Milkman's Matinee

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Milkman's Matinee
Country of origin United States
Language(s) English
Home station WNEW
Hosted by Al Collins
John Flora
Art Ford
Charlie Jefferds
Bob Jones
Billy Kelso
Jack Lazare
Jack Lescoulie
Ed Locke
Stan Martin
Phil McLean
Dick Partridge
Mayrann Roque
Stan Shaw
Dick Shepard
Bill St. James
Jim Tate
Marty Wilson
Original release 1935 – present

Milkman's Matinee is an American radio disc jockey radio program that began on WNEW in New York City in 1935,[1] with the concept later being adopted by other radio stations. The WNEW show was notable for being (at least in its era) the longest daily program[2] on radio at five hours[3] and for making WNEW the first radio station in the world[4] to broadcast 24 hours a day.[5] The program's novelty and impact were such that it received three pages of coverage in the October 23, 1939, issue of Life magazine.


The Biographical Encyclopedia of American Radio credits newspaper columnist Walter Winchell and WNEW general manager Bernice Judis with the creation of Milkman's Matinee. Judis's entry in the book says, "When authoritative columnist Walter Winchell wished (in print) for a radio station that would keep metropolitan New York's all-night work force company during the wee hours, Judis introduced the Milkman's Matinee."[6]

When Stan Shaw began going on the air at 2 a.m. Eastern Time, he made free entertainment available to more than 400,000 night-shift workers in the New York metropolitan area. For six nights a week, he entertained charwomen, bakers, tugboat crews, cab drivers, and others who worked through the early morning hours.[3] Over the years, the program's schedule changed from time to time. In 1960, it was broadcast from midnight to 5:30 a.m. seven days a week.[7]


Shaw played an average of 80 records per program with the help of an assistant. Two teleprinter machines brought in an average of 135 requests per program,[8] with an employee from the Postal Telegraph company on hand to handle the incoming messages.[2] As requests continued to arrive, the station increased the program's record library from its original 10,000[3] to 24,000 six years later.[9] In January 1942, requests were discontinued in compliance with a wartime censorship code under which "Musical request shows are banned because they offer a means whereby enemy agents can send code messages."[10]

Along with music, Shaw mixed in weather reports, market news, and what Life described as "a fresh stream of homey chatter".[3] Shaw used Anson Weeks' recording, My Very Good Friend the Milkman as his opening and closing theme for each broadcast.[2]

Partial list of hosts[edit]

At times, Milkman's Matinee was broadcast seven nights a week. The list below includes those who had only the weekend broadcasts as well as those who had the main Monday-Friday shows.

Popularity and revenue[edit]

In 1949, a survey conducted by the Pulse, Inc., rating service found that Milkman's Matinee was the top-rated post-midnight radio program in the metropolitan New York area.[24] A 1955 Pulse survey showed that the program had more than three times the number of listeners of its closest competitor.[18] In 1960, officials at WNEW said that ratings for Milkman's Matinee were 20 percent higher than those of its closest competitor. That was the program's 25th year, and the station's general manager said that advertising sales over that span were estimated at $2.5 million.[7]

As time went on, the all-night concept had spread to other radio stations, including WPEN in Philadelphia[25] and WBGE in Atlanta.[26] In 1941, a radio columnist for the Brooklyn Eagle wrote that more than 20 stations "have copied the idea".[9]

Transatlantic transmission[edit]

On August 15, 1947, two apparently unprecedented events occurred on Milkman's Matinee. Art Ford broadcast via shortwave radio from studios of the British Broadcasting Corporation in London, England, as part of a salute to the musical Oklahoma!. Besides being the first transatlantic disc jockey broadcast, the show also featured the first broadcast of a radio duet between two continents, as Mary Hatcher in New York and Howard Keel in London sang People Will Say We're in Love. Composer Richard Rodgers and librettist Oscar Hammerstein II were also on hand in the studio with Ford.[27]

Recent years[edit]

In 2013, Metromedia Radio initiated an automated version of Milkman's Matinee that was syndicated to radion stations in the United States and 60 other countries.[13]


  1. ^ Ranson, Jo (August 11, 1935). "Out of a Blue Sky". The Brooklyn Daily Eagle. New York, Brooklyn. p. C 5. Retrieved February 13, 2018 – via open access publication – free to read
  2. ^ a b c Hamilton, Maxwell (February 1, 1936). "Stan Shaw, Your Very Good Friend, the Milkman, Radio's Marathoner, on the Air Five Hours a Day". The Brooklyn Daily Eagle. New York, Brooklyn. p. 5. Retrieved February 14, 2018 – via open access publication – free to read
  3. ^ a b c d "'Milkman's Matinee' Eases Boredom for New Yorkers Who Must Stay up All Night'". Life. October 23, 1939. pp. 41–42, 44. Retrieved 13 February 2018.
  4. ^ Steinhauser, S.H. (November 17, 1935). "Radio Engineers Get Around Lightning Jolts And Static". The Pittsburgh Press. Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh. p. 34. Retrieved February 13, 2018 – via open access publication – free to read
  5. ^ Barnouw, Erik (1968). A History of Broadcasting in the United States: 2. The Golden Web: 1933-1953. OUP USA. p. 217. ISBN 9780195004755. Retrieved 13 February 2018.
  6. ^ Sterling, Christopher H. (2013). Biographical Encyclopedia of American Radio. Routledge. p. 201. ISBN 9781136993756. Retrieved 13 February 2018.
  7. ^ a b Bundy, June (December 5, 1960). "Vox Jox". Billboard. p. 16. Retrieved 14 February 2018.
  8. ^ "Milkman's Prize" (PDF). Broadcasting. May 26, 1941. p. 36. Retrieved 14 February 2018.
  9. ^ a b Ranson, Jo (August 5, 1941). "Radio Dial Log". The Brooklyn Daily Eagle. New York, Brooklyn. p. 18. Retrieved February 14, 2018 – via open access publication – free to read
  10. ^ "Wartime Radio Code Elicits Approval of Chains, Stations" (PDF). Billboard. January 24, 1942. p. 7. Retrieved 14 February 2018.
  11. ^ "WNEW DJ's' Ratings Rise, Despite Times" (PDF). Billboard. September 18, 1954. p. 12. Retrieved 14 February 2018.
  12. ^ "Behind the Mike" (PDF). Broadcasting. February 16, 1942. p. 34. Retrieved 14 February 2018.
  13. ^ a b c d e "The Milkman's Matinee". Metromedia Radio. Archived from the original on 13 February 2018. Retrieved 13 February 2018.
  14. ^ Hall, Claude (January 16, 1971). "Vox Jox" (PDF). Billboard. p. 34. Retrieved 14 February 2018.
  15. ^ Nusser, Dick (February 11, 1978). "WNEW-AM Stands Pat On MOR" (PDF). Billboard. p. 22. Retrieved 14 February 2018.
  16. ^ "Behind the Mike" (PDF). Broadcasting. May 24, 1943. p. 32. Retrieved 14 February 2018.
  17. ^ "New Record Wrangler" (PDF). Billboard. June 5, 1943. p. 10. Retrieved 14 February 2018.
  18. ^ a b "DJ Surveys Show Top Jocks May Not Be Best Pluggers" (PDF). Billboard. February 5, 1955. p. 14. Retrieved 14 February 2018.
  19. ^ a b c Hall, Doug (May 3, 1980). "Vox Jox" (PDF). Billboard. p. 18. Retrieved 14 February 2018.
  20. ^ Sinclair, Charles (December 1, 1962). "Vox Jox" (PDF). Billboard. p. 40. Retrieved 14 February 2018.
  21. ^ "(untitled brief)" (PDF). Billboard. July 3, 1961. p. 10. Retrieved 14 February 2018.
  22. ^ Bundy, June (January 26, 1959). "Vox Jox" (PDF). Billboard. p. 10. Retrieved 14 February 2018.
  23. ^ Faggen, Gil (March 13, 1965). "Landers Exits WNEW; Tate His Replacer" (PDF). Billboard. p. 72. Retrieved 14 February 2018.
  24. ^ "After Midnight 39% of N.Y. Still Tunihg; 'Milkman's Mat.' Tops". Billboard. January 15, 1949. Retrieved 14 February 2018.
  25. ^ "Catering to Tastes" (PDF). Broadcasting. March 27, 1950. p. 75. Retrieved 15 February 2018.
  26. ^ "New Atlanta Outlet On Air at 1340 Kc" (PDF). Broadcasting. March 3, 1947. p. 71. Retrieved 15 February 2018.
  27. ^ "N.Y. and London 'Oklahoma' Companies to Meet on Air". The Brooklyn Daily Eagle. New York, Brooklyn. August 10, 1947. p. 27. Retrieved February 14, 2018 – via open access publication – free to read

External links[edit]