Monday, March 11, 2019

March 11 Radio History

➦In 1903... Lawrence Welk born in Strasburg, ND (Died May 17, 1992).  He was an American musician, accordionist, bandleader, and television impresario, who hosted the television program The Lawrence Welk Show from 1951 to 1982. His style came to be known to his large audience of radio, television, and live-performance fans (and critics) as "champagne music"

During the 1920s, he performed with various bands before forming an orchestra. He led big bands in North Dakota and eastern South Dakota, including the Hotsy Totsy Boys and the Honolulu Fruit Gum Orchestra. His band was also the station band for the popular radio programming WNAX in Yankton, South Dakota.

When he settled in for 10 years at Chicago’s Aragon Ballroom, his dance remotes developed a national radio following. In 1951 Welk began weekly appearances on KTLA Los Angeles, which led to an ABC television show beginning in 1955. His show was near the top of the ratings throughout the 1950’s and ’60s.

His big hit was the 1961 million seller, Calcutta.

➦In 1969...After several failed auditions for Motown Records, Berry Gordy Jr. signed The Jackson Five to a contract.  Gordy sent them to Hollywood in July, hiring Suzanne de Passe to become their mentor.

Starting in August, the Jackson Five performed as the opening act for the Supremes, whose lead singer Diana Ross was planning to leave for a solo career at the end of the year. The group then recorded their first single "I Want You Back", written by the Corporation which consisted of Freddie Perren, Deke Richards, and Alphonzo Mizell with Gordy as a fourth partner. In October, their first single for Motown was released and the group promoted it while performing at the Hollywood Palace with Ross hosting. In December, the brothers made their first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show, and their debut album Diana Ross Presents the Jackson 5 was released that same month

➦In 2009...WXRK 92.3 FM NYC changed to Top40.

At 5PM on March 11, 2009, WXRK changed to a Contemporary Hit Radio format known as "92.3 Now FM". The last song played on K-Rock was "Right Now" by Van Halen. It was followed with the sound of a ticking clock, an announcement that K-Rock was moving to 92.3 FM HD2, and a montage of bumpers from stations such as WNBC, WABC, WMCA, WXLO, WQHT, and WHTZ, with a promotion saying in the following minutes, "it will be now".

An introductory montage was then played, followed by the launch of "Now" with the commitment to play "10,000 songs in a row, with zero minutes of commercials", beginning with "Boom Boom Pow" by The Black Eyed Peas.  It has been speculated in online forums and trade journals that CBS Radio will continue to unfold or tweak towards similar Top 40 radio stations in other major markets in the coming months leaning towards younger listeners. The station ended the "10,000 Songs in a Row" promotion in early April 2009.

WXRK/WNOW had only held a 2 share trailing Hertiage Top40 WHTZ. In addition, WXRK/WNOW has had a constant turnover of program directors and airstaff, including the sudden releasing of all the then-current airstaff (with the exception of midday host Niko and evening host Toro) on May 21st, 2014, as rumors of a complete rehauling of 92.3's format abounded. The following day at 2 PM, after stunting by giving away $1,000 to callers every 9 minutes for 2 hours, WNOW-FM relaunched as 92.3 AMP Radio, launching with commercial-free weekends until Labor Day weekend.

The final song on "Now" was "Lose Yourself" by Eminem, while the first song on "AMP" was "Summer" by Calvin Harris. On June 23, 2014, WNOW-FM changed its call letters to WBMP to match the "AMP" branding.

On February 2, 2017, CBS Radio announced it would merge with Entercom. The merger was approved on November 9, 2017, and was completed on November 17. On that day, at 10 a.m., after playing "Too Good at Goodbyes" by Sam Smith and "Encore" by Brooklyn native Jay-Z, WBMP flipped back to alternative as Alt 92.3, launching with "My Hero" by the Foo Fighters.

The switch marked the return of the format to the market for the first time since 2012, when WRXP switched to a simulcast of WFAN as WFAN-FM after its sale to CBS. On June 12, 2018, the call letters were changed to WNYL to match their format.

➦In 2011...Danny Stiles died at age 87 (Born - December 2, 1923).  He was a radio personality at WNYC, WNSW, WJDM and WPAT in the New York City market. He worked on the radio for 63 years in the New York City area, up to the time of his death.

Stiles's first radio job was at WHBI in Newark on December 2, 1947, buying the air time for $65 a week.  His career took him to WHOL in Allentown, Pennsylvania, and stations in New Jersey before returning to Newark on WNJR (AM) as the "Kat Man." At WNJR, Danny met Robert Smith, a young Brooklyn native working as a gofer, who would later move to the border blaster XERB-AM and broadcast as Wolfman Jack.

Stiles, who among other alliterative monikers called himself The Vicar of Vintage Vinyl, had a loyal fan following and a distinctive radio presence.  At the end of his life, Danny was being heard on four stations in Metro New York, on WRCA 1330 AM, serving the Boston area, and was streaming 24 hours a day on the Internet. The broadcast material came largely from his personal collection of over 250,000 albums, many in their original 78 rpm format.

After his death, Stiles continued to be heard on the airwaves, with vintage shows re-aired Saturday nights at 8 PM Eastern time on WNYC 820 AM, until its final broadcast on January 3, 2015. His website still offers a stream of archived shows.

➦In 2015...Donald E. "Don" Weeks died at age 76 (Born -November 23, 1938). He was the longtime host of the WGY Morning News on news and talk radio station WGY in Schenectady, New York. Prior to working for WGY, Weeks was a weatherman for WAST-TV (now NBC affiliate WNYT in Albany) and a DJ for Top 40 station WTRY, now sports station WOFX.

Weeks joined WGY as a morning host in 1980, and won numerous accolades, including the NAB Marconi Award for Medium Market Personality of the Year in 2005. Weeks was also inducted into the New York State Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame in 2009.

Known as "Uncle Don" to two generations of WGY listeners, he brought an avuncular presence and a folksy style to a variety format. His conversation with on-air sidekicks meandered across news items, weather updates, school closings and zany comedy bits. Fans found his homespun humor as welcome as a freshly brewed cup of coffee early in the morning.

Weeks retired in 2010 after 30 years on WGY and his 50-year broadcast career included stints as a TV weatherman and in marketing and copywriting.

"He was the most well-known radio personality in the Capital Region and his storied career was known on a national level, too," said David Donovan, president of the New York State Broadcasters Association, which inducted Weeks into its Hall of Fame.

Weeks wanted to be on the radio since he was a young boy, his daughter said. "He used to pretend he was a radio host when he was really little. It was his dream job," she said. His single-minded drive earned him his first job at WSNY of Schenectady just out of high school and he later was hired as a Top 40-format disc jockey on WTRY.

He moved to TV in 1965 and earned a following on WNYT Ch. 13 as a weatherman who used his cartoon drawing skills to create an endearing character known as "Wally Weather." He was a talented artist who also worked as art director at WRGB and as a copywriter for an Albany ad agency. He moonlighted on WABY before joining the morning show at WGY in 1980.

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