Monday, February 22, 2021

February 22 Radio History

➦In 1857...German physicist Heinrich Hertz  was born (Died January 1, 1894).  He was first to conclusively proved the existence of the electromagnetic waves theorized by James Clerk Maxwell's electromagnetic theory of light. The unit of frequency – cycle per second – was named the "hertz" in his honor.

Heinrich Hertz
The first successful radio transmission was made by David Edward Hughes in 1879, but it would not be conclusively proven to have been electromagnetic waves until the experiments of Hertz in 1886. For the Hertz radio wave transmitter, he used a high-voltage induction coil, a condenser (capacitor, Leyden jar) and a spark gap—whose poles on either side are formed by spheres of 2 cm radius—to cause a spark discharge between the spark gap’s poles oscillating at a frequency determined by the values of the capacitor and the induction coil.

To prove there really was radiation emitted, it had to be detected. Hertz used a piece of copper wire, 1 mm thick, bent into a circle of a diameter of 7.5 cm, with a small brass sphere on one end, and the other end of the wire was pointed, with the point near the sphere. He bought a screw mechanism so that the point could be moved very close to the sphere in a controlled fashion. This "receiver" was designed so that current oscillating back and forth in the wire would have a natural period close to that of the "transmitter" described above. The presence of oscillating charge in the receiver would be signaled by sparks across the (tiny) gap between the point and the sphere (typically, this gap was hundredths of a millimeter).

In more advanced experiments, Hertz measured the velocity of electromagnetic radiation and found it to be the same as light’s velocity. He also showed that the nature of radio waves’ reflection and refraction was the same as those of light and established beyond any doubt that light is a form of electromagnetic radiation obeying the Maxwell equations.

Hertz's experiments triggered broad interest in radio research that eventually produced commercially successful wireless telegraph, audio radio, and later television.

➦In 1907...Radio, TV actor & producer Sheldon Leonard (died: January 11, 1997 at age 89) was born in New York City.  He was part of the cast of voice actors on the Damon Runyon Theatre radio show (1948-1949). He was part of the ensemble cast of the Martin and Lewis radio show. He also appeared frequently on The Adventures of the Saint, often playing gangsters and heavies. Leonard was also a regular on the radio comedy series The Adventures of Maisie in the 1940s. During the 1950s, Leonard provided the voice of lazy fat cat Dodsworth in two Warner Bros. Merrie Melodies cartoons directed by Robert McKimson.

➦In 1910...Radio actor, announcer Ken Roberts was born Saul Trochman in New York City (Died from pneumonia at age 99 – June 19, 2009). He was known for his work during the Golden Age of Radio, especially on The Shadow, It Pays to Be Ignorant, Quick as a Flash & Easy Ace, sand for his work announcing the daytime television soap operas The Secret Storm, Texas and Love of Life, each for a two-decade span.

Ken Roberts
His first announcing job was at WMCA in New York lasting three weeks. Next at WLTH in Brooklyn. In an interview for the book The Great American Broadcast, Roberts told Leonard Maltin that he had started at the Brooklyn station in 1930, where his responsibilities included answering phones and sweeping the floors, in addition to on-air roles playing piano and reading poetry.

During the 1930s and 1940s, Roberts' voice appeared widely in live programming to introduce programs, moderate game shows and do live reads for commercials. Despite his Errol Flynn-like good looks and the frequent broadcasts featuring his voice, as often as several times each day, few listeners knew who he was or would have recognized him in public radio historian Jim Cox described Roberts' voice as neither "Yankee, Southern, Western or anything else". It was a voice that didn't "irritate anybody" and that "you just naturally liked to hear", making him "one of the leading lights of radio".  Steve Beverly of The Daily Game Show Fix described Roberts as having "what executives called a golden throat", with a familiar voice that was one of broadcasting's most-recognized anonymous voices. He also found time to narrate dozens of theatrical movie trailers and "intermission" segments for traditional and drive-in theaters during the 1940s and 1950s.

In 1935, Roberts was one of the founders of the American Guild of Radio Announcers and Producers, one of the predecessors of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA).

➦In 1918...Longtime announcer Dominick George "Don" Pardo was born in Westfield, MA (Died– August 18, 2014 at age 96). His career spanned more than seven decades.

Don Pardo
Pardo was hired for his first radio position at NBC affiliate WJAR in Providence in 1938.

He joined NBC full-time as an in-house announcer in 1944, remaining on the network staff for 60 years. The radio programs on which he worked as an announcer include Barrie Craig, Confidential Investigator, the sci-fi shows X Minus One and Dimension X. During World War II, Pardo worked as a war reporter for NBC Radio.

For more than 30 years, Pardo was one of the rotating announcers on the KFOG San Francisco radio show "Ten at Ten", appearing at 10 a.m. and in syndication with Dave Morey on KFOG HD Radio.

In the early 1950s, he served as announcer for many of RCA's and NBC's closed-circuit color television demonstrations.

Pardo made his mark on game shows for NBC as the voice of the original The Price Is Right from 1956 until it moved to ABC in 1963. Pardo's next show was Jeopardy!, which he announced from 1964 until the original version of the series ended in 1975. This early version was hosted by Art Fleming. The current syndicated version of Jeopardy! has been hosted by Alex Trebek and since 1984 has been announced by prominent long time announcer, Johnny Gilbert. Pardo also announced New York–based NBC game shows such as Three on a Match, Winning Streak, and Jackpot!, all three of which were Bob Stewart productions.

Pardo squeezed in many other assignments at NBC, including the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade (until 1999), WNBC-TV's Live at Five and NBC Nightly News.

Pardo was the on-duty live booth announcer for WNBC-TV in New York and the NBC network on November 22, 1963, and he was the first to announce to NBC viewers that President John F. Kennedy had been shot in Dallas, Texas.

Best remembered as the announcer for the first 39 years of ‘Saturday Night Live,’ he uniquely scored a 70 year career as announcer for NBC Radio & TV. He made weekly flights from his Arizona retirement home to New York to work live on SNL.

WOR's First Control Room
➦In 1922...WOR-AM signed on. WOR began broadcasting on February 22, 1922, using a 500-watt transmitter on 360 meters (833 kc.) from Bamberger's Department Store in Newark, New Jersey. Louis Bamberger's sale of radio sets to consumers explained their affiliation with the station. The WOR call sign was reissued from the U.S. maritime radio service.

The station initially operated limited hours, sharing time with two other stations, WDT and WJY, which also operated on 833 kc. WOR changed frequency to 740 kc. in June 1923 and shared time with WJY until July 1926, when WJY signed off for good and WOR received full use of the frequency. In December 1924, WOR acquired a studio in Manhattan.

On June 17, 1927, as a result of General Order 40, WOR moved to 710 kc., the channel it currently occupies (unlike most stations, it was not affected by NARBA in 1943). Later in 1926, WOR moved from its New York City studio on the 9th floor of Chickering Hall at 27 West 57th Street to 1440 Broadway, two blocks from Times Square.
John B. Gambling 1930

WOR was first a charter member of the CBS Radio Network, being one of the 16 stations that aired the first CBS network program on September 18, 1927.   In partnership with Chicago radio station WGN and Cincinnati radio station WLW, WOR formed the Mutual Broadcasting System in 1934 and became its New York flagship station. Mutual was one of the "Big Four" national radio networks in the United States during the 1930s–1980s.

In 1941, the station changed its city of license from Newark to New York City. However, for all intents and purposes it had been a New York City station since it signed on, and had actually moved its studios across the Hudson two years after signing on.

From the 1930s to the early 1980s, WOR was a free-flowing full-service station.

There was an emphasis on news reports and talk programs, but music was played also, usually a blend of pop standards and adult contemporary tunes.

Election Coverage 1933
WOR played several songs per hour weekday mornings from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. and again afternoons from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. They also played about a dozen songs per hour on Saturday and Sunday afternoons.

Milton Berle
In ratings books, WOR was classified as a MOR/Talk station rather than a News/Talk station until 1984. From 1983 to about 1985, WOR gradually stopped playing music altogether, evolving into its current talk format.

Past notable hosts were Ed and Pegeen Fitzgerald, Arlene Francis, Patricia McCann, Long John Nebel, Bernard Meltzer, Barry Farber, Jean Shepherd, Bob and Ray, Jack O'Brian, Bob Grant and Gene Klavan.

WOR introduced live, on-air, helicopter traffic reports with pilot reporters "Fearless" Fred Feldman and later George Meade. From 1945 to 1963, Dorothy Kilgallen and her husband Dick Kollmar (1910–1971) co-hosted WOR morning show Breakfast With Dorothy and Dick.

The station was known for its detailed, 15-minute news reports on the hour. Noted newsmen such as Henry Gladstone, Harry Hennessey, John Wingate, Lyle Vann, Peter Roberts, and Roger Skibenes were the backbone of the news department.

Bob and Ray (left)
WOR's most renowned program was morning show Rambling with Gambling, which aired continuously from March 1925 to December 2013 across three generations of hosts: John B. Gambling, John A. Gambling, and John R. Gambling.

Today, WOR is owned by iHeartMedia and airs a talk format.

➦In 1954…Don McNeill's Breakfast Club began a simulcast on ABC-TV.  The simulcast ended on February 25, 1955 having failed to make a successful transition to TV.

The Breakfast Club was a long-run morning variety show on NBC Blue Network/ABC radio originating in Chicago, Illinois. The radio program ran from June 23, 1933, through December 27, 1968. McNeil's 35½-year run as host remains the longest tenure for an emcee of a network entertainment program, surpassing Johnny Carson (29½ years) on The Tonight Show and Bob Barker (34⅔ years) on The Price Is Right, albeit split between radio and television, whereas the latter two were television only.

The show  combined music with informal talk and jokes often based on topical events. In addition to recurring comedy performers, various vocal groups and soloists, listeners heard sentimental verse, conversations with members of the studio audience and a silent moment of prayer. McNeill is credited as the first performer to make morning talk and variety a viable radio format

➦In 1956...Elvis Presley enjoyed his first number one hit on Billboard's To 100 singles Chart.

➦In 1982... WABC officially confirmed it would be going to an all-talk format that May.

By early 1981, WABC's cumulative audience was down to 2.5 million—rival WNBC, a perennial also-ran, was by this time beating them with 3 million. Fewer people were tuning into WABC, listeners who had switched to FM were not coming back, and, while still moderately successful, the ship was sinking. Jay Clark tried to improve the time-spent-listening.

The airstaff began saying goodbye with a comment here and there from February into May. Finally, on April 30, it was announced that the switch to all-talk would occur on May 10 at noon.  From May 7 to 9, the departing station air-staffers said their goodbyes one last time.

The official music format ended 10:45 p.m. May 9, 1982. The station aired the Yankee game that day at Seattle. From 2 a.m. to 5:30 a.m. they ran the normal Sunday evening public affairs programs pre-empted due to the Yankee game.

Ross & Wilson played their usual 4 songs and the music ended with a tribute show from 9 a.m. to noon May 10 hosted by Ron Lundy & Dan Ingram. Staffers that departed included Ron Lundy, Dan Ingram, Marc Sommers and Peter Bush. Assistant Program Director Jeff Mazzei left for a similar position at WCBS 101.1FM where he would stay for well over 25 years. Marc Sommers also went to WCBS-FM and eventually Ron Lundy and Dan Ingram would join him there. Johnny Donovan and Mike McKay remained at WABC as staff announcers and producers. Mike McKay did not long survive the transition to talk and Johnny Donovan has some 30 years later since retired from WABC.

➦In 2011...Announced William Lorne "Bill" Nimmo died (born June 18, 1917). He was a television and radio personality whose career spanned seven decades.

In 1947, he landed a job as overnight disc jockey at WLW-AM with his distinctive baritone voice. In 1948 Bill became Cincinnati’s first television star on WLWT-TV serving as an announcer, newscaster, and host of various shows.  Nimmo was Johnny Carson’s first sidekick on TV's 'Who Do You Trust' afternoon game show (before Ed McMahon).

In 1991, Nimmo was inducted into the Cincinnati Broadcasting Hall of Fame.

  • Actor Paul Dooley is 93. 
  • Actor John Ashton is 73. 
  • Actor Julie Walters (“Harry Potter” films, “Mamma Mia!”) is 71. 
  • Lea Solanga is 50
    Actor Ellen Greene (“Pushing Daisies”) is 70. 
  • Actor Kyle MacLachlan is 62. 
  • Comedian Rachel Dratch (“30 Rock,” ″Saturday Night Live”) is 55. 
  • Actor Paul Lieberstein (“The Office”) is 54. 
  • Actor Jeri Ryan (“Boston Public,” ″Star Trek: Voyager”) is 53. 
  • TV co-host Clinton Kelly (“The Chew,” ″What Not to Wear”) is 52. 
  • Actor Thomas Jane (“The Sweetest Thing”) is 52. 
  • Actor-singer Lea Solanga is 50. 
  • Actor Jose Solano (“Baywatch”) is 50. 
  • Drummer Scott Phillips of Creed and of Alter Bridge is 48. 
  • Singer James Blunt is 47. 
  • Actor Drew Barrymore is 46. 
  • Singer Tom Higgenson of Plain White T’s is 42. 
  • Guitarist Joe Hottinger of Halestorm is 39. 
  • Actor Zach Roerig (“The Vampire Diaries”) is 36. 
  • Actor Daniel E. Smith (“John Q.”) is 31.

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