Saturday, October 17, 2015

October 17 Radio History

In 1919...Radio Corporation of America (RCA) was created.

The incorporation of the assets of Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company of America (including David Sarnoff, the Pan-American Telegraph Company, and those already controlled by the United States Navy led to a new publicly held company formed by General Electric (which owned a controlling interest) on October 17, 1919. The following cooperation among RCA, General Electric, the United Fruit Company, the Westinghouse Electric Corporation, and American Telephone & Telegraph (AT&T) brought about innovations in high-power radio technology, and also the founding of the National Broadcasting Company (NBC) in the US.

The Army and the Navy granted RCA the former American Marconi radio terminals that had been confiscated during the War. Admiral Bullard received a seat on the Board of Directors of RCA for his efforts in establishing RCA. The result was Federally-created monopolies in radio for GE and the Westinghouse Corporation and in telephone systems for the American Telephone & Telegraph Company.

The argument by the Department of War and the Department of the Navy that the usable radio frequencies were limited, and hence needed to be appropriated for use before other countries, such as the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and Canada monopolized them, collapsed in the mid-1920s following the discovery of the practicality of the use of the shortwave radio band (3.0 MHz through 30.0 MHz) for very long-range radio communications.

David Sarnoff 1922
The first chief executive officer of RCA was Owen D. Young; David Sarnoff became its general manager. RCA's incorporation papers required that a majority of its stock be held by American citizens. RCA agreed to market the radio equipment manufactured by GE and Westinghouse, and in follow-on agreements, RCA also acquired the radio patents that had been held by Westinghouse and the United Fruit Company. As the years went on, RCA either took over, or produced for itself, a large number of patents, including that of the superheterodyne receiver invented by Edwin Armstrong.

By 1926 the market for commercial radio had expanded, and RCA purchased the WEAF and WCAP radio stations and networks from AT&T, merged them with its WJZ (the predecessor of WABC) New York to WRC (presently WTEM) Washington chain, and formed the National Broadcasting Company (NBC).

In 1934..."The Aldrich Family" premiered on radio.

Ezra Stone, Jackie Kelk 1947
The Aldrich Family, a popular radio teenage situation comedy (1939-1953), was also presented in films, television and comic books. In the radio series' well-remembered weekly opening exchange, awkward teen Henry's mother called, "Hen-reeeeeeeeeeeee! Hen-ree Al-drich!", and he responded with a breaking adolescent voice, "Com-ing, Mother!"

The creation of playwright Clifford Goldsmith, Henry Aldrich began on Broadway as a minor character in Goldsmith's play What a Life. Produced and directed by George Abbott, What a Life ran for 538 performances.

When Rudy Vallee saw the play, he asked Goldsmith to adapt it into some sketches for his radio program, and this was followed in 1938 by a 39-week run of a sketch comedy series on The Kate Smith Hour with Stone continuing in the role of Henry. Kate Smith's director, Bob Welsh, is credited with the creation of the "Hen-reeeeeeeeeeeee! Hen-ree Al-drich!" opening, which eventually became one of the most famous signature sounds in radio.

After finding an audience with Kate Smith's listeners, The Aldrich Family was launched in its own series as a summer replacement program for Jack Benny in NBC's Sunday night lineup, July 2, 1939, and it stayed there until October 1, 1939, when it moved to Tuesday nights at 8 p.m., sponsored by General Foods's popular gelatin dessert Jell-O, which also sponsored Jack Benny at the time. The Aldriches ran in that slot from October 10, 1939 until May 28, 1940, moving to Thursdays, from July 4, 1940 until July 20, 1944. After a brief hiatus, the show moved to CBS, running on Fridays from September 1, 1944 until August 30, 1946 with sponsors Grape Nuts and Jell-O before moving back to NBC from September 5, 1946 to June 28, 1951 on Thursdays and, then, as a Sustaining program in its final run of September 21, 1952 to April 19, 1953 on Sundays.

The main characters (created by Clifford Goldsmith) never age. Henry Aldrich (portrayed by Ezra Stone, Vic Jones and Bobby Ellis) is one of those types of teenagers everyone has met at sometime during life, as is his best buddy, Homer Brown (Jackie Kelk, Jack Grimes, Johnny Fieldler). More characters: Mary (Henrys sister).

The show was a top-ten ratings hit within two years of its birth (in 1941, the show carried a 33.4 Crossley rating, landing it solidly alongside Jack Benny and Bob Hope). Earning $3000 a week, Goldsmith was the highest paid writer in radio, and his show became a prototype for the teen-oriented situation comedies that followed on radio and television.

In 1938...a big day in the Hollywood radio community. NBC moved its studios to the corner of Sunset and Vine, the “Crossroads of the World”.

The new Hollywood Radio City drew thousands of visitors ready to fill studio-audience seats for NBC’s popular programs.

In 1939...the radio adventure serial Captain Midnight premiered from the studios of WGN Chicago.   Within the year it was appointment listening for kids coast-to-coast, nightly on Mutual

NY Daily News 10/18/1966
In 1966...Jack Sterling does last show at WCBS 880 AM. Appreciation site: Click Here.

Jack Sterling was born in Baltimore on June 24, 1915, the son of Jack Sexton and Edna Cable. The names of Sexton and Cable were of considerable note in show business, a profession to which Jack's parents devoted forty years....It was natural then that Jack was destined to make his debut as an actor at an early age. He did, at age 2 when he appeared as Little Willie in 'East Lynne.' By the time he was 7 Jack Sterling had worked up a routine as a minstrel and played the same bill as his parents in their coast-to-coast tours. At 15 Sterling was a leading player in the John D. Winninger stock company which toured midwestern cities.

He rounded out his experience....and in 1939 settled down in Peoria, Illinois, where he joined WMBD as an announcer and producer.

One year later he moved to WTAD in Quincy, Ill., as program director and from there to CBS Radio's KMOX, St. Louis.

In 1947, after two years at KMOX, he was promoted to program manager of CBS Radio's WBBM, Chicago.

While in that post, CBS Radio sent out a call to its affiliates requesting audition records of its top local talent. Arthur Godfrey's heavy network broadcasting schedule was forcing him to give up his local WCBS Radio morning show and a replacement was needed. Sterling became active in the midwestern search for a candidate but overlooked the person who was to get the job: himself.

"I never considered myself as a candidate because I decided to devote my time to the executive phase of radio," Jack recalls.

"However, WCBS Radio asked for my audition record."

Jack's modesty was underlined by the fact that he would only make the audution record on the condition that WCBS Radio would pay the cost. The station did, and on November 5, 1948, Sterling made his debut on WCBS Radio in the early morning time formerly occupied by Godfrey.

STERLING AIRCHECK: 10th Anniversary Show 1958, (courtesy of Jack Sterling Appreciation website).

Sterling died of lung cancer in 1990 at age 75.

In 1970...The Hot 100..The Jackson 5 first hit #1 with "I'll Be There", knocking Neil Diamond's "Cracklin' Rosie" out of the top spot.  Sugarloaf was up from 8 to 3 with "Green-Eyed Lady" and Free edged up with "All Right Now".  The Carpenters were up nicely (9-5) with "We've Only Just Begun".

The rest of the Top 10:  "Candida" from Dawn, the former #1 "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" from Diana Ross, the double-sided CCR hit "Lookin' Out My Back Door"/"Long As I Can See The Light" at #8, "Julie, Do Ya Love Me" from Bobby Sherman and James Taylor's first hit "Fire And Rain" moved from 17 to #10.

In 1970...The Album Charts..Cosmo's Factory by CCR continued to hold on to the #1 album spot for the ninth week.  Abraxas by Santana was generating excitement and moved from 8-2.  Mad Dogs & Englishmen from Joe Cocker was #3 followed by A Question of Balance from the Moody Blues.  The rest of the Top 10:  Third Album from the Jackson 5, the Soundtrack to "Woodstock", James Taylor moved to #7 with Sweet Baby James, After the Gold Rush from Neil Young edged up to #8, Chicago II was still going after 36 weeks and Get Yer (sic) Ya-Ya's Out! by the Rolling Stones debuted at #10.

In 1981...The Hot 100.."Arthur's Theme (Best That You Can Do)" by Christopher Cross took over at #1 after a nine-week reign by Diana Ross & Lionel Richie's "Endless Love".  The Rolling Stones saw an opening and got to 3 with "Start Me Up".  Sheena Easton had "For Your Eyes Only" while Eddie Rabbitt hopped up "Step By Step".  The rest of the Top 10:  Hall & Oates with "Private Eyes", Stevie Nicks with Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers had song #7--"Stop Draggin' My Heart Around", Journey were on their way down with "Who's Crying Now", Dan Fogelberg had a big hit with "Hard To Say" and the Little River Band notched their 10th hit and fifth Top 10 with "The Night Owls".

In 1987...The Album Charts..Bad, which had debuted at #1 on the Album chart for Michael Jackson, continued to set the pace for the fourth week.  Whitesnake was #2 with Whitney from Whitney Houston trailing.  Hysteria by Def Leppard climbed up to #4 and Pink Floyd reached the #5 position with A Momentary Lapse of Reason.

The rest of the Top 10:  The "Dirty Dancing" Soundtrack, La Bamba from Los Lobos #7, John Cougar Mellencamp with The Lonesome Jubilee, U2's The Joshua Tree was #9 and Heart's Bad Animals closed out the list.

In 1991...News anchor Bree Walker Lampley filed a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission against Los Angeles radio station KFI-AM saying it personally attacked her by talking about her having a disformed baby.

In 2006...Newsman Christopher Glenn, WNEW 1130 AM, WCBS 880 AM, CBS RADIO, died.

Christopher Glenn
Glenn worked at various radio stations in New York, Connecticut, and Washington, D.C. before joining CBS in 1971. While at CBS, Glenn worked in a variety of capacities in its news organization. He was a narrator for In the News, a long-running Emmy award-winning TV news program geared toward children and young people, which aired between the network's Saturday-morning children's shows. Glenn also appeared on camera as an anchor for the short-lived "30 Minutes", a young people's version of "60 Minutes".

He served as an anchor for two of the CBS Radio Network's signature news roundups carried by affiliates in the United States - The World Tonight (now the CBS World News Roundup Late Edition) from 1988 to 1999, and the morning CBS World News Roundup from 1999 until his retirement. Glenn's final morning broadcast occurred on February 23, 2006.

From 1982 to 1984, Glenn served as a television news anchor, on CBS News Nightwatch, which aired from 2-6 a.m. weekdays.

Glenn made his best-known report on January 28, 1986, when he anchored CBS Radio's live coverage of the launch of the Space Shuttle Challenger. Glenn had just signed off—after what was thought to have been a normal launch—when the shuttle disintegrated, killing the seven astronauts on board. "I had to get back on the air real fast to describe that, and had a very difficult time doing that," he recalled. Glenn and correspondent Frank Mottek (now a reporter at CBS Radio Station KNX) covered the Challenger disaster from that point as a CBS NetAlert bulletin.

Glenn was among the first CBS News correspondents to use a personal computer (an Apple II). Glenn continued to play sound clips in his newscasts from carts long after most of the industry had switched to computer-based playback systems.

Glenn, who suffered from liver cancer, died suddenly on October 17, 2006 in Norwalk, Connecticut. Glenn was posthumously inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame in Chicago on November 4.

In 2010...WRMR, WDOK, WQAL, WHK, WGAR) "Tall Ted" Hallaman died at the age of 83. Hallaman used humour and musical standards to attract Ohio audiences over a 50 year career.  He had been pulling regular air shifts until a few weeks before his death.

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