Friday, September 1, 2017

September 1 Radio History

➦In 1887…Emile Berliner filed for a patent for the lateral-cut, flat-disk gramophone he invented, a device better known as a record player. It was Thomas Edison who later made the idea work.

➦In 1900...rotund announcer Don Wilson was born in Lincoln Nebraska.
Don Wilson

After starting in radio in Denver, he worked as a sportscaster in  LA before first announcing for Jack Benny in 1934.  He was still Benny’s announcer, and comedy foil, more than 3 decades later.

He had a TV talk show in Palm Springs with wife Lois from 1968 to the mid ’70′s.

He died after a stroke Apr. 25, 1982 at age 81.

➦In station CKLW Windsor moved from 840 KHz to 1030 KHz with 5000 watts. It had been a CBS affiliate since 1932, but lost it to WJR Detroit in 1935, immediately switching to the Mutual network.

➦In 1953...Buddy Holly and Bob Montgomery auditioned for KDAV's Sunday Party in Lubbock, Texas.  The duo began a Sunday afternoon slot that became The Bob and Buddy Show.

➦In 1955...Legendary DJ Alan Freed holds his "First Anniversary Rock 'n Roll Party" at Brooklyn's Paramount Theater, featuring Chuck Berry, and for some reason, Tony Bennett.

➦In 1952...Art Linkletter debuted his daily House Party on CBS-TV. The variety show featuring ‘Kids Say the Darndest Things” had begun on daytime radio in 1945.

➦In 1960...WXKS 107.9 FM, better known as Kiss 108, first went on the air September 1, 1960 as WHIL-FM, a simulcast of sister station WHIL 1430 AM, now WKOX, and broadcasting its own programming after sunset when WHIL signed-off. For much of the sixties, WHIL & WHIL-FM were country-music stations, but in late 1972, both stations switched to beautiful music as WWEL-AM and FM ("Well"). The Calls refer to Wellington Sq in Medford MA, where the station studios were located.

Despite moving the FM transmitter to the top of the Prudential Tower in 1972, WWEL-FM was not very successful as a beautiful-music format. In 1978, WWEL-FM broadcast the night games of the Boston Red Sox baseball team as the flagship station WITS 1510 delivered a poor night signal in much of Metro Boston. The stations were sold to Heftel Communications, operated by U.S. Rep. Cecil Heftel (D-Hawai) in early 1979. Heftel changed the call letters to WXKS, adopted "Kiss 108" as an identity and changed to a disco format on February 10, 1979 at 12:00am.  Under Heftel, the station soared to near the top of the Arbitron ratings, and forced WBOS (which had been first in Boston with a 24/7 disco sound and had a short period of huge success with it) out of the format in early 1980.

Matty In The Morning circa 2009
Sunny Joe White, a young programmer (who had previously programmed WILD in Boston) came aboard at Kiss-108 upon its shift to disco and had much to do with the station's early success.

At the end of 1979, WXKS dropped disco to adopt an adult standards format, while the FM slowly evolved into urban contemporary when disco's popularity crashed. By the end of 1981 and into early 1982, the station became a CHR with a heavily Rhythmic R&B/Dance direction under the guidance of White, and in turn became one of the most influential Top 40 stations in the nation, in part due to their reputation for breaking songs that did not fit the traditional Top 40/CHR model, and given that Boston lacked a Urban Contemporary FM outlet during this period, and since WILD was an AM daytimer, it wasn't afraid to play songs from that genre.

The genre would later become the format now known as Rhythmic contemporary, which is now the current format of sister station WJMN. By 1988, WXKS began to shift out of the Rhythmic direction and evolved into its current successful Top 40/CHR format.

➦In 1965...Ron Lundy started at WABC 770 AM.

Ron Lundy
Lundy was born June 25, 1934 in Memphis, Tennessee, the only child of Fred Sr., a railroad engineer, and Mary Lundy. He served in the United States Marine Corps after graduating from high school. Following the completion of his military stint, he returned to his hometown and attended a local radio broadcasting school on the G.I. Bill.  At the same time, he worked across the street at WHHM-AM, where he got his first on-air experience one night when he substituted for the regular disc jockey who failed to report for his shift. This resulted in Lundy being hired as a full-time radio announcer by Hodding Carter for WDDT-AM, the latter's new station in Greenville, Mississippi.

After a stop in Baton Rouge, Louisiana at WLCS-AM, Lundy was brought to WIL-AM in St. Louis, Missouri in 1960 by Dan Ingram, who was the station's program director until the middle of the next year. Nicknamed the "Wil' Child", Lundy had a style which was described as a combination of "country and crawfish pie" by Bob Whitney, who also played a major role in the appointment.

Lundy was reunited with Ingram at WABC-AM in 1965. He made his New York radio debut on September 1, working the overnight shift as "The Swingin' Nightwalker."  Beginning in May 1966, he became the midday fixture at the station for the next sixteen years.  With his catchphrase "Hello, Love–this is Ron Lundy from the Greatest City in the World," he usually preceded Ingram's afternoon drive time program, and sometimes when Ingram was running late to the studio, Lundy would keep going until Dan arrived, doing impressions of The Shadow, where he would play Margo Lane and Lamont Cranston. The two best friends hosted "The Last Show" before WABC's format conversion from music to talk radio at noon on May 10, 1982.

The following year he joined NYC Oldies WCBS-FM and retired in 1997.

Lundy was inducted the St. Louis Hall Radio Hall of Fame on January 1, 2006, with a banquet held June 10, 2006. He died of a heart attack at age 75 on March 15, 2010 in Oxford, Mississippi. He had recently been recovering from a previous heart attack after being dehydrated.

➦In 1967...Flashback with the WLS Music Survey...50-years ago today...

➦In 1975...KOL-AM in Seattle Washington changed its call letters to KMPS.

➦In 1977...WNBC 660 AM switched to the “Bob Pittman” format.

Bob Pitman circa Late 70s
Bob Pittman had been hired as WNBC's new Program Director, replacing Mel Phillips. His first decision was to lay-off all of the station's personalities, some of which were veterans (including Don Imus, Cousin Brucie, Norm N. Nite and Joe McCoy), replacing them with younger-sounding disc jockeys from medium markets. He also shifted the format to from Adult Top 40 or Hot AC to a more aggressively current-based Top 40 format, with occasional nods to FM radio (such as commercial-free hours).

As a result of this tweaking, the station was now playing artists such as Andy Gibb, KC & the Sunshine Band, Boston, Peter Frampton, Fleetwood Mac, the Eagles, Billy Joel, the Bee Gees, among others.

However, listenership did not go up, but actually went down, and while some of the new air personalities would find success (Johnny Dark, Frank Reed, Michael Sarzynksi, Buzz Brindle and Allen Beebe would be heard on the station well into the 1980s), others would not (Ellie Dylan, who replaced Imus in morning drive, would be gone within months).

By 1979, Pittman would leave WNBC (he would soon become the founder of MTV). John Lund was hired back as program director (from KHOW in Denver), and Don Imus returned to the morning show. Under program director John Lund, WNBC's playlist was tweaked back to an Adult top 40 format, and ratings increased by 50% to surpass WABC by the summer of 1980.

➦In 1979...Get the Knack by the Knack occupied the top spot on the album chart for the fourth week.  The former #1 album Breakfast in America by Supertramp spent its ninth straight week at either #2 or #3 since it fell, highly impressive.  Candy-O by the Cars remained at 3 while I Am by Earth, Wind & Fire came in fourth.  The rest of the Top 10:  Million Mile Reflections from the Charlie Daniels Band, the great album Discovery from ELO, Risque by Chic moved from 32 to 7, Rust Never Sleeps from Neil Young & Crazy Horse, meanwhile, was up just one, Donna Summer's former #1 album Bad Girls was now at 9 and Midnight Magic from the Commodores entered the Top 10.

➦In 1981…The RKO Radio Network became the first company to offer two separate live overnight services via satellite to affiliate radio stations as its "America Overnight" talk show premiered. The six-hour program featured three-hour segments hosted by Ed Busch in Dallas and Eric Tracey in Los Angeles.

Debuting eight months earlier, the RKO Radio Network's "Night Time America," based in New York City and hosted/produced by Bob Dearborn, was the first, live, daily, satellite-delivered music show in radio history.

➦In 1984...Tina Turner scored one of the biggest comebacks of the Rock Era, hitting #1 on this date with "What's Love Got to Do With It".  It had been 13 years since she and former husband Ike had hit the Top 10 with their remake of the CCR song "Proud Mary".  John Waite moved up to #2 with "Missing You", Lionel Richie was stuck on 3 with "Stuck On You" and Ray Parker, Jr. dropped with his former #1 "Ghostbusters".  Prince's former #1 "When Doves Cry" was at position #5.  The rest of the Top 10:  Newcomer Cyndi Lauper with "She Bop", Corey Hart came in seventh with "Sunglasses at Night", Prince had another Top 10--"Let's Go Crazy", which moved from 16 all the way to 8, Huey Lewis & the News posted their fourth straight Top 10 from the album Sports ("If This Is It") and Peabo Bryson remained at 10 with "If Ever You're In My Arms Again".

➦In 2001...WEVD 1050 AM changed to ESPN Sports Radio

➦In 2005...Barry Cowsill, bassist for the Cowsills, died from injuries suffered during Hurricane Katrina at the age of 51.

His body was not recovered until December 28 from Chartres Street Wharf in New Orleans, Louisiana.  He had left several urgent phone messages for his sister Susan on September 1.

➦In 2008…Voiceover artist Don LaFontaine, famous for recording more than 5000 film trailers and hundreds of thousands of TV commercials, died from the effects of a blood clot in his lungs at age 68.

Dan Donovan, John Lennon
Dan Donovan
In 2014...Twin Cities/Philadelphia radio legend Dan Donovan died of a heart attack.

Born Blaine Harvey in Philadelphia, Donovan got interested in radio growing up in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. He began his career there at WGET 1320 AM, later moving to WSBA 910 AM in York, Pennsylvania. After studying journalism at Penn State, he moved on to WICE Radio in Providence, Rhode Island, in the early 1960s. He then moved to WMEX  in Boston and WCBM 680 in Baltimore before beginning a ten-year run at WFIL 560 AM in Philadelphia.

He arrived KSTP 94.5 FM KS 95FM in the Twin Cities in 1979, and joined KQQL 107.9 FM KOOL 108 FM in 1991, bringing the enthusiasm and style that have made him one of the region’s best known and best loved DJ’s to his popular afternoon drive and Sunday oldies shows.

DAN DONOVAN from Pavek Museum on Vimeo.

Donovan, who referred to himself as "the Geezer," was a radio veteran whose career dates back to the glory days of rock and roll.

Donovan last worked at Clear Channel's KQQL, but was RIFFed in 2009.

➦In 2014...Fox News Radio White House reporter Mike Majchrowitz died, following a battle with cancer. He was 51.
Mike Majchrowitz aboard Air Force One

Mike Majchrowitz, the Congressional and White House reporter with the unspellable last name, joined FOX News Radio at its very beginning in 2005. Mac and Rich Johnson were the backbone of the Washington bureau.

Born in 1963 in Racine, Wisconsin, a Washington D.C. Correspondent since 1997, Mac traveled the world covering Presidential trips.

He anchored coverage of elections, conventions and debates, returning to cover the 2012 campaign while battling cancer.

“Mike was an original – a solidly tenacious reporter, a thoughtful anchor and a good man,” Mitch Davis, VP of Fox News Radio, said in a statement.  ”He earned the respect of his colleagues for many things, not the least of which was his kindness. From our earliest days he helped Fox News Radio grow into what we are now. His voice was unique, as was his courage. Throughout his struggle, he remained positive and was an inspiration to us all. We will miss him.”

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