Friday, September 30, 2016

September 30 Radio History

In 1912...singer Kenny Baker was born in Monrovia Calif.  He broke into bigtime radio with Jack Benny in 1935, and appeared in movies & radio for the next 20 years, including his own daytime radio variety show “Glamor Manor” in the mid-1940’s.  Baker died Aug. 10 1985 at age 72 after a heart attack.

In Lamont Johnson was born in Stockton Calif. He became an active member of the Los Angeles radio acting pool.  As well as playing scores of supporting roles he starred as Tarzan in the 1951 syndicated half-hour series, and was one of several actors to play Archie Goodwin in The New Adventures of Nero Wolfe, opposite Sydney Greenstreet on NBC Radio. He had a key continuing role on the daytime drama Wendy Warren and the News on CBS Radio. A director in TV he was nominated for eleven Emmys, winning twice, and for eight Directors Guild Awards, winning four times, for Profiles in Courage (1965), My Sweet Charlie (1971), That Certain Summer (1972), and Lincoln (1988), which also won him an Emmy. He died of heart failure Oct. 24 2010 at age 88.

In 1929… “The National Farm and Home Hour,” a rustic variety series which first aired locally for a year on KDKA Radio in Pittsburgh, made its national debut on the NBC Blue network (later known as ABC), sponsored by the Montgomery Ward department stores. Don Ameche and Raymond Edward Johnson were featured, along with music and entertainment by The Cadets male quartet, Jack Baus and The Cornbusters and Mirandy of Persimmons Holler.  In 1945 the “Hour” moved to NBC Radio where it continued until early 1958.

In 1930…The radio anthology series "Death Valley Days," stories based on actual events, began its 15-year run on the NBC Blue network. The television version of the program, hosted by Stanley Andrews as "The Old Ranger," then Ronald Reagan, Robert Taylor, and Dale Robertson, aired from 1952 to 1975.

In 1933...WLS (then 870 AM)  radio in Chicago's popular program The National Barn Dance, one of the first country music radio programs, goes national with a move to NBC radio.

In 1935…The police drama series "The Adventures of Dick Tracy" made its debut on the Mutual Radio Network after being heard on CBS four times a week earlier that year. The serial had a long run on radio, starting in 1934 on NBC's New England stations and ending on the ABC Network in 1948.

In 1940...the kids’ radio serial “Captain Midnight”, already a hit locally on WGN Chicago, went coast to coast on Mutual. The Captain flew his single-engine plane all over the place fighting crime. Ovaltine dropped its sponsorship of Little Orphan Annie to climb on board with Captain Midnight.

In 1950...WSM Radio's "Grand Ole Opry" was first broadcast on television.

Original Home Ryman Theater
The Grand Ole Opry started as the WSM Barn Dance in the new fifth-floor radio studio of the National Life & Accident Insurance Company in downtown Nashville on November 28, 1925. On October 18, 1925, management began a program featuring "Dr. Humphrey Bate and his string quartet of old-time musicians." On November 2, WSM hired long-time announcer and program director George D. "Judge" Hay, an enterprising pioneer from the National Barn Dance program at WLS in Chicago, who was also named the most popular radio announcer in America as a result of his radio work with both WLS and WMC in Memphis, Tennessee. Hay launched the WSM Barn Dance with 77-year-old fiddler Uncle Jimmy Thompson on November 28, 1925, which is celebrated as the birth date of the Grand Ole Opry.

On December 10, 1927 the phrase 'Grand Ole Opry' was first uttered on-air. That night Barn Dance followed the NBC Red Network's Music Appreciation Hour, a program of classical music and selections from Grand Opera presented by classical conductor Walter Damrosch. That night, Damrosch remarked that “there is no place in the classics for realism,” In response, Opry presenter George Hay said:
"Friends, the program which just came to a close was devoted to the classics. Doctor Damrosch told us that there is no place in the classics for realism. However, from here on out for the next three hours, we will present nothing but realism. It will be down to earth for the 'earthy'."
Hay then introduced DeFord Bailey, the man he had dubbed the "Harmonica Wizard", saying
"For the past hour, we have been listening to music taken largely from Grand Opera. From now on, we will present the 'Grand Ole Opry'."
Bailey then stepped up to the mic to play "The Pan American Blues", his song inspired by the Pan American, an L&N Railroad express/passenger train.

In 1951...the Red Skelton Show debuted on NBC-TV (almost 10 years to the day after Red first got his own radio show). America’s “Clown Prince of Comedy” was a hit for years on radio and an even bigger one on TV.  Later, he would move to CBS-TV where he remained a television fixture for a total of 20 years.

In 1967...the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) began its own Pop music radio station. The first song on Radio One was “Flowers in the Rain” by The Move. Former Radio Caroline DJ Tony Blackburn was the first presenter on air. Second song was “Massachusetts” by the Bee Gees.

In 1978...The Hot 100...The classic "Kiss You All Over" by Exile moved to #1, tapping "Boogie Oogie Oogie" by A Taste of Honey on the shoulder to move.  Olivia Newton-John remained in the third position with "Hopelessly Devoted To You" and it had been six weeks since the Commodores were at #1 with "Three Times a Lady" but they were still at #4.

The rest of the Top 10:  "Summer Nights" by Olivia Newton-John & John Travolta, Boston's "Don't Look Back", Nick Gilder edged up with "Hot Child in the City", the Little River Band was up to 8 with "Reminiscing", John Paul Young reached the Top 10 with "Love Is in the Air" and Andy Gibb closed out the list with "An Everlasting Love".

In 1996...Charlie Greer, 77 WABC died.

Charlie Greer (1923-1996) was a radio personality at WAKR in Akron, Ohio before moving to  New York City's WABC on December 7, 1960, where he did middays and overnight.

Given WABC's 50 thousand watt clear channel signal, Greer became a popular all-night disc jockey heard on more than 38 states punching his way through famous tongue twister commercials for an all night clothing store called Dennison's in Union, New Jersey.

Greer also spent time with New York City's WCBS-FM in 1973, then and became part of WCBS-FM's Rock and Roll Radio Greats Weekend in the eighties and nineties.

He moved to Philadelphia's WIP in 1969 and then back to the New York area to WRKL in New City for a short while, and later worked at WHAM (AM) in Rochester, before returning to Akron. (Ted David, Moderator, New York Broadcasting History Board)

In 1997...Al “Jazzbeaux” Collins, WNEW, WINS passed away

The name "Jazzbo" derived from a product Collins had seen, a clip-on bowtie named Jazzbows. Just as Martin Block created the illusion that he was speaking from the Make Believe Ballroom, Collins claimed to be broadcasting from his inner sanctum, a place known as the Purple Grotto, an imaginary setting suggested by radio station WNEW's interior design, as Collins explained:

Collins grew up on Long Island, New York. In 1941, while attending the University of Miami in Florida, he substituted as the announcer on his English teacher's campus radio program, and decided he wanted to be in radio. He began his professional career as the disc jockey at a bluegrass station in Logan, West Virginia. By 1943, Collins was broadcasting at WKPA in Pittsburgh, moving in 1945 to WIND in Chicago and in 1946 to Salt Lake City's KNAK. In 1950, he relocated to New York where he joined the staff of WNEW and became one of the "communicators" on NBC's Monitor when it began in 1955. Two years later, NBC-TV installed him for five weeks as the host of the Tonight show when it was known as Tonight! America After Dark in the period between hosts Steve Allen and Jack Paar.

He officially changed the spelling of his name to Jazzbeaux when he went to Pittsburgh's WTAE in 1969. He moved to WIXZ in Pittsburgh (1973) before heading back to the West Coast three years later.

In 1976 Al Collins returned to San Francisco working at KMPX, followed by a three-year all-night run at KGO which drew callers throughout the West Coast. He always opened with Count Basie's "Blues in Hoss flat". He also worked a late night shift at KKIS AM in Pittsburg, CA in 1980. After returning to New York and WNEW (1981), he was back in San Francisco at KSFO (1983) and KFRC (1986). Then came one more run at WNEW (1986–90), and then he joined KAPX (Marin County, California) in 1990, and from 1993 until his death, Jazzbeaux did a weekly jazz show at KCSM (College of San Mateo, California).

He died on September 30, 1997, at the age of 78, from pancreatic cancer.

In 2012...Bob Vernon 'with a V' WNBC 660 AM died at the age of 70

Vernon grew up in Ohio and dreamed of being an artist, until a trusted high school teacher told him to make it a hobby. He launched a career in radio and went on to work for WNBC in New York on the show “Vernon with a V.”

After radio, his news career carried him back to Ohio where he switched to TV, and moved around to several different newsrooms.

Vernon worked as the noon news anchor at WRAL-TV in Raleigh, NC from 1989-1995.

Robert Vernon Cosart Jr., passed away in Parker, Colorado, after suffering blood complications.

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