Saturday, March 28, 2020

March 28 Radio History

➦In 1924...WGN-AM, Chicago, Illinois, signed-on.

The predecessor to the current WGN was WDAP, which signed on the air on May 19, 1922, and was founded by Thorne Donnelley and Elliott Jenkins. Originally based in the Wrigley Building, the station moved its operations to the Drake Hotel in July.

WGN's main studio in Tribune Tower, circa '30s-'40s
On May 12, 1923, the Zenith Radio Company signed on radio station WJAZ from the Edgewater Beach Hotel. However, after this brief period, the Tribune switched its operations to WDAP, and the Zenith station became WEBH,  the license eventually being deleted on November 30, 1928.

Scopes Trial 1925
Early programming was noted for its creativity and innovation. It included live music, political debates, comedy routines, and some of radio's first sporting event broadcasts, including the Indianapolis 500 automobile race, and a live broadcast of the 1925 Scopes Trial from Dayton, Tennessee. In 1926, WGN broadcast Sam & Henry, a daily serial with comic elements created and performed by Freeman Gosden and Charles Correll. After a dispute with the station in 1927, Gosden and Correll took the program's concept and announcer Bill Hay across town to WMAQ 670 AM and created the first syndicated radio show, Amos 'n' Andy.  WGN 720 AM served as a founding member of the Mutual Broadcasting System.

Over many decades, WGN was a "full service" radio station.

The station played small amounts of music during the mornings and afternoon hours, moderate amounts of music on weekends during the day, aired midday and evening talk shows, and sports among other features. The station's music was easy listening/MOR-based until the 1970s, when its switched to more of an adult contemporary-type sound.

Music programming was phased out during the 1980s, and by 1990, the station's lineup mainly consisted of talk shows. In 1961, the WGN radio and television stations moved to a studio facility on West Bradley Place in the North Center neighborhood, a move undertaken for civil defense concerns in order to provide the station a safe base to broadcast in case of a hostile attack targeting downtown Chicago.

WGN radio moved back to North Michigan Avenue in 1986, relocating its operations to a studio in the Pioneer Court extension (WGN-TV remained at the Bradley Place facility, where that station operates to this day).

Some former well-known personalities on WGN include longtime morning hosts Wally Phillips, Bob Collins, Spike O'Dell, Paul Harvey and Roy Leonard. Orion Samuelson has been the station's farm reporter since 1960. Late-night hosts over the years have included Franklyn MacCormack, Chicago Ed Schwartz, Don Vogel and the husband-and-wife team of Steve King and Johnnie Putman.

Louella Parsons
➦In 1941...Newspaper columnist Louella Parsons hosted the CBS Radio Network show 'Hollywood Premiere' for the first time. Parsons introduced famous guests who appeared in dramatized stories.

In 1914, Parsons began writing the first gossip column in the United States for the Chicago Record Herald. William Randolph Hearst bought that newspaper in 1918 and Parsons was out of a job, as Hearst had not yet discovered that movies and movie personalities were news. Parsons then moved to New York City and started working for the New York Morning Telegraph writing a similar movie column, which attracted the attention of Hearst.

In 1923, after shrewd bargaining on both sides, she signed a contract and joined the Hearst newspaper the New York American.

There was persistent speculation that Parsons was elevated to the Hearst chain's lead gossip columnist because of a scandal she didn't write about. Director Thomas Ince died aboard Hearst's yacht in 1924 under murky circumstances.

Initially, Hearst newspapers falsely claimed that Ince had not been aboard the boat at all and had fallen ill at Hearst's home. Charlie Chaplin's secretary reported seeing a bullet hole in Ince's head when his body was carried off the yacht. It has been widely written that Chaplin was conducting an affair with Hearst's mistress, and that an attempt to shoot Chaplin may have caused Ince's death. Also aboard the yacht that night was Parsons, who ignored the story in her columns.

As she and the publishing mogul developed an ironclad relationship, her Los Angeles Examiner column came to appear in over six hundred newspapers the world over, with a readership of more than twenty-million, and Parsons gradually became one of the most powerful voices in the movie business with her daily allotment of gossip.

Parsons column - 1944
 Beginning in 1928, she hosted a weekly radio program featuring movie star interviews that was sponsored by SunKist. A similar program in 1931 was sponsored by Charis Foundation Garment. In 1934, she signed a contract with the Campbell's Soup Company and began hosting a program titled Hollywood Hotel, which showcased stars in scenes from their upcoming movies.

Parsons saw herself as the social and moral arbiter of Hollywood. Her judgments were considered the final word in many cases, and many feared her disfavor even more than that of movie critics.

➦In 1944...The radio station owned by The New york Times, WQXR radio in New York City banned singing commercials from its airwaves as of this day.

The following statement was published in the WQXR Program Guide:
"Only a few advertisers are affected by the new ruling and their spots will be permitted to continue until the expiration of their contracts. All of these are short-term contracts which will expire within the next few weeks. 
"Because WQXR specializes in the presentation of good music, the station has found that "singing commercials" are too much of a transition from good music and that they are apt to create ill will among WQXR listeners for the advertiser as well as the station. On the other hand, WQXR listeners have always supported enthusiastically those advertisers who presented their sales messages in keeping with the programs  of the station. 
"This is not a ban of all transcribed announcements. Spots containing other types of music conforming to the station's musical policy will continue to be accepted. For example, an excerpt from a musical production--such as an opera, operetta or motion picture--may be included in an announcement advertising such a production, if the musical selection fits in with the musical standards of the station. 
"As to non-musical transcriptions, WQXR will continue to accept those which are in keeping with station programming."

➦In 1986...6,000+ radio stations in the U-S played "We Are The World" at exactly 10:15 a.m. Eastern.

"We Are the World" was a charity single originally recorded by the supergroup United Support of Artists (USA) for Africa in 1985. It was written by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie and produced by Quincy Jones for the album We Are the World. With sales in excess of 20 million copies, it is one of fewer than 30 retail singles to have sold at least 10 million copies worldwide.

The song was released on March 7, 1985, as the first single from the album. A worldwide commercial success, it topped music charts throughout the world and became the fastest-selling American pop single in history. The first ever single to be certified multi-platinum, "We Are the World" received a Quadruple Platinum certification by the Recording Industry Association of America.

➦In of the prominent announcers of radio’s “Golden Era,” Wendell Niles succumbed to cancer at age 89.  He was heard on such popular fare as The Bob Hope Show, The Burns & Allen Show, The Milton Berle Show and The Chase and Sanborn Hour.

➦In 2016...Wally Crouter, a radio personality who served as morning host of Toronto’s CFRB 1010 AM for an incredible 50 years, died peacefully in his sleep at age

  • Lady Gaga (singer/actress) (34)
  • Reba McEntire (country singer, actress) (65)
  • Vince Vaughn (actor, Swingers, Old School, Starsky & Hutch, Wedding Crashers) (50)
  • Dianne Wiest (actress, Radio Days, Hannah & Her Sisters) (72)
  • Julia Stiles (actress, The Prince And Me, The Bourne Identity, The Bourne Supremacy, The Bourne Ultimatum, Mona Lisa Smile, 10 Things I Hate About You, Dexter) (39)
  • John Evan (former keyboardist, Jethro Tull) (72)
  • Brett Ratner (director, Rush Hour movies, X-Men: The Last Stand, Red Dragon, The Family Man) (51)
  • Shanna Moakler (beauty queen, ex-wife of Blink 182's Travis Barker) (45)
  • J-Kwon (rapper, "Tipsy") (34)

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