Monday, February 6, 2017

February 6 Radio History

In 1911...Ronald Wilson Reagan was born. H who served as the 40th President of the United States from 1981 to 1989. Prior to his presidency, he served as the 33rd Governor of California from 1967 to 1975, following a career as an actor and union leader in Hollywood.

Raised in a poor family in small towns of Northern Illinois, Ronald Reagan graduated from Eureka College in 1932 and worked as a sports announcer on several regional radio stations. After moving to Hollywood in 1937.

In 1924…the first worship service heard over radio was aired by the British Broadcasting Corporation in England. The service originated from St. Martin-in-the-Fields Church in London.

In 1925…WMCA signed-on at 880 AM. In 1928 it moved to the 570 kHz frequency, sharing time for the next three years with municipally-owned WNYC.

In 1945, host Barry Gray began dropping music and adding talk with celebrities and later call-in listeners; he is thus sometimes considered "The Father of Talk Radio", and his show lasted on WMCA through several decades and format changes.

WMCA began playing rock music in the late 1950s with a Top 40 format. Among its disc jockey staff were future legends Scott Muni and Murray "the K" Kaufman.

In 1960, WMCA 570 AM began promoting itself by stressing its on-air personalities, who were collectively known as the Good Guys. 

Led by program director Ruth Meyer, the first woman to hold the position in New York City radio, this was the era of the high-profile Top 40 disc jockey with an exuberant personality aimed at a certain audience segment. With the advent of the Good Guys format, WMCA became more"on top" of new music and started to become known for "playing the hits."

In the early 1960s, the top 40 format was still young, and the field was crowded in New York City. Two major 50,000-watt stations, WMGM 1050 AM (now WEPN) and WINS 1010 AM, had battled each other for years. Then in 1960, WABC 770 am joined the fray and started featuring top 40 music. Ultimately, it was WMCA's earnest competition with rival WABC that forced WMGM (in early 1962) and then WINS (in spring 1965) to abandon the top-40 format. There was so much attention on the high-profile WMCA-WABC battle that WMGM and WINS were each summarily forced to find a new niche.

In 1926..Flashback 91-years and find out what was going on with radio...Click Here

Courtesy of  American Radio History

In 1929…RCA Victor formed. Radio Corporation of America (RCA) purchased the Victor Talking Machine Company, then the world's largest manufacturer of phonographs (including the famous "Victrola") and phonograph records (in British English, "gramophone records"). The company then became RCA-Victor. With Victor, RCA acquired New World rights to the famous Nipper trademark.

In September 1931, RCA Victor introduced the first 33⅓ rpm records sold to the public, calling them "Program Transcriptions". These used a shallower and more closely spaced implementation of the large "standard groove" found on contemporary 78 rpm records, rather than the "microgroove" used for post-World War II 33⅓ rpm "LP" (Long Play) records. In the depths of the Great Depression, the format was a commercial failure, partly because the new playback equipment they required was expensive. After two or three years the format was abandoned and two-speed turntables were no longer offered in consumer products, but some Program Transcriptions lingered in the company's record catalog throughout the decade.

In 1943…Frank Sinatra first appeared as a vocalist on the CBS radio show, "Your Hit Parade."

In 1950...“Dangerous Assignment” starring Brian Donlevy found a weekly timeslot on NBC Radio. The adventure show, set in many international venues, had tested well as a summer replacement six months earlier, and continued for about five years.

That same evening in 1950, also on NBC Radio, “Nightbeat” starring Frank Lovejoy as a newspaper reporter with an eye for human interest stories, began a two-and-a-half-year run.

Paul Harvey
In commentator Paul Harvey was arrested for trying to sneak into the Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, to prove that security was lax at this top secret installation.

In 1974…the "CBS Mystery Theater" premiered on the CBS Radio Network. Writers were paid a flat $350 per hour-long script, actors got the union scale of $73.92 per show.

In 1986...Radio consultant Bob Hattrick was found stabbed to death at his St. Louis home. Get the news and Flashback to 1986 through the pages of Radio&Records..Click Here

Courtesy of American Radio History

Danny, daughter Marlo Thomas - 1960
In 1991..Comedian, Singer, radio/TV personality Danny Thomas, whose career spanned five decades, died of a heart attack at age 76.

Danny Thomas and Doris Day 1952
Thomas first reached mass audiences on network radio in the 1940s playing shifty brother-in-law Amos in The Bickersons, which began as sketches on the music-comedy show Drene Time, co-hosted by Don Ameche and Frances Langford. Thomas also portrayed himself as a scatterbrained Lothario on this show. His other network radio work included a stint as Jerry Dingle the postman on Fanny Brice's The Baby Snooks Show, and appearances on the popular NBC variety program, The Big Show, hosted by stage legend Tallulah Bankhead.

Thomas also had his own radio program, The Danny Thomas Show. The 30-minute weekly variety show was on ABC in 1942-43 and on CBS in 1947-48.

As a "starving actor", Thomas had made a vow: If he found success, he would open a shrine dedicated to St. Jude Thaddeus, the patron saint of hopeless causes. Thomas never forgot his promise to St. Jude, and after becoming a successful actor in the early 1950s, his wife joined him and began traveling the United States to help raise funds to build his dream - St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.  He fervently believed “no child should die in the dawn of life.” With help from Dr. Lemuel Diggs and close friend, Anthony Abraham, an auto magnate in Miami, Florida, Thomas founded the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1962. Since its inception, St. Jude has treated children from all 50 states and around the world, continuing the mission of finding cures and saving children.

In 1998...Carl Wilson of the Beach Boys died of cancer. He was 51

Joe O'Brien
In 2000…Former WMCA Good Guy Joe O'Brien retired.  A Yonkers native, he began his career in 1935 when he got his first radio job with WMCA-AM in New York City.

He worked at the station for 34 years and became one of the Good Guys team of disc jockeys in the late 1960's. They played Top 40 hits and became nearly as popular as the music they played.

They had the same clean-cut hairstyles, wore matching suits and worked together at record hops and personal appearances. They also sang as a group and released an album. During that time, Mr. O'Brien was the No. 1 morning man in New York City.

In 1970 he left for WNBC-AM, where he handled morning duties until he was replaced by Don Imus in 1972. Mr. O'Brien then went to WHUD in Peekskill, N.Y. He retired in 1986, but continued to do weekend specials for WHUD until 2000.

O'Brien was killed in an auto accident July 26, 2005 at age 90.

In 2006...Buffalo’s WWKB 1520 AM ended their music era as Classic Hits station with “Yesterday’s Gone” by Chad & Jeremy.

In 2005...Karl Haas, host of the long-running syndicated classical music radio program "Adventures in Good Music," died of multiple organ failure at 91. Haas began his radio program Adventures in Good Music on WJR in Detroit, Michigan in 1959.  Syndicated broadcasts of the show across the United States began in 1970 on WCLV, Cleveland, Ohio. The show was eventually syndicated to commercial and public radio stations around the world and became the world's most widely listened-to classical music radio program.

In 2006….ABC announced plans to sell 24 radio stations to Citadel.

In 2014…Baseball announcer/former MLB outfielder (Pittsburgh Pirates, Chicago Cubs, Cleveland Indians)/Baseball Hall of Famer Ralph Kiner, who was a New York Mets broadcaster for more than 50 years, died while battling Bell's palsy at the age of 91.

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