WCBS 880's 50th Anniversary Takes A Look Back At The Beginning

NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — This August, WCBS Newsradio 880 is celebrating 50 years of covering news in New York! To commemorate, we’re spending the year sharing new stories about the people, places and events that marked the past five decades in our community.

880pic 11302016152009001 Back Stories: The Birth Of A Station

The Blackout of 1965, shot in the WCBS control room. (Credit: WCBS Newsradio 880)

We’re excited to break new ground on these important stories that have been shared across generations. We’re calling this daily series WCBS Back Stories.

We begin with a look at how WCBS launched its all news format back in August of 1967.

Find more 50th anniversary Back Stories and other special features here, and be sure to follow the station on Facebook and Twitter

Wayne Cabot looks back to August 28, 1967 — the first day Newsradio 880 went on air. He recounts the story of how WCBS-AM actually debuted on WCBS-FM because a light plane crashed into the radio station’s broadcast tower in the Bronx the night before.

WCBS was not the first all news station in New York City. Westinghouse flipped WINS in 1965. In November of that year, when New York was plunged into darkness in the Great Northeast Blackout of ’65, William S. Paley decided that CBS needed its own all news outlet in New York City. The radio station delivered wall to wall coverage during the Blackout which ended up being a dress rehearsal for the format flip that occurred in 1967.

The station’s move to all news was actually part of the headlines that first day because a plane crashed into the radio station’s broadcast tower, forcing the news from the AM signal to FM for the first few weeks.

Where did the idea to call WCBS “Newsradio” come from? Wayne Cabot speaks with the man who came up with the phrase, Frank Sterbenz, a former WCBS research director.

William S. Paley decided to turn WCBS to an all news station and was deeply invested in his decision. So much so, he would call the newsroom often to speak with managers and editors. Charles Osgood was a part of the newsroom in 1967 and he shares some of these stories.

Iconic images:

Click here to view photos of the people and places that made the past 50 years possible.

Ads from the early days:

(credit: WCBS Newsradio 880)

(credit: WCBS Newsradio 880)(credit: WCBS Newsradio 880)(credit: WCBS Newsradio 880)

Articles on the bold transition:

(credit: WCBS Newsradio 880)    (credit: WCBS Newsradio 880)(credit: WCBS Newsradio 880)Find more 50th anniversary Back Stories and other special features here, and be sure to follow the station on Facebook and Twitter.