Thursday, March 30, 2017

March 30 Radio History

In 1922...KGY-AM, Olympia, Washington, began broadcasting.

KGY has a long history in Olympia, going back to Saint Martin’s College (now Saint Martin’s University). It was there that Benedictine monk Father Sebastian Ruth began experimenting with radio, and when the FCC first started licensing radio stations, KGY was one of the first stations in Washington State to be licensed. “In fact, the three letter call stations are a heritage, the oldest around,” Kerry said.

In 1939 Nick Kerry’s great-grandfather Tom Olsen, an Olympia native, purchased the business. In 1960 KGY moved to its current location on Marine Drive overlooking Budd Inlet and neighbor to Swantown Marina and Hearthfire Grill. It was built on pilings and has dramatic views of Budd Inlet and the Olympic Mountains. “This was the perfect location for an AM tower. The radials went into the saltwater which they believed created a stronger signal,” said Kerry.

Barbara Olsen Kerry ran the stations until the mid-2000s and today the family continues to remain owners, the majority of whom live in Olympia.

In 1922...WWL-AM, New Orleans, Louisiana, began broadcasting.

Circa the '50s

After receiving permission from the Vatican, the Jesuits at Loyola University started WWL on March 31, 1922, with a piano recital and a three-minute request to listeners to support construction of a new classroom building on campus.  The advertisement above says the 10-watt transmitter was “made from $400 worth of spare parts from a Goverment War Surplus Ship.  The studio audience — 20 Loyola students —- gave a spontaneous cheer at [the] conclusion of [the] historic broadcast.”

The advertisement also claims other firsts.  For instance, the 1922 broadcast of a recording of John McCormack singing “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling” is claimed as the first music broadcast in the South.

Over the years, WWL moved to different positions on the dial and steadily increased its power.  In 1938, WWL boosted its signal to 50,000 watts, sending the sounds of New Orleans across much of North America.

WWL became a CBS affiliate in 1935.  During World War II, Loyola University offered WWL’s facilities to train soldiers in radio operations. The station also produced wartime radio programs.  WWL again allowed the government to use its facilities in 1962 during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

WWL-AM avoided the turn toward rock in the 1950s and became well known in the region for its broadcasts of local Dixieland jazz bands and big band music.  The Leon Kelner Orchestra was popular for its broadcasts from the Roosevelt Hotel’s Blue Room.  The broadcasts were heard far and wide over WWL’s 50,000-watt signal. The LPB radio history site says comment cards were received from as far away as Finland.

In 1971, the station started a long-running overnight country music show targeted at long-haul truck drivers called “The Road Gang.”

Loyola sold the WWL stations to separate companies in 1989.  WWL-AM and WLMG-FM are now owned by Entercom.-Faded Signals

In 1936...the radio serial, Backstage Wife, made a move across the radio dial from the Mutual Broadcasting System to NBC radio. Once there, the program continued on for the next 23 years. Claire Niesen played the title role for the last 17 years.

In 1938...Kay Kyser’s Kollege of Musical Knowledge began a decade-long weekly run on NBC radio, which was followed by a daily series for a year on ABC.  During the late 40’s there was also a TV version on NBC.

In 1941...The Great AM Frequency Re-alignment.

The North American Radio Broadcasting Agreement, usually referred to as NARBA, is a treaty that took effect in March 1941 and set out an international bandplan and interference rules for mediumwave AM broadcasting in North America. NARBA accommodated much of the U.S. bandplan of 1928, with accommodation to Canada and Mexico.

Listen: A commercial explaining the changes in dial position of radio stations which took place on March 29, 1941. Click Here.

Although mostly replaced by other agreements in the 1980s, the basic bandplan of NARBA has remained to the present day. Among its major features were the extension of the broadcast band from its former limits of 550 kHz to 1500 kHz to its 1941 limits of 540 kHz to 1600 kHz to its present limits of 540 kHz to 1700 kHz and the shift of most existing AM stations' frequencies to make room for additional clear-channel station allocations for Canada and Mexico.

The agreement eventually governed AM band use in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and Haiti. In accordance with the treaty, clear channel frequencies were set aside across, roughly, the lower half of the radio dial (with a few regional channels thrown in), and regional channels across, roughly, the upper half of the radio dial (with a few clear channels thrown in).

The replacement 1230, 1240, 1340, 1400, 1450, and 1490 kHz local channels (formerly 1200, 1210, 1310, 1370. 1420 and 1500 kHz) were reserved for local channel stations (these are regional channels if located outside the North American continent, in which case regional channel stations could be allocated to those channels).

The agreement also officially reduced the "same market" minimum channel spacing from 50 kHz to 40 kHz, although Mexico elected to enforce a 30 kHz "same market" channel spacing, unless such reduced spacing was in conflict with an abutting nation's "border zone" allocations, in which case 40 kHz was enforced.

It required that most existing AM stations change frequencies according to a well-defined "table", which attempted to conserve the electrical height of the extant vertical radiator(s) and thereby controlling possible interference, while resulting in a wholesale yet predictable shuffling of radio station dial positions.

There were about 100 stations which were not changed according to the "table" and in these cases every attempt was made to move an existing clear channel station to a possibly distant clear channel (and not to a regional channel) and to move an existing regional channel station to a possibly distant regional channel (and not to a clear channel); local channel stations were not moved outside of the "table" as the "table" accommodated every eventuality, including even the cases of stations on the two highest local channels, 1420 and 1500 kHz, an 80 kHz spacing, as the new "same market" spacing of 40 kHz accommodated this case (these moved stations would be allocated to 1450 and 1490 kHz, a 40 kHz spacing).

In 1945...the Dreft Star Playhouse was heard for the final time on NBC radio. For the prior two years the show had been paying up to $3,000 per week to attract “name” talent to the daytime quarter hour serializing movies & other stories. Dreft, the show’s sponsor, was a popular laundry detergent of the 40’s.

In 1946...the anthology series Academy Award, which did half-hour adaptations of award-winning movies, debuted on CBS radio. The first drama was titled, Jezebel and starred actress Bette Davis.

Gabriel Heater
In 1972...Radio newsman/commentator (Mutual Broadcasting System, from the late 1930s to the early 1960s)/author (There's Good News Tonight) Gabriel Heatter, who appeared as himself in the 1951 motion picture "The Day the Earth Stood Still," died of pneumonia at age 81.

In 1985...Actor (Blondie, Willy, The Great Gildersleeve, Gildersleeve's Bad Day, Gildersleeve on Broadway, Gildersleeve's Ghost, Clambake, Seven Days' Leave, Look Who's Laughing, Here We Go Again, Comin' Around the Mountain, Country Fair, Port of Hell, Outlaw Queen, Invisible Diplomats) Harold Peary, the radio voice of "The Great Gildersleeve," died after a heart attack at 76.

In 1992...WNSR NYC changed call sign to WMXV

In 2012...America's two actors unions – the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists – merged to become SAG-AFTRA.

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