Tuesday, December 17, 2019

December 17 Radio History

Katherine Raht, House Jameson
➦In 1902...actor House Jameson was born in Austin, Texas.

Success on Broadway led to a starring role in CBS Radio Network's 'Renfrew of the Mounted', and the part for which he is beloved, playing father over the 14 year run of NBC Radio’s 'The Aldrich Family'.  When the family comedy went to TV in 1949 he was the only radio cast member to move with it.  His many guest appearances on TV through the 1960’s were highlighted by recurring roles on the soaps The Edge of Night and Another World.

He died April 23 1971 at age 68.

➦In 1926...WCBS NYC signed-on (as WABC).

The station's history traces back to 1924, when Alfred H. Grebe started WAHG at 920 AM. WAHG was a pioneering station in New York, and was one of the first commercial radio stations to broadcast from remote locations including horse races and yachting events. Two years later, in 1926, Alfred Grebe changed the station's call sign to WABC (for his Atlantic Broadcasting Company) after concluding a business arrangement with the Ashland Battery Company (which had owned the call sign for a station in Asheville, NC) and moved his studios to West 57th Street, which would not be the last time the station would operate from 57th Street.

In 1928, General Order 40 moved the station's frequency to 970 AM, and the station became a part-time affiliate of the Columbia Broadcasting System, which was looking for a full-time radio presence in New York City (CBS's first flagship was WOR). After a short time broadcasting CBS programming three days a week, CBS president William S. Paley purchased WABC and it became a subsidiary of CBS.

Soon after this purchase the station moved to a new frequency, this time to 860 AM, and would eventually increase its transmitting power from 5,000 to its present 50,000 watts. The station also moved its studios into the CBS headquarters at 485 Madison Avenue (on the corner of 52nd Street).

The station, still operating as WABC, featured a mix of local interest programming, ethnic content and music programs from CBS's national feed.

As time went by, WABC turned more and more to the national programming provided by CBS and its affiliates, and its broadcast day was influenced by CBS's growing interest in news programming.

In 1939, the broadcasting operations were moved across 52nd Street from the headquarters to the new CBS Studio Building. In 1941, WABC moved to the frequency it currently occupies, 880 AM, and changed its call letters to WCBS on November 2, 1946, to identify more closely with its parent network, the Columbia Broadcasting System or CBS, and avoid possible confusion with the rival network of the American Broadcasting Company (ABC), which had begun operation in 1943.

As a result, this station had no relation to the longtime ABC radio flagship station on 770 AM that began in 1921 as WJZ, and has operated as WABC since 1953.

➦In 1926...KYA San Francisco, California was licensed.  It signed-on 12/18/1926.

KYA went on the air on December 18, 1926, with 500 watts on 970 kHz from the Clift Hotel in San Francisco. The owners were Vincent I. Kraft of Seattle, who had started KJR-AM  and Frederick C. Clift of San Francisco. It got a license for 1000 watts on 850 kHz in November 1927. Its studios moved to the Warfield Theatre Building at 988 Market Street, but the transmitter stayed at the Clift Hotel.

In November 1928 moved to 1230 kHz as part of a nationwide frequency reshuffling, and joined the Columbia Broadcasting System. The station licensee went bankrupt in August, and KYA was transferred to a new corporation by the end of 1929. Having moved to various locations around the radio dial during the chaotic early days of broadcasting, KYA was assigned permanently to 1260 kHz as a result of NARBA in 1941.

"The Boss of the Bay" - KYA as a Top 40 Rock Station

In the mid-1950s, KYA made its mark as a Top40 station. KYA was for many years the leading Top 40 music radio station in the Bay Area, until the stronger-signalled KFRC switched to the format in 1966.

From time to time, up through 1970, KYA would again beat KFRC in the Arbitron ratings, but KYA's dominance was truly over after the mid-60's.  Former KYA morning man and legendary radio programmer Bill Drake went on to consult KFRC to its ratings success; it was at KYA that Drake first made his mark as program director. KYA was also instrumental in the careers of future sportscaster Johnny Holliday, audio and electronics store pitchman Tom Campbell, Hall of Fame disc jockey and underground radio pioneer Tom Donahue (a/k/a "Big Daddy"), and Tommy Saunders, who retired from KYA's successor, KOIT, in 2006.

Other notable disc jockeys who plied their trade on KYA's airwaves in the 1960s included Les Crane, (air name Johnny Raven), Casey Kasem, Jim Stagg, Bobby Mitchell, Norman Davis, "Emperor" Gene Nelson, Peter Tripp, Tony Bigg, Russ "The Moose" Syracuse, Chris Edwards, Ed Hider, Johnny Holliday, Bill Holley (a cousin of Buddy Holly), Bwana Johnny, and Gary Shaffer. The 1970's saw a staff that included Christopher Cain, Roger W. Morgan, Jay Stone, Scott Thomas, Steve Jordan, Jimmy "Jet" Powers, Gary Mora, and Michael Rivers.

In December 1979, KYA AM & FM flipped to a light album rock format under the title "Easy Rock 93." Within months the AM station would flip again, this time to an oldies format while the FM station would continue the light album rock format as KLHT (K-LITE). Morgan, Mora, and Syracuse would be brought back to revive the station from its heyday. This format would hold until the station was sold in 1983.

KYA's dominance was basically over by the late 1960s when FM stations began playing rock 'n' roll and gained larger audiences.

In mid-2007, Bonneville reached an agreement to sell the 1260 AM frequency to IHR Educational Broadcasting. IHR took over station operations in December of that year under a time-brokerage agreement, and officially closed on the station on February 1, 2008.

In 2007, KOIT-AM, the former 1260/KYA, became KSFB, a Catholic-oriented station owned by Immaculate Heart Radio. Ironically, KYA's chief Top 40 rival in the 1960s and 1970s, KFRC (610 AM), is now the Christian-oriented KEAR (the KFRC call letters would return in January 2009, this time at 1550 AM replacing KYCY and the station is owned by CBS Radio).

On December 10, 2007, a religious format came to 1260 AM; the call sign was changed to KSFB. KSFB is part of one of the largest Catholic radio network in America, and its daily broadcasts include daily mass and rosary.

➦In 1936...ventriloquist Edgar Bergen kidded around with his little wooden pal, Charlie McCarthy, for the first time on network radio. The ventriloquist act debuted on “The Rudy Vallee Royal Gelatin Hour” on NBC. Soon, Bergen became one of radio’s hottest properties, and was regarded as Vallee’s greatest talent discovery.

➦In 1955...singer/songwriter Carl Perkins wrote “Blue Suede Shoes”. Within 48 hours he had recorded it at Sun Records in Memphis. The track quickly became one of the first to be popular simultaneously on rock, country and rhythm & blues charts.

➦In 1963...Carroll James Jr. became the first American Disc-Jockey to air a Beatles record on radio station WWDC in Washington, DC. That was two months before the Beatles were on the “Ed Sullivan Show.” Carroll played ‘I Want To Hold Your Hand’, which he’d obtained from his stewardess girlfriend, who brought the single back from the UK.

Carroll James
James won a place in Beatles mythology as the first disk jockey to play the group's records on American radio. But D. L. MacLaughlan, a Beatles researcher at UCLA, has found playlists and top-40 charts from radio stations around the country that predate Mr. James's broadcast by as much as 10 months. The earliest was WLS in Chicago, which began playing ''Please Please Me'' in February 1963. Nevertheless, the Beatles and Capitol considered Mr. James's advocacy helpful, and invited him to be the master of ceremonies at the group's first American concert, at the Washington Coliseum.

James died from cancer in 1997.

➦In 1976...Atlanta television station WTCG-TV, owned by Ted Turner, changed its call letters to WTBS, and was uplinked via satellite, to become the first commercial TV station to cover the entire U.S.   “Superstation” WTBS debuted on four cable systems, available initially in just 24,000 homes.

➦In 1986...Wayne “Danke Schoen” Newton won a $19.2 million defamation judgment against NBC News, which had aired erroneous reports linking Newton to mob figures, reports later proven to be false.

➦In 1987...WPLJ 95.5 FM NYC calls were changed to WWPR ("World Wide Power Radio") and became "Power 95." Rival WHTZ Z100 joked that the "PR" in the calls stood for "Puerto Rican" and that the station planned to flip to a Spanish-language format. The WPLJ call-sign returned the following year, on December 21, 1988, when research indicated that listeners still identified the station as WPLJ and the branding as "Power 95" was dropped.

Richard C. Hottelet 1944
➦In 2014…Richard C. Hottelett, who covered the D-Day invasion of Normandy and the Battle of the Bulge for CBS radio, and was the last survivor of “Murrow Boys,” the network’s pioneering World War II radio newsmen who worked under Edward R. Murrow, died at age 97.

➦In 2016…Bob Coburn, Los Angeles radio personality and host of the nationally syndicated show Rockline, lost his battle with lung cancer at age 68.

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