➦In 1908...Lester Joseph "Les" Damon born in Providence, RI (Died at age 54 from an apparent heart attack – July 21, 1962). He was a character actor best known for his nearly 30 years performing on radio. Out of all his appearances on radio, Damon was best remembered for his roles as Nick Charles on The Adventures of the Thin Man from 1941-1943 and again from 1946-1950 on NBC then CBS and as Michael Waring on The Falcon from 1950-1953 on Mutual.
➦In 1915...Henry Morgan born as Henry Lerner Van Ost Jr. (Died at age 79 – May 19, 1994).
He first became familiar to radio audiences in the 1930s and 1940s as a barbed but often self-deprecating satirist; in the 1950s and later, he was a regular and cantankerous panelist on the game show I've Got a Secret as well as other game and talk shows. Morgan was a second cousin of Broadway lyricist and librettist Alan Jay Lerner.
In his memoir, Here's Morgan (1994), he wrote that he devised that introduction as a dig at popular singer Kate Smith, who "...started her show with a condescending, 'Hello, everybody.' I, on the other hand, was happy if anybody listened in." He mixed barbed ad libs, satirizing daily life's foibles, with novelty records, including those of Spike Jones. Morgan stated that Jones sent him his newest records in advance of market dates because he played them so often.
Morgan appeared in the December 1944 CBS Radio original broadcast of Norman Corwin's play, The Plot to Overthrow Christmas, taking several minor roles including the narrator, Ivan the Terrible and Simon Legree. He repeated his performance in the December 1944 production of the play.
Later, he moved to ABC in a half-hour weekly format that allowed Morgan more room to develop and expand his topical, often ad-libbed satires, hitting popular magazines, soap operas, schools, the BBC, baseball, summer resorts, government snooping, and landlords. His usual signoff was, "Morgan'll be here on the same corner in front of the cigar store next week."
Life Savers candy, an early Morgan sponsor, dropped him after he accused them of fraud for what amounted to hiding the holes in the famous life saver ring-shaped sweets. "I claimed that if the manufacturer would give me all those centers," Morgan remembered later, "I would market them as Morgan's Mint Middles and say no more about it."
|Earle C. Anthony|
In 1922 Earle C. Anthony was the founder and owner of what eventually became 50,000 watt KFI 640 AM, a station he controlled until his death in 1961.
From 1929 to 1944, he also owned KECA 790 AM, now KABC. The E.C.A. in KECA stood, of course, for Earle C. Anthony.
He was an early president of the National Association of Broadcasters and, during his term, oversaw the establishment of the organization's first paid staff.
He was also a founder of one of the earliest television stations in Los Angeles, KFI-TV, channel 9, and KFI-FM, both of which were disposed of in 1951.
The original KFI station used a 50-watt transmitter and was made out of a crank telephone. Early on, Anthony operated the station from his garage, and later from atop his Packard automobile dealership. In its early days, it was typically on the air for only four and a half hours a day.
This is the original KFI 50 kW transmitter, an RCA 50B. Installed in 1931, it served as the main until a Continental 317B was installed in 1959.
From the time of its inception in 1926, the National Broadcasting Company (NBC) operated two networks, the Red Network and the Blue Network. The Red Network carried the commercial programs, while the Blue Network carried the sustaining ones (those without commercial sponsors). The red and blue designations came from the colors of the U.S. flag.
Being an NBC affiliate, Anthony operated two radio stations to carry both networks. KFI-AM, 640 kHz, carried the Red Network, and KECA-AM, 790 kHz, carried the Blue.
KFI helped to keep the calm during the dark days of World War II by airing President Franklin D. Roosevelt's "Fireside Chats." Later, it carried "Monitor (NBC Radio)," the network's very successful weekend radio service.
As a side note to KFI's participation in World War II, there is a bullet hole in the ceiling of the transmitter building, located in La Mirada, California, where a National Guardsman accidentally discharged his rifle on December 10, 1941, three days following the attack on Pearl Harbor. The bullet hole is still there to this day, preserved as a monument to KFI's wartime service.
After the end of radio’s golden age, KFI-AM moved toward a full-service format of music, sports and local news. Cox Broadcasting purchased the station in 1973.
It moved KFI into a Top 40 format in the mid 1970s. That playlist softened in the early 1980s as KFI moved toward a more adult contemporary format.
By the mid 1980s, KFI had slipped in the ratings. By 1988, KFI dropped music and focused on issue-oriented talk radio. Chancellor Media acquired the station in 1999. Clear Channel Communications (now iHeartMedia) assumed control in 2000. KFI continues to broadcast a news/talk format.
➦In 1925...WOWO-AM, Ft. Wayne, Indiana, signed-on.
During the 1920s, the FCC permitted either three- or four-letter callsigns, with three-letter call signs being preferred for brevity. By choosing WOWO for easy pronunciation as a two-syllable word, in some measure WOWO had a call sign that exhibited even more brevity than even the three-letter callsigns.
Despite this, disk jockeys on WOWO were prohibited from calling the station "woe-woe" on the air until the late 1960s, when a contest was introduced to identify songs in which the "woe" sound appeared. The WOWO callsign was later backfilled as a tongue-in-cheek acronym: "Wayne Offers Wonderful Opportunities". In 1927, WOWO was made a pioneer station of CBS radio network and remained a CBS affiliate until 1956.
In 1928, Keen sold WOWO to Fred Zieg. In 1929, Zieg received FCC approval to move WOWO to 1190 kHz with a power of 10,000 watts and establish WGL on WOWO's former 1320 kHz. Until WOWO's purchase by Westinghouse Broadcasting in 1936, Zieg managed the advertising sales of both WOWO and WGL through WOWO-WGL Sales Service, Inc.
On July 4, 1929, the station's studio building caught fire. No casualties were reported, and operations were moved to a nearby location.
During August 1936, WOWO was acquired by Westinghouse Broadcasting as its first owned and operated radio station. Westinghouse built new studios for WOWO at 925 South Harrison Street in Fort Wayne, which were completed on May 1, 1937. On that same date WOWO joined the NBC Blue radio network, while maintaining its CBS network affiliation, as multiple network affiliations were common for NBC-Blue affiliates. On March 29, 1941 Westinghouse completed the FCC licensing of WOWO's famous clear-channel broadcasting on 1190 kHz. During and after World War II, these clear-channel broadcasts made WOWO a popular radio super-station of sorts throughout the eastern United States. WOWO's clear-channel license and resulting large audience permitted various owners over the years to consider WOWO their flagship station.
On April 30, 1952, WOWO's studio and offices were relocated to the upper floors of 128 West Washington Blvd. It was here that the station began its famous "fire-escape" weather forecasts, involving obtaining weather conditions from the fire escape ledge. In 1977, WOWO's studios moved to the fourth floor of the Central Building at 203 West Wayne Street in Fort Wayne, where it would remain for the next fifteen years. When the station relocated to the Central Building, the old fire escape was cut into small pieces, encapsulated in lucite and distributed as a promotional paper weight.
Programming for the station changed several times. After dropping its network affiliations in 1956, the station played modern (for the time) music. During its heyday, WOWO was one of North America's most listened-to Top 40 music stations. WOWO continued playing the hits until 1988, when the station resumed playing oldies. In 1992 the format changed to adult contemporary, and then in 1996, the station switched to a news-talk format which remains to this day.
From 1941 to 1995 WOWO was well-known, in both Indiana and areas to the east, as one of the clear-channel AM stations. This was due to the station broadcasting continuously at 50,000 watts of power both during daylight and nighttime hours. From sunset to sunrise, WOWO's directional antenna was configured to protect only KEX, Portland, Oregon. The nighttime broadcasts were branded as WOWO's Nighttime Skywave Service, the "voice of a thousand Main Streets". During the 1970s, the station's hourly ID (required by the FCC) stated: "50,000 watts on 1190, WOWO, Fort Wayne, Group W, Westinghouse Broadcasting." Listen to WOWO Top Of the Hour Station IDs: Click Here.
Because WOWO's Nighttime Skywave Service caused WLIB, also 1190 kHz, in New York City to cease broadcasting at sunset each day and resume broadcasting at sunrise, Inner City Broadcasting bought WOWO in 1994 so that they could reduce WOWO's Class A clear-channel license to Class B, and WLIB, owned by Inner City Broadcasting could thereby increase its class from Class D to Class B.
This reduced WOWO's potential audience—referred to as WOWOland—from much of the eastern United States to a much smaller local region in northern Indiana, northwestern Ohio, and south-central Michigan. Before the power reduction, when WLIB signed off at night, WOWO's air signal came booming through the speakers into the WLIB air studio.
➦In 1949…RCA Victor records introduced the 7-inch 45 rpm micro-grooved vinylite record, marketed simply as a "45". The new format, which had been under development for several years, was RCA Victor's belatedly unveiled alternative to the 12-inch and 10-inch 33⅓ rpm microgroove vinyl "LP" (Long Play) discs introduced by arch-rival Columbia Records in the early summer of 1948.
The first 45 rpm released was "Texarkana Baby" by country & western singer Eddy Arnold. The disc was made of green vinyl, part of an early plan to color-code singles according to the genre of music they featured. Others included yellow for children's songs and red for classical music.
➦In 1953...Cavalcade of America first aired on radio. It was an anthology drama series that was sponsored by the DuPont Company, although it occasionally presented musicals, such as an adaptation of Show Boat, and condensed biographies of popular composers. It was initially broadcast on radio from 1935 to 1953, and later on television from 1952 to 1957. Originally on CBS (and late on NBC), the series pioneered the use of anthology drama for company audio advertising.
Cavalcade of America documented historical events using stories of individual courage, initiative and achievement, often with feel-good dramatizations of the human spirit's triumph against all odds. The series was intended to improve DuPont's public image after World War I. The company's motto, "Maker of better things for better living through chemistry," was read at the beginning of each program, and the dramas emphasized humanitarian progress, particularly improvements in the lives of women, often through technological innovation.
➦In 2004...Air America first aired. It was a radio network specializing in progressive talk radio. It was on the air from March 2004 to January 2010.
The network featured programs with monologues by on-air personalities, guest interviews, call-ins from listeners, and news reports. Several shows had million plus audiences, and multiple weekday presenters continued on in radio, television, or politics after their time on Air America. For example, in 2008, The Thom Hartmann Program had 1.5–2 million unique listeners a week and The Lionel Show had 1.5–1.75 million unique listeners a week. Hartmann, Randi Rhodes, and Mike Malloy later had shows on other radio networks. Marc Maron started his "WTF podcast" by trespassing in Air America's studios after the network's demise, before moving to Los Angeles. Al Franken went from his show to the United States Senate, and Rachel Maddow moved her show to television on the MSNBC network.
The network was financially troubled, however. A scandal involving nearly $1 million in loans from a Boys & Girls Club in New York secretly transacted by Evan Cohen came out in 2005 and was a source of negative publicity. The loans were repaid, but in October 2006, mounting debts forced Air America Radio to file Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The company was bought by New York real estate investor Stephen L. Green and his brother Mark J. Green, who purchased the network in March 2007 for US$4.25 million.
The company eventually changed its name from Air America Radio to Air America Media and lastly to just Air America, an effort to establish itself as a broadcaster on multiple media sources including television and the Internet, and one not merely relegated to radio. Always primarily a radio network, on January 21, 2010, Air America went off the air citing difficulties with the current economic environment. It filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy and liquidated itself. Bennett Zier was the company's last CEO including through the bankruptcy and liquidation.
➦In 2017…Longtime Country WYCD 99.5 FM Detroit broadcaster Linda Lee Young died at age 55 after a seven-month battle with cancer. Young, known on the station as Linda Lee, worked for WYCD for 20 years. She and co-host Chuck Edwards steered the afternoon radio show "Edwards & Lee" for 16 years.
- Al Gore (former Vice President, environmental activist, recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize) (72)
- Angus Young (lead guitarist, AC/DC) (65)
- Herb Alpert (jazz trumpeter) (85)
- Richard Chamberlain (actor, Dr. Kildare, The Towering Inferno, The Thorn Birds, Shogun) (86)
- William Daniels (actor, St. Elsewhere) (93)
- Shirley Jones (actress, The Partridge Family's Shirley Partridge) (86)
- Gabe Kaplan (actor, Welcome Back Kotter's Mr. Kotter) (75, disputed)
- Ewan McGregor (Scottish actor, Star Wars Episodes I, II, and III, Big Fish, Moulin Rouge) (49)
- Rhea Perlman (actress, Cheers's Carla Tortelli and Danny DeVito's wife) (72)
- Christopher Walken (actor, Pulp Fiction, The Deer Hunter, True Romance) (77)
- Mick Ralphs (guitarist, Mott The Hoople, Bad Company) (76)
- Jessica Szohr (actress, Gossip Girl) (35)
- Jack Antonoff (guitarist, Fun) (36)