The NBC Chimes Museum A Celebration Of Old–Time Radio’s Most Famous Signature


internal disagreements about the chimes

All spellings, line breaks, and formatting are reproduced as closely as possible to match those of the original paper documents.



To: Mr John F Royal
From: O B Hanson
Date: 12/26/34
Subject: Use of Chimes

The subject of chimes comes up periodically, and as a matter of
fact the number of complaints received since the automatic chimes
were installed is less than existed with the old hand-struck
chimes.

My personal feeling about chimes is that they are not entirely
necessary. They are used as a signal of constant amplitude to
attract the attention of the personnel at the telephone company's
repeater points. In order to make these chimes as unobtrusive
as possible we have from time to time lowered the output level and
recently it has been lowered to a point where we receive com-
plaints from the telephone company and the network stations that
they are not loud enough to attract attention, the purpose for
which they were originally installed. Other means of attracting
the attention of network station personnel have not been accept-
able as it was felt that the chimes represented the trade mark
of the NBC on the air.

I personally feel that the cue used originally should be entirely
satisfactory for the handling of switching at repeater points and
network stations, such as the words "National Broadcasting Company."
As it stands now we use the cue words and the chimes. If it is
going to be the Company's policy to do away with their trade mark
on the air by deleting the chimes and substituting a word cue, then
the operators at the repeater stations and announcers and operators
at network stations will have to pay stricter attention to our
program continuity in order to pick up the cue for switching and
announcing. Perhaps this closer attention to our program continuity
would be a good thing.



To Mr Roy Witmer From John F Royal Date: 1/1/35 What would you think of trying this for a while, to see how it would work? In your opinion, are the chimes necessary as a trade-mark? (signed) John F. Royal
Note: The attachment to which this refers is not present.


To: Mr John F Royal From: Roy C Witmer Date:1/3/35 Replying to yours of the 1st concerning the use of the chimes. I think the chimes have become extremely monotonous, and I have often felt that if the switching can be handled as promptly in some other way it should be done. I realize that some sort of signal is necessary. I do not particularly care for the phrase "This is the National Broadcasting Co" because it is too much like CBS. We use that phrase anyhow just before the chimes. If you want my own personal feeling, it is that we could devise something much pleasanter to listen to than the three-note chime -- something with real music in it and that could be changed from time to time to relieve the monotony and still retain the identity. There isn't any question but that our present chimes mean the National Broadcasting Co, but I doubt very much whether the public knows that it is NBC or CBS that is ringing them. I would try anything but these chimes for a while anyhow. IH
To: ALL DIVISION ENGINEERS AND ENGINEERS IN CHARGE From: George McElrath Date: September 2, 1938 Subject: Automatic Chimes Circuit When our automatic chimes were first designed the circuit diagram showed a 4 mfd condenser across the output circuit. Investigation discloses that the 4 mfd condenser is not connected across the output circuit of the chimes installed at some of our offices. Will you please instruct your maintenance supervisor to properly install a 4 mfd condenser in the circuit of your chime machine as soon as possible. This condenser will reduce the level output of the chimes by 4 or 6 db. It will also remove harsh overtones and results in a more pleasant tone to the ear. The elimination of overtones results in apparent volume reduction even though the level is readjusted to normal. The 4 mfd condenser has been installed across the New York chimes and the level on the chimes circuit has been adjusted so that the maximum peak kicks twenty degrees on the volume indicator. Please advise by telegram when this work has been completed and the level properly adjusted. We are interested in comparing the quality of your chimes before and after you make this change. George McElrath cc Mr O B Hanson C A Rackey Mr W J Purcell G O Milne A E Johnson S E Leonard H C Luttgens C A Peregrine A H Saxton C D Peck