Audio and Video Downloads

Left: The NBC-Chicago recording room (located on the 20th floor of the Merchandise Mart studios). This is where recording lathes (visible in the foreground) cut electrical transcriptions in the days before audio tape.

Curator's note: This site includes streaming video and audio files documenting the work of broadcasters in the NBC-Chicago Merchandise Mart studios. More will be added from time to time. The list below will direct you to the pages where the files can be found. With the exception of the QuickTime welcome (which requires QuickTime), RealPlayer is required to play some of the audio and video clips. I'm in the process of converting all the files to Flash video formats which will greatly facilitate the playing of the clips

Recent Additions:
Highlights from WORT 89.9 FM Madison's Bach Birthday celebration of March 21, 2013. Hear special performance by some of South Central Wisconsin's most avid J.S. Bach fans.

Falun Gong in Chicago: watch a piece that aired on WTTW's Chicago Tonight on the 10th anniversary of the outlawing of the Falun Gong movement in the People's Republic of China..

Thomson Prison: Nobody bid for it when it was placed on the auction block on December 21, 2010. Here's a piece from December 15, 2009 when it appeared the state-of-the-art facility might have a future.

The Chicago Stockyards fire of December 22, 1910: watch a video about the blaze that took the lives of 21 Chicago firefighters three days before Christmas. No fire department suffered greater losses prior to 9/11.

Manuel Perez Junior: watch a video about an ordinary Chicgoan who became an extraordinary hero (and who gave his life) in World War II. This piece originally appeared on WTTW's "Chicago Tonight" program on September 18, 2007 as part of the "Chicago Stories series.

Colonel Robert R. McCormick: watch a video about the man who stood at the helm of the Chicago Tribune's media empire for more than half a century.

Colonel Robert R. McCormick

January 29, 1988: NBC transfers ownership of WMAQ-AM to Group W. Will producer Roe Conn have a future in broadcasting after the ownership change?

Nukes on Chicago's lake front: the Nike missile story. A good way to satisty your Cold War nostalgia by watching a piece by Rich Samuels that originally aired on WTTW in October of 2006.

A complete half-hour "Kukla, Fran & Ollie" show from December 12, 1949, their memorable "Salute to Television". Oliver J. Dragon tells you everything you need to know about the video medium.

Ann-Margaret sings "Heat Wave" in 1959. A previously unreleased recording of Ann-Margaret singing the Irving Berlin classic from a New Trier High School (Winnetka, Illinois) student production. She's accompanied by a 24-piece student orchestra which attempts to negotiate its way through a somewhat dense orchestration by Rich Samuels. This curiosity has been sitting in the vault more than half a century.

"What Trees do They Plant?". This Rich Samuels piece (which aired on WTTW's "Chicago Tonight program on December 18, 2008) looks back 40 years at a documentary produced by the city of Chicago that tries to explain the origins of the violence at the 1968 Democratic National Convention. Did the regime of Richard J. Daley try to rewrite history?

"Cow Power". A segment by Rich Samuels that first aired on WTTW's "Chicago Tonight" program on September 16 2008 as part of the "Chicago Matters" series "Growing Forward". It shows how an Illinois dairy converts the manure of its cows into electricty that powers the farm (with the surplus fed into the Commonwealth Edison grid).

"Everett Dirksen and Paul Douglas". A "Chicago Stories" segment produced by Rich Samuels for WTTW's "Chicago Tonight" in November 2004 when Barack Obama faced Alan Keyes in the contest to fill retiring Senator Peter Fitzgerald's seat. Do Mark Kirk and Alexi Giannoulias, presently contending for the seat Obama vacated, measure up to the Dirksen-Douglas standards?

High Speed Rail in Illininois: Construction has begun on the first phase of a $1.1 billion stimulus project that will allow passenger trains on the Saint Louis-Chicago route to travel at speeds up to 110 miles per hour. But what ever happened to the trains capable of reaching that speed that were running in the mid-1930's?

Reversing the flow of the Chicago River: On September 10, 2010 Mayor Richard M. Daley told the Chicago Tribune the time had come to reverse the flow of the Chicago River. Here's a piece I did for WTTW on November 25, 2008 that explains why this might be a good idea.

The earliest days of WTTW: December 11, 2010 marks the 55th anniversary of the beginning of regular programming on Chicago's WTTW. This video documents what viewers saw in those days. (Not surprisingly, a mayor named Daley headlined the inaugural broadcast).

November 18 2009: Mayor Richard M. Daley's announcement on September 7 2010 that he would not seek another term in office prompted me to post this video showing him walking out of a City Hall press conference after demanding an apology from a reporter. Do you remember why?

Bringing the Movement Home: A 2002 "Chicago Stories" piece by Rich Samuels documenting civil rights activism on Chicago's North Shore in the mid-1960's. One of the effort's most memorable moments was July 25, 1965 When Martin Luther King Junior spoke on Winnetka's Village Green.

Martin Luther King Junior in Winnetka on 7/25/1965

Backyard chickens: Worried about contaminated store-bought eggs? Discover the joys (and hassles) of raising hens in your urban backyard.

BlagoFlashBack: A collection of video clips chronicling encounters between the curator, other Chicago journalists and former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich.

Watch a biographical portrait of Jim Ryan that aired on WTTW in the fall of 2002 when Ryan was the Republican candidate for Governor of Illinois (Rod Blagojevich was victorious in the November election).

Jim Ryan

Luciano Pavarotti on WMAQ-TV in 1977. He sings and cooks. This piece (which ran in September, 1977 on the occasion of the opening of the twenty-third season of Chicago's Lyric Opera) also features Adua, Pavarotti's first wife, and his daugters Lorenza, Cristina and Giuliana.

The Murder and the Movement. A 1985 short documentary the curator prepared on the 30th anniversary of the murder of Emmett Till.

The Abe Stolar story. Trapped in the USSR for 58 years, Abe never forgot Chicago, the city of his birth.

The Sam Zell you probably don't know. A brief profile of the guy who's shelling out $8.2 billion to take the Tribune Company private.

Streaming video....

A QuickTime welcome to this site.

Real vs. artificial Christmas trees? (A piece that aired on the Chicago Tonight show on WTTW on 13 December, 2007).

A tribute to Kukla, Fran and Ollie on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of their first broadcast.
From WTTW's "Chicago Tonight" broadcast of 10/11/2007.

The election Barack Obama lost. An appearance on WTTW's "Chicago Tonight" program in March of 2000.

"Farewell to the Mart": A half-hour special the Curator produced on the occasion of NBC's departure from the Merchandise Mart to the NBC Tower in September of 1989.

"Mart Memories"---streaming video of five brief pieces that aired on WMAQ-TV's early newscasts the week prior to the station's move to the NBC Tower. The pieces are presented by reporter Rich Samuels on broadcasts anchored by Carol Marin and Ron Magers.

Highlights of the last newscast from the Merchandise Mart studios. Features anchor Art Norman, reporters Renee Ferguson and Sharon Wright, weatherman Jim Tilmon and sportcaster Tom Shaer. (Aired Saturday, September 30th, 1989).

A torch light parade on Chicago's West Side promoting the presidential candidacy of Senator John F. Kennedy and a speech by Senator. It dates from November 4th, 1960. And the broadcast was paid for by the Democratic Party of Cook County, Richard J. Daley, Chairman. Perhps the most exciting politcal broadcast you've ever seen.

A "Ding Dong School" telecast from the early 1950's featuring Dr. Frances Horwich as "Miss Frances". This series set the bench mark for children's programming on commercial television.

Highlights of WMAQ-TV's first news broadcast from the NBC Tower. Features anchors Carol Marin and Ron Magers, sports anchor Mark Giangreco, weatherman John Coleman and politcal editor Dick Kay. (There's also a cameo appearance by the Curator).

Doc Severinsen and the "Tonight Show Orchestra" perform at the gala celebrating the opening of the NBC Tower.

"Christmas Time in Chicago". An hour-long 1989 holiday special featuring Carol Marin, Ron Magers, Warner Saunders, Ray Suarez and Rich Samuels plus highlights of a 1950 "Garroway at Large" broadcast featuring Dave Garroway, Bette Chapel, Connie Russell, Jack Haskell and Cliff Norton.

The best of Dick Kay (perhaps better known as "Doogie")

A mini-documentary (video) on the "Breakfast Club") put together by the curator in 2004. (This piece originally aired on the "Chicago Tonight" program on WTTW).

The late Val Press in her own words.

A complete 10 pm news broadcast from February 23rd, 1967 (featuring Floyd Kalber, Len O'Connor and Harry Volkman).

A fragment of a Clifton Utley television newscast from 1949 or 1950.

The best of "Garroway at Large". Segments from the ground-breaking variety show that aired from April, 1949 to June, 1951. Included: The first television performance of "Slaughter on Tenth Avenue" by Richard Rodgers and the "Boom Ballet", jazz by the Art Van Damme Quintet and Johnny Hodges. Early (and, of course, live) television at its best).

"Studs' Place": a complete broadcast from 8 June, 1950.

The legendary sportscaster-deskman Johnny Erp dispatching film crews from the old Channel 5 newsroom early in 1963.

The demise of WMAQ radio, featuring a walk through the studios and clips featuring Studs Terkel, Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, Bob Roberts and Bill Cameron.

Heritage turkeys. The curator and some gobblers down on the farm.
Man against carp. Dealing with invasive species (the Asian and bighead carp) on the Illinois River.

The curator drinks the world's best cup of coffee.

Streaming audio....

"Uncle Ned's Squadron". A half-hour broadcast from November 11, 1950, featuring Ned Locke (best known as the ring master of WGN-TV's "Bozo's Circus") and his co-pilot, Hugh Downs. Quality programming for the younger set.

The National Barn Dance. The NBC Network portion of the broadcast from October 2nd, 1943, celebrating the 10th anniversary of the network broadcast. (The Barndance was first broadcast locally on WLS on April 19th, 1924; the show continued until April 20th, 1960).

The "Quiz Kids" on the air. Two shows available, including a 1946 appearance on "The Jack Benny Show" (broadcast from Chicago).

"Lights Out": Horror and chills from studio B, courtesy of Wyllis Cooper and some of Chicago's finest radio actors. Also a marvelous Christmas episode.

"Fibber McGee and Mollie": a look at how one of radio's most beloved series evolved between 1935 and 1939 during its earliest years in Chicago.

"Smackout". The earliest surviving broadcasts (1931) of Marian and Jim Jordan, best known as "Fibber McGee and Molly".

The Breakfast Club. A complete broadcast from December 8th, 1941 (the day after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor).

"Amos 'n' Andy": The Chicago Years. Audio downloads from 1929 and 1933 broadcasts.

Two "Empire Builders" radio broadcasts from December 22nd, 1930 and January 5th, 1931. Remarkably sophisticated production values for an early network radio dramatic series.

Introduction and main index to this site
WMAQ radio history | "Amos 'n' Andy" | "Fibber McGee and Mollie" | "The Breakfast Club"
Dick Kay | Television at the Merchandise Mart | 1970 television facilities tour | Channel 5 turns 20
The "Chicago School" of television | "Kukla, Fran and Ollie" | Dave Garroway | Mary Hartline
"Lights Out" | Sound effects | 1930 studio tour | WLS | "Empire Builders" | Barry Bernson
Floyd Kalber | The Queen of Love and Beauty | "Today's Children" | Staff announcers | Carol Marin
Ron Magers | Studs Terkel l "Chicago Tonight" | Channel 5 News scrapbooks |Roger Miller recalls
Zoo Parade | Clifton and Frayne Utley | Val Press | Len O'Connor | Johnny Erp | Bill Ray | Daddy-O
Experimental Television: 1930-1933 | Bob Deservi | Kermit Slobb | Ding Dong School | Quiz Kids
Bob Lemon | The Korshak Chronicles | KYW: The Chicago Years | WENR | O.B. Hanson | Renzo
Jack Eigen | Ed Grennan | The World's Best Cup of Coffee | Glenn Webster | Mr. Piano | Hawkins Falls
Chicago Television for Kids |
Radio Hall of Fame |The NBC News Night Report: 23 February, 1967
Audio and video downloads
About the Curator

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