Orkin was 16 when he began his radio career as a fill-in announcer at WKOK 1070 Sunbury PA . After earning his BA in speech and theater from Franklin & Marshall College he attended the Yale School of Drama, then returned to Pennsylvania to become the news director at WLAN 1390 AN Lancaster in 1959. Later he joined thestaff of KYW Cleveland.In 1967 Orkin moved to WCFL Chicago and created Chickenman, which chronicled the exploits of a crime-fighting “white-winged warrior” and his secret identity as mild-mannered shoe salesman Benton Harbor.
Chickenman’s 250-plus episodes have been syndicated around the world and can still be heard on Internet radio, making it the longest-running radio serial of all time. At WCFL Orkin also produced more than 300 episodes of another popular serial, The Secret Adventures of the Tooth Fairy.
Inspired by the commercial parodies on Stan Freberg and Bob & Ray’s radio shows, Orkin created the Famous Radio Ranch in 1973 to produce his own comedic radio spots. Stationed in California since ’78, the Radio Ranch, currently helmed by Orkin and his daughter Lisa, has produced hundreds of memorable ads for a variety of clients, ranging from Time magazine to First American Bank to the Gap, and garnered more than 200 awards in the process.
Dick Orkin was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame in 2014. He died December 26, 2017.
➦In 1955..."(We're Gonna) Rock Around The Clock" by Bill Haley and The Comets peaked at Number One on the pop singles chart and stayed there for eight weeks. It was the first rock 'n roll record to hit Number One on the Billboard charts.
➦In 1956…In Philadelphia, Dick Clark made his debut as host of "Bandstand" on WFIL-TV following the DUI arrest of the show's former host, Bob Horn. The program's name changed to "American Bandstand" when it became a network show on ABC in 1957. Clark relinquished his hosting duties in 1989 to 26-year-old David Hirsch, but the program was cancelled within a matter of months.
➦In 1972....Johnny Donovan started at Muscradio 77 WABC.
He grew up in Poughkeepsie, New York, nicknamed "Sarge," after his father's rank in the United States Army during World War II. A radio enthusiast from an early age (with an amateur radio station K2KOQ in a corner of the basement), he became a DJ ("Large Sarge") on WHVW in nearby Hyde Park, after helping build the station. He went on to stations in Kingston (WBAZ) and Binghamton (WENE), New York and Atlantic City, New Jersey (WMID) before landing in New York City, first at WOR-FM, and finally at WABC.
Donovan stayed on at WABC as Production Director and staff announcer when WABC went to a talk format in 1982.
After Forty-four years of service at both MusicRadio and TalkRadio 77 WABC production guru Johnny Donovan retired in May 2015. He continues as the voice of the Rush Limbaugh Show.
➦In 1992…CBS newsman/commentator Eric Sevareid, one of "Murrow's Boys," the elite group of World War II correspondents hired by CBS newsman Edward R. Murrow, died of stomach cancer at the age of 79.
➦In 2004...longtime Cleveland deejay Bill Randle succumbed to cancer at age 81. He had been instrumental in introducing Elvis Presley, along with the likes of Tony Bennett, Bobby Darin, Rosemary Clooney, Johnnie Ray, Sarah Vaughan and Fats Domino to the national music scene.
While working in Cleveland, Randle would travel back to Detroit for some radio programs. In the late 1950s, Randle would fly back and forth from Cleveland to New York where he produced radio shows in both markets (at WERE and WCBS-AM, respectively). He sat alongside other top DJs of the era including Carl Reese, Phil McLean and Howie Lund.
Many songs that Randle championed on-air ended up as commercial hits, the most successful of which was an edited 45 rpm single of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir's "Battle Hymn of the Republic." That version, which Randle suggested to and arranged with Columbia Records (then owned by CBS and a sister property to WCBS-AM) was an unlikely hit in 1959; it ended up on the Billboard charts for 11 weeks and reached as high as #13 on Billboard's "Hot 100" that autumn.
|Bill Randle - 1992|
➦In 2016…Longtime New York City radio personality (WBLS, WBGO, WWRL, WTJM) Vaughn Harper, host of the "Quiet Storm" program for three decades, died at age 71.