Saturday, March 3, 2018

March 3 Radio History

➦In 1847...Alexander Graham Bell, inventor of the telephone, was born. He died Aug. 2, 1922 at 75.

➦In 1885...American Telephone and Telegraph (AT&T) was incorporated

➦In 1922...WWJ-AM, Detroit, Michigan began broadcasting.

WWJ first signed on the air on August 20, 1920 under the call sign 8MK, and was founded by The Detroit News; the mixed letter/number calls were assigned to the station by the United States Department of Commerce Bureau of Navigation, the government bureau responsible for radio regulation at the time. The 8 in the call sign referred to its location in the 8th Radio Inspection District, while the M in the call sign identified that the station operated under an amateur license. It is not clear why the Detroit News applied for an amateur license instead of an experimental license. As an amateur station, it broadcast at 200 meters (the equivalent of 1500 AM).

8MK was initially licensed to Michael DeLisle Lyons, a teenager, and radio pioneer. He assembled the station in the Detroit News Building but the Scripps family asked him to register the station in his name, because they were worried this new technology might only be a fad, and wanted to keep some distance.

The Scripps family were also worried radio might replace newspapers if the medium caught on, so the family financially supported Michael. In fact, most early radio stations were built, for the same reason, by families who owned newspapers – out of concern that radio would put them out of business, on the basis that newspaper readers would find it more timelier to tune to listen to the headlines on radio at any given time than wait to read them in a daily newspaper the next day.

On October 13, 1921, the station was granted a limited commercial license and was assigned the call letters WBL. With the new license, the station began broadcasting at 360 meters (833 AM), with weather reports and other government reports broadcast at 485 meters (619 AM).

On March 3, 1922, for reasons that are not known, the call letters, 'WWJ, were assigned to the station. Some believe the new call letters are an abbreviation for stockholders William and John Scripps, but on page 82 of a book published by the Detroit News in 1922, WWJ-The Detroit News, it stated that "WWJ is not the initials of any name. It is a symbol. It was issued to the Detroit News by the government in connection with the licensing of this broadcasting plant."

Ty Tyson was the original “voice” of the Detroit Tigers was 39 years old that first radio summer of 1927.

Today Newsradio WWJ 950 AM is owned by CBS Radio.

➦In 1925...KFWB Los Angeles signed-on.

The station was launched by Sam Warner, a co-founder of Warner Brothers. The station launched the careers of such stars as Ronald Reagan and Bing Crosby. The station was the first to broadcast the annual Rose Parade in Pasadena, California.

Although some think its call letters stand for Keep Filming Warner Brothers or (K)-Four Warner Brothers, actually the callsign was sequentially issued by the Department of Commerce, predecessor to the FCC (March 1925) at the same time as KFWA in Ogden, Utah (Feb 1925) and KFWC for San Bernardino (also Feb 1925).

On February 8, 1937, KFWB opened a new facility on the south end of the Warner Brothers lot. It included six large studios, one of which was a 500-seat theater, and a "multi-manual pipe organ, built especially for broadcasting."

In 1946, KFWB imported two disc jockeys from New York City: Maurice Hart of WNEW, whose drive-time show Start the Day Right was described as "Words and Music Straight from the Hart," and Martin Block, who coined the phrase "Make-Believe Ballroom," which was later used by Al Jarvis when Block returned to New York. In those days, disc jockeys selected their own music, either from KFWB's extensive record library, or new songs brought to them by "song pluggers." Old and new, vocal and instrumental were mixed together to the disc jockey's choice.

KFWB was sold to its long-time general manager, Harry Maizlish, in 1950, and soon after moved off the Warner Brothers lot to join Maizlish's FM station, KFMV, on Hollywood Boulevard.

In 1958, the original "Seven Swingin’ Gentlemen" took Rock and Roll into its first major market, at KFWB.

Also in 1958, under new owners Crowell-Collier Broadcasting, program director Chuck Blore transformed the station into a Top 40 format called Channel 98 Color Radio. The station became one of the most highly listened to stations in the Southland and in the nation. The air staff during the glory days included Bill Ballance, B. Mitchell Reed, Bruce Hayes, Al Jarvis, Joe Yocam, Elliot Field, Ted Quillin. and Gene Weed. Their staff of highly respected newscasters included Cleve Herrmann, Charles Arlington, John Babcock, Beach Rogers, Mike Henry, Hal Goodwin, Al Wiman, Bill Angel, J. Paul Huddleston and Jackson King. But times changed, and in the mid-60's, KFWB was overtaken by rival KRLA.

Then KRLA was put in second place by the launch of Boss Radio at 93/KHJ, and this relegated KFWB to the position of the third-place pop music station in the L.A. market.

KFWB was later purchased by Westinghouse in 1966. On March 11, 1968, the station was relaunched as an all news radio station. The station promoted itself with its slogan, "You give us 22 minutes, we'll give you the world," as first used by New York Westinghouse station WINS, although the station's format used a 30 minute news cycle.

Until spun off into a trust, KFWB was owned by CBS Radio, a subsidiary of CBS Corporation, formerly known as Westinghouse, which also owns KNX, the only all-news station in Los Angeles. KFWB and KNX famously feuded as all-news rivals for years, both on radio and in television advertising. Like its former sister stations (and fellow all-news stations) WINS in New York and KYW in Philadelphia, KFWB had a running Teletype sound effect in the background during regular newscasts.

On Sept. 22, 2014, KFWB became "The Beast 980", an all-sports format...and on March 1 2016, The Beast ended operations as an all-sports station after the station’s asset trust sold the business to Universal Media Access KFWB-AM LLC headed by Charles W. Banta of Buffalo NY. for $8M.

Universal Media Access launched a South Asian format branding as “Desi 980“, on March 1, 2016.

➦In 1945...mystery fans remember this day when they gathered around the radio set to listen to the Mutual Broadcasting System as Superman encountered Batman and Robin for the first time. POW! ZING! BONK!

➦In 1952...“Whispering Streets” debuted on ABC radio, remaining on the air until Thanksgiving week, 1960. The end of that show brought down the curtain on what is called “the last day of the radio soap opera” (November 25, 1960).

Whispering Streets was a romantic soap-opera drama old time radio serial with a special twist.  The stories are told in a somewhat serial format with the next week's story using a minor character's point of view.  It is a highly unusual format and quite enjoyable, especially trying to guess which minor character will be the major character in the next week.

Whispering Streets had multiple well-known hostesses/narrators throughout the show's run including Bette Davis, Cathy Lewis, Hope Winslow, Ann Seymour, Gertrude Warner.  The most dramatic narrator of the show's run is Bette Davis who begins each show with a "Hell-low" and ends with "Goohdd-bye."

➦In 1956...Elvis‘ first single for RCA Victor “Heartbreak Hotel,” entered the Billboard top 100 at #68.  Just weeks later it would be #1 for almost two months, becoming the best-selling single of the year.

➦In 1993...the Howard Stern radio show debuted in Boston on WBCN-FM.

Jack Kelk, Ezra Stone of 'The Aldrich Family'
➦In 1994...the star of The Aldrich Family for most of its 14 year run on radio, Ezra Stone(who played Henry Aldrich), was killed in a New Jersey automobile crash at age 76.

➦In 1997...the Howard Stern Radio Show debuted on WRCQ-FM in Fayetteville, North Carolina.

➦In 2008...The Beatles’ engineer Norman Smith died at the age of 85. Smith who worked on every studio recording the band made between 1962 and 1965, was nicknamed “Normal Norman” by John Lennon.

➦In 2014...Scott Shannon launched "The Big Show" mornings on NYC's Classic Hits WCBS 101.1 FM.

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