Monday, March 27, 2017

March 27 Radio History

In 1899...inventor Marconi demonstrated the first international radio transmission between Wimereux, France to South Foreland Lighthouse, England.

In 1921...announcer Fred Foy was born in Detroit.  Although best remembered as the iconic narrator on The Lone Ranger on both radio & TV (1948-54), he also had high profile gigs as the announcer on ABC Radio’s Theatre Five, and ABC-TV’s Dick Cavett Show.  He died Dec 22 2010 at age 88.

In 1928...KGB-AM, San Diego, California began broadcasting.

KGB is the oldest continuing radio station in the San Diego Market. The station was granted a license in July 1922 to W.K. Azbill under the call letters of KFBC operating at 10 watts on 1210 kilocycles. This license was assigned to Dr. Arthur Wells Yale in 1927. Pickwick Broadcasting Corporation bought the station in 1928 and installed George Bowles as Vice President and Manager of the station. The call letters were changed to reflect his name as KGB. Under the Pickwick ownership, the station began operating at 1330 kilocycles. Stations used a variety of slogans to promote their identity. Among those KGB uses during this time were "The Sunshine State of California" and "Music for the Sick".

Don Lee, Incorporated bought KGB in 1931. Don Lee died in 1934 and the license was assigned to station manager Marion Harris. Art Linkletter got his professional start at KGB during this time serving as an announcer and program director. The station began operating at 1360 kilocycles in 1942. By 1949, KGB was operating at 1000 watts when Don Lee, Inc was merged with Mutual Broadcasting Company. The station was sold to Marion Harris in 1954 who increased the output to 5000 watts-days, 1000 watts-night.

On the Johnny Mann Singers web site Ron Jacobs said, "Willet Brown of Brown Broadcasting Company purchased the station in 1961 and operated it with his son Mike. Willet co-founded Mutual Broadcasting System, was pals with Howard Hughes, owned a cadillac dealership, a yacht, and his own Greyhound bus.

He expected winners from his assets. By 1963, the station's middle-of-the road (MOR) program format was going nowhere and they began the search for a strong proven programmer. They initially sought out the programmer of KMEN in San Bernardino, but didn't find who they were looking for. (Ron Jacobs had already moved on to make history at KMAK Fresno). His rival, Gene Chenault of KYNO Fresno, was trying to branch out in his new radio consulting business. Chenault became the station programmer after meeting with the Browns. Chenault brought in his partner Bill Drake and several DJs from Fresno that eventually led to KGB leading the San Diego market. They experimented and developed a new format called Boss Radio".

By the end of 1963, a more stylized bi-fold Silver Dollar Survey was being published introducing photos of the DJs as the Station of the Stars. The play list featured artists having more appeal to a younger audience.

In 1974, KGB-FM gave the world a piece of pop culture Americana. The "KGB Chicken," an advertising mascot played by Ted Giannoulas, was hatched that year when employees of KGB-FM hired Giannoulas (then a student at San Diego State University) from off the street to wear a chicken outfit for a promotion to distribute AM and FM Easter eggs to children at the San Diego Wild Animal Park. The Chicken, whose antics entertained steadily larger crowds, moved on to features at concerts and sporting events (appearing at more than 520 San Diego Padres games in a row). Conflict emerged between KGB Radio and Giannoulas, and the latter was fired in 1977.

Another unnamed employee was hired to don a chicken outfit at a Padres game.

Today, 1360 AM is KLSD and airs a sport talk format.

In 1930...the first U.S. ship-to-shore broadcast took place.

In 1942…The CBS radio serial "Myrt & Marge" ended its 11-year run.

In 1943..."Blue Ribbon Town" with Groucho Marx was first broadcast on the CBS Radio Network.

In 1958...CBS Records announces its sound lab's latest invention, stereophonic sound, which when played on a compatible phonograph will send sound through two channels instead of one.

In 1960...Representative Emanuel Celler (D-NY) introduces two bills designed to halt the practice of "payola" -- that is, DJs receiving cash or gifts to promote certain records. Celler, echoing the sentiments of his era, declares that "the cacophonous music called Rock and Roll" could not possibly have risen up the charts without the practice of payola.

In 1964...the original "Pirate Radio" station signed on, Radio Caroline.

Radio Caroline was founded by Ronan O'Rahilly to circumvent the record companies' control of popular music broadcasting in the United Kingdom and the BBC's radio broadcasting monopoly. Unlicensed by any government for most of its early life, it was a pirate radio station which only became formally illegal in 1967.

On a fund-raising trip to the US, O'Rahilly reportedly saw a Life Magazine photograph of Kennedy and his children in the Oval Office that served as the inspiration for the name "Caroline Radio". In the photo, Caroline Kennedy and her brother, John F. Kennedy Jr., are apparently dancing in the oval office as their father looks on, an activity which O'Rahilly reportedly interpreted as a playful disruption of government.

The Radio Caroline name was used to broadcast from five different ships owned by three different owners from 1964 -1989.

In 1977...Don Gardiner, ABC Radio died. He was one of the talented 27 staff announcers at ABC in the 1960s a group that included Milton Cross, the voice of the radio broadcasts of the Metropolitan Opera; Fred Foy, who had been the radio and television announcer for The Lone Ranger: and Joel Crager who was the voice for Ivory Soap, Tylenol and E.F. Hutton for many years.

In 1963, Gardiner voiced the first bulletin on the shooting of U.S. President John F. Kennedy aired by a nationwide broadcast network.

This report was broadcast out of the New York headquarters of the ABC Radio Network on Friday, November 22, 1963 at 1:36:50 PM EST, approximately 6 1/2 minutes following the Kennedy shooting in Dallas, Texas.

In 1994...Radio talk-show host Rush Limbaugh, married his third wife, Marta Fitzgerald.

Milton Berle
In 2002...comedian & TV pioneer Milton Berle died at age 93.  Known as Uncle Miltie and Mr. Television, Berle rose to TV stardom as the host of NBC’s Texaco Star Theater beginning in 1948.

From 1934–36, Berle was heard regularly on The Rudy Vallee Hour, and he attracted publicity as a regular on The Gillette Original Community Sing, a Sunday night comedy-variety program broadcast on CBS from September 6, 1936 to August 29, 1937. In 1939, he was the host of Stop Me If You've Heard This One with panelists spontaneously finishing jokes sent in by listeners

In 2009…NBC News reporter Irving R. Levine died of complications from prostate cancer at 86.

In 2015…Retired basketball announcer/former Los Angeles Lakers guard "Hot Rod" Hundley, who was the voice of the Utah Jazz for 35 years, died of complications from Alzheimer's disease at the age of 80.

In 2016…Former "radio psychologist" (ABC TalkRadio, Mutual Broadcasting System, KFI and KABC-Los Angeles) Dr. Toni Grant died of complications from dementia at the age of 73.

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