Wednesday, July 11, 2018

July 11 Radio History

➦In 1906. Harry von Zell was born in Indianapolis.

Von Zell broke into show business as a singer and announcer at radio station KMIC in Inglewood, California in the mid-1920s. Later, auditioning for Paul Whiteman's radio show in 1929, he was chosen from a field of 250 announcers. When that series came to an end in 1930, he headed for New York and became a CBS staff announcer, working with Fred Allen, Phil Baker, Eddy Duchin and Ed Wynn. He also announced for The Aldrich Family, The Amazing Mr. Smith, and The March of Time. During the 1920s and 1930s von Zell served as announcer on some 20 shows a week.

His longest-running radio partnership was his nine seasons with veteran comedian Eddie Cantor. From October 1940 to June 1949 von Zell served as Cantor's commercial spokesperson and straight man. As Cantor cast member Dinah Shore's solo career began to blossom, she brought von Zell in as announcer on her Birds Eye Open House program.

As a young announcer, von Zell made a memorable verbal slip in 1931 when he referred to U.S. President Herbert Hoover as "Hoobert Heever" during a live tribute on Hoover's birthday. Hoover was not present at this tribute. Zell's blooper came at the end of a lengthy coverage of Hoover's career, in which Zell had pronounced the President's name correctly several times.

He died of cancer Nov 21, 1981 at age 75.

➦In 1934...the first appointments to the newly created Federal Communications Commission were made. The governing body of the American broadcasting industry was first served by seven men named as commissioners.

➦In 1938...Orson Welles brought his Mercury Theatre Players to CBS radio for a critically-acclaimed 60-minute weekly series that Campbell’s Soups sponsored starting in December for another 18 months.

➦In 1951...Alan Freed debuted his "Moondog Rock 'n' Roll Party," playing mostly rhythm & blues records, on WJW Radio in Cleveland.

➦In 1969...the Rolling Stones released "Honky Tonk Women" to Radio

➦In 1970...Dandy Dan Daniel did his final show on WMCA-AM, New York

➦In 1987...The "Alone," by Heart went #1 for 3 weeks

Roger Christian
➦In 1991...Los Angeles radio personality/lyricist (Dead Man's Curve, The Little Old Lady From Pasadena, Sidewalk Surfin', Drag City, Honolulu Lulu, Don't Worry Baby, Little Deuce Coupe, Shut Down) Roger Christian died at age 57.

Christian worked as a radio personality in Los Angeles in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. He was one of the original "Boss Jocks" when 93KHJ debuted in 1965. His radio career started in Buffalo, New York in the mid-1950s. He moved to the west coast and worked for other radio stations in Los Angeles, including KFWB (AM), KGBS (AM-FM), KBLA, KDAY, KRTH-FM, KRLA (AM), and KIQQ-FM.  Christian was also one of the writer/narrators on the 1964 Capitol Records documentary LP The Beatles' Story.

Christian suffered from periodic depression.  He was the only original KHJ "Boss Jock" not to appear at the 25th reunion on May 9, 1990. He died of complications of kidney and liver failure, said his ex-wife, Joanne Christian of Canoga Park.

➦In 2005...singer Frances Langford, who sang weekly on Bob Hope’s NBC radio show in the 1940’s, and co-starred with Don Ameche in the wildly popular radio skit “The Bickersons” (1946-51), died of heart failure at age 91.

➦In 2010...the inimitable Yankee Stadium PA announcer for an incredible 56 years Bob Sheppard died at age 99.  He was also the in-house voice for a half-century of NY Giants football games.

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