Saturday, March 4, 2017

March 5 Radio History

In 1927...the Federal Radio Commission held its first meeting.

The FRC existed until its replacement by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in 1934.

The Commission was created to regulate radio use "as the public interest, convenience, or necessity" requires. The Radio Act of 1927 superseded the Radio Act of 1912, which had given regulatory powers over radio communication to the Secretary of Commerce and Labor. The Radio Act of 1912 did not mention broadcasting and limited all private radio

Prior to 1927, radio was regulated by the United States Department of Commerce. Commerce Secretary Herbert Hoover played a strong role in shaping radio. His powers were limited by federal court decisions, however; in particular, he was not allowed to deny broadcasting licenses to anyone who wanted one.

Herbert Hoover cira 1930
The result was that many people perceived the airwaves to suffer from "chaos," with too many stations trying to be heard on too few frequencies. Others believed the government simply wanted to control content. (Initially only two frequencies were available for broadcasting with one of these being reserved for "Crop reports and weather forecasts.") After several failed attempts to rectify this situation, Congress finally passed the Radio Act of 1927, which transferred most of the responsibility for radio to a newly created Federal Radio Commission. (Some technical duties remained the responsibility of the Radio Division of the Department of Commerce.)

The five-person FRC was given the power to grant and deny licenses, and to assign frequencies and power levels for each licensee. The Commission was not given any official power of censorship, although programming could not include "obscene, indecent, or profane language." In theory, anything else could be aired. In practice, the Commission could take into consideration programming when renewing licenses, and their ability to take away a broadcaster's license enabled them to control content to some degree.

In 1940...NBC radio’s popular Fibber McGee and Molly comedy show featured the first opening of the door to McGee’s notorious overstuffed and cluttered closet.  The resultant clanging of the contents as they tumbled to the floor (at least as recreated by the sound effects specialists) became a memorable iconic highlight of the OTR era, repeated at intervals throughout the longrunning series.

In 1955...Elvis Presley made yet another appearance on the Shreveport radio show Louisiana Hayride , which is this time also carried over the TV airwaves by local station KWKH, making this Presley's first television appearance.

In 1957...Disc jockey Alan Freed tried to fool the panel on CBS-TV's game show "To Tell The Truth."

In 1958...English pop singer Andy Gibb, brother of The Bee Gees' Gibb brothers, was born. He died of a heart infection on March 10, 1988, just five days after his 30th birthday.

In 1960...Elvis Presley was discharged from the Army after two years of service

In 1963…Country music singers Patsy Cline (Crazy, I Fall To Pieces, She's Got You, Walkin' After Midnight), Cowboy Copas (Alabam) and Hawkshaw Hawkins (Lonesome 7-7203) were killed when their small plane crashed near Camden, Tennessee.

Cline was 30, Copas was 49, and Hawkins was 41.

In 1977...President Jimmy Carter participated in a radio program called “Dial-a-President.” (His official papers refer to the show as “Ask President Carter.”)

The program was the brainchild of Walter Cronkite, who anchored the “CBS Evening News” from 1962 to 1981. After a 20-minute practice session, the president and the anchorman went live on the air. With Cronkite serving as the program’s host, Carter, seated at his desk in the Oval Office, answered questions from callers throughout the country.

More than 9 million calls flooded CBS’s switchboard in New York during the two-hour broadcast. The questions addressed topics ranging from Carter’s decision to pardon Americans who had dodged the draft during the Vietnam War to his support for the pending Panama Canal Treaty. He was also asked why he decided to send his daughter, Amy, to a D.C. public school rather than to enroll her in a private school.

In 2012…John Madigan, whose 60-year journalism career included stints in radio (WBBM-AM, Chicago), television (WBBM-TV, Chicago) and print (Newsweek magazine), died of complications from a stroke at 94.

In 2014…Radio personality (KFI, KHJ, KMPC, KSUR-Los Angeles, KFMB-San Diego, WOKO-Albany, New York)/TV game show host Geoff Edwards died of complications from pneumonia at age 83.

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