The "New" Studio C

Right: The "new" studio C
New studio C

By the late 1930's, RCA engineers had developed reasonably satisfactory techniques for recording and reproducing electrical transcriptions. A set of turntables was moved into studio C so that phonograph recordings and pre-recorded commercials could be used in local broadcasts. NBC policy still restricted the use of transcribed material within network broadcasts. The studio was thus used primarily for the local broadcasts of WMAQ.

[Thanks to the clout of James C. Petrillo, czar of the Chicago-based American Federation of Musicians, jurisdiction over turntables was given to members of the musicians' union (the theory was that the turntables were taking the jobs of live musicians). A number of musicians too old to tootle or fiddle (along with relatives of Petrillo) were given jobs as turntable operators. This was the common practice at all Chicago's larger broadcast facilities. Only in the late 1960's was the AFM stranglehold broken at NBC.]

The decline of network radio, the departure in the mid-1950's of ABC (which had leased studio space from NBC after the divestiture of the Blue Network in 1942) and the predominance of the "disk jockey" format left NBC with more radio studios in the Merchandise Mart than it needed. Some were converted into office space. Studio C was initially transformed into a television technical maintenance area. In the 1980's it became a lounge where television engineers (and anyone else who felt fatigued) could take naps. For a brief period when ENG facilities elsewhere on the 19th floor were under renovation, it became a news editing room.

Return to the 1930 Studio Tour Guide

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