➦In 1884...lawyer and radio station manager George W. Trendle was born in Norwalk Ohio. He became co-owner/manager of Detroit radio station WXYZ, and oversaw the creation and development of three classic action/adventure radio series aimed at young audiences, The Lone Ranger, The Green Hornet and Sgt. Preston of the Yukon, all of which later made a transition to TV. An avowed penny-pincher, Trendle insisted that the music used on these shows be classical, to avoid paying royalty fees. He died May 10 1972 at age 87.
|George W. Trendle|
Trendle and Kunsky formed the Kunsky-Trendle Broadcasting Company in 1929 after purchasing Detroit radio station WGHP. The radio station's call letters were changed to WXYZ.
Trendle was the president and Kunsky was the vice president of the company. Trendle was active as the station manager. Kunsky is rarely mentioned except as co-owner.
WXYZ was initially affiliated with the Columbia Broadcasting System but became an independent station within a year. (WXYZ is now WXYT Detroit) Trendle's partner, Kunsky, legally changed his name to King in 1936, and the Kunsky-Trendle Broadcasting Company became the King-Trendle Broadcasting Company. WXYZ improved its technical facilities through the 1930s, expanding its studios, raising its daytime power from 1,000 to 5,000 watts in the late 1930s, and increasing nighttime power to 5,000 watts in time for its mandated 1941 move from 1240 to 1270 kHz under the North American Radio Broadcasting Agreement.
In 1931, Kunsky-Trendle acquired WASH and WOOD in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The two stations merged facilities, including studios and transmitters, but retained both station licenses. WASH was on the air from 8 a.m. to noon, and WOOD from noon to midnight. WOOD-WASH became an NBC Red affiliate in 1935. King and Trendle decided to drop the WASH license in 1942, keeping the WOOD identification.
In 1946, the newly formed American Broadcasting Company purchased the King-Trendle Broadcasting Company and its radio stations for $3.65 million. This sale was for the broadcast facilities (including WOOD, WXYZ, and the Michigan Regional Network) and a construction permit for what would later become WXYZ-TV (channel 7) but did not include ownership of Trendle's radio programs. The FCC approved ABC's purchase on July 18, 1946. In 1952, Paramount Theaters (owners of Kunsky and Trendle's former chain of Detroit area theaters) acquired ABC, including WXYZ. WXYZ (now using the call sign WXYT) is today owned by CBS, the network Trendle dropped shortly after taking over the station.
Trendle entered into a new partnership with long term business associates H. Allen Campbell and Raymond Meurer. The Trendle-Campbell Broadcasting Company was formed in 1946 and started radio station WTCB in Flint, Michigan. The new radio station went on the air April 26, 1946, with a four-tower 1000-watt broadcast array. The call letters were later changed to WTAC. In 1953, they added UHF television station WTAC-TV affiliated with ABCTV and DuMont. The TV station went out of business less than a year later because too few TVs at the time were equipped to receive UHF channels. The radio station has changed owners several times and its call sign was changed to WSNL in 1997. The station is currently owned by The Christian Broadcasting System. Three of the four towers were demolished in 2003 to make room for redevelopment of the site. The fourth tower was removed in 2004 after new transmitting facilities were completed in Gaines Township, southwest of Flint.
The Kunsky-Trendle business venture began at the start of the Great Depression, and Trendle took many cost-cutting moves that earned him a reputation as a penny-pincher. According to Dick Osgood in his book Wyxie Wonderland: An Unauthorized 50-Year Diary of WXYZ Detroit, he was assisted in this by H. Allen Campbell.
Campbell was an advertising salesman for the Hearst organization whom Trendle hired to find sponsors for his radio programs. Campbell is credited with signing Silvercup Bread as the first sponsor for the Lone Ranger series. This was a big account and helped to bring the show to nationwide syndication. Apparently, Campbell's contributions to the business were significant. He continued working for Trendle for the next twenty years and eventually became one of Trendle's business partners.
Campbell reportedly kept a set of books to show employees that the company was losing money and could not afford to pay higher salaries. Trendle and Campbell often responded to employee requests for salary increases by downplaying their value to the company and threatening to fire them. This threat was particularly effective during the Depression.
Trendle specified the music on WXYZ shows should be non-copyrighted classical so that the music was royalty-free. This is the reason that the William Tell Overture was adopted as the Lone Ranger theme and The Flight of the Bumble Bee became the theme for the Green Hornet show.
Late in 1932, Trendle began discussing ideas to create a new radio series with a cowboy as the hero. He wanted a mysterious hero who would have the same type of appeal as Zorro or Robin Hood. The target audience included children, so Trendle insisted on a wholesome hero with high moral standards. Violence and romance were to be minimized. Trendle worked out the basic concept of a masked vigilante, a lone Texas ranger with a big white horse, in staff meetings with Jim Jewell and studio manager Harold True. Then it was turned over to Fran Striker to flesh out the details and provide the scripts. His contributions included silver bullets and an Indian companion. The result was The Lone Ranger, which began broadcasting January 30, 1933, on WXYZ and the seven other stations of the Michigan Regional Network.
Fred Foy (far right) during a broadcast of THE LONE RANGER at WXYZ, Detroit. At left are John Todd (Tonto) and Brace Beemer (the Lone Ranger)
The Lone Ranger was an almost immediate hit. In May, a free popgun was offered to the first 300 listeners to send a written request; the station received nearly 25,000 replies. In July, the Lone Ranger made a public appearance at a park and a crowd estimated at 70,000 gathered.
By the beginning of 1934, the show was syndicated to WGN, Chicago, and WOR, Newark. Other stations soon followed. The live broadcasts were transmitted over telephone lines to the other stations. When the Mutual Broadcasting System was created in 1934, WXYZ became a charter member and the Lone Ranger program was featured on the Mutual Network. Although WXYZ dropped out to join NBC Blue about a year later, contractual obligations kept The Lone Ranger on Mutual until 1942, during this period The Lone Ranger was produced at WXYZ but heard in the Detroit area over Mutual's new affiliate, CKLW. It then switched to the NBC Blue Network, which became ABC in 1943. The popularity of the series rapidly grew and it was eventually heard on 249 radio stations nationwide.
➦In 1913...radio & TV hostess Virginia Graham was born in Chicago. In the 1940’s she wrote scripts for such radio soap operas as Stella Dallas, Our Gal Sunday, and Backstage Wife. She hosted her first radio talk show in 1951. She succeeded Margaret Truman in 1956 as co-host of the NBC radio show Weekday, teamed with Mike Wallace. She was hostess of TV talk shows from the 50’s to the 70’s that are considered forerunners to today’s daytime TV. She was best known for the nationally syndicated ‘Girl Talk’ on ABC from 1963-1969, ‘The Virginia Graham Show’ from 1970-1972, and guesting on other talk shows, including a dozen appearances on ‘The Tonight Show.’ She died following a heart attack Dec 22, 1998 at age 85.
➦In 1916...the woman tried for treason after WW II as notorious broadcaster Tokyo Rose, Iva Toguri D’Aquino was born in Los Angeles. She was one of at least a dozen women who did Japanese propaganda broadcasts from Radio Tokyo. The post-war trial convicted her on just one innoquous charge not involving treason, while she claimed to have subtly subverted the Japanese war effort, and was eventually pardoned by President Ford. She died Sept. 26 2006 at age 90.
➦In 1929...WOWO-AM, Fort Wayne, Indiana lost its transmitter when it burned down.
WOWO resumed broadcasting the next day, as operations were moved across the street until damages could be repaired. In November 1929, the station held a grand opening of the rebuilt studios.
➦In 1948...the radio panel show Life Begins at 80 debuted on Mutual. Jack Barry hosted the program patterned in reverse on his successful Juvenile Jury.
➦In 1958...WKBW 1520 AM, Buffalo, changed its format to "Top 40".
WKBW was founded in 1926 as a religious station, operating at the frequency of 1380 kHz. As the story goes, founder Clinton Churchill applied to the Department of Commerce for a license to operate under the call signs WAY. That call sign, however, was being used for a ship at sea, so instead, Churchill chose the letters "WKBW," which were next in the random assignment pool. Churchill proclaimed the call letters to stand for "Well Known Bible Witness"; later usage referred to the middle letters "KB" standing for King of Buffalo (alluding to its 50,000 watt broadcast power).
During the late 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, WKBW became a major force in pop radio over the East Coast. KB had a 50,000 watt transmitter (the maximum power allowed) at their transmitter site in Hamburg. This high power caused WKBW to blanket the entire eastern U.S. with top 40 music every night, and the station actually had a better signal at night in the western Boston suburbs than Boston's own top 40 station, WMEX, located at 1510, right next door to WKBW. Disk jockeys included future Price is Right announcer Rod Roddy, Dick Biondi, Danny Neaverth, Jack Armstrong, Joey Reynolds, Steve Mitchell, Bud Ballou, Norm Marshall, Tom Shannon, and the Amazin' Jim Quinn. Irv Weinstein, later Buffalo's most popular television news anchor, served as news director, and Stan Barron, a holdover from the pre-rock and roll era, handled sports until his departure in 1965.
WWKB's daytime signal decently covers Rochester and the Southern Tier, and reaches into Toronto and as far east as Kingston. At night, it must direct its signal eastward due to sharing a frequency with KOKC in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (the former KOMA, another flame-throwing 50,000-watt top 40 powerhouse in the 1960s and 1970s). Thus, while the station can be heard across most of the eastern half of North America at night, its signal is spotty at best only 20 miles southwest of Buffalo. Its directional quality is due to the configuration of its transmitter tower array, which has resulted the station being commonly heard very well in parts of Sweden at night during the winter months.
➦In 1970...American Top 40 began on the Independence Day weekend in 1970, on seven radio stations, the very first being KDEO in El Cajon, California (now KECR), which broadcast the inaugural show the evening of July 3, 1970.
It was originally distributed by Watermark Inc., and was first presented in mono until it started recording in stereo in September 1972.
In early 1982, Watermark was purchased by ABC Radio and AT40 became a program of the "ABC Contemporary Radio Network". The program was hosted by Casey Kasem and co-created by Kasem; Don Bustany, Kasem's childhood friend from Detroit, MI; radio veteran Tom Rounds; and 93/KHJ Program Director Ron Jacobs, who produced and directed the various production elements. Rounds was also the marketing director; the initial funder was California strawberry grower Tom Driscoll.
The show began as a three-hour program written and directed by Bustany, counting down the top 40 songs on Billboard's Hot 100 Singles chart. The show quickly gained popularity once it was commissioned, and expanded to a four hour-program on October 7, 1978, to reflect the increasing average length of singles on Billboard's Hot 100 chart.
By the early 1980s, the show could be heard on 520 stations in the United States and at its zenith, the show was broadcast on 1,000-plus stations in some 50 countries.
Kasem told the New York Times in 1990 "I accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative. That is the timeless thing."
AT40's first countdown:
40: END OF OUR ROAD - MARVIN GAYE
39: SILVER BIRD - MARK LINDSEY
38: SPILL THE WINE - ERIC BURDEN
37: GO BACK - CRABBY APPLETON
36: I JUST CAN'T HELP BELIEVING - B.J. THOMAS
35: SPIRIT IN THE DARK - ARETHA FRANKLIN
34: MISSISSIPPI - JOHN PHILLIPS
33: WESTBOUND #9 - FLAMING EMBER
32: IT'S ALL IN THE GAME - FOUR TOPS
31: SAVE THE COUNTRY - FIFTH DIMENSION
30: OHIO - CROSBY, STILLS, NASH AND YOUNG
29: EVERYTHING IS BEAUTIFUL - RAY STEVENS
28: CHECK OUT YOUR MIND - IMPRESSIONS
27: QUESTION - MOODY BLUES
26: SIGNED, SEALED, DELIVERED - STEVIE WONDER
25: SUGAR, SUGAR - WILSON PICKETT
24: TEACH YOUR CHILDREN - CROSBY, STILLS, NASH & YOUNG
23: WHICH WAY YOU GOIN' BILLY - THE POPPY FAMILY
OLDIE: LITTLE OLE MAN - BILL COSBY
22: LOVE ON A TWO-WAY STREET - MOMENTS
21: MISSISSIPPI QUEEN - MOUNTAIN
20: MAKE IT WITH YOU - BREAD
19: ARE YOU READY - PACIFIC GAS & ELECTRIC
18: LOVE LAND - CHARLES WRIGHT & THE WATTS 103RD STREET RHYTHM BAND
17: TIGHTER & TIGHTER - ALIVE AND KICKING
16: MY BABY LOVES LOVIN' - WHITE PLAINS
15: A SONG OF JOY - MIGUEL RIOS
OLDIE: HELLO DOLLY - LOUIS ARMSTRONG
14: UNITED WE STAND - BROTHERHOOD OF MAN
13: GET READY - RARE EARTH
12: OOH CHILD - STAIRSTEPS
11: GIMME DAT DING - THE PIPKINS
10: HITCHIN' A RIDE - VANITY FAIR
OLDIE: SPINNING WHEEL - BLOOD SWEAT & TEARS
9: THE WONDER OF YOU - ELVIS PRESLEY
8: THE LONG AND WINDING ROAD - BEATLES
7: CLOSE TO YOU - CARPENTERS
6: LAY DOWN (CANDLES IN THE WIND) - MELANIE
5: BAND OF GOLD - FREDA PAYNE
4: RIDE CAPTAIN RIDE - BLUES IMAGE
3: BALL OF CONFUSION - TEMPTATIONS
2: THE LOVE YOU SAVE - JACKSON FIVE
OLDIE: SATISFACTION - ROLLING STONES
1: MAMA TOLD ME NOT TO COME - THREE DOG NIGHT
➦In 1972...WCBS 101.1 FM, New York, changed its format to "Oldies".
WCBS-FM's oldies format weathered many trends and corporate moves.
One ongoing favorite feature was a countdown of the top 500 songs of all time, as voted by the station's listeners. The countdown always took place on Thanksgiving weekend (with a new survey taken every other year. On even years, up to 1990, the survey from the previous year was played. In the first Top 500, The Five Satins' doo wop classic "In the Still of the Night" was #1 and "Earth Angel" by The Penguins was #2.
➦In 2003...financial expert and Radio personality, Larry Burkett, died at age 64. Best known for his show "Money Matters", which aired on 1,000 radio stations.
➦In 2005…Former NFL coach/Pro Football Hall of Famer Hank Stram, who was a football commentator for CBS Radio and television for 20 years, died from complications of diabetes at 82.