➦In 1876…Lawyers for Alexander Graham Bell filed for a patent for the telephone. Bell's patent 174,465, was issued to Bell on March 7, 1876, by the U.S. Patent Office. Bell's patent covered "the method of, and apparatus for, transmitting vocal or other sounds telegraphically ... by causing electrical undulations, similar in form to the vibrations of the air accompanying the said vocal or other sound.
In this first telephone, sound waves caused an electric current to vary in intensity and frequency, causing a thin, soft iron plate–called the diaphragm–to vibrate. These vibrations were transferred magnetically to another wire connected to a diaphragm in another, distant instrument. When that diaphragm vibrated, the original sound would be replicated in the ear of the receiving instrument. Three days after filing the patent, the telephone carried its first intelligible message–the famous “Mr. Watson, come here, I need you”–from Bell to his assistant.
➦In 1894...Comedian and radio/TV host Jack Benny was born Benjamin Kubelsky (Died: December 26, 1974 at 80).
|A young Jack Benny - undated|
Benny's long radio career began on April 6, 1932, when the NBC Commercial Program Department auditioned him for the N.W. Ayer agency and their client, Canada Dry, after which Bertha Brainard, head of the division, said, "We think Mr. Benny is excellent for radio and, while the audition was unassisted as far as orchestra was concerned, we believe he would make a great bet for an air program." Recalling the experience in 1956, Benny stated that Ed Sullivan had invited him to guest on his program (1932), and "the agency for Canada Dry ginger ale heard me and offered me a job."
With Canada Dry ginger ale as a sponsor, Benny came to radio on The Canada Dry Program, on May 2, 1932, on the NBC Blue Network and continuing for six months until October 26, moving to CBS on October 30. With Ted Weems leading the band, Benny stayed on CBS until January 26, 1933.
Arriving at NBC on March 17, Benny did The Chevrolet Program until April 1, 1934. He continued with sponsor General Tire through the end of the season. In October, 1934, General Foods, the makers of Jell-O and Grape-Nuts, became the sponsor strongly identified with Benny for ten years. American Tobacco's Lucky Strike was his longest-lasting radio sponsor, from October, 1944, through to the end of his original radio series.
|Life magazine ad - April 1949|
➦In 1913...Mel Israel was born. He is better known as Mel Allen, sportscaster for the New York Yankees, and This Week in Baseball; ‘How about that!’ … Mel died June 16, 1996 at age 83.
Allen best known for his long tenure as the primary play-by-play announcer for the New York Yankees. During the peak of his career in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s, Allen was arguably the most prominent member of his profession, his voice familiar to millions.
➦In 1971...WABC 95.5 FM NYC changed call letters to WPLJ.
The station went on the air on May 4, 1948 under the call sign WJZ-FM, and in March 1953, the station's call letters were changed to WABC-FM following the merger of the American Broadcasting Company with United Paramount Theatres. As most FM stations did during the medium's formative years, 95.5 FM simulcasted the programming of its AM sister station.
At the start of 1968, ABC split its radio network into four distinct components, one of which was dedicated to FM radio. The following year, WABC-FM and its sister stations–KABC-FM in Los Angeles; WLS-FM in Chicago; KGO-FM in San Francisco; WXYZ-FM in Detroit; KQV-FM in Pittsburgh; and newly acquired KXYZ-FM in Houston–began carrying an automated, youth-oriented, progressive rock format known as Love.
On February 14, 1971, the station's call letters were changed to WPLJ, chosen after Allen Shaw noticed the letter combination as the name of a song on the 1970 Mothers of Invention record, Burnt Weeny Sandwich. The song, "W-P-L-J", was originally performed by the Four Deuces in 1955 and stood for "White Port and Lemon Juice". On the air, the station hired John Zacherle, Vin Scelsa, and Michael Cuscuna (from WMMR and WXPN in Philadelphia) as personalities.
In September 1971, Allen Shaw and ABC Programming Executive Bob Henaberry designed and pioneered the very first AOR (album oriented rock) format on WPLJ, playing only the best cuts from the best selling rock albums with a minimum of disc jockey talk. The slogan of the station was "Rock 'N Stereo". The station would play the music of artists such as Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, Aerosmith, Jimi Hendrix, Cream, The Doobie Brothers, Steely Dan, Elton John, Deep Purple, Billy Joel, Rod Stewart, David Bowie and The Allman Brothers. The station would also play pop songs from artists such as James Taylor, Stevie Wonder and Carly Simon. The station was different from Top 40 stations (such as co-owned WABC) in that they played more album tracks. The audience ratings shot up dramatically, and WPLJ became New York's most listened-to FM rock station for most of the 1970s.
On February 13, 2019, WPLJ and five other Cumulus Media stations were sold to nonprofit broadcaster, Educational Media Foundation (EMF) for $103.5 million. This transaction would allow Cumulus to generate "substantial cash for debt repayment and investment in other business opportunities", according to its President and CEO Mary Berner. After the sale received final approval by the FCC, EMF announced that WPLJ and the other Cumulus stations acquired would all begin broadcasting its primary programming service, K-Love, on June 1 at midnight local time this was later moved up to May 31 at 7:00 p.m., five hours earlier than originally planned.
At the time, CBS had a policy of mandatory retirement by age 65. Although sometimes compared to a father figure or an uncle figure, in an interview about his retirement he described himself as being more like a "comfortable old shoe" to his audience.
His last day in the anchor chair at the CBS Evening News was on March 6, 1981.
➦In 1987...Metromedia had fired the entire KMET on-air staff on February 9, and on this date the station signed-off its album rock format at Noon with The Beatles' "The End". KMET was replaced by the new-age KTWV "The Wave". Today, "The Wave" has evolved into a Smooth Jazz format, though now plays Urban Adult Contemporary and is owned by Entercom, which merged with CBS Radio in 2017.
➦In 2001...WCBS 101.1 FM NYC ended the specialty show 'Jukebox Saturday Night', which was hosted by personality Bobby Jay. The cancellation was part of a movement away from pre-1964 and toward 1970–1989 songs. The station also began de-emphasizing the phrase 'oldies' in promoting of the station.
➦In 2016...Music host on Chicago radio (WLIT, WLIV, etc.) for more than 20 years, Megan Reed succumbed to complications from breast cancer at age 52.
Reed had been off the air since September 2014 when she went on medical leave as midday personality at Hubbard Radio AC WILV, now WSHE 1003. FM. She also had stints at WLIT-FM, WAUR/WYXY and WXRT-FM.