Wednesday, March 25, 2020

March 25 Radio History

➦In 1918...Sports personality Howard Cosell born (died at age 77 -  April 23, 1995). He  was prominent and influential on radio, television and print media from the early 1960s into the mid 1980s. Cosell was widely known for his blustery, confident personality said of himself, "Arrogant, pompous, obnoxious, vain, cruel, verbose, a showoff. There's no question that I'm all of those things."

In 1993, TV Guide named Howard Cosell The All-Time Best Sportscaster in its issue celebrating 40 years of television. In 1996, he was ranked #47 on TV Guide's 50 Greatest TV Stars of All Time

After the WW2, Cosell began practicing law in Manhattan, primarily union law. Some of his clients were actors, and some were athletes, including Willie Mays. Cosell's own hero in athletics was Jackie Robinson, who served as a personal and professional inspiration to him in his career. Cosell also represented the Little League of New York, when in 1953 an ABC Radio manager asked him to host a show on New York flagship WABC featuring Little League participants. The show marked the beginning of a relationship with WABC and ABC Radio that would last his entire broadcasting career.

Cosell hosted the Little League show for three years without pay, and then decided to leave the law field to become a full-time broadcaster. He approached Robert Pauley, President of ABC Radio, with a proposal for a weekly show. Pauley told him the network could not afford to develop untried talent, but he would be put on the air if he would get a sponsor. To Pauley's surprise, Cosell came back with a relative's shirt company as a sponsor, and "Speaking of Sports" was born.

Cosell took his "tell it like it is" approach when he teamed with the ex-Brooklyn Dodgers pitcher "Big Numba Thirteen" Ralph Branca on WABC's pre- and post-game radio shows of the New York Mets in their nascent years beginning in 1962. He pulled no punches in taking members of the hapless expansion team to task.

Otherwise on radio, Cosell did his show, Speaking of Sports, as well as sports reports and updates for affiliated radio stations around the country; he continued his radio duties even after he became prominent on television. Cosell then became a sports anchor at WABC-TV in New York, where he served in that role from 1961 to 1974. He expanded his commentary beyond sports to a radio show entitled "Speaking of Everything".

Cosell rose to prominence covering boxer Muhammad Ali, starting when he still fought under his birth name, Cassius Clay. The two seemed to have an affinity despite their different personalities, and complemented each other in broadcasts. Cosell was one of the first sportscasters to refer to the boxer as Muhammad Ali after he changed his name and supported him when he refused to be inducted into the military. Cosell was also an outspoken supporter of Olympic sprinters John Carlos and Tommie Smith after they raised their fists in a "black power" salute during their 1968 medal ceremony. In a time when many sports broadcasters avoided touching social, racial, or other controversial issues, and kept a certain level of collegiality towards the sports figures they commented on, Cosell did not, and indeed built a reputation around his catchphrase, "I'm just telling it like it is."

Cosell's style of reporting very much transformed sports broadcasting. Whereas previous sportscasters had mostly been known for color commentary and lively play-by-play, Cosell had an intellectual approach. His use of analysis and context arguably brought television sports reporting very close to the kind of in-depth reporting one expected from "hard" news reporters. At the same time, however, his distinctive staccato voice, accent, syntax, and cadence were a form of color commentary all their own.

➦In 1943...Comedian Jimmy Durante teamed with radio personality Garry Moore for The Durante-Moore Show. Durante's comic chemistry with the young, brushcut Moore brought Durante an even larger audience. The pair replaced the popular Abbott and Costello following Lou Costello’s heart attack.

"Dat's my boy dat said dat!" became an instant catchphrase. The duo became one of the nation's favorites for the rest of the decade, including a well-reviewed Armed Forces Radio Network command performance with Frank Sinatra that remains a favorite of radio collectors today.

Moore left in mid-1947, and the program returned October 1, 1947 as The Jimmy Durante Show. Durante worked in radio for three years after Moore's 1947 departure.

➦In 1958…Elvis Presley had his famous hair cut short by Army barber James Peterson. The pop icon was assigned to the Second Medium Tank Battalion of the 2nd Armored Division, the "Hell On Wheels" division once led by General George Patton, based at Fort Hood, Texas.
➦In 1968...Former KFI L-A announcer turned-actor Douglas Evans died at age 65. He was at KFI in the 30’s, and also appeared in more than 100 movies.

➦In 1971…66 WNBC NYC banned  Brewer and Shipley's hit "One Toke Over The Line" because of alleged marijuana references in the song's lyrics.

➦In 1979...Joe Montione started at 93KHJ in L-A.  Known as Banana Joe, he grew up in Pittston, PA, near Wilkes-Barre.  Joe first worked as a DJ at WILK 980 AM and at Famous 56 WFIL in Pilly.

➦In 1982…Goodman Ace died at age 83 (Born - 15 January 1899). He was a humorist, radio writer and comedian, television writer, and magazine columnist.

"Goody" (as he was known to friends) is not always the most recognizable writer/performer of his era by today's reader or listener, but his low-key, literate drollery and softly tart way of tweaking trends and pretenses made him one of the most sought after writers in radio and television during the 1930s through '60s.

Goodman and wife Jane
In 1930, Ace took on a second job reading the Sunday comics on radio station KMBC in Kansas City and hosting a Friday night film review and gossip program called Ace Goes to the Movies. An editor at the K-C Journal-Post had the idea that having an employee read the newspaper's comics on the air for children would increase circulation for the paper. Taking the job meant an extra $10 per week in one's paycheck, but none of the newsroom staff was interested. The editor, reasoning that since Ace's current assignment was covering local theater, insisted he would be the perfect man for the job. Ace suggested a second radio show, this one dealing with films, thus collecting an additional $10 per week.

One night the recorded fifteen-minute show scheduled to air after Ace's time-slot failed to feed. With an immediate need to fill fifteen minutes' more airtime and his wife having accompanied him to the station that night, Ace slipped into an impromptu chat about a bridge game the couple played the previous weekend and invited Jane to join the chat which soon enough included discussion of a local murder case in which a wife murdered her husband over an argument about bridge.

Loaded with Goodman's wry wit and Jane's knack for malaprops ("Would you care to shoot a game of bridge, dear?"), the couple's surprise improvisation provoked a response enthusiastic enough to convince KMBC to hand them a regular fifteen-minute slot, creating and performing a "domestic comedy" of their own.

At first, the show that became known as Easy Aces centered around the couple's bridge playing, according to John Dunning in On the Air: The Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio (New York: Oxford University Press, 1998): "Ace was not wild about Jane's bridge game, on the air or off, and he kept picking at her until she lost her temper and threatened to quit. The show settled into a new niche, a more universally based domestic comedy revolving around Jane's improbable situations and her impossible turns of phrase."

➦In 1998...Bernard Meltzer died (Born - May 2, 1916).  He was radio host for several decades. His advice call-in show, "What's Your Problem?," aired from 1967 until the mid-1990s on stations WCAU 1210 AM and WPEN 950 AM in Philadelphia, WOR 710 AM and WEVD-AM in New York and in national syndication on NBC Talknet.

Bernard Meltzer
A city planner by training, with a civil engineering degree from City College of New York and a master's degree from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, Meltzer moved from a career as a Philadelphia expert in urban problems to a radio host on WCAU. In 1973 his show moved to WOR in New York.

Meltzer's show provided counsel on a wide range of quandaries, ranging from financial to personal: callers were as likely to ask about family crises, parenting issues and romantic problems as they were to ask about plumbing, home improvement or investment problems.

Segments were often bracketed by Meltzer delivering aphorisms or reciting moralizing poetry ("What shall we do with grandma, now that she's old and gray?") in his distinctive smooth, soothing, quiet voice. His show at one time held the highest ratings among adults in his time slot. Thanks to a doctoral degree earned by correspondence from an unaccredited university, listeners usually referred to him as "Doctor Meltzer."

Meltzer learned he had Parkinson's Disease around 1985, continuing on WOR until a brief final stint on WEVD in the 1990s.

His favorite saying was: "Courts are made for judges and lawyers". Another favorite, used to provide some comfort to callers and listeners, was: "The good people in this world far outnumber the bad."
Buck Owens

➦In 2006…Alvis Edgar "Buck" Owens Jr. died at age 76 (Born - August 12, 1929).  Owens, was a musician, singer, songwriter and band leader who had 21 No. 1 hits on the Billboard country music charts with his band the Buckaroos. They pioneered what came to be called the Bakersfield sound, named after Bakersfield, California, the city Owens called home and from which he drew inspiration for what he preferred to call American music.

From 1969 to 1986 Owens co-hosted the popular CBS television variety show Hee Haw with Roy Clark.  Owens is a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame.

Before the 1960s were done, Owens — with the help of manager Jack McFadden — began to concentrate on his financial future. He bought several radio stations, including KNIX-AM (later KCWW) and KNIX-FM in Phoenix and KUZZ-FM in Bakersfield. During the 1990s, Owens was co-owner of the country music network Real Country, which Owens owned station KCWW was the flagship station of.  In 1998, Owens sold KCWW to ABC/Disney for $8,850,000 and sold KNIX-FM to Clear Channel Communications, but he maintained ownership of KUZZ until his death.

➦In 2015…Birmingham radio veteran John Ed Willoughby died at age 80.  His career spanned parts of five decades. Popular for his folksy wisdom and his quick-on-his-feet humor, Willoughby got started in radio as Tommy Charles' sidekick on Birmingham Top 40 WSGN-AM in 1975. He "retired" 30 years to the day later, on April 15, 2005, but continued to host a Saturday morning sport-talk show with Doug Layton until 2012.

John Ed Willoughby
Long before he teamed with Charles, Willoughby discovering he had a knack for radio while working for his father's furniture business, Willoughby Furniture, for which he did live commercials spots on Charles and Layton's radio show on Birmingham's WAQY-AM in the mid-1960s. He often stuck around to banter with the hosts.

Nearly a decade later, at the urging of a friend, Willoughby started calling into Charles' show on WSGN.  He became so popular that Charles asked station manager Ben McKinnon to hire him full-time.

Charles andWilloughby later moved to news station WERC-AM, where they were among the pioneers of talk radio in Birmingham.

  • Elton John (pop singer-songwriter) (73)
  • Katharine McPhee (actress/singer, Scorpion, American Idol runner-up, Smash) (36)
  • Paul Michael Glaser (TV's Starsky & Hutch's Det. Dave Starsky) (77)
  • Sarah Jessica Parker (actress, Sex In The City) (55)
  • Gloria Steinem (feminist activist, founder of Ms. magazine) (86)
  • Debi Thomas (U.S. figure skater, won the bronze medal in the 1988 Olympics) (53)
  • Lark Voorhies (actress, Saved By The Bell) (46)
  • Bonnie Bedelia (actress, the Die Hard movies, Parenthood) (72)
  • Gene Shalit (movie critic) (94, disputed)
  • Richard O'Brien (actor-writer, wrote and played Riff Raff in The Rocky Horror Picture Show) (78)
  • Marcia Cross (actress, Melrose Place, Everwood, Desperate Housewives) (58)
  • Anita Bryant (singer, one-time Florida orange juice spokeswoman, and former anti-gay activist) (80)
  • Juvenile (rapper) (43)
  • James McDaniel (actor, Malcolm X, NYPD Blue's Lieutenant Fancy) (62)
  • Brenda Strong (actress, Mary Alice on Desperate Housewives) (60, disputed)
  • Danica Patrick (American race car driver) (38)
  • Lee Pace (actor, Pushing Daisies, Infamous, The Good Shepherd, A Single Man, Possession, Lincoln, The Hobbit films) (41)
  • Jenny Slate (actress/comedian, Bored To Death, Saturday Night Live, House of Lies) (38)
  • Big Sean (rapper) (32)

No comments:

Post a Comment