Meet Oscar B. Hanson
...And Designer of the Merchandise Mart Studios
O. B. Hanson---mastermind of the NBC Merchandise Mart studios along with interior
designer Gerard Chatfield---ranks among the greatest of the first generation of
broadcast engineers. No other individual had a greater influence on the 'look
and feel' of NBC's broadcast facilities during the network's first decade and
O. B. Hanson standing to the right of the NBC-Chicago master control console in
1931. Seated are engineers Howard Lutgens and J. R. Miller.
note: O. B. Hanson's first major design project for NBC were the eight
studios at 711 Fifth Avenue in New York into which WJZ and WEAF, the key stations
of the Blue and Red NBC networks, moved in October of 1927, less than a year after
Hanson's 'floating studio' concept, first implemented at 711 Fifth Avenue, was
incorporated in all his subsequent designs.
Hanson's masterpiece was the Radio City studio complex in New York, opened in
the fall of 1933. He also designed the network's Hollywood facilities.
The biographical material below comes from The House that Radio Built,
a pamphlet published by NBC in 1935 that describes the technical details of the
Radio City studios:
|Mr. O. B. Hanson,
Chief Engineer of the National Broadcasting Company has, since radio's inception,
been a very large contributor to its technical development. Many of the outstanding
engineering achievements for which radio has been noted have been due largely
to his knowledge and efforts
Mr. Hanson's radio career began in 1912 when he attended the Marconi School in
New York, now continuing as the RCA Institute. Completing his course in "wireless:
he obtained his operator;s license and went to sea. From 1917 to 1920 he worked
in the testing department of the Marconi Company, becoming Chief Testing Engineer.
In 1920 he took another turn at sea.When radio broadcasting came into being Mr.
Hanson became associated with WAAM, a pioneer station in Newark, New Jersey. In
1922 he accepted a position as assistant to the plant engineer at WEAF, then owned
and operated by the American Telephone and Telegraph Company. With the formation
of the National Broadcasting Company in 1926, Mr. Hanson went with the new company
and since that date has directed technical operations and engineering activities
He supervised the designing and construction of the NBC studios at 711 Fifth Avenue
(vacated when NBC moved to Radio City), and the NBC Chicago studios in the Merchandise
Mart. Both of these installations were, at the time of their building, the last
word in technical efficiency as well as pleasing design.
curator thanks Don Archiable for providing him a copy of The House
that Radio Built. Don, a fervent disciple of O. B. Hanson, designed the facilties
of WMAQ-TV opened in 1989 in Chicago's NBC Tower.
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