Saturday, April 1, 2017

April 1 Radio History

In 1932...Actor Gordon Jump, WKRP in Cincinnati's Arthur Carlson, was born. He died Sept. 22, 2003 at 71.

In 1935...the first radio tube to be made of metal was produced in Schenectady, New York.

In 1936...a future superstar of “Boss Radio” The Real Don Steele was born in Hollywood as Donald Steele Revert.

Steele graduated from Hollywood High School, served in the United States Air Force and then studied at a local radio school, the Don Martin School of Broadcasting, where he also taught for a short time. Shortly thereafter, Steele began his radio career working outside of L.A. at a small station, KBUC in Corona, CA then moving on to KEPR Kennewick, KIMA Yakima and KXLY Spokane, all in Washington; KOIL Omaha, Nebraska; KISN Portland, Oregon, and KEWB San Francisco before returning to Los Angeles to help kick off what would become one of the most influential radio stations in the country, 93/KHJ, Boss Radio, in April 1965.

A poll seeking the top 10 disc jockeys in Los Angeles from 1957 to 1997 rated Steele second (behind Gary Owens) among the 232 personalities nominated.

Steele died of lung cancer on August 5, 1997, at the age of 61.

In 1951…"Paul Harvey News and Comment" debuted on the ABC Radio Network, where it continued until his death Feb. 28, 2009 at 90-years-of-age.

In 1956...Chet Huntley began his career with NBC News. Years earlier Huntley began his radio career at Seattle’s KIRO AM, later working  at stations in Spokane and Portland, before landing a job at LA’s KFI in 1937. He moved to CBS Radio from 1939–51, then ABC Radio from 1951-55. After NBC successfully teamed him with David Brinkley for 1956 election coverage the duo became coanchors of the nightly Huntley-Brinkley Report. Huntley (in New York) and Brinkley (in Washington) closed each broadcast with the trademark, “Good night Chet. Good night David. And good night from NBC News.”

In 1958...WMCA debuts Top40 format. Among its deejay staff were future legends Scott Muni, Frankie Crocker, Harry Harrison and Murray "the K" Kaufman.

In the 1960s, WMCA's great competition was with rival WABC. Despite WMCA's superior ratings performance and its historic link to the Beatles, some radio historians have treated WMCA as a 1960s radio stepchild–the proverbial David going up against the Goliath that was corporate-owned, stronger-signaled WABC.

For four consecutive years (1963 through 1966) WMCA had the highest ratings share of all radio stations in New York City, according to Arbitron–in spite of its directional, 5,000-watt signal which geographically reached about one-third of the audience ratings area of non-directional, 50,000-watt WABC. WMCA's ratings strength was concentrated within New York City itself, along with the suburban areas immediately north and east. However, WABC proved more popular in outlying areas where WMCA's signal didn't come in as well on standard 1960s-era AM radio receivers. The areas where WMCA did not have a strong signal were southwest, west, and northwest of its transmitter in Kearny, New Jersey. By 1967 and 1968, WMCA still demonstrated a strong showing in total audience surveys, and as late as February 1969, Pulse ratings surveys showed that WMCA continued to best WABC in New York City.

In 1966...The radio comedy serial Chickenman debuted during the Jim Runyon Show on Top40 WCFL 1000 AM. (Exact start date is unknown, but the first episodes aired during Spring '66.)

Dick Orkin conceived and wrote the Chickenman radio series.  Born in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, in 1933, Orkin was 16 when he began his radio career as a fill-in announcer at WKOK 1070 AM  in Sunbury.

After college he attended the Yale School of Drama, then returned to Pennsylvania to become the news director at WLAN 1390 Lancaster in 1959. Later he joined the staff of KYW 1200 AM in Cleveland.

In 1967 Orkin moved to WCFL and created Chickenman, which chronicled the exploits of a crime-fighting “white-winged warrior” and his secret identity as mildmannered shoe salesman Benton Harbor. Chickenman’s 250-plus episodes have been syndicated around the world and can still be heard on Internet radio, making it the longest-running radio serial of all time. At WCFL Orkin also produced more than 300 episodes of another popular serial, The Secret Adventures of the Tooth Fairy.

Inspired by the commercial parodies on Stan Freberg and Bob & Ray’s radio shows, Orkin created the Famous Radio Ranch in 1973 to produce his own comedic radio spots. Stationed in California since ’78, the Radio Ranch, currently helmed by Orkin and his daughter Lisa, has produced hundreds of memorable ads for a variety of clients, ranging from Time magazine to First American Bank to the Gap, and garnered more than 200 awards in the process.  Dick Orkin was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame in 2014.

Here are two espisodes to enjoy.

In 1970…U.S. President Richard Nixon signed the Public Health Cigarette Smoking Act, that required a stronger health warning on cigarette packages, and banned cigarette advertisements on radio and television, to be effective on January 1, 1971.

In 1971...In anticipation of April Fool's Day, Super CFL Chicago published a special edition of its music survey.  If you're of a certain age, you'll appreciate the humor.

In 1974...WWDJ switched from Top40 to religious.

WJRZ 970 AM had been sold to Pacific and Southern Broadcasting (which merged with Combined Communications Corporation in 1974) on January 6, 1971.  The call letters were changed on May 16 of that year to WWDJ (known on the air as "97-DJ"), and the station attempted to take on WABC and replace WMCA as the New York market's second Top 40 outlet.

The station was hampered by a directional signal that covered Manhattan and parts of New Jersey well but suffered in the rest of the Five Boroughs and was virtually nonexistent on Long Island and western New Jersey. Eventually, FM competition from WCBS-FM and adult top 40 station WXLO (now WEPN-FM), and an evolution to adult Top 40 by WNBC (now WFAN), began to eat into WWDJ's ratings. In November 1973 it was ranked 15th in the Arbitron ratings.

By 1974, the station was losing money and unable to sell enough advertising, and the studios had been moved to the transmitter site. As a result, WWDJ dropped the top 40 format on April 1, 1974, and switched to a religious format. Because the change took place on April Fool's Day, many listeners thought the switch was some sort of joke. Initially, WWDJ sold two-thirds of its daily airtime to outside ministries and played traditional Christian music the rest of the time, with the exception of a few hours on Saturdays devoted to a then-new genre, contemporary Christian music. Prior to Combined Communications' merger into the Gannett Company in 1979, WWDJ was sold to Communicom Corporation of America in April 1978.

Today 970 is owned by Salem Media and airs talk programming as WNYM.

From 1986...FLASHBACK to the April 4 Edition of Radio&Records

Fall '85 Arbitron Ratings

In 1988...the man who played the Radio character, "Fibber McGee", Jim Jordan, died at age 91.

''Fibber McGee and Molly'' was on the air on the NBC radio network from 1935 to 1957. For seven years, it was the top-rated show in the country. Among the show's familiar routines was McGee's overstuffed closet, the contents of which tumbled out on him whenever he opened the door.

The McGees' home at, Wistful Vista, became a place on the American cultural road map, and Molly's gentle rejoinder to her husband - ''Tain't funny, McGee'' - became a national catch phrase.

In 1996...the Howard Stern Radio program debuted on WBCN-FM, Boston, Massachusetts.

 In 2007…Radio play-by-play baseball broadcaster Herb Carneal, voice of the Minnesota Twins for 44 years after four years with the Baltimore Orioles, died of congestive heart failure at age 83. In the 1960s, he also called NFL football games for NBC and the Minnesota Vikings.

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