➦In 1912...two young wireless radio operators at Cape Race, Newfoundland, Robert Hunston and James Goodwin heard the first distress call from the luxury liner RMS Titanic, en route to New York south of the Grand Banks. An iceberg had grazed the ship’s side, popping iron rivets and shearing off a fatal number of hull plates below the waterline. The great ship, on its maiden voyage, sank just under three hours later. 1,517 passengers were lost at sea.
➦In 1925...Baseball's Chicago Cubs broadcast a regular season game for the first time on WGN 720 AM.
➦In 1942...Detroit radio priest, Father Charles E. Coughlin was censured for anti-Semitism. U-S Attorney General Francis Biddle wrote a letter to the Postmaster General, Frank Walker, and suggested revoking the second-class mailing privilege of the publication Social Justice, which would make it impossible for Coughlin to deliver newspaper to his readers
His radio addresses began to communicate a more political message in January 1930, when he began a series of attacks against socialism and Soviet Communism. He also criticized the capitalists in America whose greed had made Communist ideology attractive to many Americans. Having gained a reputation as an outspoken anti-Communist, in July 1930 he was given star billing as a witness before the House Committee to Investigate Communist Activities.
In 1931 the CBS radio network dropped free sponsorship after Coughlin refused to accept network demands that his scripts be reviewed prior to broadcast, so he raised money to create his own national linkup, which soon reached millions of listeners on a 36-station hookup.
By 1934, Coughlin was perhaps the most prominent Roman Catholic speaker on political and financial issues, with a radio audience that reached tens of millions of people every week.
After the 1936 election, Coughlin increasingly expressed sympathy for the fascist governments of Hitler and Mussolini as an antidote to Communism. He claimed that Jewish bankers were behind the Russian Revolution, and that Russian Bolshevism was a disproportionately Jewish phenomenon.
Coughlin denied that he was antisemitic. In February 1939, when the notorious American Nazi organization the German American Bund held a large rally in New York City, Father Coughlin, in his weekly radio address, immediately distanced himself from the organization and clearly stated: "Nothing can be gained by linking ourselves with any organization which is engaged in agitating racial animosities or propagating racial hatreds. Organizations which stand upon such platforms are immoral and their policies are only negative."
On November 20, 1938, two weeks after Kristallnacht, Coughlin, referring to the millions of Christians killed by the Communists in Russia, said "Jewish persecution only followed after Christians first were persecuted." After this speech, some radio stations, including those in New York and Chicago, began refusing to air his speeches without pre-approved scripts; in New York, his programs were cancelled by WINS and WMCA, leaving Coughlin to broadcasting on the Newark part-time station WHBI. On December 18, 1938 thousands of Coughlin's followers picketed the studios of station WMCA in New York City to protest the station's refusal to carry Father Coughlin's broadcasts. A number of protesters made antisemitic statements such as "Send Jews back where they came from in leaky boats!" and "Wait until Hitler comes over here!" The protests continued for several months. Donald Warren, using information from the FBI and German government archives, has also argued that Coughlin received indirect funding from Nazi Germany during this period.
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After giving early support to Roosevelt, the populist message of "the radio priest" contained increasingly sharp attacks on the president's policies. The administration decided that although the First Amendment protected free speech, it did not necessarily apply to broadcasting, because the radio spectrum was a "limited national resource" and regulated as a publicly owned commons. New regulations and restrictions were created specifically to force Coughlin off the air. For the first time, authorities required regular radio broadcasters to seek operating permits. When Coughlin's permit was denied, he was temporarily silenced. Coughlin worked around the restriction by purchasing air-time and having his speeches played via transcription. However, having to buy the weekly air-time on individual stations seriously reduced his reach and strained his resources.
According to Marcus, in October 1939, one month after the invasion of Poland, "the Code Committee of the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) adopted new rules which placed rigid limitations on the sale of radio time to 'spokesmen of controversial public issues'". Manuscripts were required to be submitted in advance. Radio stations were threatened with the loss of their licenses if they failed to comply. This ruling was clearly aimed at Coughlin due to his opposition to prospective American involvement in what became known as World War II. As a result, in the September 23, 1940, issue of Social Justice Father Coughlin announced that he had been forced from the air "...by those who control circumstances beyond my reach".
Coughlin reasoned that although the government had assumed the right to regulate any on-air broadcasts, the First Amendment still guaranteed and protected freedom of the written press. He could still print his editorials without censorship in his own newspaper, Social Justice. After the attack on Pearl Harbor and the US declaration of war in December 1941, the anti-interventionist movements (such as the America First Committee) began to sputter out, and isolationists like Coughlin acquired the reputation of sympathy with the enemy. The Roosevelt Administration stepped in again. On April 14, 1942, U.S. Attorney General Francis Biddle wrote a letter to the Postmaster General, Frank Walker, and suggested the possibility of revoking the second-class mailing privilege of Social Justice, which would make it impossible for Coughlin to deliver the papers to his readers. Walker scheduled a hearing for April 29, which was later postponed until May 4.
Meanwhile, Biddle was also exploring the possibility of bringing an indictment against Coughlin for sedition as a possible "last resort". Hoping to avoid such a potentially sensational and divisive sedition trial, Biddle was first able to engineer a means of ending the publication of Social Justice itself. First Biddle had a meeting with another high official in the administration: banker Leo Crowley, who happened to be a friend of Edward Mooney, Bishop Gallagher's successor. Crowley then relayed Biddle's message to Bishop Mooney that the government was willing to "deal with Coughlin in a restrained manner if he (Mooney) would order Coughlin to cease his public activities". Consequently, on May 1, Mooney ordered Coughlin to stop his political activities and to confine himself to his duties as a parish priest, warning of potential defrocking if he refused. Coughlin complied and remained the pastor of the Shrine of the Little Flower. The pending hearing before the Postmaster, which had been scheduled to take place four days later, was cancelled now that it was no longer necessary.
Despite the end of his political and journalistic career, Coughlin remained in his position as parish pastor until retiring in 1966. He died in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan in 1979 at the age of 88. He was buried in Southfield, Michigan.
➦In 1978...WRR-AM in Dallas Texas changed call letters to KAAM.
WRR-AM was Texas’ first broadcast station when it signed on in 1921 from Dallas. Owned by the City of Dallas, the original studio and transmitter was located in the Dallas Fire Department central headquarters.
WRR-AM focused on popular music until it switched to all-news in 1975.
Bonneville Broadcasting bought the station in 1978. It became KAAM. It became all-sports KTCK in 1994. Today, Cumulus Media owns “Sports Radio 1310: The Ticket.”