National Press Club

National Press Club Marks Anniversary of First National Call-in Show

If you know where the gym is at the National Press Club then you are a Washington insider! But way down the hall from the gym is an unassuming narrow room where broadcast history was made 35 years ago today.

On Oct. 7, 1980, a call was placed by a C-SPAN viewer from Yankton, SD to what was the Press Club's first broadcast studio and the first national regularly scheduled call in show was on the air. C-SPAN's Brian Lamb took that call and asked his panel of reporters for comments.

Today the Press Club unveiled a permanent recognition of that first national, regularly scheduled call-in show. The framed photo and caption, wall-mounted next to the original studio, will become an important stop on the tour of the Press Club and of broadcasting history.

The panel for the show included: Michael Kelley of George Mason University, member of the board of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting; Pat Gushman, Washington Bureau Chief, CableVision magazine; Don West, Managing Editor, Broadcasting magazine; Tack Nail, Executive Editor, Television Digest; and Brian Lamb, President of C-SPAN. The group was assembled by Lamb after a Press Club Luncheon where FCC Chairman Charles Ferris had been speaking.

“Brian Lamb has done so much for broadcasting that it is possible to forget things like the first national, regularly schedule call-in show,” said NPC President John Hughes. “We know that this permanent recognition of this historic event will be a favorite place for all who visit the Club. When you think about how many hours of call-in programming has aired on C-SPAN and the other outlets that followed after Oct. 7, 1980, this is truly an historic location. And the concept of involving the audience in the program showed Lamb as a man way ahead of his time.”

The Press Club has a long and important history with C-SPAN and Brian Lamb. Early on Lamb committed to cover all NPC Luncheons. This handshake deal became one of the most enduring relationships in Washington. Over the years Lamb has brought C-SPAN viewers diverse and interesting program from the Press Club. Just last week this included the President of Latvia, the U.S. Secretary of Education, the Governor of Utah and the leader of the National Endowment for the Arts. In November 2002, the NPC recognized Lamb with its highest honor, the Fourth Estate Award. When the Club built a new state of the art broadcast studio in 2006, Lamb anchored C-SPAN coverage from the new facility to kick things off on the first day.

Today, the Club has invited Lamb to attend an NPC luncheon (he is a member of the Club) and sit at the head table. The speaker will be the Mayor of Baltimore. Club President Hughes will welcome Lamb and tell the crowd why Oct. 7 is a special date in broadcasting history.