Wednesday, December 7, 2016

December 7 Radio History

In 1907...writer Arch Oboler was born in Chicago. His most noteworthy career achievement was his frightening radio scripts for the NBC horror series Lights Out, for which he also acted as host.   Praised as one of broadcasting’s top talents, he is regarded today as a key innovator of radio drama. He died March 19 1987 at age 79.

Virginia Payne
In 1909...actress Virginia Payne, for 27 years the star of the radio soap opera Ma Perkins was born in Cincinnati.  For much of the 1933 to 1960 run she was paid more than any other daytime radio actress at $50,000 annually, a lot of money in those days.  From 1942 to ’49 Ma Perkins was heard daily on both NBC & CBS radio.  Ms. Payne succumbed to cancer Feb. 9 1977 at age 67.

In 1921...KWG (now 1230 AM) in Stockton, CA is one of the oldest broadcasting stations in USA. It was licensed on December 7, 1921. It is considered the first commercially licensed radio station west of the Mississippi River.

Until 1988, KWG used a T-antenna type transmitting antenna mounted on two 60-meter tall wooden poles, making KWG one of the last broadcast stations to use this type of antenna. The KWG transmitter has been located at Weber and E Streets in Stockton for many years.

In 1930…In Boston, W1XAV aired video from the CBS radio orchestra program "The Fox Trappers." The broadcast included the first television commercial, an ad for I.J. Fox Furriers, the radio show's sponsor.

In 1938...The St. Louis Dispatch begins a two-year experiment to deliver newspapers by radio facsimile, first transmission via W9XZY

In 1941... For most Americans, news of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor came as an interruption to their favorite radio programs on an otherwise tranquil Sunday afternoon on December 7th, 1941. An Associated Press bulletin at 2:22 PM Eastern Standard Time first reported the attack to mainland news organizations and radio networks. After confirming the initial bulletin with the government, the major radio networks interrupted regular programming beginning at 2:30 PM, bringing news of the attack which was still in progress,

In  New York City,  station WOR broke into the local broadcast of the Giants and Dodgers game while CBS informed listeners of the attack at 2:25 PM EST.  NBC broadcast their first bulletin nearly 4 minutes later at 2:29:50 PM . Within minutes the CBS radio network broke into normal programming with more information read by announcer John Daly.

Honolulu NBC radio affiliate KGU, provided the first and most comprehensive radio coverage of the event. What was not known at the time was that Japanese planes, still swarming overhead in Honolulu, had used the station's signal to guide their planes to Hawaii.

While the attack was still in progress a reporter for KGU radio climbed to the roof of the Advertiser Building in downtown Honolulu with microphone in hand and called the NBC Blue Network on the phone with the first eyewitness account of the attack,  "This battle has been going on for nearly three hours... It's no joke, it's a real war" said the reporter.     Ironically, a Honolulu telephone operator interrupted the broadcast after 2 ½ minutes declaring a need for the line for an emergency call.

The broadcast starts at the :50-mark...

The attack on Pearl Harbor  was an unannounced military strike conducted by the Japanese navy against the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on the morning of December 7, 1941. It resulted in the United States' entry into World War II. The attack was intended as a preventive action in order to keep the U.S. Pacific Fleet from influencing the war that the Empire of Japan was planning in Southeast Asia against Britain and the Netherlands, as well as the U.S. in the Philippines. The attack consisted of two aerial attack waves totaling 353 aircraft, launched from six Japanese aircraft carriers.

The attack sank four U.S. Navy battleships (two of which were raised and returned to service later in the war) and damaged four more. The Japanese also sank or damaged three cruisers, three destroyers, and one minelayer, destroyed 188 aircraft, and killed 2,402 and wounded 1,282.  Japanese losses were minimal, with 29 aircraft and five midget submarines lost, and 65 servicemen killed or wounded. One Japanese sailor was captured.

The nation's only Sunday afternoon newspaper was the only paper in the country that got word of the attack on Pearl Harbor into its regular edition.  On Sunday, Dec. 7, 1941, Publisher George B. Utter stopped the presses to get the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on the front page. While the attack occurred at 2:22 p.m. EST, the Sun reported it as 2:23 p.m. in its headline. With history altered by a minute, the Sun got the story in its regular Sunday edition.

Click Here for a Timeline of attack Coverage on US Radio.

Note: America First Committee, referenced at the end of the story above, was an isolationist organization that was opposed to America becoming involved on the War in Europe.

The committee claimed a membership of 800,000 and attracted such leaders as General Robert E. Wood, the aviator Charles A. Lindbergh, and Senator Gerald P. Nye. Though failing in its campaigns to block the Lend-Lease Act, the use of the U.S. Navy for convoys, and the repeal of the Neutrality Act, its public pressure undoubtedly discouraged greater direct military aid to a Great Britain beleaguered by Nazi Germany. After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the committee dissolved and urged its members to support the war effort.

In 1941...Chattanooga Choo Choo by The Glenn Miller Orchestra was #1.

In 1943...Folk singer/songwriter Harry Chapin, whose songs include "Cat's in the Cradle," was born. He died in a car accident on July 16, 1981 at 38.

In 1947...NBC Radio presented the “Horace Heidt Youth Opportunity Program” for the first time. The talent show earned Dick Contino, an accordionist, the $5,000 prize as the program’s first national winner. Over the years Heidt gave some big stars their big starts: Art Carney, Frankie Carle, Gordon MacRae, the King Sisters, Alvino Rey, Ken Berry, Frank DeVol, Al Hirt and many others.

In 1955...Robert Sarnoff was elected president/CEO of NBC. Sarnoff, the eldest son of network founder David Sarnoff, was promoted to put NBC on the road to economic self-sufficiency, replacing the rather flamboyant (and big spending) president/CEO Pat Weaver.

In 1960...WABC-AM, debuted its "Top 40" format. Compliments of, the Top40 WABC tribute site.  Here's the Day One line-up:

10:00   Breakfast Club - Don McNeill
3:00     JACK CARNEY
6:00     Newscope
10:00   SCOTT MUNI

Plus, here's an early WABC aircheck.  July 3, 1961 was Dan Ingram's first day on-air at WABC.

In 1977…Peter Goldmark, developer of the LP (long playing) 33 1/3 rpm record and the first commercial color television system, was killed in a car accident at the age of 71.

In 1994...Radio personality Howard Stern talked a man out of trying to kill himself.

In 2014...New York radio/TV personality John Bartholomew Tucker died at age 84.  Along with Big Wilson, Tucker was one of the last two hosts of the long-running NBC Radio feature Monitor. On TV in the early 70’s he hosted a morning show on WABC-TV called A.M. New York, which served as the genesis for what is now Good Morning America.

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