NBC News confirms plans to split Studio 3B into two spaces

NBC will be splitting 30 Rockefeller Center’s Studio 3B, the former home of “NBC Nightly News,” “Dateline NBC, “Rock Center” and other programs, into two smaller spaces for WNBC and WNJU, a spokesperson confirms to NewscastStudio.

News of the potential split was first hinted at after public building records were discovered on the TV news fan site TVNewsTalk. NewscastStudio reporting has confirmed that the documents are authentic and NBC has confirmed that they do accurately represent plans to split the space.

In January 2022, NBC announced plans to move its owned Telemundo affiliate, WNJU, into 30 Rock so that it could share resources with WNBC, which it also owns.

At the time, plans indicated a new second-floor workspace for the two entities would be built, but no plans for studio space were included.

Now, an NBC spokesperson has confirmed that the space currently known as Studio 3B will be split into two, as indicated by the plans, with one dedicated to NBC News 4 New York and the other to Telemundo 42. Plans on public record with New York City show the space is divided into two essentially equal sizes, designated on the plans as Studio 3B-1 and Studio 3B-2. However, it’s not clear which one will be assigned to which affiliate or if those will be the final designators.

The current WNBC set in Studio 3K.

The plans also include two ghosted-out scenic design ground plans, but there is a note on the drawings that says these are meant for illustrative purposes only. It also appears that NBC will be adding a small enclosed workspace to each space, perhaps for robotics or teleprompter, and those rooms will be interconnected.

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Studio 3B is a historic part of 30 Rock. It is reportedly one of the only studios to have never had its size or footprint significantly changed since the building was constructed in 1933, originally for radio production.

It’s also been the home to the “Huntley-Brinkley Report” and daytime serial series “The Doctors” (not to be confused with the present-day syndicated daytime talker). 

In the early 1990s, it became home to a sprawling studio set for “Nightly” that included a projection screen (which was state-of-the-art at the time), small in-studio workspace and an anchor desk at the center. It would also become home to “Dateline NBC” for a period of time.

The set was modified numerous times, including removing the smaller projection screen in favor of rear projection cubes in the mid-1990s and several changes to the primary background, eventually settling on newsroom duratrans. 

The set was also used, over the years, for various other NBC News productions, including “Sunrise.” Many elements, such as header signage, could be changed out as needed depending on the production.

In 2000, “Nightly” moved out of 3A, relocating to its own dedicated set in Studio 3C. The set in 3B was removed and replaced with a sprawling, wraparound set for “Dateline” that included multiple venues, a balcony and stairway. This set was repurposed during election coverage, most memorably during the 2000 election.

The ‘NBC Nightly News’ side of Studio 3B around 2011.

In 2011, “Nightly” would move back to Studio 3B, again sharing with another program — this time it was the newly-created magazine show “Rock Center.” 

That set featured two areas that could be used separately or together, roughly following how 3B would be sub-divided in the proposed plans. The west side of the space was primarily used for “Nightly” while the east side was for “Rock Center,” though portions of the opposite side of the space would show up on both programs.

Eventually, the set was heavily modified to remove the built-in seating and coffee table, and once “Rock Center” was canceled, would eventually move “Nightly” over to that side of the space in 2014, presumably to take advantage of the rear projection screens.

It remained that way until moving back to 3C in 2017. Since then, the studio has largely been used for pre-taped segments and interviews. 

WNBC has also hopped around Rockefeller Center. For years, it was based in Studio 6B, featuring a large blended rear projection background that used specially-engineered mirrors to eliminate the need for standard throw distance behind the set. That space is now home to “The Tonight Show.”

The WNBC set and newsroom in 2008.

The local news would then move to the 7th floor next to a new newsroom for the station, as part of NBC’s plans to create a local 24-hour news channel in major markets that would share resources with its existing news team.

After that plan was walked back on, WNBC would eventually wind up in Studio 3C in between the times “Nightly” occupied it. It then moved to Studio 3K, where it is based today.

NBC has confirmed that WNBC will now move into one-half of the space formerly known as simply 3B sometime in the relatively near future, though the exact timing was not announced.

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This would mean that Studio 3K will become available, perhaps for use by NBC’s increasing needs for production for its digital platforms. It’s also possible it could become home to a new syndicated show produced by the network. 

WNJU is licensed to New Jersey and will maintain the physical presence there required by its license. Although not in name, the station is still considered part of the New York metro market and covers the city and New Jersey as well as other nearby communities. 

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