Wednesday, July 24, 2019

July 24 Radio History

Raymond Edward Johnson
➦In 1911...Raymond Edward Johnson born in Kenosha, WI (Died at age 90 – August 15, 2001). He was a radio and stage actor best remembered for his work on Inner Sanctum Mysteries.

Johnson began his career in Chicago, some of his earliest work including a regular role on Edgar A. Guest's dramatic serial Welcome Valley (1932–1937) as Bill Sutter, and was featured on The National Farm and Home Hour in dramatic sketches as the Forest Ranger (a role also played by Don Ameche).

While in Chicago, Johnson began working with writer/director Arch Oboler, with roles on his Lights Out series. When both Oboler and Johnson relocated to New York City, the actor was featured in many episodes of Arch Oboler's Plays, notably as the title role in "The Ugliest Man in the World" (repeated five times) and as Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky in "This Lonely Heart" both from 1939.

While in New York, Johnson landed his most famous role when Himan Brown hired him for Inner Sanctum. From the first broadcast in 1941, Johnson was heard as the series host/narrator, introducing himself as "Your host, Raymond." The "Raymond" character became known for his chilling introductions and morbid puns, and his typical closing, an elongated and ironic "Pleasant dreaaaams, hmmmmmmm?" Johnson departed the series in 1945, when he joined the Army; although replaced for the remainder of the run by Paul McGrath as host, Johnson took the "Raymond" name with him. Johnson later hosted the radio version of the science fiction series Tales of Tomorrow.

He also became a staple on many soap operas, playing romantic leads on Big Sister,  The Guiding Light, Brave Tomorrow and Valiant Lady.

➦In 1933...the first broadcast of “The Romance of Helen Trent” was heard on midwest regional radio before becoming a CBS network staple three months later. The radio soap opera aired on CBS from October 30, 1933 to June 24, 1960 for a total of 7,222 episodes. The show was created by Frank and Anne Hummert, who were among the most prolific producers during the radio soap era.  Helen Trent was played by just two actresses over the years …Virginia Clark (for 11 years) and Julie Stevens (for 16 years).

➦In 1933...during his fourth Fireside Chat, U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt showed why the homey, warm, comfortable discussion was, indeed, a fireside chat. The President stopped the discussion on the air (remember folks, this was radio) and asked for a glass of water, which he then sipped. The fireside chats were a series of evening radio addresses given by U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt between 1933 and 1944. Roosevelt spoke with familiarity to millions of Americans about the promulgation of the Emergency Banking Act in response to the banking crisis, the recession, New Deal initiatives, and the course of World War II.

On radio, he was able to quell rumors and explain his policies. His tone and demeanor communicated self-assurance during times of despair and uncertainty. Roosevelt was regarded as an effective communicator on radio, and the fireside chats kept him in high public regard throughout his presidency.

➦In 1943...the radio program Foreign Assignment, was first heard.  It was broadcast on the Mutual Broadcasting System from July 24, 1943, to January 8, 1944.

With World War II as background, Foreign Assignment related the activities of journalist Barry Brian and his assistant, Carol Manning, who were stationed in France, working for the American Press (a fictitious entity). The program's introduction came with the sound of a teletype printer in the background as the announcer intoned, "... that machine is beating out a story written especially for you; a story unfolded against the screen of actual events that are making the news."   Journalism, however, was a cover, for Brian and Manning were really spies who worked against the Gestapo, leading the way for other radio series in which spies posed as reporters.

➦In 1978...WKTU 92.3 FM NYC changed to disco.

92.3 FM was originally the home of WMCA-FM. But since FM radio was a money-loser in the early days, WMCA sold the station and by 1951 it had become WHOM-FM, owned by Progress Broadcasting Corporation. By the summer of 1975, it experimented with a mellow-rock format and featured Murray the K, Stan Martin, Scott McClennan, Larry Miller and Steve White during the week and with Randy Place, Joe Guarisco, Johnny Michaels and Bruce Fox on weekends. Burkhart-Abrams were later hired as consultants and brought in a tightly formatted AOR that was very short-lived.

But 92.3 hit the big time  when it became a Disco station and was probably one of the major reasons for the demise of "music radio" WABC. The format originally featured such jocks as Paul Robinson, David Mallow, Kenn Hayes, Joe Guarisco and Paco Navarro and eventually included Rosko in the night slot, Maria Milito evenings and Dan Ingram even did an afternoon shift there during 1985, just before another format change.

In July of 1985, WKTU changed call letters to WXRK and became an AOR station with Jay Thomas in mornings, but Howard Stern took over in February of 1986 and Meg Griffin joined around that time as well. By the Fall of 1989, Pete Fornatale followed Stern and the station also featured Flo & Eddie (of Turtles fame) and Alison Steele in overnights. Vin Scelsa also had a weekend show. By late 1991, Dave Herman replaced Flo & Eddie and John Zacherley joined in late '92. But in January of 1996, the station switched to an alternative rock format and hired all new jocks. In 2006, it became "Free FM-WFNY" before returning to the WXRK call letters in 2007 with a CHR format. In late 2012, it became NOW-FM and by 2015 it had become WBMP-FM "Amp Radio".  Today, 92.3 is owned and operated by Entercom Communications, using the call letters wNYL-FM.  It airs an Alternative music format. (H/T to NY Radio Archive)

➦In 1982... KHJ (LA) & KFRC (San Francisco) become 2nd & 3rd stereo AM stations

➦In 2005... Personality Joe O'Brien, who was one of the WMCA Good Guys on WMCA Radio in New York City, was killed at age 90 in a car crash in the Berkshire Hills, NY.

O'Brien began his career in 1935 when he got his first radio job with WMCA-AM. The Good Guys had the same clean-cut hairstyles, wore matching suits and worked together at record hops and personal appearances. They also sang as a group and released an album. During that time, Mr. O'Brien was the No. 1 morning man in New York City.

In 1970 he left for WNBC-AM, where he handled morning duties until he was replaced by Don Imus in 1972.

O'Brien then went to WHUD in Peekskill, N.Y. He retired in 1986, but continued to do weekend specials for WHUD until 2000.

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