The NBC Chimes Museum A Celebration Of Old–Time Radio’s Most Famous Signature
correspondence regarding the fourth chime
All spellings, line breaks, and formatting are reproduced as closely as possible to match those of the original paper documents.
To: Mr John R Carey and Mr Patrick Kelly From: Wm Burke Miller Date:April 7 1933 Subject: Emergency Call System In anticipation of the Spring and Summer months, when many in key positions will not always be available at home telephones, the following Emergency Call System will go into effect on Monday morning, April 16th: 1. Whenever a fourth tone is heard on the network chimes rung at fifteen-minute intervals, it will indicate that someone on the at- tached list is wanted. 2. Upon hearing the fourth chime, all on the Emergency List will please communicate with the PBX by telephone to ascertain whether or not the Emergency Call is for them. 3. The four chimes will be continued at fifteen-minute intervals, on WEAF and WJZ, until the person desired has communicated with the PBX. 4. The request for Emergency Chimes always will originate with the PBX operator, who will call the office of the Studio Manager (Mr Kelly in the daytime - Mr Jewett at night). The PBX operator will notify the ofice of the Studio Manager to sound the Emergency Chimes only after having failed to reach the person desired through regular telephone channels. 5. As soon as the person wanted has communicated with the PBX, it is the duty of the operator to notify the Studio Manager to dis- continue the Emergency Chimes. 6. To avoid confusion: - regular chimes consist of three tones. The Emergency Chimes will consist of four tones. 7. List of executives and staff personnel to whom Emergency Chimes will be directed as of April 16th is attached. (signed) Wm Burke Miller WBM:c ATTACHED LIST: Executive: John F Royal John W Elwood Frank Mason J de Jara Almonte Engineering: O B Hanson George McElrath George Milne M Jacobson W R Brown W A R Brown Press: G W Johnstone Wayne Randall Herbert Devins Richard Anderson Program: Phillips Carlin Bertha Brainard Curt Peterson Frank Black Walter Preston Wm Burke Miller Traffic: R W Holmes Marley R Sherris Service: John R Carey
CANADIAN MARCONI COMPANY (LIMITED LIABILITY) MONTREAL September 2nd, 1938. Mr. Keith Kiggins, Manager, Station Relations, National Broadcasting Co., Radio City, New York, N.Y. Dear Keith:- In a recent issue of "Motion Picture Daily" there is a news item to the effect that when four chimes, instead of the customary three, are rung on the networks, that this is a prearranged signal to all NBC crews that something of much importance has happened, necessitating their contacting Headquarters immediately. Will you please advise us if there is any truth in this statement. Yours very truly Canadian MARCONI Company, (sig.) V. F. Nielsen MANAGER, STATION "CFCF" and Short-Wave "CFCX" VFN dd
September 8, 1938 Mr. V. F. Nielsen, Station CFCF, Montreal, Canada Dear Mr. Nielsen, In reply to your letter of September 2, referring to the fourth chime note as a prearranged signal, this procedure was used some years ago. At that time, we used manual chimes and the announcer would be instructed to repeat the low note after he had rung his regular first three notes. Before ringing this fourth note, the announcer cut his network channel so that the fourth note was only heard over WEAF or WJZ here in New York. Since that time, however, every department of the company is covered for almost complete twenty-four hours a day, and I do not recall any necessity for using this signal during the past four years, though no order eliminating its use has ever been issued. Yours sincerely, Patrick J. Kelly, Supervisor of Announcers