Typically, while we’re exploring a city, we come across sites that pique our interests and result in our spending more time with them. While walking around Rockefeller Center, we happened upon the NBC studios (home of “Saturday Night Live,” “The Tonight Show,” and “NBC Nightly News”), and found that it offered tours.
This Art Deco building is the centerpiece of the Rockefeller Center complex. From 1933 until 1988, it was known as the RCA building, then the GE building (1988 until 2015), and finally, the Comcast building. In May of 1930, the Radio Corporation of America (RCA), parent company of NBC and RKO, agreed to lease one million square feet of studio space in 30 Rockefeller Center. NBC was one of the first tenants, and one of the largest ( for instance, it took 1500 miles of utility wiring to construct the studios). By the mid-1950’s, much of the street-level space was transformed into the “Today Show” studio. In 1996, NBC bought the space it had been leasing since 1933 (allowing it to renovate it to suit its needs, as well as to upgrade its technology). Studio 8H, now home to Saturday Night Live, was once the largest radio studio in the world and was the home of the NBC Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Arturo Toscanini. It was converted into a television studio in 1950.
For me, personally, one bit of interesting trivia I learned was that from 1960 until 1993, the building’s mezzanine level housed the New York City’s weather forecast office of the National Weather Service (which later was moved to Brookhaven).
Tours of the studio, which some might think is a bit pricey, give a behind-the-scenes look of the NBC operations center. Many consider this the most famous tour in television history. This 60-75 minute timed tour takes visitors to the Saturday Night Live and Tonight Show studios, past the control rooms, and even into a special studio set up specifically for tourists, where each person can take a role in creating a simulated talk-show. Afterwards, an email is sent to each participant with a recorded copy of this experience.
Now, one of the disappointments of this tour is that photography is not allowed. With that being said, the photos presented below are professionally done stock pictures. Too bad. In any event, this was a fun experience.