On February 9, CBS will broadcast a special called The Night That Changed America: A Grammy Salute to the Beatles. The show will pay homage to the 50th anniversary of The Beatles' debut on The Ed Sullivan Show.
But, before they performed on television, WWDC (DC101) played The Beatles on the radio.
The first time American listeners ever heard The Beatles on the radio was on December 17, 1963. A listener named Marsha Albert, who was 15 at the time, wrote to WWDC host Carroll James to make the request.
James got BOAC (British Airways) to deliver a copy of The Beatles' new record. A flight attendant brought the record to the station. James had Albert come to the studio to introduce the song. Albert got on the air and said:
"Ladies and gentlemen, for the first time on the air in the United States, here are The Beatles singing I Want to Hold Your Hand."
The positive response for the song was immediate. Listeners began to constantly request the song. For ten days, Caroll James and WWDC had an exclusive on the song. Then, it was released on December 27, 1963.
The Beatles arrived in the United States in February of 1964. They appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show on February 9, 1964. Then, the band played their first American concert in Washington DC (at the Washington Coliseum) on February 11, 1964.
Listen to James' story and hear Albert introduce The Beatles for the first time in the United States.