Monday, May 4, 2015

May 4 Radio History

In 1886...The graphophone, a link between the earlier gramophone and the modern phonograph, is patented, featuring wax cylinders which conducted music better than Thomas Edison's original tinfoil ones.

It was invented at the Volta Laboratory established by Alexander Graham Bell in Washington, D.C., United States.

Its trademark usage was acquired successively by the Volta Graphophone Company, then the American Graphophone Company, the North American Phonograph Company, and finally by the Columbia Phonograph Company (later to become Columbia Records), all of which either produced or sold Graphophones.

It took five years of research under the directorship of Charles Sumner Tainter and Chichester Bell at the Volta Laboratory to develop and distinguish their machine from Thomas Edison's phonograph.

Among their other innovations, the researchers experimented with lateral recording techniques as early as 1881. Contrary to the vertically-cut grooves of Edison phonographs, the lateral recording method used a cutting stylus that moved from side to side in a "zig zag" pattern across the record. While cylinder phonographs never employed the lateral cutting process commercially, this was later to become the primary method of phonograph disc recording.

Bell and Tainter also developed wax-coated cardboard cylinders for their record cylinders, instead of Edison's cast iron cylinder which was covered with a removable film of tinfoil (the actual recording medium) which was prone to damage during installation or removal.  Tainter received a separate patent for a tube assembly machine to automatically produce the coiled cardboard tubes which served as the foundation for the wax cylinder records. The shift from tinfoil to wax resulted in increased sound fidelity as well as record longevity.

Besides being far easier to handle, the wax recording medium also allowed for lengthier recordings and created superior playback quality. Additionally the Graphophones initially deployed foot treadles to rotate the recordings, then wind-up clockwork drive mechanisms, and finally migrated to electric motors, instead of the manual crank that was used on Edison's phonograph.

In 1922...KNX-AM, Los Angeles, California began broadcasting.

KNX began as a five-watt amateur radio station, 6ADZ, which Fred Christian put on the air on September 10, 1920, broadcasting on a wavelength of 200 meters (1500 kHz). In December 1921, the station moved to 360 meters (833 kHz) and became KGC, sharing time with other stations that broadcast on the same frequency.   On May 4, 1922, the station increased power to 50 watts and became KNX. Power was raised to 100 watts in 1923. A year later, Fred Christian sold KNX to Guy Earle, owner of the Los Angeles Evening Express.

During the 1920s KNX, like most stations across the country, changed frequencies several times, landing on 1050 AM as a result of the Federal Radio Commission's reconfigurations of the AM radio band in 1927 and 1928. In 1929, the station's transmitter was upgraded from 500 to 5,000 watts, and in 1932, was raised to 10,000 watts of power. During this time, the station changed owners and was then operated by the Western Broadcast Company. In 1933, the station moved its studios to another part of Hollywood, and was granted permission by the FCC to raise its output to 25,000 watts. The following year, KNX's transmitting power was raised to the nationwide maximum of 50,000 watts, which the station continues presently. It changed to its current 1070 AM channel in 1941.

Broadcasting ad 1935
CBS purchased and began operating KNX as its West Coast flagship station in 1936, ending an eight-year affiliation with KHJ.  In 1938, the CBS Columbia Square studios were dedicated for KNX as well as West Coast operations for the entire CBS radio network.

George Burns, Gracie Allen
Several legendary performers from the Golden Age of American network radio broadcast from there, including Jack Benny, Bing Crosby, George Burns, Edgar Bergen,  and situation comedy star Bob Crane, who was KNX morning man between 1957 and 1965 at the same time he was appearing as a featured supporting player on the ABC television network's The Donna Reed Show.

KNX was a strong competitor in the Los Angeles market while Crane was a morning personality, but began declining in popularity after he left to star in the CBS television series Hogan's Heroes. Following the example of corporate sister station WCBS in New York City, which had enjoyed renewed success with an all-news format, KNX then became an all-news station in the spring of 1968;  its first major breaking news coverage was of the assassination of Democratic Presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy, in the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, in June of that year.

Bob Crane
In August 2005, KNX moved out of Columbia Square after operating there for 67 years, and began broadcasting from new studios in the Miracle Mile district on Wilshire Boulevard.

In 2009, KNX adopted the slogan "All News, All the Time." It was previously used for 40 years by KFWB, KNX's historic rival in the news radio wars before both became sister stations through the 1995 merger of Westinghouse Electric (KFWB's owner) and CBS. KFWB's format change to news-talk in September 2009 now leaves KNX the only all-news outlet in the Los Angeles area, which is now emphasized in its alternate slogan, "L.A.'s only all-news radio station".

In 1957...The "Alan Freed Show," prime-time network television's first rock 'n' roll program, debuted on ABC. The first show in the series featured performances by Guy Mitchell, the Dell-Vikings, the Clovers, Sal Mineo, and Screamin' Jay Hawkins.

In 1959...In Los Angeles, the first Grammy Awards ceremony was held. Domenico Modugno's "Volare (Nel Blu Dipinto Di Blu)" won Record of the Year and Song of the Year. Henry Mancini's "The Music from Peter Gunn" won Album of the Year. The Champs' "Tequila," took home the trophy for Best R&B Performance.

In 1965...Radio announcer/TV game show announcer/TV host Norman Brokenshire died at age 66. His broadcasting career began in 1924 at WJZ. His signature greeting was "How do you do ladies and gentlemen, how DO you do!"

In 1975...Singer/radio and TV personality (Mutual Broadcasting System, Chicago's WGN-Radio, WJJD-Radio, WIND-Radio, WGN-TV, WBKB-TV, WCIU-TV) Dick "Two Ton" Baker died at the age of 59.

In June or July of 1938 he took his first radio job, doing a two-hour show called "Sunday Morning Party" on WJJD in Chicago and simulcast over WIND in Gary, Indiana. It was during these early days in radio that a fellow worker suggested the nickname Two Ton "to add a little zip."

In 1943, he was hired by WGN.  He had an early show, at 8:15 a.m., then his Mutual network show at various times in the midafternoon. After that came "Baker Spotlight" at 4:30, then, two to three times a week, a show for Sealy Mattress company. And he participated in a Sunday afternoon quiz show called "Mr. & Mrs." He also talks of appearing regularly on "Chicago Theater of the Air," a star-laden program that ran on WGN from 1940 to 1956 and that was relayed nationwide on the Mutual Broadcasting System.

In 2008...Talk show host (radio stations WIOD, WAME and WINZ in Miami, WDAE and WPLP radio plus WTSP-TV in Tampa) John Eastman, called the "dean of Tampa Bay talk radio," died of emphysema at 79.

Eastman, who had a popular radio show on WDAE in the 1970s and a morning talk show on WTSP, Channel 10, in the 1980s, suffered from chronic emphysema. In 2005, he collected more than $3.2 million from Philip Morris USA and the Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp. It was the first time that Philip Morris, the world’s largest cigarette maker, paid a judgment in an individual case.Eastman Jr. does voiceover work and has appeared on the Home Shopping Network.

Eastman was born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on in August 1928. He once told The Tampa Tribune that he started smoking at age 12. He started his broadcast career in the early 1950s as an announcer at a Sioux City, Iowa, radio station. He worked at radio stations in Cedar Rapids, Jacksonville, Mobile, Ala., Los Angeles and Pittsburgh. By the 1960s he was in Miami, where he worked at WIOD, WAME and WINZ. He came to Tampa in 1977, and his “Talk of the Town” radio show, about a local issues and personalities, was a hit for two years on WDAE. He then went to WPLP radio, and in 1980 he began hosting “The John Eastman Show,” which ran on WTSP, Channel 10, for four years.

Eastman also served as the host of an annual March of Dimes telethon that was broadcast locally.

In 2010...Sports broadcaster/Baseball Hall of Famer Ernie Harwell, the Detroit Tigers' radio play-by-play announcer for 42 years, died of bile duct cancer at 92.

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