Sunday night, June 17, 1956 -- a first-anniversary salute
hosted by Dave.
about 53 minutes
delightful Monitor hour aired on Saturday, May 17, 1958, from
3 to 4 p.m. ET. Hosted by Walter Kiernan and
Peter Roberts, it features a commentary by
Alex Dreier from Chicago, a comedy skit by George Gobel and
another by Fibber McGee and Molly (one of the only recordings
of their time on Monitor, where they did five-minute skits
for years), a sports report about how the Indy 500 auto race
is run and a sports report from San Francisco, and two skits
by "Miss Monitor" -- one of which is NOT her famed
about one hour
aired on Saturday, May 17, 1958, from 11 p.m. to midnight.
Long-time Saturday night Monitor hosts Morgan Beatty
and Monty Hall presided over this fast-paced
hour, which begins with News on the Hour and continues with
a sports report from Jim Simpson in Washington; a live interview
with actress Vicki Cummings in Ann Arbor, Michigan; a live
jazz performance by Billy Maxted's group from Nick's in Greenwich
Village, New York; an interview with singer Jane Morgan; and
a live performance by Xavier Cugat and his band from the Statler-Hilton
in New York.
fans, this is the Monty Hall of "Let's Make
a Deal" fame. But that would come later. Here are
Bob Wilson & Hall, sitting in for Frank Blair
and Don Russell, on Saturday morning, June 6th, 1959, from 11 a.m.
to noon ET. Features sports reports,Ernie Kovacs, Miss Monitor,Bob
& Ray and more. (Courtesy of Gary Dibble)
Time: one hour
Hugh Downs &
Peter Roberts hosted Saturday afternoon Monitor from the
start -- from
1955 to '59. Here
they are, on Saturday, June 6, 1959, from 3 to 4 p.m. ET.
Features a Paul Mason report, Ernie Kovacs, Doug Storer andmore.
(Courtesy of Gary Dibble)
Beatty's was the first voice ever heard on Monitor on Sunday,
June 12, 1955. He was still hosting the program in 1959, and on
this Saturday night, June 6, from 11 to 11:30 p.m. ET, his co-host
was Ted Bond. Features the Modernaires & the
Jonah Jones Quartet performing live. (Courtesy of Gary Dibble)
about 8 minutes
This was one of
the first "Date Specials" that premiered on Monitor
after Frank McGee became Sunday night Monitor's
host in 1961. Produced by the legendary Bud Drake,
this aired on December 3, 1961 -- and looked back on that
date in 1945. This one includes a rare recording of
Mahatma Gandhi's voice.
About 8 minutes
and Bud team up again for this wonderful
retrospective that aired on Sunday night Monitor on December
10, 1961 -- looking back at the same day in 1940, when World
War II was coming.
Oh, what a beautiful
piece this is! It's Sunday night, Christmas
Eve 1961, and Frank McGee -- in
his first year as Sunday night's host -- presided over these
last few minutes of the evening's broadcast -- from 9:35
to 9:53 p.m. ET. Go ahead -- listen more than once.
I certainly have.(Courtesy of the family of Bud Drake)
Frank McGee hosts New Year's Eve Monitor '61 -- Part 1
hosted Sunday night Monitor from 1961 to 1964, succeeding Dave
Garroway. This is from New Year's Eve 1961 -- 7 to 8
p.m. ET, recorded off WRC Radio in Washington, DC (the NBC O-and-O
in DC). Features Ben Grauer, a news summary, Ray Scherer,
Leon Pearson & a New Year's report from London. (Courtesy
of Louis Castaing)
Frank, again, on Sunday night, Dec. 31,
1961, from 8 to 8:30 p.m. ET, hosting a marvelous retrospective
from New Year's Eve 1945, plus Mel Allen sports and NBC
correspondent George Clay reviewing the Congo war. (Courtesy
of Louis Castaing)
Allen hosts Monitor '62
-- yes, the "Voice of the Yankees" -- hosted Saturday
morning Monitor from 1961 to 1963. Here's a half-hour
from March 3, 1962, from 9:30 to 10 a.m. ET. Features
a "Ring Around the World" and a report by Gene Garnes
Sr. on pipe organs. (Courtesy of Gene Garnes Sr.)
About 11 minutes
is an absolutely magnificent and heartbreaking look back
at the life and tragic death of the great American songwriter
About 8 minutes
treat -- a wonderful, wonderful look at Clement
Clarke Moore -- the man who wrote "A Visit
From St. Nicholas" -- yes, the immortal poem we've
all known since childhood, the one that begins with "'Twas
the night before Christmas, when all through the house..."
beautiful segment hosted by Frank McGee --
this one aired on Sunday night, December 30, 1962.
It's a look back at the year that was -- the names, the
voices, the events -- all woven together, magnificently,
by McGee's narration. They simply don't make programs
like Monitor anymore, and that's our tremendous loss.
(Courtesy of the family of Bud Drake)
about 29 minutes
the early '60s, Monitor did occasional salutes to big-name stars
who were celebrating birthdays. Here's one of them --
a salute to Jimmy Durante -- from Saturday
night, Feb. 9, 1963, hosted by Jim Lowe. This
is the first half-hour of the salute -- just click on the link
directly below for the second half-hour
the "rest" of Jim Lowe's Monitor salute to Jimmy
Here's another Monitor
salute -- this one to Groucho Marx -- from
Saturday night, Oct. 5, 1963, hosted by Jim Lowe.
Note, at the end, the announcement about the next day's World
Series game between the Yankees and the Dodgers.
about 24 minutes
a birthday salute to Frank Sinatra, hosted
by Barry Nelson on Saturday afternoon, Dec.
14, 1963. Take special note of Barry's introduction to
the salute, which aired just days after Sinatra's son, Frank
Jr., had been kidnapped, then released about 54 hours
later. Nine years after this, Frank Jr.
would host Saturday night Monitor for several weeks, while he
was performing in New York City. This is the first half-hour
of the salute -- just click on the link directly below for the
Time: about 23
Here's the "rest"
of Barry Nelson's Monitor salute to Frank
about an hour
another birthday salute -- this one to George Burns,
hosted by Gene Rayburn on Saturday night, Jan.
18, 1964. The first part of the audio is dicey, but hang
in there -- it will clear up. (By 1964, Gene had taken
over the Saturday night slot from Jim Lowe -- and would keep
it until hemoved to Saturday morning Monitor in 1966.)
is a jewel. NBC newsman Frank McGee
-- who hosted Sunday night Monitor from 1961 to 1964 --
presented this tribute to the great World War II newsman
Raymond Gram Swing on March 22, 1964.
Nelson hosts Monitor '64
Time: one hour
Nelson -- a star on TV and the Broadway stage for decades
starting in the 1940s -- hosted Monitor for several years in
the 1960s, first the Saturday afternoon segment and later on
Sunday afternoons. While he was on Monitor, Barry also starred
on Broadway with Lauren Bacall in "Cactus Flower."
Here is an hour from a Saturday Barry hosted on September 26,
1964, from 3 to 4 p.m. ET. Features a John Cannon report,
reports from the vice-presidential campaign trail, "Monitor
Tips," Al Capp, a sports report, Nichols & May, and
Robert Vaughn. This is really an oustanding hour -- an
example of Monitor's scope and variety in the prime of the program's
life. (Courtesy of Louis Castaing)
Blair hosts Monitor '64 JFK Tribute
Time: 45 minutes
Frank Blair hosted this tribute to President John F. Kennedy
that aired on Sunday night Monitor on November 22, 1964 --one
year after JFK's
It is heartbreaking and uplifting and will bring back vivid memories
of that Friday in Dallas that changed this country forever.
about 14 minutes
have we put up this snippet of Frank Blair hosting
Sunday night Monitor on Valentine's Day in 1965? Well, because
we like Frank a lot -- because it's a delightful snippet (that
starts in the middle of an interview with Martha Scott) -- and
because, at the end, an NBC announcer gives the call letters of
one of the network's affiliate stations (as the announcers did,
on the half-hour, on Monitor, for years). And that affiliate
is KMJ Radio in Fresno, California -- the station where I listened
to Monitor for years, as I was growing up and older -- and the
station where I wound up working as a reporter for years.
Blair hosts Monitor '65
Blair had taken over as Sunday night Monitor host in 1964,
replacing fellow NBC newsman Frank McGee. In this segment
from July 18, 1965,
Blair pay tribute to the late Adlai Stevenson,
the former Democratic presidential candidate and ambassador to the
United Nations, who had
had died just days
Henry Morgan hosts Monitor '66
Henry Morgan appeared
as a commentator on Monitor's first broadcast in 1955, then appeared
frequently over the years. He was the Sunday afternoon Monitor
host from the mid-'60s to the early-'70s. Here is Henry hosting
a half-hour of Saturday afternoon Monitor '66 on March 19th, from
5:30 to 6 p.m. ET. Features "Monitor on Stage"
and a Joe Garagiola sports report on the Drysdale-Koufax LA Dodgers
holdout. (Courtesy of Louis Castaing)
about 35 minutes
Blair hosted Monitor from the beginning -- as the Saturday
morning communicator with Don Russell from
1955 until about '59 -- then as Sunday night host from '64 to
'67. This wonderful half-hour is from May 22, 1966, from 7:20
to 8 p.m. ET (forget about the time-cue the New Orleans announcer
gives -- that station tape-delayed this hour for later broadcast).
Features Curt Gowdy with "Monitor Outdoors," a Mel
Allen live sports report, Len Probst "On Broadway,"
and a "Ring Around the World." (Courtesy
of Louis Castaing)
we admit we're big fans of Henry Morgan.
So here's a half-hour of Henry hosting Saturday night
Monitor on June 4, 1966, from 10 to 10:30 p.m. ET.
Henry came back to Monitor after being away for several
years -- and this was one of his first "regular"
hosting appearances since his return (he would remain
Saturday night host for the rest of 1966 and then become
Sunday afternoon's host for the rest of the decade).
On this delightful half-hour, Henry's in-studio guest
is legendary WNBC Radio talk-show host Long John Nebel.
(Courtesy of Louis Castaing)
wish we had more than this scoped segment -- but here's
Henry -- this time on Nov. 20, 1966 (the
Sunday night before Thanksgiving), from 9:35 to 10 p.m.
ET -- with some truly moving messages from GI's in Vietnam.
(Courtesy of Louis Castaing)
WNBC Radio's Brad Crandall on one
of his first Sunday night Monitor segments after
he took over for Frank Blair in
January 1967. On this half-hour from January
29, Brad interviews an explorer, and Monitor theater
critic Leonard Probst interviews Norman Mailer.
the first of three great Monitor hours hosted
by the incomparable Henry Morgan
on Sunday afternoon, Feb. 26, 1967. This is
the 3 to 4 p.m. ET hour, featuring Robert
Vaughn (the "Man from Uncle"), Arlene
Francis, Al Capp and a report from the Westminster
Kennel Show. This was recorded off WGY
Radio in Schnectady, and the first few moments
have some dicey audio. But -- never
fear -- it quickly clears up, and the listening
Mr. Morgan, again on Sunday
afternoon, Feb. 26, 1967, this time from 4
to 5 p.m. ET. This hour features an
interview with the editor of "The Unafraid
Dictionary," plus Joe Garagiola, Merle
Oberon, an Allen & Rossi comedy skit and
an interview with a singer who went to Vietnam.
our man Morgan -- again!
-- on Sunday afternoon, Feb. 26, 1967.
This is actually a "composite" hour
-- starting with part of the 2-3 p.m. ET hour,
then going to the 5-6 p.m. hour. It's
audio pieced together from what was left of
someone's recording that day. You'll hear
a report on the "name game" in Washington,
D.C., plus an interview with Robert Shaw,
a report from Vietnam, and comedy from Bob
Newhart. Also, Henry gets the date wrong,
at one point, during this Sunday hour.
Must have been a tough Saturday night for
Brad Crandall hosting Monitor
on Sunday night, Feb. 26, 1967, from 7 to
8 p.m. ET. This clip features an interview
with Will Rogers Jr., an Arlene Francis feature,
Mel Allen's sportscast, Leonard Probst with
a Broadway play review and a report on a missing
Vietnam platoon. The audio for the first
few minutes is not great -- this was recorded
off the air from WGY Radio in Schnectady --
but it clears up and soon becomes very good,
so hang in there and enjoy!
a half hour
Brad Crandall, again, hosting Sunday
night Monitor on Feb. 26, 1967, from 8 to
8:30 p.m. ET. This features an interview
with John Scopes (yes, the John Scopes
of "Monkey Trial" fame) -- and Joe
Lawrence sings Monitor's 12th Birthday Song -- 1967
about 4 minutes
weekend on June 10-11, 1967, legendary songwriters
Sammy Cahn and Jimmy Van Heusen
were at Radio Central, creating a song
for Monitor's 12th birthday. Periodically, Monitor's
hosts had them on the air that weekend, as they
made progress. Finally, around 9:45 p.m. that
Sunday night, host Brad Crandall introduced
singer Steve Lawrence, who sang
the song, live, for Monitor's nationwide audience.
Monitor's hosts are named in the lyrics --
Gene Rayburn, Ed McMahon, Ted Steele, Henry Morgan
and Crandall. (Thanks
to W.T. Koltek for recording this!)
Monitor '67 with Bert Parks, Gene Rayburn & Ed McMahon
This is great stuff!
Relax, and enjoy the sounds of autumn Monitor from Sept. 23
& 24, 1967, with Bert Parks, Gene Rayburn and
Ed McMahon, along with features by Hugh Downs
and Joe Garagiola and Monitor music, jingles
and some great network commercials. (Courtesy of W.T. Koltek)
big-band leader Ted Steele took over Saturday
night Monitor from Henry Morgan in
1967. Here he is, on a Saturday night in November of that
year. Features "Abe Weatherwise," a feature on Wilt
Chamberlain & more.
Henry Morgan, hosting Sunday afternoon Monitor
on Dec. 17, 1967. This is scoped, and the audio quality is dicey
-- but we like it because it has Henry, lots of Monitor Christmas
jingles and music -- and that immortal line used so often on Monitor
at Christmastime -- "Every woman alive wants Chanel No. 5."
Merry Christmas! (Courtesy of W.T. Koltek)
Radio talk-show host Brad Crandall took over
Sunday night Monitor from Frank Blair in 1967.
Here he is, hosting an hour (7:30 to 8:30 p.m. ET) on June 16,
1968, on Monitor's 13th-birthday weekend. Features
a Mel Allen live sports report, "Meet a Millionaire,"
"Sport of Speed" with Chris Economaki & more. (Courtesy
of Joe Pugliesi)
about 20 minutes
Gene, hosting an all-so-brief snippet of
Saturday morning Monitor on March 16, 1968, from about 11:20
to about 11:40 a.m. ET (as recorded from WCOP Radio in Boston).
It begins with a local-station commercial, after which the
station joins Monitor
progress. You'll hear a "Monitor on Stage"
segment featuring the Ramsey Lewis Trio, followed by a five-minute
local Boston newscast -- then a re-join to Monitor, where
Gene will introduce Peter Hackes, who is live in Washington
with a piece about Robert F. Kennedy's just-announced candidacy
for the Democratic presidential nomination. This is
poignant, of course, because RFK's quest would end tragically
in Los Angeles just three months later.
Rayburn was Monitor's longest-running (from the early
'60's until the early '70s) and most beloved host. Most
of us remember him as the Saturday morning host, though he hosted
every other Monitor segment over the years. (And, yes,
Gene was "The Match Game" host on TV.)
This is delightful listening. It aired 9-9:30 a.m. ET
on Saturday, Feb. 22, 1969 -- George Washington's birthday.
(We have another more of Gene from that same Saturday morning,
below). This segment includes an interview with Mary Higgins
Clark, talking about her just-released book about Washington,
and a piece by NBC correspondent Peter Hackes, discussing
the future of the U.S. space program (and just listen to how
right he was!) Gene's breezy style was absolutely perfect
for Saturday mornings, when millions of Americans were in their
cars, doing weekend chores or heading to a weekend outing. (Courtesy
of Ken Smith)
Rayburn hosts Monitor '69 -- Part 2
Time: a half-hour
Here's Gene again,
hosting Monitor from 9:30-10 a.m. ET on Saturday, Feb. 22,
1969. This half-hour features NBC sportscaster Guy LeBow interviewing
Washington Senators owner Bob Short, who had announced, hours earlier,
his hiring of Ted Williams as Senators' manager. It also features
NBC correspondent Paul Duke, who has a Capitol Hill profile.
Gene again, hosting another great hour of Monitor
on Saturday morning, Feb. 22, 1969, from 11 a.m.-noon ET.
Features an interview with Mary Higgins Clark, Joe Garagiola sports,
"Ring Around the World," "Monitor Tips" &
the great NBC-TV sportscaster, hosted Saturday afternoon Monitor
for several years in the late-'60s (succeeding Ed McMahon)
-- and also did regular sports features for Monitor for many years.
Here is is, hosting on Saturday, February 22, 1969, from 3 to 4
p.m. ET. Features a live report from Mount Vernon (this was,
after all, Washington's Birthday), a report on President Nixon's
overseas trip, Bing Crosby & more. (Courtesy of Ken
About one hour
Joe again, hosting Monitor on Saturday afternoon,
Feb. 22, 1969, from 4 to 5 p.m. ET. Included in this
hour is a report on the Apollo space program; a cut from an
album of comedy skits from NBC-TV's "Laugh In";
an interview with Bing Crosby; a Henry Morgan commentary;
a report on President Nixon's upcoming trip to Rome; and man-on-the-street
interviews about the president's travels. (Courtesy of
Here's Henry, hosting
on Sunday afternoon, February 23, 1969, from 2 to 3 p.m. ET, as
Monitor keeps us up-to-the-minute on President Nixon's arrival in
Brussels, Belgium, for his first overseaas trip. Features
man-on-the-street interviews about the Nixon trip; a Richard Valeriani
report about the trip; Ray Scherer reporting on Nixon's arrival
in Europe; and Dr. Joyce Brothers. (Courtesy of Ken Smith)
no secret that Henry is one of our favorite
all-time Monitor hosts (you can probably tell by the number
of Henry Morgan audio clips we have.) So here's another hour
of Mr. Morgan -- this one from 3 to 4 p.m. ET on Sunday,
February 23, 1969. You'll hear Monitor really "going
places and doing things." This hour includes a
Bob Considine "On the Line" report; Ray Scherer
reporting on President Nixon's arrival in Brussels, Belgium;
man-on-the-street interviews about the president's trip; Joe
Garagiola interviewing boxing great Jack Dempsey; and, of
course, Henry. (Courtesy of Ken Smith)
about 80 minutes
piece demonstrates why Gene Rayburn was such a
great, and beloved, Monitor host -- and why Monitor was, simply,
incomparable when it came to "going places and doing things,"
and covering everything important or interesting in the weekend
world. This aired on Saturday morning, March 29, 1969, from
9 to 10:20 a.m. ET -- the day after Dwight D. Eisenhower, our 34th
president, died. It features a moving tribute by Bob "On
the Line" Considine; Peter Hackes, reporting live on Ike's
memorial; Kyle Rote, reporting on Ike's athletic achievements; "early"
Monitor News on the Hour, followed by a special live report on Ike's
memorial; plus a couple of Monitor "tips" and Dr. Joyce
Brothers. Gene segues between all of this beautifully, and
his tone and presentation perfectly fit the mood of each of the
about 20 minutes
to hurry to hear Durward host Monitor -- he was
on only a short time in '69 (and so was his pal, Garry Moore, who
hosted another segment). Here he is on Sept. 21 from 9 to
about 9:20 p.m. ET -- a segment we like because it features our
long-time friend, former Monitor engineer Gene Garnes Sr.,
as a reporter! (Courtesy of Gene Garnes Sr.)
about one hour
is oh-so-good -- delightful Thanksgiving-time Monitor '69
segments, hosted by some of our very favorite people!
(Courtesy of Ken Smith)
about 70 minutes
delightful holiday listening - Monitor segments from December '69,
with plenty of Monitor Christmas jingles and some
great hosts! (Courtesy of Ken Smith)
"5th Beatle" -- wildman NYC disc jockey Murray
the K -- settled down in the late-'60s to host Saturday
night Monitor for several years. Here he is, on April 25,
1970, from 10 to 10:30 p.m. ET -- the last half-hour ever of Monitor
in this time slot, since (as Murray will announce), the program's
start time would change the following weekend, and Saturday night
Monitor would henceforth air from 7 to 10 p.m. ET. (Courtesy
of Don Spuhler)
Here's just a brief slice of one
of our favorites, Mr. Morgan, hosting Saturday
afternoon Monitor on the Fourth of July in 1970, from 4:07
to about 4:22 p.m. ET. It will send a chill down your
spine to hear Henry's live interview with an Air Force captain
in Greenland (where it was nearly freezing) -- especially
when Henry asks how much warning the U.S. would have if that
base spotted an incoming enemy missile coming over the pole.
This also features part of a Len Dillon interview with Kentucky
basketball coach Henry Iba. The piece ends abruptly,
with an NBC announcer closing out the segment (obviously,
someone deleted material from the end of the Iba interview,
to the end of the half-hour segment). But it's still
very, very good listening!
WNEW disc jockey Ted Brown succeeded Henry
Morgan as Sunday afternoon Monitor host in 1970.
Here he is, on Sunday, Feb. 21, 1971, from 5:30 to 6 p.m. ET, demonstrating
his own brand of energy and humor. Features Gene Shalit with
a movie review, Ted hosting sports, and plenty of ad-libs. (Courtesy
of Jim Willard)
Bill Cullen --
the "king of TV game shows" -- was the regular Saturday
afternoon Monitor host for several years. Here he is, on a
Sunday afternoon, May 16, 1971, from 5:30 to 6 p.m. ET. Features
Dr. Joyce Brothers, Cullen doing sports & more. (Courtesy
of Jim Willard)
For more information
about Bill, check out The
Bill Cullen Homepage
about 51 minutes
is an "unusual" Monitor hour in that it focuses
on one topic. Jim Lowe hosted this
hour from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. ET on Saturday night, Oct. 30,
1971. It was part of an extended evening-long Monitor
look at youth, music and religion. This particular hour
focused on the hit stage musicals "Jesus Christ Superstar"
and "Godspell." You'll hear Jim interviewing
the very young Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, along with
Monitor's stage critic Leonard Probst. Of course, you'll
hear music from both plays. This was recorded off WTIC
Radio in Hartford, Connecticut. Pay attention to the
station break, where you'll hear a WTIC public service announcement
about something that will bring back memories to all of us
who grew up during the height of the Cold War. (Courtesy
of Jim Willard & Louis Castaing)
Lowe hosts Monitor '72
Legendary NYC disc jockey
Jim Lowe was Monitor's 2nd-longest tenured host
-- after Gene Rayburn. First he hosted Saturday
night Monitor -- then (after leaving and returning to WNBC), he
hosted Sunday night Monitor from '69 to '73. Here's Jim on
Sunday night, January 30th, 1972, from 9 to 10 p.m. ET. Features
Dean Mell interviewing Gay Talese, Len Dillon with Monitor sports,
Graham Kerr (the "Galloping Gourmet") & more.
(Courtesy of Don Spuhler)
Time: about 40 minutes
again, ad-libbing his way through this memorable Sunday
segment from April 30, 1972. (Courtesy of W.T. Koltek)
Mazer hosts Monitor '72
Mazer was a great sports talk host on WNBC Radio in NYC.
He also occasionally filled in as a Monitor host, as he did here,
on Saturday mornng, Sept. 23, 1972 (sitting in for regular host Gene
Rayburn). In this wonderful hour (9-10 a.m. ET), you will hear
reports by Ed McMahon, Joe Garagiola, Gene Rayburn and Curt Gowdy.
That's right -- ALL of them, in just one hour! Plus, great music
-- a Monitor tip -- and more! Yes, even in 1972, 17 years after
its premiere, Monitor still sounded like the best program, ever, on
network radio. And it was! (Courtesy of Gene Garnes Jr.)
fans, Frank Jr. hosted Saturday night Monitor for
three consecutive weekends in 1972, starting with this hour on Dec.
2 from 7 to 8 p.m. ET. He was performing at the Rainbow
Room on top of the RCA Building at the time, so NBC decided to book
him as a Monitor host. Features Ed McMahon, Gene Shalit doing
a live movie review, Guy LeBow with a live sports report & more.
(Courtesy of Jack Burns)
Frank Jr. hosted
this half-hour from 8-8:30 p.m. ET on Saturday night, Dec. 2,
1972. After an edited Monitor News on the Hour, you'll
hear Frank Jr. interviewing Frankie Avalon.
In this half-hour, which aired from 8:30 to
9 p.m. ET on Dec. 2, Frank Jr. plays some of
his favorite music -- and it's an exceptional list, including
offerings by Chicago, Ella Fitzgerald, Blood, Sweat and Tears,
Nat King Cole and Bing Crosby.
After an edited
Monitor News on the Hour, you'll hear Frank Jr.
being interviewed by Cindy Adams, a newspaper columnist who
was a frequent Monitor host in the early '70's. This aired
from 9-9:30 p.m. ET on Dec. 2, 1972
about a half-hour
This half-hour, which aired from 9:30-10 p.m. ET on Saturday
night, Dec. 2, 1972, features Frank Jr. performing
live at the Rainbow Grill on top of the RCA Building in New
York. The first five minutes consist of Monitor's "fill"
music for those affiliates not doing local news -- then Frank
Jr. takes it from there.
about 25 minutes
Frank Jr., hosting Saturday night Monitor
from 7-7:30 p.m. ET on Dec. 9, 1972. In this half-hour,
he interviews actor, comedian and impressionist George Kirby.
about a half-hour
delightful segment that aired from 7:30-8 p.m. ET on Saturday
night, Dec. 9, 1972. Here, Frank Jr.
is joined by NBC's movie and book reviewer Gene Shalit and
by NBC sportscaster Guy LeBow.
There is no doubt that Gene Rayburn
was Monitor's most-loved host -- and why not? He hosted
Monitor longer than anyone else -- he had a great personality
-- and he loved doing the broadcast. Here he is, on Saturday
morning, December 30, 1972, from 9 to 9:30 a.m. ET, interviewing
the legendary Jean Shepherd. It begins
with Monitor News on the Hour, anchored by our friend Dean
Mell, who is, I am glad to say, alive and well in Washington
state. (Courtesy of the family of Bud Drake)
Here's Gene, on Saturday morning,
December 30, 1972, from 9:30 to 10 a.m. ET. He's joined
by Joe Garagiola and Bob Considine,
reminiscing about the year that's about to end.
(Courtesy of the family of Bud Drake)
Ford, a great NYC radio voice, hosted this "big-band
tribute" on Sunday night, April 15, 1973, on Monitor, from
7 to 8 p.m. ET. (Courtesy of Jack
Let's turn back
the clock about 40 years, when we were all much younger.
It's Saturday night at 7 p.m. ET on June 9, 1973 --
and Don "Imus in the Morning" --
a controversial "shock jock" on WNBC Radio in New
York -- makes his debut as a Monitor host. And he doesn't
sound terriblypleased to be inside Radio Central, does he?
(Courtesy of Gene Garnes Jr.)
is the second-half of Imus' first-ever hour on Monitor, airing
Saturday night, June 9, 1973, from 7:30-8 p.m. ET. This features
an Imus interview with Ron Landry of the Los Angeles DJ team
of Hudson and Landry and a Guy LeBow live sports update.
Imus also plays some good-sounding 1973 music, and he has
a quick one-liner for LeBow right after Guy finishes his sports
update. (Courtesy of Gene Garnes Jr.)
Don, hosting Saturday night Monitor on June 9,
1973, from 8-9 p.m. ET. In this hour, Imus (known as
"Imus in the Morning" on WNBC Radio) talks live with sportscaster
Dick Schapp, interviews Dr. Joyce Brothers and revivalist Marjoe
Gortner, and plays one of his "Rev. Hargis" skits.
Even if you're not an Imus fan, you'll have to admit -- this is
survived his first three-hour Monitor hosting duties the weekend
before, Imus returns on this Saturday night, June 16, for
another go-around. This half-hour (which aired from
9-9:30 p.m. ET) features Imus parodies about law enforcement
and about Wolfman Jack, and Don's interview with former
New York Yankees pitcher Jim Bouton.
this Imus segment on Monitor -- which aired from 9:30-10 p.m.
ET on Saturday night, June 16 -- Don does a "Crazy Bob"
piece and then interviews former NBC News anchor Chet Huntley.
The half-hour begins with a local newscast from the Santa
Barbara, California, radio station from which this Monitor
audio was recorded.
New York City DJ Dan Daniel (WMCA, WHN, then WCBS-FM)
hosted various Monitor segments in 1973. Here he is, on Saturday
night Monitor on July 14, 1973, from 9 to 9:30 p.m. ET, along with
reports by Joe Garagiola and Dr. Joyce Brothers. (Audio recorded
off the NBC affiliate in Santa Barbara, California)
a segment of Saturday morning Monitor hosted by the great Bill
Cullen, on Saturday, July 21, from 11 to about 11:40 a.m.
ET. By this time, long-time Saturday morning host Gene Rayburn
was busy with his "Match Game" revival on CBS-TV
-- so he had to bow out of the Saturday morning slot. Bill stepped
in for a time -- and this snippet showcases his wonderfully breezy
style -- he sounds just like the "guy next door," and that's
undoubtedly why he was so successful on both radio and TV during his
great career. This piece features Bill at his best, interviewing
Sterling Holloway -- and listen to Bill as he jokes that he "limped"
into a question with Sterling. If you know details about Bill's
life, you'll understand what he's referring to.
Yes, we present
another hour hosted by the great Bill Cullen, this
time on Saturday morning, Aug. 11, 1973 -- 9 to 10 a.m. ET.
Apart from Bill's casual and wonderful style, you'll enjoy (we promise!)
reports by Joe Garagiola, travel expert Fran Koltun, and reports about
the overseas movie industry and a unique history author. Plus,
Monitor tips -- and more! (Courtesy of Gene Garnes Jr.)
Los Angeles disc jockey Robert W. Morgan hosted Saturday
night Monitor during the summer and fall of 1973, alternating weeks
with Don Imus and Wolfman Jack. This was NBC Radio's experiment
to try to induce some of its stations that were no longer airing Monitor
to do so. In this segment -- Saturday night, Nov. 3, from 8
to 9 p.m. ET, Robert W. has the comedy team of Hudson and Landry as
Yes, legendary "shock jock"
Don Imus -- who was then on WNBC Radio in New
York City -- hosted Saturday night Monitor once a month during
the summer and fall of 1973. Was he an appropriate host
for Monitor, which featured, during its 20-year run, such legendary
hosts as Dave Garroway, Gene Rayburn, Henry Morgan, Ed McMahon,
Joe Garagiola, Frank Blair, David Wayne, Jim Lowe and many,
many more? You decide. This part includes
"Imus in Washington," "the Rev. Billy Sol
Hargis," "Judge Hanging," a "note from Nixon,"
a "Nixon phone call," and an interview with Norm N.
Nite (all from Saturday night, Nov. 10).
Includes more of the Norm N.
Nite interview, and interviews with Little Richard, Fats Domino,
Bo Diddley and Chuck Berry (from Saturday night, Nov. 10).
Includes "Crazy Bob,"
an interview with Paul Anka, and "the Rev. Hargis"
(from Saturday night, Nov. 10).
below are the full six hours of NBC Monitor's last Saturday on the
air -- January 25, 1975
Dave Garroway interviewing Marilyn Monroe on Monitor's first broadcast
(Sunday, June 12, 1955), John Chancellor, the sound of snapping
turtles, Bob and Ray, and Joe Garagiola interviewing Bob Hope
Marlene Dietrich, "Miss Monitor," Lee Kline interviewing
a walnut grower, Selma Diamond, and a feature on "the twist"
Sammy Cahn's musical tribute to Monitor, Nichols & May, Frank
Blair, Ben Grauer, David Wayne, Al Kelly
Helen Hall's roller-coaster ride, James Daly, Joe Garagiola interviewing
Bob Hope, "Miss Monitor," Bob & Ray, Jim Lowe
Groucho Marx, strange sounds heard on Monitor over the years, Ted
Brown, Johnny Andrews, Jimmy Durante, and a Monitor fan interviewed
Roy Silver and a reporter who could not say, "Now back to Monitor
at Radio Central," Doug Storer's bloopers, Peter Roberts,
Jonathan Winters, Art Buchwald, Jerry Stiller & Anne Meara
below are the full six hours of NBC Monitor's last Sunday on the air
-- January 26, 1975
& May, Dr. Joyce Brothers, Bernard Baruch, Marx Loeb,
Features Ed McMahon, Ernie Kovacs and
Features Edwin Newman, Gene Shalit, Johnny Andrews,
Features Phyllis Diller, Barry
Nelson, Frank Blair, Jim Lowe
Features Bob & Ray, Ben
Grauer, Frank McGee, Pat Weaver, Dave Garroway & Eddie
last hour ever. Features Dave Garroway & Marilyn Monroe,
John Chancellor, Hugh Downs, and Sammy Cahn's musical tribute
below are some exceptional audio clips from NBC Monitor throughout
Time: 1 minute, 2 seconds
last Sunday, program creator Sylvester L. "Pat"
Weaver Jr. told host John Bartholomew Tucker how
he coined the term "kaleidoscopic phantasmagoria" to describe
One of Monitor
communicator Dave Garroway's most famous interviews
was one of his first -- this one with actress Marilyn Monroe
in Radio Central on Sunday, June 12, 1955.
Time: 1 minute, 30
Frank McGee's most famous interview was this one
-- with civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr.
Who WAS that lady who
did the sexy weather forecasts on Monitor? Her name was Tedi
Thurman. Here she recreates one of her forecasts, with
Monitor host Big Wilson. To see what she looked
like, check out the "Miss Monitor" page.
Time: 1 minute, 4 seconds
For years, comedians Bob
Elliott and Ray Goulding stayed in Radio
Central virtually every weekend, ready to ad-lib comedy routines
if a Monitor remote failed or time needed to be filled. Here's their
take-off on "Miss Monitor."
Time: 1 minute, 31
Downs was one of Monitor's earliest communicators. Listen
as he reminisces about working with Bob and Ray.
Time: 2 minutes, 56
For several memorable
years in the early '60s, the great comedy team of Mike Nichols
and Elaine May kept Monitor listeners in stitches
with outrageous and innovative comedy skits. Here's one of them,
from a September '64 Monitor segment hosted by Barry Nelson.
Time: 1 minute, 13
Kovacs entertained Monitor listeners with creative monologues
like this one for years.
to a bigtime network radio program when the lights go out in the studio?
Dave Garroway tells John Bartholomew Tucker
all about it, in this interview that aired on Monitor's final day
Time: 2 minutes. 34
Legendary NYC radio personality
Ted Brown hosted Sunday afternoon Monitor for several
years in the early-'70s. Here is one of the "stripper"
routines he often performed on Monitor -- routines that all Monitor
fans of that time will remember. (Courtesy of Ken Smith)
is a collection of 23 audio clips of Monitor promos that aired on
NBC Radio over the years. Number 1 aired on "World News
Roundup" on June 2, 1955; #2 aired on "Just Plain Bill"
on Aug. 11, 1955; #3 & 4 aired during "X Minus One"
in 1956. Number 5 aired during "The Affairs of Dr. Gentry"
in 1957. Numbers 6 through 18 aired during "X Minus One"
in 1957; #19 aired on "X-Minus One" in 1958; #20 aired during
the "NBC Radio Theatre" in 1959; #21 through 24 aired during
the Orange Bowl football game Jan. 1, 1965. (Courtesy of
3 minutes, 55 seconds
In Monitor's final years,
NBC Radio fed Monitor promos a few days before the upcoming weekend's
programs so that local stations could insert them where they wanted
(there being very little "other" NBC Radio programming,
besides Monitor, for the network to air them in). This was the last
promo feed -- three promos introduced by Don Pardo and
voiced by Monitor's last hosts, Big Wilson and
John Bartholomew Tucker.
What kinds of announcements?
Oh, you'll remember, once you start listening.
Remember how Monitor's hosts used to identify NBC
affiliates just before those affiliates got their cutaway cues for
local commercials? Well, listen here for another trip down Monitor's
Memory Lane. (In order, you'll hear hosts Jim Lowe, Frank
McGee, Barry Nelson and Gene Rayburn.)
minute, 30 seconds
For a time
near the end of Monitor's run, live news "Updates" were
aired in the body of the program -- first at :15 and :45 after the
hour, then at :30 after. This is the very last live news Update (airing
at 5:30 p.m. ET) on Monitor's final Sunday, January 26, 1975, anchored
by Bob Gibson, who was a radio newsman in NYC for
when Monitor News on the Hour ends and host Ted
Brown isn't ready to read his closing billboard? Just listen.
Radio Central's studio 5B, where Monitor host Gene Rayburn
has to read the closing billboard for News on the Hour just
after a staffer (who shall remain nameless) utters a word that really
shouldn't go out on the air.
host Gene Rayburn, ad-libbing during a commercial
for a comb. What's so funny about that? Listen.
1 minute, 46 seconds
is it to say, "Now back to Monitor in Radio Central,"
when you're finishing a phone report? Very, if you don't have a
Below are four great Monitor "promotional records"
by Gene Rayburn for specific advertisers
for the Bankers Life Company of Iowa,
this promo features WHO Radio (Des Moines) news director
Jack Shelley interviewing Bankers Life president Earl
Bucknell, along with Nichols & May, Jonathan Winters
and Cliff Arquette as "Charley Weaver."
Created for Coca
Cola, this promo features clips from Jonathan Winters
and Nichols & May
Created for DuPont
(which had bought every advertising position on the weekend
of Monitor's 12th anniversary in June 1967), this promo
features Gene and his fellow Monitor hosts Ed McMahon and Henry
Morgan, along with Nichols & May, Joe Garagiola, Bob Hope,
Muhammad Ali and Jack Benny. (Yes, this is one whale of
for Valvoline, this promo features Bill
Cosby and Joe Garagiola.
NBC Radio's "First
Five specials airing
in late 1976 to commemorate NBC Radio's 50 anniversary
Produced by Bud Drake
and Charles Garment
Hosted by legendary NBC announcer Ben Grauer,
this program -- which aired Oct. 10, 1976 -- details NBC Radio's
first decade -- 1926 to 1936.
Hosted by Bob Hope, this part -- airing Oct.
17, 1976 -- details NBC Radio's programming from 1936-46 -- the
war years. Listen in particular to Bob's
reminiscing about the day the war broke out, when he was on a
ship. Charlie Garment told me that was not in the script
-- Bob began ad-libbing it during
recording session, and it was so good -- it was left in the
Hosted by Bing Crosby, this
program -- airing Oct. 24, 1976 -- deals with NBC's post-World
War II programming (1946-1955)
Hosted by Arlene Francis, this program -- which
aired Oct. 31, 1976 -- focuses largely on "Monitor"
-- NBC Radio's last major programming push --
Hosted by John Chancellor,
this program -- which aired Nov. 7, 1976 -- deals with the turbulent
years from 1966-1976, including NBC Radio's coverage of Watergate
and other national events. It also includes a delightful
"Monitor" interview with Saturday afternoon host Ed
McMahon and his "Tonight Show" boss, Johnny Carson.
NBC Radio's Kraft
Family Reunion Specials
after Monitor left the air)
special aired on NBC Radio on Sunday night, February
12, 1978, in honor of Kraft's 75th anniversary.
Singer Eddy Arnold and long-time
NBC -- and Kraft -- announcer Ed Herlihy
co-hosted this marvelous retrospective of the long-running
"Kraft Music Hall" on NBC, which had been
hosted, over the years, by Bing Crosby, Paul
Whiteman and Al Jolson, among others.
The program was produced by former Monitor producer
Bud Drake and former Monitor writer Charles Garment.
aired on NBC Radio on Sunday night, June 24, 1979.
Again co-hosted by singer Eddy Arnold
and NBC's Ed Herlihy, this was a
follow-up to the successful 1978 Kraft special, and
featured more highlights of the "Kraft Music
Hall." It was produced by Bud Drake and
Radio's JFK Assassination Coverage
about 51 minutes
by Monitor's Bud Drake and
Charles Garment and anchored
by Russ Ward, this is the
first part of a truly magnificent effort by
NBC Radio on Sunday night, Nov. 24, 1963,
to sum up the events of the unbelievable weekend
that began on Friday when President John F.
Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas.
In this part, you'll hear readings from American
actor Alexander Scourby, interviews with Harvard
professor Oscar Handlin and with many who
knew JFK, and the beginning of an audio biography
of the President.
about 46 minutes
segment features a look back at JFK's election
in 1960, Inauguration Day in '61, and some
of his early accomplishments, including the
establishment of the Peace Corps and America's
entry into space.
about 51 minutes
segment features a look back at Kennedy's
battle with the steel industry, the Cuban
missile crisis and the civil rights movement,
as well as interviews about JFK's legacy.
about 51 minutes
are more interviews about JFK's legacy, and
NBC newsman Robert MacNeil's recounting of
the president's assassination just two days
earlier. In addition, NBC sportscaster
(and voice of the Yankees) Mel Allen reflects
on Kennedy's life, NBC newsman Bryson Rash
reports on Jackie Kennedy's absolutely heart-breaking
visit to the Capitol on that Sunday night,
and NBC reporters Robert Abernathy and Nancy
Dickerson report on Kennedy's legacy and the
challenges facing new President Lyndon Johnson.
about 51 minutes
are NBC's correspondents around the world
-- including John Chancellor in Berlin --
reporting on the foreign reaction to JFK's
death. This documentary ended at 11:21 p.m.
ET, but you'll hear about 20 more minutes
of NBC Radio's continuing coverage of the
assassination immediately after that.