Before Transmitter Park
In 1896, a young Italian inventor by the name of Gugliemo Macroni designed what he called the 'wireless telegraph'. This was a way of transmitting soundwaves over a long distance without the use of wires; in other words, it was a radio.
24 years later the first radio news program was broadcast from Detroit, Michigan, and just four years after that, in July 1924, New York's very own WNYC followed suite.
To begin with, radio being a novel thing, WNYC was run by the NYC Commissioner for Bridges, Plants and Structures. As a result, it had to operate out of The Municipal Building in Lower Manhattan. This caused problems however, the surrounding skyscrapers disrupting the signal for listeners, and in 1935 a committee was established to find a new home for the station's antennas.
They identified Greenpoint, Brooklyn's disused ferry station as an ideal location. Work began that same year and, in 1937, the site broadcasted its first shows.
WNYC's Time At Transmitter Park
One year later, New York's Municipal Broadcasting System was established, meaning at last WNYC was to be run by an agency devoted to its function, as opposed to one mainly concerned with other things. From this point onwards the station went from strength to strength, quickly becoming a model broadcaster and pioneering such shows as the annual American Music Festival.
It started its own FM outlet in 1943, opened a TV branch in 1961 and played an important part in forming the National Public Radio in 1971.
As a publically owned station it was occasionally subject to interference by the NYC mayor. Such things did not go uncontested however. In 1979, when mayor Ed Koch tried to make its broadcasters announce the names of 'Johns' and 'Janes' who had been arrested for soliciting prostitutes, as part of a city-wide clampdown, the broadcasters threatened a walk-out and the mayor quickly backed down.
The station finally became a around the clock broadcaster in 1990. This spelled the end of its stint at Greenpoint's Transmitter Park.
WNYC Moves Away From Transmitter Park
As part of its transition to being an around the clock station, WNYC changed frequency so as to accomodate for the neighbouring WMCA. They then moved their AM transmitter to Kearny, NJ, where WMCA's were also based. On top of this, they added a transmitter on top of the World Trade Center, making the Greenpoint site redundant.
After the move, WNYC continued to thrive. It was sold by the city to private investors in 1995 and has grown in budget and audience ever since. So much so that it has acquired another radio station, the classical music-focused WQXR, and a network of e-publications, Gothamist, LAist, etc.
Transmitter Park Becomes A Park
The old Greenpoint site was left abandoned until 2010, when construction began on a park. This opened two years later, in Spetember 2012. A pleasant patch of green looking out onto East River and Lower Manhattan, it has since become a favourite spot for locals, people who enjoy fishing, and anybody with an enthusiasm for relics of times passed. Amidst its fields, playground, and mural covered wall, the remnants of WNYC's past operations remain, striking and strange.
Interested in finding more places like this? Try one of our Scavenger Hunts in NYC - untangle cryptic clues as a team, as you are taken on a journey to the most unique, unusual and bizarre corners of NYC.