Saturday, June 13, 2015

June 14 Radio History

In 1923...President Warren G. Harding became the first U.S. president to use Radio (WEAR, Baltimore) when he dedicated the Francis Scott Key memorial in Baltimore.

In 1924...WOKO-AM began broadcasting, as WOKO, at 1290 kHz in New York City, moving in 1928 to Mount Beacon, New York in southern Dutchess County and serving Newburgh and Poughkeepsie at 1430 kHz. Billed "The Voice of the Clouds" for its transmitter site on its namesake mountain, WOKO's signal into the areas it wanted to target was poorer than anticipated and in 1930 the station was sold and moved to Albany, New York becoming the first radio station licensed to that city.

With the move to Albany came an affiliation with CBS whose programming had been previously cleared partially on WGY. The early 1940s saw some key changes as the CBS affiliation went from WOKO to upstart WTRY and the station's frequency changed from 1430 to 1460 in the NARBA frequency shift of 1941. In light of these differences, WOKO evolved into a locally-based format consisting largely of music independent of any network, a rarity in a medium market in that era. Notably, WOKO was a radio affiliate of the Brooklyn Dodgers in the 1950s before their move to Los Angeles.

Today the station's call sign is WOPG 1460 AM and airs religious programming.

In 1950...After 13 years on radio, Harold Peary played the title character in "The Great Gildersleeve" for the final time. Willard Waterman took over the role for the next eight years on radio and for several years on TV.

The Great Gildersleeve was a radio situation comedy broadcast from 1941 to 1957. Initially written by Leonard Lewis Levinson,  it was one of broadcast history's earliest spin-off programs. The series was built around the character Throckmorton P. Gildersleeve, a regular element of the radio situation comedy Fibber McGee and Molly. The character was introduced in the October 3, 1939 episode of that series. The Great Gildersleeve enjoyed its greatest popularity in the 1940s. Actor Harold Peary played the character during its transition from the parent show into the spin-off and later in four feature films released at the height of the show's popularity.

In 1965...Pioneering newscaster/commentator H.V. Kaltenborn, who provided astute, often ad-libbed radio commentary on world affairs leading up to WWII, died at age 86.

On CBS, Kaltenborn was one of the first news readers to provide analysis and insight into current news stories. His vast knowledge of foreign affairs and international politics amply equipped him for covering crises in Europe and the Far East in the 1930s. His vivid reporting of the Spanish Civil War and the Czech crisis of 1938 helped established the credibility of radio news in the public mind and helped to overcome the nation's isolationist sensibilities. As authors Christopher H. Sterling and John M. Kittross wrote, Kaltenborn reported on the Spanish Civil War "while hiding in a haystack between the two armies. Listeners in America could hear bullets hitting the hay above him while he spoke."

Kaltenborn joined NBC in 1940. On election night in 1948, he and Bob Trout, a former CBS colleague, were at the NBC news desk to broadcast the returns of the White House race between President Harry S. Truman and challenger Thomas E. Dewey. Throughout the evening, the returns were too close to call. As the evening progressed, Kaltenborn could see a swing in Dewey’s favor. It was enough for him to project Dewey the winner, although the returns were still close. What Kaltenborn didn’t foresee was another swing in the votes going to Truman. As evening turned to early morning, Kaltenborn retracted his original projection and announced Truman as the winner.

On his newscast, Kaltenborn described how Truman did an impersonation of the journalist describing how he (Truman) was losing the election. Kaltenborn took the President’s comments with class as he stated, “We can all be human with Truman. Beware of that man in power who has no sense of humor.” Kaltenborn laughed at himself as everyone else laughed with him.

In 1983...Docket 80-90 created new FM Stations.  In 1980, as the non-com band started to fill up in most major metropolitan areas there was a little pressure on the FCC and Congress to make room. Their response was Docket 80-90, 94 FCC 2d 152, 48 Fed. Reg. 29496 (1983). The rule grandfathered the existing short spaced stations and reduced minimum mileage separation between new changes. It also limited new licenses to a maximum ERP of 3 KW, HAAT being 328' or 100 meters. Weaker stations = more stations crammed in. But it did not increase the spacing requirements between Class A and second- and third-adjacent channel Class B stations. Also interesting was that it allowed full-power stations to move-in on Class D stations. forcing some off air. Even though the stated purpose of the rules were to Increase the Availability of FM Broadcast Assignments.

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