Saturday, March 11, 2017

March 11 Radio History

In 1903...bandleader Lawrence Welk was born in Strasburg North Dakota.

The Champagne Music Maker was, early on, a popular staple of radio station WNAX in Yankton South Dakota.  When he settled in for 10 years at Chicago’s Aragon Ballroom, his dance remotes developed a national radio following. In 1951 Welk began weekly appearances on KTLA Los Angeles, which led to an ABC television show beginning in 1955. His show was near the top of the ratings throughout the 1950’s and ’60s.  His big hit was the 1961 million seller, Calcutta.

He died from pneumonia May 17, 1992 at age 89.

In  1948...Audio Engineering Society founded in New York City.

In 1969...The Jackson Five signed a contract with Motown Records

In 2009...WXRK 92.3 FM NYC changes to CHR.

At 5PM on March 11, 2009, WXRK changed to a Contemporary Hit Radio format known as "92.3 Now FM". The last song played on K-Rock was "Right Now" by Van Halen. It was followed with the sound of a ticking clock, an announcement that K-Rock was moving to 92.3 FM HD2, and a montage of bumpers from stations such as WNBC, WABC, WMCA, WXLO, WQHT, and WHTZ, with a promotion saying in the following minutes, "it will be now".

An introductory montage was then played, followed by the launch of "Now" with the commitment to play "10,000 songs in a row, with zero minutes of commercials", beginning with "Boom Boom Pow" by The Black Eyed Peas.  It has been speculated in online forums and trade journals that CBS Radio will continue to unfold or tweak towards similar Top 40 radio stations in other major markets in the coming months leaning towards younger listeners. The station ended the "10,000 Songs in a Row" promotion in early April 2009.

Since the station's flip in 2009, WXRK/WNOW has only held a 2 share trailing Hertiage Top40 WHTZ. In addition, WXRK/WNOW has had a constant turnover of program directors and airstaff, including the sudden releasing of all the then-current airstaff (with the exception of midday host Niko and evening host Toro) on May 21st, 2014, as rumors of a complete rehauling of 92.3's format abounded. The following day at 2 PM, after stunting by giving away $1,000 to callers every 9 minutes for 2 hours,

WNOW-FM relaunched as 92.3 AMP Radio, launching with commercial-free weekends until Labor Day weekend. The final song on "Now" was "Lose Yourself" by Eminem, while the first song on "AMP" was "Summer" by Calvin Harris.  On June 23, 2014, WNOW-FM changed its call letters to WBMP to match the "AMP" branding.

In 2011...Longtime New York City area radio host (WNYC, WNSW, WJDM, WNJR, WPAT, WEVD) Danny Stiles died at the age of 87.

Stiles's first radio job was at WHBI in Newark on December 2, 1947, buying the air time for $65 a week.  His career took him to WHOL in Allentown, Pennsylvania, and stations in New Jersey before returning to Newark on WNJR (AM) as the "Kat Man." At WNJR, Danny met Robert Smith, a young Brooklyn native working as a gofer, who would later move to the border blaster XERB-AM and broadcast as Wolfman Jack.

Stiles, who among other alliterative monikers called himself The Vicar of Vintage Vinyl, had a loyal fan following and a distinctive radio presence.  At the end of his life, Danny was being heard on four stations in Metro New York, on WRCA 1330 AM, serving the Boston area, and was streaming 24 hours a day on the Internet. The broadcast material came largely from his personal collection of over 250,000 albums, many in their original 78 rpm format.

After his death, Stiles continued to be heard on the airwaves, with vintage shows re-aired Saturday nights at 8 PM Eastern time on WNYC 820 AM, until its final broadcast on January 3, 2015. His website still offers a stream of archived shows.

In 2015...Longtime WGY 810 AM Albany, NY Morning Host Don Weeks died at age 76.

The station called Weeks "legendary" in its announcement -- and it might be difficult to argue that he wasn't, according to the Albany Times-Union.  Weeks joined WGY in December 1980 and retired from his morning show, a ratings juggernaut for years, in 2010.

Known as "Uncle Don" to two generations of WGY listeners, he brought an avuncular presence and a folksy style to a variety format. His conversation with on-air sidekicks meandered across news items, weather updates, school closings and zany comedy bits. Fans found his homespun humor as welcome as a freshly brewed cup of coffee early in the morning.

Weeks retired in 2010 after 30 years on WGY and his 50-year broadcast career included stints as a TV weatherman and in marketing and copywriting.

"He was the most well-known radio personality in the Capital Region and his storied career was known on a national level, too," said David Donovan, president of the New York State Broadcasters Association, which inducted Weeks into its Hall of Fame. Weeks also won a Marconi Award from the National Association of Broadcasters.

Weeks wanted to be on the radio since he was a young boy, his daughter said. "He used to pretend he was a radio host when he was really little. It was his dream job," she said. His single-minded drive earned him his first job at WSNY of Schenectady just out of high school and he later was hired as a Top 40-format disc jockey on WTRY.

He moved to TV in 1965 and earned a following on WNYT Ch. 13 as a weatherman who used his cartoon drawing skills to create an endearing character known as "Wally Weather." He was a talented artist who also worked as art director at WRGB and as a copywriter for an Albany ad agency. He moonlighted on WABY before joining the morning show at WGY in 1980.

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