Saturday, July 30, 2016

July 30 Radio History

Vladimir Zworykin
In 1889...Vladimir Zworykin, called the “Father of Television” was born in Russia. He invented the iconoscope in 1931 while in the employ of RCA, the parent company of NBC.  He died July 29 1982 on the eve of his 93rd birthday.

In writer John Meston was born in Pueblo Colorado.  He is best remembered as the co-creator and main screenwriter for both the radio & TV versions of the iconic western series ‘Gunsmoke.’  He supplied 183 half-hour scripts for the CBS radio show, and 196 mostly-hour-long scripts for the -CBS-TV version, which ran for 20 years.  He died of a cerebral hemorrhage March 24 1979 at age 64.


1930...the long-running radio crime drama The Shadow aired for the first time on CBS.  It would be a radio favorite for the next 24 years, mostly on Sunday afternoons on Mutual.

In 1937...the American Federation of Radio Artists (AFRA) was organized. It was part of the American Federation of Labor. The union was for all radio performers except musicians. The union later became The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) to include TV folk, as well.

In 1942...Stage Door Canteen began its three-year run on CBS Radio. Bert Lytell MC’d the weekly show aired live from Times Square in New York City; 500 servicemen were entertained each week by celebrities who freely donated their time for the war (WWII) effort.

In 1942...crooner Frank Sinatra waxed the last of his 90 recordings with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra on RCA Victor. His last side was There are Such Things, which became #1 the following January. Sinatra moved on to the Columbia label (1943-1952) as a solo singing sensation.

Arthur Peterson, Mercedes McCambridge, Helen Behmiller, Henrietta Ledro
In 1952...the popular radio soap opera, The Guiding Light, was seen for the first time on CBS television. It debuted on NBC radio Jan. 25 1937.  The daytime drama aired its final telecast Sept. 18 2009.

In 1954...Elvis Presley made his professional concert debut in two shows at Memphis.  He was one of several acts opening both afternoon and evening performances by country star Slim Whitman.  His leg-hip gyrations drove the female part of the crowds wild.

In 1964...station WNEW 1130 AM in New York - a top-rated adult music station, bans all comedy records that “ridicule the United States Government, its processes, institutions, officials, lawmakers and political candidates.” The station said the new policy was triggered by a new album entitled “I’d rather Be Far RightThan President.” - an album that spoofs Republican Presidential nominee BarryGoldwater.

Says John Sullivan, vice president and general manager of WNEW -“I would say the situation came to a head because of national conventions andan election year. But the taste level of some of these comedy recordings hasgrown progressively worse and there is a lot of cheap, badly done stuff in thefield. What I resent is that anyone can put something on a record and it is passedoff as entertainment. The radio industry should take a look at what it plays.”WNEW plays music from the likes of Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Steve andEydie, Dean Martin and other popular non-rock artists

In 1966...WOR 98.7 FM, New York changed it's programming to a Rock format.

The original WOR-FM disc jockeys were Scott Muni (formerly of WABC and WMCA), Murray “the K” Kaufman (formerly of WINS), Rosko (Bill Mercer) and Johnny Michaels.

According to, WOR-FM became extremely popular on college campuses.  It began to carve out an audience that had not been served by radio up until then.  It was achieving decent ratings (for an FM station) without taking audience away from the AM stations by appealing to new listeners.  This was significant.  A Columbia University survey of its undergraduates found that 93% listened to FM as well as AM and that they listened to WOR-FM for 3 1/2 hours daily as compared with AM stations WMCA (1 1/2 hours) and WABC (1 hour). WOR-FM grossed anywhere from $500 to $1000 a week from record company commercials because of its reach into the college campuses.

Even so, owner RKO wasn’t satisfied.  Bill Drake had been consulting RKO’s two West Coast stations; KHJ in Los Angeles and KFRC in San Francisco.  These were both extremely successful AM Top 40 stations built around the “Drake-Chenault” philosophy of playing just the hits while minimizing almost everything else.  In July of 1967 RKO hired Drake to consult its remaining radio properties which consisted of CKLW, Detroit; WRKO, Boston; WGMS, Washington DC; WHBQ, Memphis and, of course, WOR-FM.

The first sense of change came when memos appeared from management dictating to the air staff not to play certain cuts. Next the disc jockeys were removed from the new record listening sessions and not allowed to have input on the playlist. Next the playlist became all singles with only an occasional new record and it had to be from an established artist.

Murray the K had the highest rated FM show in New York; a 4 share on one ratings survey, a 3 on the next. This was higher than many AM shows and a terrific FM rating for New York.  He would have no part of these changes and his protests cost him his job.  He was fired by the station in September 1967.  His parting comment about the changes at WOR-FM was “Who can live with that?  Music has reached a maturity... people in radio are still treating it as if it is for teenie boppers."

Murray had a point. WOR-FM was different from the other RKO properties in that it was FM stereo as opposed to AM.  It had built a solid audience by attracting a different group of people.  Giving up on it after only a year seemed premature. Record companies had found the station highly valuable at influencing sales of rock albums especially of new artists and groups like Cream, The Doors, Jefferson Airplane, and The Jimi Hendrix Experience.  The format was noted for playing new records first, often playing new artists that the local AM stations wouldn't play.

In 1984...The FCC raises the number of radio and television stations that a company may own from a total of 14 radio stations and 7 TV stations to a new ceiling of 24 radio stations and 12 TV stations.

In 1986...RCA Victor Records dropped John Denver from its roster after the release of his single, ‘What Are We Making Weapons For’. The song reportedly upset the record label’s new owner, General Electric, one of the largest defense contractors in the US.

In 2004...Shock duo Opie and Anthony announced they are joining XM Satellite Radio beginning Oct. 4. They were yanked of the air back in August of 2002 after broadcasting a live account of a couple having sex inside St. patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan.

In 2012...Al Brady Law - WOR FM, WWDJ, WXLO, WNBC, WABC (PD) died at age 67.

Al Brady-Law
Al first came to New York as Al Brady late in 1969 as the night jock at WOR FM. Late in 1970 he left for WINZ in Miami but promptly turned back up in New York as the night jock at WWDJ. He eventually moved to afternoons and then left again for Denver. But he returned once more, this time as program director at WWDJ. In 1973 he moved over to WXLO as program director.

In March of 1974, Al would move on to WNBC where did some weekend shows and was also the station's assistant program director. In September of 1974, he became the station's program manager, but only for a month. He would go back to weekends and the APD spot. In 1976, it was off to Boston and in 1978 he took over as program director of the NBC Owned and Operated stations. After a brief sojour down to Washington, DC, Al returned to New York, yet again, this time as program director of WABC. In 1979, WABC was still reeling from the "disco inferno" of the October/November, 1978 book where WKTU rocketed to the top. They were, in essence, trying to right the ship. Brady did what he had to do. In fact, he came under a lot of criticism when three of his moves involved letting go Harry Harrison, George Michael and Chuck Leonard. Al always defended his moves and always insisted it was the right thing to do. He always said he never regretted any of it.

From WABC, Al returned to Boston and then one more time to New York where he was to assume the position of Vice President and General Manager of WYNY. Under Al's guidance, WYNY became a major presence in the New York market, finally cracking the ratings top 10 in the Summer, 1981 book.

From WYNY, al took over as Vice President of Programming of NBC Radio. After leaving this post, Al moved around the country working at various radio stations. His most recent being the operations manager at KABC in Los Angeles.

Al was a very important part of New York radio history. From disc jockey to management, he was always top-notch. Al Brady was one of those disc jockeys that I always listened to in awe. He was great.

Terry Lee
In 2013…Longtime Pittsburgh radio and TV personality (WIXZ, WMCK, WIIC-TV, KDKA-TV, WPGH-TV) Terry Lee died of lung cancer at 70.

He started working as a DJ at teen dances at 16. That launched his radio career at the former WESA-AM in Charleroi, which was followed by stints at stations in Carnegie and Canonsburg. At 21, he joined the former WMCK-AM in McKeesport, which later became WIXZ (1360). That little station was the place where Mr. Lee really began shaking up the airwaves. His evening show was one of the most popular in the city throughout the '60s.

In the late '60s throughout the '70s, Mr. Lee hosted dance shows on TV: "Come Alive" on the former WIIC (now WPXI) and "The Terry Lee Show" on WPGH and later on KDKA.

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