|Studio D was the
home of Don McNeill's "Breakfast Club" as long at the Blue Network remained
an NBC property. (McNeill went with ABC when it was spun off from the NBC Blue
Network in 1942; his show eventually moved to the Civic Theater adjoining the
Civic Opera House and ended its run, in 1968, at the Allerton Hotel.)
NBC's long-running "National Farm and Home Hour", hosted by Everett
Mitchell ("It's a beautiful day in Chicago!") was another tenant of
studio D---as was "Hymns of All Churches", a weekday choral show that
General Mills inserted admidst its afternoon block of soaps.
The configuration of studio D's control
room allowed the engineering and production staff an unobstructed view of
Studio D, to my ears, had the best acoustics of all the Merchandise Mart studios---though
the recordings I have heard of broadcasts from it all postdate its
remodeling following World War II. It had a brighter, more live sound than
studio A. This characteristic presented Joseph Gallichio and the NBC-Chicago Orchestra
in their best light. If you can find any tapes of the sustaining network show
Dave Garroway hosted from studio
D on Sunday nightsduring the 1947-1948 season, they're well worth listening to:
the Gallichio group (38 strong) was the house band. Weekly featured guests included
Louis Armstrong and Dizzy Gillespie (imagine bebop on netork radio in 1948!).
The "Garroway at Large" television show (1949-1951) was essentially
this show translated to the video medium.
In 1966 studio D became the last of the Merchandise Mart studios to be converted
to television. NBC in Chicago was thus left without a large radio studio. But
the need for such a facility had long since passed. The staff musicians were axed
the following year. Television broadcasting in the Mart now concentrated on news.
Locally produced entertainment programs were rare.
During studio D's last years, the ceiling skylight became notoriously leaky. This
problem was dealt with through the strategic placement of large plastic trash