Bill's most important non-quiz radio work was for the NBC network, including a five-year run as the morning man for the NBC flagship station in New York.  Before that program, there was Roadshow, an early prototype of what would become the standard for much of what radio is today.  After Pulse came opportunities to work on two long-running NBC projects.

While there are a few entertainment-oriented NBC programs to be found on our page of "other" Bill Cullen radio projects, we decided to put these four thematically similar series on a single page.
 
ROADSHOW                  
NBC, 1954-55, Saturdays 2-6pm                  

According to the publicity effort for the series, this four-hour weekly radio show was one of the first programs designed for drivers to enjoy in their cars.   As one article reported, "The trend is away from 'living room' listening. The TV set is the center of attraction there.  Radio rules the roost in the kitchen, bedroom and auto."  At the time, some scripted radio comedies and dramas were still popular, but the handwriting was clearly on the wall, and this program in many ways served as a template for the segmented format of news, features, music and general yakking that modern audiences recognize.

Bill introduced a variety of recorded and live entertainment, including regular performances from a young Steve Lawrence at about the same time he was being "discovered" on Steve Allen's Tonight show.  The show's origination moved to the west coast at some point in order to accommodate Bill's transcontinental commute to host Place the Face.  Several episodes of Roadshow are preserved in the Library of Congress, though we have yet to find any collectors who have one.

Read the 1954 review of Roadshow in Variety.
 
PULSE (aka The Bill Cullen Show) 
WRCA (later WNBC), September 19, 1955 to September 29, 1961          
Originally heard daily 6:30-9:30am, expanded to 6-10am  
(Also Saturdays in a two-hour version at various morning hours)  

Bill was already a nationally known figure when he was tapped to host the local morning program for NBC's flagship station in New York.   He had spent six weeks filling in as a temporary morning host in the spring of 1955, and became the permanent host that fall.  Originally, the three-hour show (which was known as The Bill Cullen Show) still retained some vestiges of what we now think of as old-time radio, most notably a live, nine-piece orchestra.

Read about Bill getting the nod to host Pulse in Variety.
  
Less than two months into the new gig, Bill's show changed to match the format and structure of the popular NBC weekend series Monitor.  (A daily network version of Monitor known as Weekday debuted at about the same time.)  Renamed New York Pulse with Bill Cullen (and later shortened to the single-word title), the show eliminated its live orchestra but added an ambitious mix of features, interviews and reports from all over the city, emphasizing news and information over music and entertainment.
 
Read about the November, 1955 relaunch of Pulse in Variety.
 
Eventually, the ambitious features gave way to a more streamlined entertainment program similar to what is still common on morning radio shows today.  Bill spun records, read commercials, chatted with guests, stopped for news and weather reports, even ran contests, including a regular "Finders Keepers" game in which he would offer clues to the location of a hidden thousand-dollar bill.

Even though Bill was the morning deejay for the flagship radio station of the National Broadcasting Company, his program wasn't nearly as popular as other NYC morning shows of the day.  This may partly be because he was among the last to realize the significance and impact of rock and roll music.   "I'm not a rock 'n' roll fan," he said in 1958.  "I'm not young enough to be savage.  When I hear the beat, I don't want to get up and dance.  I just feel like going to sleep."

When Bill was hosting Pulse in the late fifties, the top New York radio show was the duo of Klavan & Finch.  They sometimes ran a contest in which the winner would receive a one-minute commercial on the subject of his or her choice.  Once, the winner was an NBC secretary who made them do an ad for Bill's rival show.
     
Sometime in the late fifties, the title of the series reverted back to The Bill Cullen Show.  We have bits and pieces from Pulse over the years, from Bill's personal collection.  A small handful of episodes and partial episodes, all from 1957, are preserved in the Library of Congress.
 
Bill appears to have ended his six-year Pulse stint on good terms with the management.  According to a 1961 Variety article mentioning his retirement, the station staff threw him a farewell party at Leone's, a popular restaurant.  They also gave him a vintage 1932 Chevrolet as a going-away present.  The article said he was making $112,000 a year on the radio show when he stepped down.
 
Our great thanks to Kenneth Johannessen, whose intensive research has turned up several vintage news articles and reviews that helped give us a much better sense of this important period in Bill's career.  Kenneth is also responsible for tracking down the Variety reviews for many radio and television series sprinkled throughout these pages.

A 1956 commercial for Eagle Pencils.


Bill talks to Macy's and Gimbels employees during the 1955 Christmas season.


Bill talks about Pulse in a 1988 interview with Alan Colmes.

 
 
MONITOR                 
NBC Weekends.  June 12, 1955 to January 26, 1975 
Bill's regular contributions: 1971-1973               

Bill contributed to this ambitious weekend radio series but frankly, what NBC personality didn't?  Monitor was a wide-ranging program encompassing news, sports, interviews, features, even traditional record spinning.  (Imagine All Things Considered crossed with your favorite easy listening station.)  It ran for hours every weekend on NBC radio stations.  There was no single, regular host.  Instead, a virtual "Who's Who" of NBC newscasters, announcers, hosts and other personalities took turns serving as anchors, who were known as "communicators".

Besides Bill, the list included Frank Blair, Hugh Downs, Art Fleming, Joe Garagiola, Dave Garroway, Monty Hall, Don Imus, Murray the K, Hal March, Frank McGee, Ed McMahon, Garry Moore, Henry Morgan, Bert Parks, Gene Rayburn, John Bartholomew Tucker, David Wayne and many others.

Bill hosted Saturday afternoon Monitor broadcasts from 1971 to 1973.  In a January, 1972 interview, Bill admitted "I'm just filling in on Monitor until the network finds someone else."  He also revealed he was being paid $500 an hour for his three-hour Monitor shift.

Bill succeeded Joe Garagiola as host, who had succeeded Ed McMahon.  Bill also sat in as Monitor host at other times.  The picture above, for example, is specifically identified as being from Monitor and is dated December, 1970.  That's newsman Bill Moyers with our Bill, by the way.

Opening moments from a 1971 session.


Bill reports on NHL playoff action.
 
 
  

FOR MORE INFORMATION 
Dennis Hart, who generously provided us with examples of Bill's work on Monitor, has the definitive reference site about the series at MonitorBeacon.net  

EMPHASIS                
NBC, January 4, 1960 to January 31, 1975                
                
Emphasis began as a five-minute feature heard eight times each weekday on NBC radio stations.  Originally designed as a vehicle for the network's news correspondents, it evolved into a lighter feature and included a wide variety of personalities as hosts.  It also shrank over time from five minutes down to three and a half, and finally to about a minute.  The "emphasis" changed depending on which personality was hosting that segment.  Bill's shows on leisure activities were called Emphasis: Time Off (later, they became Emphasis: At Ease).
 
A script for one of Bill's Emphasis pieces appears in Writing For Television & Radio by Robert Hilliard, a broadcast technique book used in the 1970s.

Other contributors to the series included Dr. Joyce Brothers (Mind Over Matter), Ann Landers (Everyday Living), Gene Shalit (Man About Everything) and Edwin Newman (Critic At Large).  Newsmen Frank Blair, John Chancellor, Chet Huntley, Sander Vanocur and Russ Ward were among the journalists who contributed.

A 1967 article says Bill was doing five short features a week for the series.  He continued to contribute segments to the series until it left the air in 1975.

The opening to a 1967 segment