Saturday, February 16, 2019

February 17 Radio History

➦In 1908...
Walter Lanier "Red" Barber born (died October 22, 1992 at age 82).  Barber was an American sports commentator, nicknamed "The Ol' Redhead", was primarily identified with radio broadcasts of Major League Baseball, calling play-by-play across four decades with the Cincinnati Reds (1934–1938), Brooklyn Dodgers (1939–1953), and New York Yankees (1954–1966). Like his fellow sports pioneer Mel Allen, Barber also gained a niche calling college and professional American football in his primary market of New York City.

Red Barber - 1934
Barber was born in Columbus, Mississippi. The family moved to Sanford, Florida in 1929, and at the age of 21, he hitchhiked to Gainesville and enrolled at the University of Florida, majoring in education. It was there in January 1930 that Barber got his start in broadcasting.

An agriculture professor had been scheduled to appear on WRUF, the university radio station, to read a scholarly paper over the air. When the professor's absence was discovered minutes before the broadcast was to begin, Barber, who working as a janitor, was called in as a substitute. It was thus that the future sportscaster's first gig was reading "Certain Aspects of Bovine Obstetrics". After those few minutes in front of a microphone, Barber decided to switch careers. He became WRUF's director and chief announcer and covered Florida football games that autumn. Then he dropped out of school to focus on his radio work. After four more years at WRUF he landed a job broadcasting the Cincinnati Reds on WLW and WSAI when Powel Crosley, Jr., purchased the team in 1934.

Joe Kearns
➦In 1947...During the Cold War, The Voice of America started broadcasting to the Soviet citizens in Russia under the pretext of countering "more harmful instances of Soviet propaganda directed against American leaders and policies". The Soviet Union responded by initiating electronic jamming of VOA broadcasts on April 24, 1949.

➦In Joseph Kearns, best remembered for his role as George Wilson ("Mr. Wilson") in the CBS television series Dennis the Menace died after a cerebral hemorrhage at age 55.  Kearns joined the staff of radio station KSL in Salt Lake City in 1930 remaining there until 1936 when he moved to Los Angeles, where found regular work in network radio.

➦In 1972...Los Angeles radio station KDAY played two new Rolling Stones tracks non-stop for a day after obtaining stolen tapes from the home of producer Marshall Chess home.

➦In 1979…Garrison Keillor's "Prairie Home Companion" was first broadcast nationally.  It's first radio broadcast on Minnesota Public Radio in 1974.

➦In 1991…Radio DJ Gary Gears died from a heart attack at age 46.

Gary Gears AFVN circa 1969
Gary Gears may have had one of the best voices of all. According to Jeff Roteman's WLS Tribute website, The "Big G" joined WLS in 1971 after a brief stop at WCFL. Gary started at the Big 89 doing the 1-5 am overnight shift. By 1972, Gary had moved to middays working 9 til 12 noon replacing Joel Sebastian. In 1973, Gary was replaced by J.J. Jeffrey.

Gary Gears spent time at the legendary KOIL in Omaha before joining and serving in the US Armed Services. Gary was heard on AFVN radio in Vietnam. After his time in the service, Gary went to KQV in Pittsburgh from Minneapolis St Paul. After leaving Pittsburgh , Gary spent most of his career in Chicago at legendary stations WCFL, WLS and many others including  WDAI, WIND, WJEZ, WJJD, WKQX, WMAQ and WRQX.  He also spent time at CHUM in Toronto.

He served in Vietnam where he was a DJ at AFVN in Saigon.

Gary's voice was heard on commercials all over the country in the 70's.

➦In 1994...Radio personality Barney Pip (real last name: Pipenger) was killed in a traffic accident in Indianapolis. He burned to death in the accident. An article in Radio & Records said it was two weeks before his body was  identified.

Pip started his career in 1959 with notable stops at  WCFL Chicago, WPIX FM NYC and WIFE Indianapolis.  He also worked at WJET Erie, Pa., WEEP Pittsburgh, WGLI Babylon, N.Y., WOKY Milwaukee, WIFE Indianapolis, WHHY Montgomery, Ala.

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