The concept for the radio series AT&T Presents Carnegie Hall Tonight started with the filming of four Carnegie Hall concerts for television broadcast in 1978. The television shows, called Tonight at Carnegie Hall, developed the format that was later to be used in the radio series - concert performances, interviews of musicians, and commentary. These shows had still not been broadcast in 1979 when General Motors granted Carnegie Hall $100,000 for a radio and/or television project. The General Motors grant raised discussion about the possibility of a weekly radio program featuring concerts at Carnegie Hall. While the grant money eventually went towards the funding of another television project (Tonight at Carnegie Hall featuring Pinchas Zukerman, Isaac Stern, and Leonard Rose aired July 9, 1980 on PBS), the idea for a radio show produced by Carnegie Hall employees was bom, and the search for a sponsor started. The sponsor search, however, was not successful until 1983 when AT&T took on the series.
The radio program AT&T Presents Carnegie Hall Tonight first aired on April 2, 1984 and featured Marilyn Home, Pinchas Zukerman, and Emanuel Ax. The series was a one-hour weekly program and was heard on approximately 200 commercial and National Public Radio stations. There were 52 unique shows per season. In 1986, the schedule changed to 39 unique show / 13 repeats. The series featured many great classical artists and orchestras including Isaac Stern, Yo-Yo Ma, Leonard Bernstein, and the Vienna Philharmonic. Occasionally it also offered concerts of selected jazz, pop, or folk artists such as Liza Minnelli, Eartha Kitt, and Pete Seeger. John Rubinstein, the host, offered commentary on the musical selections, interviewed artists or composers and explored music history, sometimes by featuring historical recordings.
Until 1986, the Carnegie Hall Tonight series was produced by Carnegie Hall with the technical assistance of its distributor WCRB Productions, Boston. During this time period, Carnegie Hall hired the producer and artistic/office staff, while WCRB hired the technical staff (audio producer, engineers, and technicians) with the approval of Carnegie Hall. WCRB also provided the equipment necessary for the program's recording studio, which was set up in Room 407 of Carnegie Hall. With the renovation of Carnegie Hall in 1986, Carnegie Hall Tonight received a brand new recording facility in Room 304. At this time, Carnegie Hall took over all technical production of the radio program. WCRB remained the show's distributor until the 1988 season when Carnegie Hall Tonight switched to WFMT, Inc. for distribution and syndication of its last 52 programs.
Laura Walker produced the show from its inception in 1983 until August 1985. At this time Julie Burstein took over as producer and saw the program through to its end. John Rubinstein, the youngest son of concert pianist Arthur Rubinstein, was hired as the host of Carnegie Hall Tonight in 1984 and continued in that capacity until the end of the series.
In October 1985, AT&T won a Special Recognition Award from the National Telemedia Council for its "financial support of an outstanding radio or television program." That program was AT&T Presents Carnegie Hall Tonight. AT&T stayed on as sponsor of Carnegie Hall Tonight until the 1988 season when the decision was made to stop funding. The program's staff continued to produce shows for the upcoming season and WFMT agreed to distribute these shows while the program looked for a new sponsor. The sponsor search, however, was unsuccessful and Carnegie Hall Tonight broadcast its last show the week of March 20, 1989.
The AT&T Presents Carnegie Hall Tonight Collection spans the years 1978 to 1989, covering the early proposals for a radio program through to the unsuccessful sponsor search and the program's demise in 1988. Materials in the collection include press kits, brochures, correspondence, memoranda, and production materials such as program scripts, outlines, and interview notes. The collection is strongest in its documentation of the Carnegie Hall Tonight programs and their production - outlines and scripts are available for almost all of the individual programs. The administrative side of radio production is less well documented. Certain files, particularly the Producer's Files, seem to be missing a great deal.
The records came to the archives with little order and are often incomplete. The collection was divided into six series: General Files, Program/Artists Files, Outside Recording Files, the CHRON, Producer's Files, and Budget Files.
Series I - General Files
Series I contains the publicity and summary materials of the Carnegie Hall Tonight radio series. A complete set of program listings and an incomplete set of program outlines are available and give a full view of the performers and musical numbers that were featured on the Carnegie Hall Tonight series. Series I also contains concert logs, recording and production schedules, brochures, press kits, and press clippings. This information is mostly complete and very helpful in giving general factual information on what concerts were recorded and if and when they were broadcast.
Series II - Program/Artists Files
There is a Program/Artists File for every concert that was recorded for AT&T Presents. The files are arranged by concert date and each file contains artist recording contracts and distribution information. There are also program outlines and scripts/transcripts for every program made from the concert recorded on that date. Additionally, there is a small amount of correspondence in the files and often copies of checks and check requests. Each file also contains time logs from the interviews done with artists or composers for that broadcast. The time logs do not give a complete look or even a summary of the interview and because the tapes of the interviews are mostly missing, the time logs are not particularly useful. This series provides a good understanding of not only how a radio program is made, but documents each individual broadcast itself. The files are arranged by concert date, but also list all artists that performed, program ID numbers, and broadcast dates. This information is entered into a database and can be arranged and accessed by any of these factors.
Series III - Outside Recording Files
This series documents the smaller number of concerts that were recorded in the Carnegie Hall Tonight recording facility for outside broadcasts or projects. There are individual files for each of these recordings, but the files are very sketchy and incomplete. There may be a page or two of correspondence, a check request, and occasionally a contractual agreement. There is one folder of correspondence concerning procedures and fees.
Series IV - CHRON: Correspondence and Invoices
The CHRON is a record of all of the correspondence, invoices, and memoranda going through the Carnegie Hall Tonight Office. The CHRON is arranged chronologically starting in April 1984 and ending in October 1988. There are files missing from March through August 1985. Besides this period, the files are mostly complete; however, because the CHRON is arranged by date, it is hard to locate information on a particular subject. The CHRON files also seem to be missing materials pertaining to certain matters, such as the sponsor search, and therefore may not fully cover all areas of the Carnegie Hall Tonight correspondence.
Series V - Producer's Files
Series V is frustratingly incomplete. There are files pertaining to employees, sponsor negotiations, copyright matters, and distribution/syndication concerns. The series contains correspondence, reports, notes, and memoranda; however, the files tend to be small and lacking in depth of coverage. The materials pertaining to the sponsor search are interesting, but once again incomplete. The series does include new sponsor proposals containing helpful information on production cost and audience makeup, and there is some correspondence, but there are few internal memoranda detailing the sponsor situation and negotiations. There is no mention at all of why the program lost its sponsor. This series, does however contain important documentation of early discussions about Carnegie Hall Tonight resulting from debate over the television program Tonight at Carnegie Hall (Box10, Files 11, 18, 19). These files contain the only documentation of the developmental stage of the radio program.
Series VI - Budget Files
This series is made up of budget ledgers, reports, and invoices. The ledgers and reports give complete budgets for each of the seasons of Carnegie Hall Tonight and discuss the budget for the 1988 season with and without a sponsor. Additional files contain production bills from WCRB and document artist recording fees.
Open for research.
There may be some restrictions on the use of the collection. For more information please contact the Carnegie Hall Archives:
Phone: (212) 903-9629
The Carnegie Hall Archives also has an incomplete set of the AT&T Presents Carnegie Hall Tonight broadcasts. The broadcasts are available on cassette tape in commercial or non-commercial form.
There is no information about materials that are associated by provenance to the described materials that have been physically separated or removed.
The AT&T Presents collection was accessioned by the Carnegie Hall Archives in 1991. The unprocessed collection consisted of nineteen boxes from the Carnegie Hall Recording Studio and contained program files, the producer's files, budget files, correspondence, and office supplies. An additional five boxes of similar material was located in filing cabinets in the sub-basement of Carnegie Hall in the fall of 1998. After processing, the collection totals 10 linear feet (10 boxes) and consists of six series.
[The following section contains a detailed listing of the materials in the collection.]
Series I - General Files, 1983-88
Series II - Program/Artists Files
Series III - Outside Recordings Files, 1987-88
Series IV - CHRON.Correspondence and Invoice Files, 1984-1988
Series V-Producer's Files, 1979-1989
Series VI -Budget Files, 1984-1989