Wednesday, June 13, 2018

June 13 Radio History

➦In 1897...Reuben Larson was born. Larson was a missionary pioneer who co-founded the World Radio Missionary Fellowship in 1931. The organization has been located in Opa Locka, Florida since 1969.

Ralph Edwards
➦In 1913...announcer/host/producer Ralph Edwards was born in Merino Colorado.  Edwards worked for KROW Radio in Oakland, California while he was still in high school. Before graduating from high school in 1931, he worked his way through college at the University of California, Berkeley, earning a B.A. in English in 1935. While there, he worked at every job from janitor to producer at Oakland's KTAB, now KSFO. Failing to get a job as a high school teacher, he worked at KFRC and then hitchhiked across the country to New York, where, he said, "I ate ten-cent (equivalent to $2 in 2015), meals and slept on park benches".

After some part-time announcing jobs, he got his big break in 1938 with a full-time job for the Columbia Broadcasting System on WABC (now WCBS), where he worked with two other young announcers who would become broadcasting fixtures - Mel Allen and Andre Baruch.

He is best remembered as radio’s host for the audience particpation show Truth or Consequences, which he created in 1940, and the TV host of This Is Your Life. In his early years in radio he was announcer on as many as 45 shows a week.  In his later years he was one of TV’s most prolific producers. He died of congestive heart failure Nov 16, 2005 at age 92.

➦In 1946...Edward Bowes, who was the Radio host on "Major Bowes Amateur Hour", died at age 71.

Maj. Edward Bowes
Bowes made his first business success in real estate, until the cataclysmic San Francisco earthquake of 1906 wiped out his fortune. He then went to New York City, in search of other opportunities. He soon realized that the theatrical world was lucrative, and he worked busily in New York as a musical conductor, composer, and arranger. He also produced Broadway shows, such as Kindling in 1911-12 and The Bridal Path in 1913.

He became managing director of New York's imposing Capitol Theatre, which he ran with military efficiency and bearing. He insisted on being addressed as "Major Bowes". His nickname sprang from his earlier military rank, though historians are divided on whether he was an active-duty officer in World War I or held the rank as a member of the Officer Reserve Corps.

In 1934, Bowes brought his best-known creation to New York radio station WHN in 1934. He had actually hosted scattered amateur nights on smaller stations while manager of the Capitol. Within a year of its WHN premiere, The Original Amateur Hour —its original name, according to historian Gerald Nachman, was Major Bowes and His Capitol Family — began earning its creator and host as much as $1 million a year, according to Variety.   The show lasted on radio until 1952. It lasted on television from 1948 to 1970.

The rapid popularity of The Original Amateur Hour made him better known than most of the talent he featured. Some of his discoveries did become stars, including opera stars Lily Pons, Robert Merrill, and Beverly Sills; comedian Jack Carter; pop singer Teresa Brewer; and, Frank Sinatra, fronting a quartet known as the Hoboken Four when they appeared on the show in 1937.

The show consistently ranked among radio's top ten programs throughout its entire run. Bowes's familiar catchphrase, "...around and around she goes and where she stops nobody knows", spoken in the familiar avuncular tones for which he was so renowned, whenever it was time to spin its "wheel of fortune," the device by which some contestants were called to perform. In the early days of the show, whenever a performer was simply too terrible to continue, Bowes would stop the act by striking a gong (a device that would be revived in the 1970s by Chuck Barris's infamous The Gong Show). Bowes heard from thousands of listeners who objected to his terminating these acts prematurely, so he abandoned the gong in 1936. Nachman recorded that Bowes, "a businesslike fellow with a mirthless chuckle who, unlike most emcees, had a gift for nongab," went out of his way to make contestants feel at ease, habitually taking them out to dinner before their appearances. Nachman credits Bowes for featuring more black entertainers than many network shows of the time.

➦In 1948...WBAM becomes WOR FM in NYC

Fran Allison
➦In 1989...actress Fran Allison, who was Aunt Fanny on ABC Radio’s Breakfast Club, and the human member of the kids puppet TV show, Kukla, Fran and Ollie, died from myelodysplasia (sometimes called pre-leukemia) at age 81.

➦‌In 2004…Commercial announcer (for Keebler Cookies, Camaro, AT&T, K-Mart, Texaco, Armor-All, Whitman's Chocolates, among others)/former disc jockey Danny Dark died of a pulmonary hemorrhage at 63.

➦In 2008...TV newsman Tim Russert, the NBC Washington Bureau Chief and respected host of ‘Meet the Press,’ suffered a massive heart attack and died at age 58.

➦In 2016…Songwriter (Hey Won't You Play-Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song, Luckenbach Texas-Back To The Basics Of Love)/ record producer (Suspicious Minds, In The Ghetto, Kentucky Rain, Don't Cry Daddy, Sweet Caroline, Always On My Mind, Angel Of The Morning, Cry Like A Baby, Keep On Dancing, Gee Whiz) Lincoln Wayne "Chips" Moman, who produced hits for Elvis Presley, Neil Diamond, Willie Nelson, Merrilee Rush, the Box Tops, the Gentrys and Carla Thomas died of complications from emphysema at age 79.

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