➦In 1900...In New York City, the Associated Press was incorporated as a non-profit news cooperative.
➦In 1922..WGR in Buffalo, NY signed-on...
The history of one of Buffalo's earliest radio stations has its roots at sea. On April 1, 1921 the Governor, a passenger ship, sank to the bottom of the Pacific Ocean after collision with a freighter, the West Hartland.
The passenger ship’s assigned radio call letters were WGR. Due to maritime superstition, the call sign was never reissued to another ship and reverted to a pool of available call signs for new radio stations.
That same year, the Federal Telephone & Telegraph Company (FTTC), headquartered in a sprawling manufacturing complex in North Buffalo, began marketing its first, completely assembled radio sets. To fill a radio void in the city, and to stimulate sales of their new "high-tech" products, the FTTC applied for (and received) a commercial radio license from the Department of Commerce. The station was named "WGR" after George Rand (founder of Remington Rand), a key investor in the FTTC.
|WGR Transmitter Equipment Early '20s|
|1738 Elmwood Avenue, Buffalo - Birthplace of WGR Radio|
In the late 1940s, the station was bought by a consortium of Western New York families known as the WGR Corporation, which signed on WGR-TV (channel 2) in 1953. WGR Corporation bought several other television and radio stations in the 1950s, and eventually became known as Transcontinent Broadcasting. Transcontinent merged with Taft Broadcasting in 1964. Taft sold off WGR-TV in 1983 (it is now WGRZ-TV), but kept the radio station until 1987.
During its days as a full service radio station, its roster of personalities included "Buffalo Bob" Smith, later famous for TV's Howdy Doody children's show, and popular national TV and nightclub comedian Foster Brooks.
The station's longtime music format combining Adult Top 40 hits and rock oldies and featured some of Buffalo's top radio personalities, talk hosts and news reporters including Stan Roberts, Frank Benny, Tom Donahue, Randy Michaels, Jim Scott, Jerry Reo, Shane, Joe Galuski, Tom Langmyer, George Hamberger, Tom Shannon, John Otto, Chuck Lakefield, Don Dussias, Lauri Githens, Wayne Smith, Sandy Kozel, Jane Tomczak, Craig Matthews and Tom Bauerle. WGR gradually evolved to news/talk during the late 1980s.
In 1987, Taft sold the station to Rich Communications, which was part of the Robert Rich family's business holdings, which also included a major processed-food company and a venture applying for a National League expansion baseball franchise (for which WGR was projected to be flagship station of the team's projected network). Although the Rich interests were the National League's choice for the new franchise they dropped out of the competition for an expansion team (which ultimately went to Denver, Colorado (Colorado Rockies) for cost reasons. Soon after, WGR was eventually spun off to new owners.
Today, WGR 550 AM airs Sports.
➦In 1922…Singer Ada Jones, the most popular female vocalist of the early 20th century, died of kidney failure at age 48. Between 1905 and 1922, she had an astounding 108 Top 10 singles, seven of which went to #1.
➦In 1955…Jack Benny's broadcast run of live network radio programs ended after 23 years. His TV show aired from 1952-1965.
➦In 1972...Dave Herman starts at WNEW 102.7 FM in NYC. Herman interviews Elton John from 1976..
As a youth growing up in Galion, Ohio, Morgan's interest was piqued while listening to his favorite DJs on Cleveland's top forty giant KYW which would eventually lead to his first on-air job was at Wooster College in 1955 on WWST & WWST-FM, for an initial salary of $1 per hour.
In 1959 Morgan moved from college radio to KACY Port Hueneme, California where he hosted the over night show called Kegler's Spare Time with Bob Morgan live from the Wagon Wheel Bowl before moving on to a succession of brief stints beginning in 1961 at KTEE Carmel as the second half of a two-man classical music announcer on KTEE with Bob Elliott, a Marine Corps Heavyweight Champion who later went onto radio fame as "K.O. Bailey," then a short time later as the morning drive DJ and mid-day board op for the Arthur Godfrey Show at KMBY, Monterey, then a jump to KOMY Watsonville, then back to KMBY Monterey followed in 1962 at "K-MAKE", KMAK, Fresno where he first worked with program director Ron Jacobs. This was followed in 1963 by an eight-month stay at KROY Sacramento before finally landing his first major-market job in 1964 at KEWB, San Francisco. It was here that he met and worked with his lifelong friend "The Real" Don Steele.
On April 27, 1965 the careers of Morgan, Steele and programer Ron Jacobs would gain superstar status when they joined the staff of KHJ 930 AM, Los Angeles almost overnight. Programming genius Bill Drake along with a staff of talented DJs called "Boss Jocks" had transformed a sleepy giant into the city's most dominant radio station. It was here that Morgan enjoyed his greatest on-air success as one of the original "Boss Jocks" on 93/KHJ which dominated the Top 40 radio market in Southern California from 1965 to 1973. Morgan's signature, "Good Morgan Boss Angeles!" to his devoted morning drive time audience would stay with him until the end of his career. It was also Morgan that voiced much of the "Boss Radio/93 KHJ station promos and imagery.
It was also during this time that Morgan co-produced and narrated the 48-hour History of Rock and Roll in 1969, a definitive on-air encyclopedia of Rock & Roll. It was the first-ever "rock-umentary" aired worldwide as a definitive history of the Rock & Roll genre—a "rockumentary," as producers Drake and Gene Chenault would call it—that would stretch from the early 1950s to 1989.
Until his departure from KHJ in October 1970, Morgan had commanded unparalleled radio ratings in Los Angeles. Morgan's return to his former time slot in L.A., which saw a significant spike upward for KHJ until he departed just a year later.
In 1973, Morgan and Steele walked out of KHJ and joined Bill Drake six months later at KIQQ-FM, Los Angeles. The ratings were sub-par, though, causing Morgan to leave the morning slot a year and a half later for weekends and fill-in slots at the prestigious KMPC Los Angeles. He did that for four years before legendary morning man Dick Whittinghill retired in 1980, allowing Morgan to go back to mornings. He stayed at KMPC until 1984. After a short stint at KMGG, Morgan returned to KMPC.
Morgan was heard in 1973 on Saturday night segments of the long-running NBC Radio program Monitor, an attempt to freshen that program's image. While with KMGG, he was at one time heard as a substitute host of American Top 40. During the mid to late 70s, Morgan also did his own one hour radio weekly special highlighting one artist or group per show. "Robert W. Morgan's Special of the Week" was often played on radio stations that also carried Casey Kasem's American Top 40 as the same company, Watermark, distributed both.
The year 1992 would signal the twilight years of Morgan's distinguished radio broadcast career when he signed on as the morning show host of "oldies" K-EARTH 101 where he again enjoyed solid ratings in the Los Angeles market before announcing in May 1997 that he was suffering from lung cancer.
According to L.A. radio personality Bob Shannon, Morgan told his listeners, "It could have something to do with the two packs a day cigarette habit I had for the last 35 years." In an emotional on-air statement, Morgan stated that he was taking some time off to fight the disease full-time. His friend and colleague Don Steele died, also of lung cancer, in August 1997. Morgan continued to do broadcasts from his home studio until 1998.
On January 9, 1998, K-EARTH 101 held a retirement tribute for Morgan at the Museum of Television and Radio in Beverly Hills. The tribute included a re-dedication of his Star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame, and a three-hour broadcast from the museum’s theater, hosted by Gary Owens and Morgan's KRTH co-host, Joni Caryl. It concluded with a thirty minute retrospective on Morgan’s career, narrated by Dick Clark.
Morgan died on May 22, 1998. He was 60 years old. Morgan was married twice and was survived by a daughter.