Saturday, March 18, 2017

March 19 Radio History

In 1912...orchestra leader Russ Case was born in Hamburg Iowa. Still in his teens he joined radio station WOC Davenport Ohio as an arranger.  He produced & led the band for some of Perry Como’s classic recordings as A &R man for RCA Victor, and became the NBC studio orchestra first on radio, then TV. He was working as arranger for The Jackie Gleason Show when he died Oct 10 1964 at age 52.

In 1918...Standard Time Act establishes Standard and Daylight time in the U.S.

In 1928...Freeman Gosden and Charles Correll left WGN radio in Chicago to head across town to WMAQ radio.

They weren’t able to take their previously popular radio show names (Sam & Henry) with them due to contractual limitations. So they came up with names even more popular … Amos and Andy, and continued as radio mainstays for another 30 years.

In 1987...Arch Oboler died, a radio writer best known for the series "Lights Out". he was 77.

In 2003...Harry Harrison did last show at WCBS 101.1 FM in NYC.

In 1953, Harrison worked at WCFL as a summer replacement, yet remained there eight months, substituting for the permanent DJs.  Harrison became program director at WPEO, Peoria in 1954 and hosted the morning show as the "Morning Mayor of Peoria." In just six months, Harrison made WPEO the top station.

In 1959, Harrison joined WMCA, New York, as the mid-day "Good Guy." Joe O'Brien (mornings) and Harrison gave WMCA a "one-two punch" for over eight years.  Other WMCA "Good Guys" included Jack Spector, B. Mitchel Reed, Dan Daniel and Johnny Dark, and talk show host Barry Gray. Harrison became popular with his "Housewife Hall of Fame” feature.

Often, he scored the highest ratings on WMCA. WABC program director Rick Sklar took note.   In 1968, when WABC morning man Herb Oscar Anderson left the station, Rick Sklar hired Harrison to replace him. Harrison was followed in the WABC day by Ron Lundy.

Every year, Harrison played seasonal songs, such as his holiday greeting "May You Always” in the winter (the Amy records single of this song made the Billboard Christmas charts in 1965), and Allan Sherman's summer camp novelty, "Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh", throughout the summer months.

WABC personalities included, along with Harrison, Charlie Greer, Scott Muni, Bob Lewis, Lundy, Johnny Donovan, Dan Ingram, "Cousin Brucie" Bruce Morrow, Chuck Leonard, Bob Cruz, Frank Kingston Smith, and Roby Yonge, and others.

Harrison had a number of "trademark" phrases, such as "Morning, Mom", "Every brand new day should be opened like a precious gift", "Stay well, stay happy, stay right here" and "Harry Harrison wishing you the best... because that's exactly what you deserve!”

Harrison was let go from WABC as the station changed direction in November 1979

In March 1980, Harrison became the morning personality at WCBS-101.1 FM, playing oldies music. In 1984, with Lundy joining the station, they were once again heard back-to-back. Harrison would interact with Morning Crew engineer Al Vertucci, Phil Pepe, who reported sports, and joke about "wacky weather" and toupee warnings with Irv “Mr. “G” Gikofsky (weather), Mary Jane Royce, and Sue Evans.

On April 25, 1997 New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani issued a proclamation, naming April 25 "Harry Harrison Day" in honor of the second "Mayor."

On March 19, 2003, after a 44-year career in New York radio, Harrison left WCBS-FM, saying "I am not retiring." His farewell to his loyal radio friends (from 5:30 to 10:00am) was held before a live audience at the Museum of Television and Radio in New York City. It offered old airchecks plus guest appearances by WCBS-FM colleagues Don K. Reed, Bobby Jay, Steve O'Brien, Randy Davis and Dan Taylor, his replacement, as well as his son and daughter, Patti. Harrison took phone calls from Bob Shannon, Mike Fitzgerald, Ed Baer, and Ron Lundy.

Shortly after he left WCBS-FM, Harrison's long-time wife, Patti, who he had always referred to as "Pretty Patti" on the air, died.

Harrison returned to WCBS-FM with a Saturday morning show in 2004. It offered two hours of variety and two hours of Beatles music and memories.

On Memorial Day, May 30, 2005, Harry and "Cousin" Bruce Morrow were guests on WABC Radio’s annual Rewound show. Four days later, on June 3, WCBS-FM ended its "oldies" format, in favor of the new "Jack" format.  However, as a result of listener disapproval, the WCBS-FM Oldies format was brought back on July 12, 2007, in a 'Classic Hits' modernized form.

In 2004...Tom Rivers died of bronchial asthma at age 38. Rivers worked at WQYK-FM, Tampa and WUSN-FM, Chicago. (Note: not to be confused with the CHUM personality Tom Rivers.) Listeners of WQYK-FM 99.5 loved his amiable, conversational patter during morning drive time.

Rivers was a veteran of 17 years in country radio, most of it spent at WQYK-FM Tampa, Fla., where he served, at various times, as PD, morning host and VP/GM. His career also included a stint as PD/morning host at WMZQ Washington, D.C.

The industry heaped awards on him, including the rare double honor as top personality of the year in both the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music.

Country stars such as Garth Brooks, Vince Gill, Reba McEntire and Mary Chapin Carpenter - whose rise to prominence in the early 1990s paralleled Mr. Rivers' own meteoric ascent in country radio - counted him as a genuine friend.

Rivers died after going to sleep March 19 in Chicago, where he worked the last year of his life as operations manager at WUSN-FM. According to his mother, The cause of death was bronchial asthma, a chronic condition he battled much of his life.

He started working the 7 p.m. to midnight shift at Tampa's WQYK-FM . By 1990, at just 24, he had moved up to program director, launching WQYK's era of ratings dominance and eventual recognition by the CMA as the nation's top country station.

In 2005...Morris Blum died from cancer at age 95. Blum started WANN-AM in 1947 in Annapolis, Maryland and pioneered the idea of black programming, playing gospel and rhythm and blues.

Morris Blum
Blum served in the merchant marine as a radio operator aboard a tanker and later in radio intelligence for the FCC during WWII, according to his son.

"When my father returned home, he witnessed a lot of racism and recognized the barriers many in the Annapolis community faced. He loved nothing more than having guests in the air studio who had never spoken their mind freely before. This was an amazing thing for African-Americans, too."

Carl Snowden, a civil rights activist and former Annapolis City councilman, told the Baltimore Sun that Blum "spent the better part of his life fighting against bigotry. He averted a catastrophe in Annapolis at the time of Dr. Martin Luther King's death in 1968. He opened the station and allowed the African-American community to come of the radio and voice its concern. There were uplifting comments that allayed fear here."

In 2006... Bill Beutel, ABC Radio & TV news anchor died at age 75.

His first radio job was in Cleveland before moving to CBS Radio in New York City in 1957.  Beutel moved to ABC on October 22, 1962 as a reporter with ABC News and as anchor at the network's New York flagship, WABC-TV.

In 2012…Film critic/entertainment journalist (Chicago Daily-News, WMAQ-TV)/former radio disc jockey (WIND-Chicago, WCKY-Cincinnati)/ newsman Norman Mark died of multiple myeloma at the age of 72.

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