Tuesday, March 14, 2017

March 14 Radio History

in 1912...bandleader Les Brown was born in Reinerton Pennsylvania.  With his “Band of Renown” he is probably best known for his 50 year association with Bob Hope, on radio, TV & personal appearances.  Also was musical director for Dean Martin for 10 years on TV.  His record hits include Sentimental Journey, My Dreams are Getting Better All the Time, Leap Frog, & I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm.  He died from lung cancer Jan 4, 2001 at age 88.

In 1922...orchestra leader/composer Les Baxter was born in Mexia Texas.  Besides his extensive bigscreen resume, he arranged the early Nat King Cole hits, “Mona Lisa” and “Too Young,” and produced his own instrumental hits of the 50’s, “Ruby”, “Unchained Melody” and “The Poor People Of Paris.”  In radio he was  musical director for The Halls Of Ivy and the Bob Hope and Abbott and Costello shows.  Baxter also wrote the “Whistle” theme for the TV show Lassie. He died at age 73 Jan 15 1996 of heart and kidney problems.

In 1922...KSD-AM, Saint Louis, Missouri, began broadcasting.

KSD-AM Original Studio, 1922
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch launched KSD in 1922, the first St. Louis station to obtain a broadcast license from the Department of Commerce, though WIL claims earlier operation as an amateur station.

KSD Transmitter 1922
According to route56.com, first as KSD, and now as KTRS, the station has been on 550 kHz since 1923, which probably gives it the longest record of occupancy on any one frequency of any United States radio station. With its 5000-watt signal and low frequency, KTRS actually has better daytime and nighttime coverage than 50,000-watt clear-channel station KMOX in much of Missouri.

Despite that great coverage, the Post-Dispatch let KSD slip in the 1970s and, on March 19, 1984, it even lost its historic call letters under Gannett ownership. After a short-lived all-news format, on which Gannett pulled the plug just as KSD was beginning to build an audience, KSD went to country and adopted the call letters KUSA. The call letters were restored by EZ Communications when it bought KSD-AM/FM in 1993.

The call letters were switched back to KSD on October 4, 1993.

Newspaper Ad 1936
Unfortunately, the station lost the call letters again when it was sold to the Dorsey Media Group of St. Louis. EZ's successor, American Radio Systems, retained the KSD call letters for use on KSD(FM), which is now owned by Clear Channel Communications.

In1923…In Regina, Saskatchewan, Pete Parker of CKCK Radio did the world's first play-by-play broadcast of a professional hockey game. Edmonton defeated Regina, 1-0.

In 1937...What was humorously billed as the "Battle of the Century" occurred when comedians Fred Allen & Jack Benny met on Radio.  This episode focuses on the feud between Benny and Fred Allen. After the discussion turns to which one could take the other in a fight, Jack, Mary and Rochester drive out to Andy Devine's farm so that Jack can train there.

The feud was fake, of course. Benny and Allen got along fine, and mllked the feud for laughs for many years.

In 1951...Radio Personality Rick Dees was born.

Dees began his radio career at a Greensboro radio station called WGBG while still in high school. He worked for various radio stations throughout the southeastern United States, including WXYC in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, WSGN in Birmingham, Alabama, and WKIX in Raleigh, North Carolina.

His introduction to the international entertainment arena began while working at WMPS 680 AM in Memphis, Tennessee, during the disco craze of the late 1970s, when he wrote and recorded "Disco Duck", the award-winning hit that sold more than six million copies. The song can be heard in Saturday Night Fever, in a brief scene in which a group of older people were learning to "move their feet to the disco beat". While this platinum recording earned him a People's Choice Award, and the BMI Award for record sales in one year, Dees was expressly forbidden from playing the song on the air by station management (rival stations refused to play it for fear of promoting their competition).

Dees was fired from WMPS when he mentioned that his song, "Disco Duck" was almost #1 and his own radio station would not let him play it. The station manager said it was a conflict of interest.

After a 45-day non-compete clause in his contract was satisfied, Dees was hired by RKO Radio to do the morning show at WHBQ AM 560 in Memphis.

The success of Dees at their Memphis radio station, combined with his TV appearances and hit music, motivated station owner RKO General to offer Rick the morning radio show in Los Angeles at 93KHJ AM. Dees helped their ratings, but AM music radio was rapidly losing ground to FM. When KHJ switched to country music, Rick Dees left KHJ, taking a morning position at KIIS-FM in July 1981. In a short time, he turned KIIS-FM into the #1 revenue-generating radio station in America, with an asset value approaching half a billion dollars. Dees garnered many accolades, including Billboard Radio Personality of the Year for ten years in a row.

He began his Weekly Top 40 countdown program, still currently in syndication, in September 1983; the show was created after Dees' station KIIS lost American Top 40 to a rival station over the playing of network commercials.

After 23 years on radio station KIIS-FM, Dees left in 2004 because of a contract dispute, and he was replaced by Ryan Seacrest.

Dees has garnered many accolades, including the prestigious Marconi Award, induction into both the National Radio Hall of Fame, and the National Association of Broadcasters Hall Of Fame. He is an inductee in the North Carolina Music Hall Of Fame, the the Tennessee Radio Hall Of Fame, has received the the Billboard Radio Personality Of The Year award for 10 consecutive years.

In 1972...Carole King won what’s known as the “Triple Crown” of the Grammys: album of the year for “Tapestry,” record of the year for “It’s Too Late” and song of the year for “You’ve Got A Friend.” She also won a fourth Grammy that year, for female pop vocal performance for “Tapestry.” Carly Simon won as Best New Artist.

In 1991...Radio talk-show host (CKEY-Toronto, WNBC-New York, the NBC Radio Network's weekend program Monitor)/announcer/narrator Brad Crandall died of kidney failure at 63. He joined WNBC in 1964 and stayed for about six years.

Frank Blair
In 1995...NBC announcer Frank Blair, who began in radio in the 1930’s and was the newscaster on NBC-TV’s “Today” show for more than 20 years, died at age 79.  Blair began his broadcasting career in various radio stations in South Carolina in the 1930s. Blair joined station WOL in Washington, D.C. in 1937.

In 2002... WTJM 105.1 FM NYC switched from classic soul to Hip Hop. Today, the call letters are WWPR Power 105.1.

In 2008..former NBC announcer Mel Brandt died at age 88.  From 1962 to 1975 his voice was heard speaking the words “The following program is brought to you in living color on NBC” with the NBC peacock filling the screen.

In 2011…While reminiscing about his experiences of going to a record store and buying vinyl discs, singer Jon Bon Jovi criticized the co-founder of Apple for introducing iTunes, saying "Steve Jobs is personally responsible for killing the music business."

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