Saturday, February 18, 2017

February 19 Radio History

In 1878...Inventor Thomas Alva Edison patents his latest (and personal favorite) creation, the phonograph. Beginning life as a telegraph repeater, the device was actually completed by an assistant working from Edison's sketches.

In 1922...vaudeville performer, Ed Wynn, became the first vaudeville star to agree to a Radio contract.

In the early 1930s Wynn hosted the popular radio show The Fire Chief, heard in North America on Tuesday nights, sponsored by Texaco gasoline. Like many former vaudeville performers who turned to radio in the same decade, the stage-trained Wynn insisted on playing for a live studio audience, doing each program as an actual stage show, using visual bits to augment his written material, and in his case, wearing a colorful costume with a red fireman's helmet. He usually bounced his gags off announcer/straight man Graham McNamee; Wynn's customary opening, "Tonight, Graham, the show's gonna be different," became one of the most familiar tag-lines of its time; a sample joke: "Graham, my uncle just bought a new second-handed car... he calls it Baby! I don't know, it won't go anyplace without a rattle!"

Wynn reprised his Fire Chief radio character in two movies, Follow the Leader (1930) and The Chief (1933). Near the height of his radio fame (1933) he founded his own short-lived radio network the Amalgamated Broadcasting System, which lasted only five weeks, nearly destroying the comedian. According to radio historian Elizabeth McLeod, the failed venture left Wynn deep in debt, divorced and finally, suffering a nervous breakdown.

Wynn died June 19, 1966 in Beverly Hills, California of throat cancer, aged 79.

In 1975...Harris introduced the world's first solid-state Radio transmitter.

In 1977...Fleetwood Mac's "Rumours" album released.

In 1981...George Harrison is ordered to pay ABKCO Music $587,000 for "subconscious plagiarism" "My Sweet Lord" with "He's So Fine".

In 1996...Howard Stern Radio Show premieres in York PA on WQXA 105.7 FM

In 2007...the SIRIUS and XM Satellite Radio services announced a proposed merger.

After years of speculation (the New York Post first reported on a potential merger in January 2005), and three months of serious negotiations, the $13 billion merger between Sirius and XM was officially announced on February 19, 2007. At the time, the nation’s only two satellite radio providers reported nearly 14 million combined subscribers (with nearly 8 million belonging to XM), with neither having turned an annual profit. Sirius was valued at $5.2 billion, and XM at $3.75 billion.  Each subscription was sold for $12.95 monthly.

Sirius and XM executives felt the merger would lower programming costs by eliminating overlapping stations and duplicated marketing costs. According to their original operating licenses, the two companies were not allowed to ever own each other’s license. In proceeding with the merger, Sirius CEO Mel Karmazin ignored this rule, gambling that the FCC would consider other audio entertainment to be competitors and allow the merger to proceed by waiving the rule.

In 2016…Los Angeles radio legend Charlie Tuna died at the age of 71.

At age 16, Tuna began working at his hometown's radio station, KGFW. Then, he went to work at KLEO in Wichita, Kansas for a year with the air name "Billy O'Day". He then worked for KOMA Radio in Oklahoma City in 1966, where he took over the "Charlie Tuna" pseudonym from Chuck Riley, who had used it for one show the week prior to Tuna's arrival. Tuna then moved on to WMEX in Boston for the first 9 months of 1967.

In late 1967, KHJ in Los Angeles offered Tuna the 9 to noon slot, where he debuted on Thanksgiving Day 1967. In 1972 he became one of the original DJs at KROQ AM, a new Top 40 station (formerly Country KBBQ). In 1973 be moved to KKDJ as program director and morning personality. He presided over its 1975 call-letter change to KIIS, and broadcast the first show at KIIS-FM as it began its AM/FM simulcast. He also worked at KTNQ, KHTZ (later KBZT), KRLA, KODJ (later KCBS-FM), KMPC, KIKF, and KLAC.

He worked at KBIG 104.3 where he hosted a long running morning show Charlie Tuna in the Morning which aired from 5 to 10 am. His last full-time morning show aired on September 17, 2007, when the station flipped to a non-rhythmic-based adult contemporary format, as 104.3 My FM. He returned to radio February 9, 2008 when he became the weekend personality on Los Angeles oldies station K-Earth 101. CBS on August 27, 2015 began down sizing their stations in Los Angeles, at which point Charlie moved on to expand his syndicated radio business.

Tuna served as announcer for Casey Kasem on his 1980s television program America's Top 10, and occasionally filled in for Kasem on his radio programs American Top 20 and American Top 10. He co-hosted Your Good Time Oldies Magazine from 1992 to 1995, and he produced and hosted 52 weekly episodes of Back to the 70s, which were rerun at radio stations across the country until 2008.

Tuna had a year long run in 2009 of a 5-hour classic hits daily and weekend show, syndicated through United Stations Radio Network in New York. He joined Black Card Radio in Los Angeles in 2010 as host of a 5-hour weekend show Charlie Tuna - The 70's, which is distributed nationally and internationally, and later added a 5-hour daily and weekend show for all radio formats. He moved his radio station voice imaging business to Black Card Radio later that year.

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