➦In 1818...Germany's Franz Gruber composes a melody to words written by Austrian priest Josef Mohr, creating the standard "Silent Night." The song is debuted tonight at Midnight Mass in Gruber's hometown of Obendorf.
In the late 1890s, reports began to appear about the success Guglielmo Marconi was having in developing a practical radio transmitting and receiving system. Fessenden began limited radio experimentation, and soon came to the conclusion that he could develop a far more efficient system than the spark-gap transmitter and coherer-receiver combination which had been championed by Oliver Lodge and Marconi.
|Wireless Station at Brant Rock, MA|
A few days later, two additional demonstrations took place, which may have been the first audio radio broadcasts of entertainment and music ever made to a general audience. (Beginning in 1904, the U.S. Navy had broadcast daily time signals and weather reports, but these employed spark transmitters, transmitting in Morse code).
On the evening of December 24, 1906 (Christmas Eve), Fessenden used the alternator-transmitter to send out a short program from Brant Rock. It included a phonograph record of Ombra mai fu (Largo) by George Frideric Handel, followed by Fessenden himself playing on the violin Adolphe Adam's carol O Holy Night, singing Gounod's Adore and be Still, and finishing with reading a passage from the Bible: 'Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to men of good will' (Gospel of Luke 2:14).
He petitioned his listeners to write in about the quality of the broadcast as well as their location when they heard it. Surprisingly, his broadcast was heard several hundred miles away; however, accompanying the broadcast was a disturbing noise. This noise was due to irregularities in the spark gap transmitter he used.
➦In 1928...the first broadcast of “The Voice of Firestone” was heard on the NBC Blue Radio Network, Monday night at 8:30. “The Voice of Firestone”became a hallmark in radio broadcasting, keeping its same night and sponsor for its entire 27 year run. Beginning September 5, 1949, the program of classical and semiclassical music was simulcast on television.
➦In 1944..."The Andrews Sisters’ Eight-To-The-Bar-Ranch" radio program debuted on ABC Radio.
➦In 1948...Perry Como made his television debut when NBC televised the Chesterfield Supper Club 15-minute radio program.
➦In 1988....Bulgaria stopped jamming "Radio Free Europe" after more than 30 years.
➦In 2006…Broadcasting executive Frank Stanton, the president of CBS from 1946 to 1971, died at the age of 98.
|Frank Stanton 1939|
Stanton was revered both as a spokesman for the broadcast industry before Congress, and for his passionate support of broadcast journalism and journalists. Former CBS News President Richard S. Salant – a widely respected news chief and an appointee of Stanton's – praised Stanton as a corporate mentor and statesman.
During the period of McCarthyism, Stanton created an office at CBS to review the political leanings of employees. Although right-wing journalists considered CBS left-leaning, branding it "the Red Network", CBS maintained a questionnaire inquiring about journalists' political affiliations. At Stanton's direction, employees were required to take an oath of loyalty to the US government. Stanton and Paley "found it expedient to hire only those who were politically neutral", not wishing to take a position against the FCC and Congress, nor to jeopardize profit by "tak[ing] a stand against the vigilantes".
|Stanton, Time Cover 12/4/1950|
Stanton played a role in the infamous controversy involving Arthur Godfrey, CBS's top money-earner in the early 1950s. Godfrey insisted that the cast members of two of his three CBS shows, a group of singers known as the "Little Godfreys," refrain from hiring managers. When one singer, Julius LaRosa, hired a manager following a minor dispute with Godfrey, the star consulted with Stanton, who suggested that he fire the popular LaRosa, then a rising star, on the air – just as he'd hired him on the air in 1951. Godfrey did so on October 19, 1953, without informing LaRosa before the airing. The move caused an enormous backlash against Godfrey. Stanton later told Godfrey biographer Arthur Singer that "Maybe (the recommendation) was a mistake."
➦In 2009...Disc jockey (WABC-New York, WFIL-Philadelphia, KBTR-Denver, WRIT-Milwaukee, WIL-St. Louis)/TV sports highlights show host (The George Michael Sports Machine) George Michael died of B-cell chronic lymphocytic leukemia at 70.
His first radio job outside of his hometown was in 1962 at WRIT in Milwaukee, where he worked the 6-to-10 pm shift until he was reassigned to 5-to-9 am morning drive time in early 1964. His next stop was at KBTR in Denver later in 1964, working under the name "King" George Michael for the first time. He earned the nickname due to his success in "ruling" evening radio.
He became one of the original Boss Jocks at WFIL in Philadelphia when its new Top 40 rock and roll format debuted on September 18, 1966. He served as music director and evening deejay for the next eight years. WFIL, which was popularly known as "Famous 56" after the transition, ended WIBG's listener ratings dominance and became the city's most popular station by the summer of 1967.
Michael was the first Philadelphia rock and roll radio personality to read the scores of local high school football and basketball games on the air. He also helped to start the career of Howard Eskin by hiring him to be his engineer. Decades later, Eskin would be a contributor to The George Michael Sports Machine. On George's last WFIL show (on September 6, 1974) he played "When Will I See You Again" by the Three Degrees for the first time ever on any radio station. The playing of this on his show broke the song into the mainstream, and within two months was a huge international hit, reaching number one in the U.K., and number two in the United States. George was personal friends with the owners of Philadelphia International Records and the song's writers Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff. The aircheck of this can be heard on WFIL's tribute site www.famous56.com, where he says,"I don't know if this song will be a hit".
His first experience in sports broadcasting also came in 1974 when he was a television announcer for the Baltimore Orioles on WJZ-TV. He declined an offer to work for the ballclub full-time in order to accept the WABC position. As part of the deal to bring him to New York, Michael also worked for WABC-TV as the weekend sports anchor and a color commentator on New York Islanders telecasts for several seasons, paired mainly with Tim Ryan. He served as an occasional substitute on ABC American Contemporary Network's Speaking of Sports show whenever Howard Cosell, the primary commentator, was on vacation or assignment.
➦In 2011...Talk personality Lynn Samuels WBAI, WABC NYC died from a heart attack at age 69.
Samuels was heard on Talkradio WABC from 1987 until 1992, 1993 until 1997, and 1997 until 2002, including two breaks in which she was fired and then rehired. Her third and final dismissal in 2002 was allegedly due to budget cuts.
Samuels was also a call-screener for Matt Drudge. In 2002, she joined WLIE for a brief time before being hired by Sirius in 2003.
➦In 2017...The radio and advertising community was shocked to learn the passing of creative genius Dick Orkin. In 1967, Orkin moved to Top40 WCFL 1000 AM Chicago and created Chickenman, which chronicled the exploits of a crime-fighting “white-winged warrior” and his secret identity as mild-mannered shoe salesman Benton Harbor.
Chickenman’s 250-plus episodes have been syndicated around the world and can still be heard on Internet radio, making it the longest-running radio serial of all time. At WCFL, Orkin also produced more than 300 episodes of another popular serial, The Secret Adventures of the Tooth Fairy.Inspired by the commercial parodies on Stan Freberg and Bob & Ray’s radio shows.