Saturday, August 5, 2017

August 6 Radio History

➦In 1881...gossip columnist Louella Parsons was born in Freeport Illinois.  Her rather lacklustre radio personality didn’t keep her from fronting a succession of big budget star vehicles on network radio, including Hollywood Hotel & Hollywood Premiere.  For six years she also had a 15 minute showbusiness gossip show on Sunday night.  She died of arteriosclerosis Dec 9, 1972 at age 91.

➦In 1911...actress/comedienne Lucille Ball was born in Jamestown New York.

She was successful in film, on stage & in radio, but is best remembered as the Emmy Award-winning star of CBS TV’s I Love Lucy, and her successive sitcoms The Lucy Show & Here’s Lucy. Her career in TV spanned some 30 years. She died of an aortic aneurism April 26, 1989 at age 77.

Jim Ameche
➦In 1915...announcer/actor Jim Ameche was born in Kenosha Wisconsin.  His is best remembered as the original title character in Jack Armstrong, the All-American Boy. He succeeded his older brother Don Ameche as the host/announcer for The Chase and Sanborn Hour, and was heard as Mountie Jim West on ABC’s Silver Eagle (1951–55). He had featured roles in radio’s Grand Hotel, Hollywood Playhouse, and Big Sister.  For many years, he was the afternoon announcer on WQXR, the classical radio station of The New York Times and a host on WHN 1050 AM in the '60s, and did numerous radio ads in Phoenix, Arizona in his later years. He died Feb. 4 1983 at age 67.

➦In 1939...after becoming a success with Ben Bernie and Eddie Cantor on network radio, and being featured on NBC’s Chamber Music Society of Lower Basin Street, Dinah Shore started her own Sunday evening show on the NBC Blue radio network. Later Dinah would also have a successful TV career spanning more than three decades.

➦In 1973...Wolfman Jack did his first broadcast on WNBC 660 AM, New York.

The Wolfman was paid handsomely to join WNBC in New York in August 1973, the same month that American Graffiti premiered, and the station did a huge advertising campaign in local newspapers that the Wolfman would propel their ratings over that of their main competitor, WABC, which had "Cousin Brucie" (Bruce Morrow).

The ads would proclaim, "Cousin Brucie's Days Are Numbered", and they issued thousands of small tombstone-shaped paperweights which said, "Cousin Brucie is going to be buried by Wolfman Jack".

After less than a year, WNBC hired Cousin Brucie, and Wolfman Jack went back to California to concentrate on his syndicated radio show.

➦In 1982...WQXI 790 AM in Atlanta is 1st to use Harris Corp AM stereo system

➦In 1991...Broadcast journalist Harry Reasoner died. He was 68.

➦In 1998…Baseball Hall of Famer Jack Brickhouse, a Chicago Cubs broadcaster for four decades, died of heart failure at 82.

➦In 2008...WHTT becomes WNYM 970 AM with conservative talk format.

➦In 2011...songwriter/deejay Fred Imus, the younger brother of Don Imus, and himself a country music host on Sirius-XM Radio, was found dead in his mobile home in Tucson at age 69.

➦In 2012.. R. Peter Strauss, former WMCA NYC owner passed away at age 89.

Straus, who took over WMCA in the late 1950s and turned it into one of the nation’s most innovative radio stations, broadcasting what are regarded as the first radio editorials and political endorsements and helping to popularize rock ’n’ roll, died on Monday at his home in Midtown Manhattan.

The son of a radio entrepreneur and the scion of a family steeped in public service, Straus counted diplomats, cabinet officials, legislators and philanthropists among his forebears. He became a United Nations official, director of the Voice of America and administrator of American aid to Africa.
WMCA pioneered public service radio in New York. It was the first station in the country to run editorials on political and civic issues, with Mr. Straus himself reading opinions on the air, and the first to endorse a presidential candidate, backing John F. Kennedy in 1960.
In December 1963, “I Want to Hold Your Hand” wailed out over WMCA, and Beatlemania, with a big boost from the station, soon engulfed the region. It was hardly a surprise. WMCA had been playing rock ’n’ roll since the 1950s, and WMCA’s Top 40 format, along with that of its fierce rival WABC, dominated the New York airwaves through the 1960s. WMCA’s disc jockeys, known as the Good Guys, became almost as well known as the stars whose records they played.

After Straus converted the station to an all-talk format in 1970, WMCA was known for years as a forum for liberal causes. It was the first station to call for the resignation of President Richard M. Nixon in the Watergate scandal, the first to ban cigarette advertising and the first to accept ads from abortion rights advocates and makers of contraceptives.

It broadcast “Call for Action” programs featuring an ombudsman to help listeners who had problems with government agencies, corporations and landlords, and “Crime Stoppers,” to help the police solve crimes.

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