Thursday, March 16, 2017

March 16 Radio History

In 1906...comedian Henny Youngman was born Henry Youngman in London. Famous for the line “Take my wife … please.” His big break came when he was booked on the popular Kate Smith radio show in 1937.  Had his own TV show (with boxer Rocky Graziano)The Henny & Rocky Show in 1955. His career was revived via repeated appearances on Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In in the 1960’s. He made 12 guest appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show. He died of pneumonia Feb 24, 1998 at age 91.

In 1916...actress Mercedes McCambridge was born in Joliet Ill.

Orson Welles dubbed her “the greatest radio actress” after she had lead roles in many of his Mercury Theatre broadcasts in the 1930’s while starring on Broadway.  She guested on numerous radio dramas (Lights Out, Inner Sanctum, Studio One, Bulldog Drummond, Ford Theatre, Gang Busters, Abie’s Irish Rose, etc.) and had lead roles in both East and West Coast originations of I Love a Mystery. Later she had a healthy career in TV, and won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for All the King’s Men.

She died March 2 2004, two weeks before her 88th birthday.

In 1922...WKY AM, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma went on-the-air.

1944 Print Ad
"5XT" became the 87th licensed station in the United States on March 16, 1922. It was owned by the Oklahoma Radio Shop (Earl C. Hull & H.S. Richards). The station was assigned the WKY call letters and began broadcasting weekdays from noon to 1:00 P.M. and from 7:30 to 9:30 P.M. On Sundays, WKY was on the air from 3 to 4 P.M. and 7:30 to 9:30 P.M.

On November 1922, WKY announced a "silent night" policy, meaning the station would broadcast only four, and later three nights a week. This was so listeners could have a chance to tune into other stations in neighboring states.

Richards and Hull struggled to keep WKY on the air. In late 1925, Richards left the radio business, but Hull continued to keep WKY on the air by selling shares of the station to radio dealers in Oklahoma City. The dealers paid Hull a small salary to keep the station broadcasting; however they decided the financial drain had become too much. In 1928, WKY was purchased by the Oklahoma Publishing Company, publishers of the Daily Oklahoman for the hefty sum of $5,000 (over $63,000 in 2010 dollars).

The formal opening of the new WKY was set for November 11, 1928, but the station went on the air several days earlier to carry the presidential election returns as Herbert Hoover won in a Republican landslide.

By the following year, WKY was attempting to operate like the powerhouse stations in the east. Aside from the programming from NBC, everything broadcast by WKY originated locally.

In 1958, WKY became the second Top-40 formatted station in Oklahoma City, behind KOCY, (now KEBC). During the 1960s and 70's WKY fended off serious challenges from 50,000 watt rival KOMA 1520 AM.

Although KOMA was very famous outside Oklahoma City, due to its large nighttime signal (like WABC in New York), WKY was usually the ratings leader in the city itself (as WMCA won New York City ratings books from 1963–1966); WKY continued to top many Arbitron ratings sweeps into the 1970s.

Ironically, WKY mainstays during that time—Danny Williams, Ronnie Kaye and Fred Hendrickson—would go on to become "KOMA Good Guys" when the station flipped from a standards to an oldies format.

Today, WKY is owned by Cumulus and airs an Hispanic format.

Dick Beals

In actor Dick Beals was born in Detroit.

His career began doing child voices on all three of WXYZ radio’s juvenile dramas The Lone Ranger, The Green Hornet and Challenge of the Yukon. He may be best remembered as the voice of Speedy Alka Seltzer in TV commercials.  Due to a glandular condition his voice never matured, and he went on to do young voices on scores of Warner Bros. and Hanna-Barbera TV cartoon series.  A licensed pilot, in his later life he flew himself from his California home to faithfully attend Seattle OTR conventions.

He died May 29 2012 at age 85.

In 1929...WHP-AM, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania went on-the-air.   The origin of WHP actually dates back to 1925, when a small radio station, known then as WHBG signed on at 1300 AM, with a tiny 20 watt transmitter (today it has 5Kw).  The station was first owned by Skane Electrical Service, however, it was then sold in early 1927 to Mack’s Battery Service, who changed the name to WMBS, moved its location to Lemoyne, and changed it’s position on the dial to 1280AM.

The WHP name was crowned to the station in 1929, when the Harrisburg Telegraph Newspaper took over the station, and moved it’s dial position to 1430AM. The station later moved to 1460 AM, and eventually moved to its well known frequency of 580 AM in 1951.

Today, WHP is owned by iHeartMedia and airs a News/Talk format.

In 1947...U.S First Daughter Margaret Truman appeared on Radio in her professional radio debut, singing with the Detroit Symphony.

In 1956...WQXR 1560 AM boosted power to 50Kw, Today the call letters are WFME.

In 1963...The Peter, Paul & Mary single, "Puff The Magic Dragon," debuted on the Billboard Hot 100. It was banned by several radio stations whose management thought the song was about the joys of smoking marijuana. The group has always denied the allegation.

In 1964…Alan Freed was charged with tax evasion in a grand jury indictment stemming from the earlier payola investigation that ruined the career of the ex-disc jockey.

In 1983...Arthur Godfrey, WCBS Radio, Died of emphysema at the age of 80.

Arthur Godfrey
Godfrey served in the United States Navy from 1920 to 1924 as a radio operator on naval destroyers, but returned home to care for the family after his father's death. Additional radio training came during Godfrey's service in the Coast Guard from 1927 to 1930. It was during a Coast Guard stint in Baltimore that he appeared on a local talent show and became popular enough to land his own brief weekly program.

On leaving the Coast Guard, Godfrey became a radio announcer for the Baltimore station WFBR (now WJZ (AM) and moved the short distance to Washington, D.C. to become a staff announcer for NBC-owned station WRC the same year and remained there until 1934.

Recovering from a near-fatal automobile accident en route to a flying lesson in 1931 (by which time he was already an avid flyer), he decided to listen closely to the radio and realized that the stiff, formal style then used by announcers could not connect with the average radio listener; the announcers spoke in stentorian tones, as if giving a formal speech to a crowd and not communicating on a personal level. Godfrey vowed that when he returned to the airwaves, he would affect a relaxed, informal style as if he were talking to just one person. He also used that style to do his own commercials and became a regional star.

Arthur Godfrey 1948
In addition to announcing, Godfrey sang and played the ukulele. In 1934 he became a freelance entertainer, but eventually based himself on a daily show titled Sundial on CBS-owned station WJSV (now WFED) in Washington. Godfrey was the station's morning disc jockey, playing records, delivering commercials (often with tongue in cheek; a classic example had him referring to Bayer Aspirin as "bare ass prin"), interviewing guests, and even reading news reports during his three-hour shift. Godfrey loved to sing, and would frequently sing random verses during the "talk" portions of his program. In 1937, he was a host on Professor Quiz, radio's first successful quiz program.

Godfrey became nationally known in April 1945 when, as CBS's morning-radio man in Washington, he took the microphone for a live, firsthand account of President Roosevelt's funeral procession. The entire CBS network picked up the broadcast, later preserved in the Edward R. Murrow and Fred W. Friendly record series, I Can Hear it Now. Unlike the tight-lipped news reporters and commentators of the day, who delivered breaking stories in an earnest, businesslike manner, Arthur Godfrey's tone was sympathetic and neighborly, lending immediacy and intimacy to his words. When describing new President Harry S. Truman's car in the procession, Godfrey fervently said, in a choked voice, "God bless him, President Truman." Godfrey broke down in tears and cued the listeners back to the studio. The entire nation was moved by his emotional outburst.

Godfrey made such an impression on the air that CBS gave him his own morning time slot on the nationwide network. Arthur Godfrey Time was a Monday-Friday show that featured his monologues, interviews with various stars, music from his own in-house combo and regular vocalists. Godfrey's monologues and discussions were usually unscripted, and went wherever he chose.

"Arthur Godfrey Time" remained a late morning staple on the CBS Radio Network schedule until 1972.

In 1983...NYC and L-A Air Personality B. Mitchel Reed, died at the age of 56.

He was born Burton Mitchel Goldberg in Brooklyn, New York.

After serving in the U.S. Air Force, he entered the world of radio while teaching political science at his alma mater.

Reed hosted the all-night Birdland Jazz Show at WOR (AM) in New York in 1956. A year later, he landed a job at KFWB in Los Angeles.

On January 2, 1958, KFWB became a Top 40 station known as "Coloradio Channel 98," and the DJ's were known as "The Seven Swinging Gentlemen." The lineup included Bruce Hayes, Al Jarvis, Joe Yocam, Elliot Field, Bill Ballance, and Ted Quillan. Reed held the 6-9 P.M time slot. Under Program Director Chuck Blore, KFWB became the number one radio station in LA.

He was known as "The Fastest Tongue in the West," for the speed in which he spoke to his audience. He left KFWB for WMCA in his home state of New York on February 7, 1963. He soon became part of a team of disc jockeys known as "The Good Guys," among them Jack Spector.

Reed went to London, England in pursuit of a band making headlines in hopes of breaking them in New York. The band was none other than The Beatles. His persistence paid off as it led to advance record pressings and exclusive interviews. This helped usher in "Beatlemania" in early 1964.

By 1965, Reed decided to return to Los Angeles. His last show at WMCA was on March 20. Thousands of his fans cheered him at the airport upon his departure. Many fans who were thrilled of his return greeted him when he arrived in LA. This ushered in his second stint at KFWB and The Wide Wide Weird World of BMR.

After attending the Monterey Pop Festival in June 1967, Reed realized he wanted to go in another direction music-wise. He met with San Francisco based DJ Tom Donahue over the frustrations of radio music restrictions. Donahue was a Program Director for underground station KMPX (FM). With no such music station in LA, Reed left KFWB and founded KPPC-FM in Pasadena. Both stations achieved more success than anticipated with the popularity of AOR programming.

Both stations ran into a conflict with their respective owners thus resulting in a strike. After the strike ended in June 1968, Donahue, got Metromedia to take on the AOR format at KMET (FM). Reed programmed what would become one of the first 24 hour automated music stations. It would go live in the summer of 1969. He left KMET for one year in 1971 to work at KRLA. He returned to KMET in 1972 where he stayed the next six years.

In 1978, Reed underwent coronary bypass surgery. He would leave KMET for KLOS (FM) in 1979. His lingering heart condition caught up with him on March 16, 1983. He died in his West Los Angeles home at the age of 56.

In 2012...Bell Canada, the country's biggest telecommunications company, announced it had agreed to buy Montreal-based Astral Media Inc. for $3.38 billion, giving the company more control over content for its cellphone, Internet and land-line services. The deal provided for the acquisition of Astral's 84 commercial radio stations, 22 English-language specialty television channels, and 13 French channels.

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