WCBS Newsradio 880 was the last holdout waiting to join its CBS Radio colleagues in the new TriBeCa studio complex. That wait is no more.
On Friday, after several days of training with the new equipment, WCBS-AM turned on the mic for the first time at the Hudson Square facilities.
Afternoon anchor Wayne Cabot, like most, wasn’t thrilled with leaving the Broadcast Center, where history and legendary figures met on a daily basis in the halls.
“But that melancholy evaporated the minute we walked through the glass doors and saw the elegance and class that went into every detail of our new newsroom,” Cabot tells FishbowlNY.
It was 2 p.m., a time that anchor Steve Scott typically anchors solo until station veteran Cabot pulls his chair alongside for the afternoon drive starting at 3 p.m.
For this special occasion, though, the longest-tenured anchor got preferential treatment. Cabot teamed with Scott starting at 2 p.m. to officially welcome the new locale. Cabot, who began at 880 on July 4, 1988, was given the honor of saying the first words from the new studios.
“Wayne’s a modest guy. I don’t think he really cared much, one way or the other,” Scott says. “But, for me, it was very cool to be there as his voice launched the new facility.”
Back to normal today, as WCBS resumes its usual daytime schedule with Scott starting separately at 2 p.m.
Scott, who joined WCBS to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, says that 880’s new home is a technical wonder.
“I think the most common reaction from people walking into the newsroom for the first time is, ‘Wow!’ Scott tells FishbowlNY. “Aesthetically, it’s stunning. It’s laid out perfectly. And, it’s state of the art.”
Scott, who previously worked for 20 years on air in Chicago, gushes at the detail that management took to get WCBS housed on Hudson Street.
“It’s impossible not to be excited about the new facilities. Our bosses and engineers have given us every tool, every resource we need to succeed,” Scott says. [Plus], they actually asked the staff – the anchors, the producers, all of us – what we needed to best do our jobs.”
Scott says many suggestions became reality in the new digs.
But, of course, part of the story for WCBS-AM finding a different home, is because of its association with the famed Broadcast Center on West 57th.
WCBS started doing All-News in 1967 from its corporate headquarters on West 52nd Street (also known as Black Rock). In 2000, though, the station moved into the Broadcast Center.
“It was a thrill to work [there]. You never knew who you might see walking out of the elevator,” Scott says. “But, it’s a whole different vibe around Hudson Square. It’s a great neighborhood. And, it’s exciting to be under the same roof with friends from our five CBS NY sister stations. I mean, I ran into 1010 WINS’ [morning anchor] Lee Harris and CBS-FM’s [afternoon jock] Broadway Bill Lee on Friday. How cool is that!”
With WCBS in place at 345 Hudson, the entire cluster of stations is now under one roof–WINS, WFAN, WCBS-FM, WWFS, WXRK (NOW).
Scott knows this undertaking could not have been made without the countless hours of guidance offered by programming and news director Tim Scheld and chief engineer Rob Bertrand.
But Scott finds the ribbon cutting bittersweet as two other integral staffers were not part of beginning anew in Lower Manhattan.
“I only wish Steve Swenson [former WCBS general manager] and Rob Sanchez [former WCBS assistant news director] could have been here to see it happen,” Scott admits. “They worked so hard on this project, only to leave for Washington, DC, [and the impending all-news FM station] before it was brought to its fruition.”
For Cabot, the art work immediately jumped out at him. On one wall, the anchors are greeted by a panoramic Manhattan skyline from the Empire State Building. The opposite wall is lined with historical WCBS photos of newsrooms, newsmakers, and news reporters past and present.
“A third wall has an image of Edward R. Murrow that, like the legend himself, is larger than life… Inspired by a proud past, built for a promising future,” Cabot says. “The entire newsroom is walking a bit taller. It already feels like home.”