Wednesday, February 3, 2016

February 3 Radio History

In 1927...the FCC, then known as Federal Radio Commission, was created by a law signed into effect by U.S. President Calvin Coolidge.

WEAV 960 AM (5 Kw DA-2)
In 1935...WEAV-AM, Plattsburgh NY signed-on as WMFF, owned by Plattsburgh Broadcasting Corporation (in turn controlled by the Bissell family), and operating on 1310 kHz.  The North American Radio Broadcasting Agreement in 1941 moved the station to 1340 kHz.

On October 23, 1948,  the station changed its call letters to WEAV and relocated again, this time to the current 960 kHz. At one time an affiliate of ABC Radio  and its predecessor, the Blue Network, WEAV switched to CBS Radio in the late 1950s.

The station inaugurated FM service on February 3, 1960, with the launch of WEAV 99.9. FM (now WBTZ-FM) as a simulcast of the AM station.

WEAV-AM currently airs Sports Talk.

In 1935...Martin Block starts at WNEW-AM (now WBBR 1130 AM) in NYC at a salary of $20 per week. In 1935, while listeners to New York's WNEW in New York (now information outlet WBBR 1139 AM) were awaiting developments in the Lindbergh kidnapping, Block built his audience by playing records between the Lindbergh news bulletins.

This led to his Make Believe Ballroom, which began February 3, 1935 with Block borrowing both the concept and the title from West Coast disc jockey Al Jarvis, creating the illusion that he was broadcasting from a ballroom with the nation’s top dance bands performing live. He bought some records from a local music shop for the program as the radio station had none. Block purchased five Clyde McCoy records, selecting his "Sugar Blues" for the radio show's initial theme song.

Because Block was told by the station's sales staff that nobody would sponsor a radio show playing music, he had to find himself a sponsor. Block lined up a producer of reducing pills called "Retardo"; within a week, the sponsor had over 3,000 responses to the ads on Block's radio show. Martin Block's style of announcing was considerably different than the usual manner of delivery at the time. Instead of speaking in a voice loud enough to be heard in a theater, Block spoke in a normal voice, as if he was having a one-on-one conversation with a listener.

Abbott & Costello
When one of Block's sponsors offered a sale on refrigerators during a New York snowstorm, 109 people braved the elements for the bargain Block advertised; by 1941 potential sponsors for his show had to be put on a waiting list for availabilities.

In 1938...the kids radio adventure drama Challenge of the Yukon (about Sgt. Preston & his ‘wonder dog’ Yukon King) debuted in a 15 minute format on WXYZ Detroit.  It completed George W. Trendle’s trilogy of juvenile adventures preceded by The Lone Ranger and The Green Hornet.  The show went to the networks (ABC, then Mutual) in 30 minute form 1947 to ’55.

In 1938...the comedy team of Abbott & Costello made their debut as cast members on CBS Radio’s “The Kate Smith Hour.” They remained with the weekly program for two years while their film career got underway.

In 1959…At about 1:00 a.m. CST, shortly after taking off from the Mason City, Iowa airport, the chartered airplane containing Buddy Holly (Peggy Sue, That'll Be The Day), Ritchie Valens (Donna, La Bamba), and the "Big Bopper" J.P. Richardson (Chantilly Lace), crashed into an Iowa field, instantly killing all three and the pilot Roger Peterson.

Headed for the next "Winter Dance Party" tour stop in Fargo, North Dakota, the plane had been chartered by Holly so that the band members could travel in heated comfort (their tour bus had a broken heater) and arrive early for the next show. The pilot, not informed of worsening weather conditions, decided to fly "on instruments," meaning without visual confirmation of the horizon, which led to the crash.

Richardson was 28, Holly was 22, and Valens was 17.

Don McLean later immortalized the tragedy in his classic song "American Pie," calling this "the day the music died."

In 1968…At EMI's Abbey Road Studios in London, the Beatles began recording "Lady Madonna." All four of them played and/or sang on the track, with four studio musician saxophonists added, finishing February 6. Issued in mid-March, the single was their last release on Parlophone in the UK and Capitol Records in the U.S. All subsequent releases, starting with "Hey Jude" in August 1968, were issued on their own Apple Records label.

In Jay C Flippen died after suffering an aneurism during surgery.  He was 72.   He was a radio announcer for the New York Yankees, one of the first game show hosts, and on TV is best remembered as C.P.O. Nelson on the 1962 sitcom ‘Ensign O’Toole.’

In 2003...Recorded producer Phil Spector was arrested for allegedly murdering actress Lana Clarkson in his Alhambra, CA home.

Spector remained free on $1 million bail while awaiting trial, which began on March 19, 2007. The retrial of Spector for murder in the second degree began on October 20, 2008, with Judge Fidler again presiding. The case went to the jury on March 26, 2009, and nineteen days later, on April 13, the jury returned a guilty verdict.  In addition, he was found guilty of using a firearm in the commission of a crime.  Spector was immediately taken into custody  and was formally sentenced, on May 29, 2009, to 19 years to life in the California state prison system.

In 2003…Longtime St. Louis radio personality Ron Morgan died of a heart ailment at age 60.

Ron Morgan came to St. Louis in 1973, taking an on-air position on Pulitzer powerhouse KSD. It was the beginning of a stay in St. Louis radio that would span nearly twenty years.

Known as "Morgan in the Morning," he peppered his programs with droll humor supplemented with an infectious laugh and gave his program team plenty of opportunities to share the spotlight. He also did mornings at KSD-FM and KLOU, as well as other shifts at KMOX and KHTR.

Morgan was also program director at CBS-owned KLOU when it hit the air with an oldies format, giving the station a strong group of personalities to complement the music, and he served as operations director at KSD-FM. Ron Morgan was visible in the community as a long-time supporter of the Easter Seals Society.

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