The NBC Chimes Museum
A Celebration Of Old–Time Radio’s Most Famous Signature
the deagan 20 dinner chime
The deagan no 20 dinner chime was near the top of the Deagan line. The Deagan 20 boasted four chime plates, tuned to C4, F4, A4, and C5. These plates were mounted above a segmented wooden resonator that was, depending on production period, anywhere from 23/4 to three inches tall. Because of its low pitch and spacious resonator, the tones emanating from this set of dinner chimes are extremely full–bodied and mellow, with excellent resonance and a long decay time.
The Lucky Strike Hour, broadcast November 3, 1931. Walter Winchell introduces “that fella with the chimmies” announcing the synchronization break. This is the earliest known recording of the three–note NBC chime. Aircheck recorded from WEAF New York. A Deagan No 20 dinner chime is used. Notes are C4–A4–F4, pitched at A=435Hz.
The Black and Gold Room Orchestra, broadcast date unknown but most likely sometime in mid to late 1931. The program was broadcast on Tuesday nights at 6:00 PM Eastern over the NBC Red Network, and originated from the Black and Gold Room of the Central Park Casino, a high–society nightclub that catered to the millionaire crowd from its establishment under Mayor Walker in 1929 until its closure and demolition to make way for the Mary Harriman Rumsey Playground under Mayor LaGuardia in 1935. (SummerStage occupies the site today.) Aircheck recorded from WEAF New York. A Deagan No 20 dinner chime is used. Notes are C4–A4–F4, pitched at A=435Hz.
Amos & Andy, broadcast on March 24, 1932. Originating at WMAQ, Chicago, this aircheck was recorded from WJZ New York on a Victor home recording blank. A Deagan No 20 dinner chime is used. Notes are C4–A4–F4, pitched at A=435Hz.
The Canada Dry Program, starring Jack Benny. Broadcast over NBC Blue on May 2, 1932. Aircheck recorded from WJZ New York. A Deagan No 20 dinner chime is used. Notes are C4–A4–F4, pitched at A=435Hz.
Hollywood on the Air. An example of the hand–struck NBC Chimes as they sounded on national broadcasts emanating from the West Coast. This example dates from September 30, 1933, and were probably sounded from NBC’s studios on Melrose Avenue in Hollywood. A Deagan No 20 dinner chime is used. Notes are C4–A4–F4, pitched at A=435Hz.
NBC Announcer Kelvin Keech strikes the three tone NBC Chimes on the Deagan No 20 Dinner Chime. Clip from the 1933 Paramount short Captain Henry’s Radio Show, which gave movie audiences “a picturization” of the popular radio program Maxwell House Show Boat, as performed in the studios at 711 Fifth Avenue in New York—but without any references to Maxwell House Coffee, and, curiously, with no appearance by Captain Henry in his eponymous film! (Actual release date is unknown, but the film was copyrighted on August 9, 1933.)
The Grand Ole Opry®, broadcast on November 4, 1939. The Grand Ole Opry® began a long run on NBC on October 14, 1939, with half an hour going out on NBC radio from the stage of first the War Memorial Auditorium, and from 1943 the Ryman Auditorium. A Deagan No 20 dinner chime is used. Notes are C4–A4–F4, pitched at A=435Hz.
Deagan promotional materials boasted that the No 20 was to be found on high class steamships, on luxury trains, and on radio stations. The last one was certainly true, for it was the Deagan No 20 that is heard playing the NBC chimes on nearly all recordings from 1931 through 1933. The Deagan No 20 sold for $12.50.
A five–tone version was also manufactured, and this was the Deagan No 21 Dinner Chime. This was the exact same construction and sound quality, only it had an additional F chime plate an octave above the second plate (F5). The No 21 was Deagan’s best and most expensive model, selling for $15.00—and even then, the 21 was also available in a fancy carved cabinet, for $18.00; this was sold as the Deagan 22. The sound was exactly the same as that of the 20 or 21.