Wednesday, January 2, 2019

January 2 Radio History

Bernadine Flynn
➦In actress Bernardine Flynn was born in Wisconsin.

She is revered by all Vic & Sade fans for for her portrayal of Sade Gook in the unique daily domestic smilefest from its beginnings in 1932 until its final broadcast in the mid-1940’s.  She recreated the role for several TV incarnations of Vic & Sade as late as 1957.  She also had the lead role in the first US TV soap opera, Hawkins Falls, Population 6200, which ran on NBC from 1951 to 1955.

She died March 20 1977 at age 73.

➦In 1904...operatic tenor James Melton was born in Moultrie Georgia.  By the 1930’s he was starring on radio in The Ziegfield Follies of the Air and The Intimate Review, the show that introduced us to Bob Hope. By the 40’s he was featured on the Bell Telephone Hour, the Harvest of Stars, & The Texaco Star Theatre. On TV he sang 4 times on The Ed Sullivan Show, and was host of The Ford Festival. Melton died of pneumonia April 21 1961 at age 56.

Ben Grauer circa early '40s
➦In 1908...announcer Ben Grauer was born in New York City.

He began as a child actor in the 20’s, and started his more than 40 year announcing career with NBC in 1932.  He covered Olympic Games, presidential inaugurations, international events, and hosted on radio and TV the annual New Year’s Eve broadcasts live from Times Square. He emceed over half a dozen TV programs including game shows, quiz shows, concerts and news programs, before leaving NBC when he turned 65 in 1973.

Grauer suffered a heart attack & died May 31 1977 at the age of 68.

Courtesy of
➦In 1921...KDKA 1020 AM in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania broadcast the first religious program on radio. Dr. E.J. Van Etten from the Calvary Episcopal Church appeared and preached.  Two months after KDKA's first broadcast, KDKA aired the first religious service in the history of radio.

Julius LaRosa
It was a remote broadcast far from a radio studio held by Westinghouse form Pittsburgh's Calvary Episcopal Church. The junior pastor, Rev. Lewis B. Whittemore, preached. After that broadcast, KDKA soon presented a regular Sunday evening service from Calvary Episcopal Church. The senior pastor, Rev. Edwin Van Ettin, become the regular speaker. The program continued until 1962.

In 1930...singer Julius Larosa was born in Brooklyn.  Hired  in 1951 to be a member of Arthur Godfrey’s troupe of entertainers on his radio & TV shows, Larosa has the distinction of being fired on the air after he hired an agent and manager, contrary to Godfrey’s wishes.  Godfrey told the press Larosa was terminated because he “lacked humility.”  For much of the rest of his career Julius was a disk jockey at New York’s WNEW radio.  He died of natural causes May 12 2016 at age 86.

➦In 1936...Bing Crosby began a 10-year tenure as host of the NBC Radio program "Kraft Music Hall."

➦In 1944...WJZ 770 AM (later WABC) transmitter moved to Lodi, NJ.

WABC made its first broadcast as a federally-licensed commercial radio station on October 1, 1921, as WJZ, owned by the Westinghouse Electric Corporation and was originally based in Newark, New Jersey. The call letters stood for their original home state, New Jer(Z)sey.

WJZ Studio - date unknown
In July 1926, WEAF also became an RCA station and on November 15, 1926, both WJZ (then on 660 kHz) and WEAF (then on 610 kHz) were under the umbrella of the newly formed National Broadcasting Company.

On January 1, 1927, the NBC Blue Network debuted, with WJZ as the originating station. WJZ and the Blue Network presented many of America's most popular programs, such as Lowell Thomas and the News, Amos 'n' Andy, Little Orphan Annie, America's Town Meeting of the Air, and Death Valley Days. Each midday, The National Farm and Home Hour brought news and entertainment to rural listeners. Ted Malone read poetry and Milton Cross conveyed children "Coast To Coast on a Bus," as well as bringing opera lovers the Saturday matinée Metropolitan Opera radio broadcasts.

In 1942, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) ruled that no broadcaster could own more than one AM, one FM and one television station in a single market. On January 23, 1942, the FCC approved the transfer of WJZ's operating license from Radio Corporation of America to the Blue Network, Inc.  A year later, on October 12, 1943, WJZ and the NBC Blue Network were sold to Edward J. Noble, then the owner of WMCA. Technically, this spun off network was simply called "The Blue Network" for little over a year.

On June 15, 1945, "The Blue Network" was officially rechristened the American Broadcasting Company, when negotiations were completed with George B. Storer, who had owned the defunct American Broadcasting System and still owned the name.

In November 1948, WJZ and the ABC network finally got a home of their own when studios were moved to a renovated building at 7 West 66th Street. On March 1, 1953, WJZ changed its call letters to WABC, after the FCC approved ABC's merger with United Paramount Theatres, the movie theater chain owned by Paramount Pictures which, like the Blue Network, was divested under government order.  The WABC call letters were once used previously on CBS Radio's New York City outlet, before adopting their current WCBS identity in 1946.

After acquiring Channel 13 WAAM in Baltimore, Maryland in 1957, Westinghouse applied to change the calls to WJZ-TV in honor of its pioneer radio station.  The FCC granted the unusual request (perhaps because Westinghouse was highly regarded as a licensee by both the industry and the FCC at that time), and the Baltimore TV station, now owned and operated by CBS, retains the call letters to this day, along with sister radio stations WJZ 1300 AM and WJZ 105.7 FM.

William Bendix
➦In 1953...After ten years on radio starring William Bendix, and a one-year television version with Jackie Gleason as the title character, "The Life of Riley" with William Bendix began a six-season run on NBC-TV.  Life of Riley radio show aired from January 16, 1944 - June 8, 1945 on the Blue Network/ABC and aired September 8, 1945 - June 29, 1951 on NBC.

➦In 1959...the CBS Radio Network discontinued the broadcast of four soap operas: "Our Gal Sunday", "This is Nora Drake", "Backstage Wife" and "Road of Life".

Courtesy of Bob Dearborn

➦In 1981..."Night Time America," a groundbreaking five-hour music and call-in show originating in New York City, debuted on the RKO Radio Network. Hosted by Bob Dearborn, it was the first live, daily, satellite-delivered music show in radio history. Eventually,  the program was heard on 154 affiliate radio stations throughout the U.S., from Bangor to Hilo, from West Palm Beach to Fairbanks, and in major cities including Chicago, Detroit, Boston, Pittsburgh, Houston, Seattle, Denver, St. Louis, San Diego, Memphis, Cincinnati, Sacramento, Raleigh-Durham, Salt Lake City, Nashville, Buffalo, and New Orleans. (Airchecks, Click Here)

➦In 1997...the Howard Stern Radio Show premiered in Columbus, Ohio on WBZX 99.7 FM.

➦In 2004..legendary agriculture broadcaster Orion Samuelson at age 69, did his last farm report on WGN 720 AM, concluding a 43 year run. However he continued to co-host TV’s US Farm Report for another year, and has since been hosting a similar weekly show on cable’s RFD-TV.

Margot Stevenson
➦In 2011...longtime stage actress Margot Stevenson died at age 98. In 1938 she had played the female lead Margo Lane on radio’s The Shadow, opposite Orson Welles.

➦In 2007...WNEW-FM NYC adopted a soft contemporary format called "Fresh" and 7-days later changed call letters to WWFS.

The 102.7 FM frequency was first assigned in the mid-1940s as WNJR-FM from Newark, New Jersey. Intended to be a simulcasting sister to WNJR (1430 AM, now WNSW), the FM station never made it to the air despite being granted several extensions of its construction permit. WNJR gave up and turned in the FM license to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in 1953.

In 1955 the FCC awarded a new permit for 102.7 FM to a group called Fidelity Radio Corporation, based in West Paterson, New Jersey. The station was later granted the call sign WHFI, and a year later the community of license was moved back to Newark from West Paterson. Once again, the owners failed to put the station on the air.

In November 1957, the WHFI construction permit was purchased by the DuMont Broadcasting Corporation, which already owned WABD (later WNEW-TV) and earlier in the year bought WNEW radio.  In January 1958, WHFI was renamed WNEW-FM and DuMont completed its build-out, moving the license to New York City. The station finally came on the air on August 25, 1958, partially simulcasting WNEW 1130 AM with a separate popular music format.  DuMont Broadcasting, meanwhile, would change its corporate name twice within the next three years before settling on Metromedia in 1961.

WNEW-FM's early programming also included an automated middle-of-the-road format, followed quickly by a ten-month-long period (July 4, 1966, to September 1967) playing pop music—with an all-female air staff. The gimmick was unique and had not before been attempted anywhere in American radio. The lineup of disc jockeys during this stunt included Margaret Draper, Alison Steele (who stayed on to become the "Night Bird" on the AOR format), Rita Sands, Ann Clements, Arlene Kieta, Pam McKissick, and Nell Bassett. The music format, however, was a pale copy of WNEW (AM)'s adult standards format and only Steele, Sands, and Bassett had broadcast radio experience. The all-female disc jockey lineup endured for more than a year, changing in September 1967 to a mixed-gender staff.

Billboard - December 1967

On October 30, 1967, WNEW-FM adopted a progressive rock radio format, one that it became famous for and that influenced the rock listenership as well as the rock industry.

Ed Goodman - KEZK
➦In 2015…Veteran radio personality (KEZK, KRJY and KSHE-St. Louis, WIOD-Miami) Ed Goodman, who logged almost five decades on the air in St. Louis, died of cancer.

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