Wednesday, April 1, 2020

April 1 Radio History

➦In 1932... Alexander Gordon Jump born (Died at age 71 – September 22, 2003). He was an actor best known as the clueless radio station manager Arthur "Big Guy" Carlson in the TV series WKRP in Cincinnati and the incompetent "Chief of Police Tinkler" in the sitcom Soap.

Gordon Jump
Jump first began his acting career in the 1960s with minor roles in television on such shows as Get Smart, Lancer, Here Come the Brides, and Green Acres. He also guest-starred in a number of series during the 1970s including The Rockford Files, A Touch of Grace, Paul Sand in Friends and Lovers, The Incredible Hulk (in an October 1978 episode called "Ricky"), The Lost Saucer, Starsky & Hutch, Lou Grant, Kojak, The Bionic Woman, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries. He had a brief speaking role as a farmer in the 1976 television movie Sybil.

In 1978, he landed his signature role of Arthur "Big Guy" Carlson on the situation comedy WKRP in Cincinnati, portraying a bumbling radio station manager whose main qualification for the job is being the son of the station's owner.

In 1989, Jump took over the Maytag repairman role from Jesse White. In the 1990s, Jump starred in a short-lived revival of WKRP in Cincinnati entitled The New WKRP in Cincinnati. He also appeared in the ninth and final season of Seinfeld, in which he played George Costanza's boss at a playground equipment company over two episodes. Jump's last movie role was in the 2004 film Changing of the Guard, released after his death.

➦In 1936..Don Steele born as Donald Steele Revert (Died at age 61 from lung cancer  – August 5, 1997).  He was one of the most popular radio personalities in the U-S from the middle of the 1960s until his retirement (for health reasons) in May 1997.

He was better known as "The Real Don Steele," a name suggested by his program director, Steve Brown, at KOIL-AM in Omaha, Nebraska. Brown hoped the moniker would click with listeners and make him stand out from other radio personalities.

Born in Hollywood, California, Steele served in the U-S Air Force and then studied at a local radio school, the Don Martin School of Broadcasting, where he also taught for a short time. Shortly thereafter, Steele began his radio career working outside of L.A. at a small station, KBUC in Corona, CA then moving on to KEPR Kennewick, KIMA Yakima and KXLY Spokane, all in Washington; KOIL Omaha, Nebraska; KISN Portland, Oregon, and KEWB San Francisco before returning to Los Angeles to help kick off what would become one of the most influential radio stations in the country, 93/KHJ, Boss Radio, in April 1965.

Steele became nationally-known as a DJ on radio station KHJ in Los Angeles, where he helped to promote the "ultrahip" top-40 Boss Radio format which began at 3pm on April 27, 1965. He also appeared on TV as host of Boss City and The Real Don Steele TV Show, a show which ran from 1965 to 1975 on KHJ-TV channel 9 in Los Angeles. When the popularity of AM radio gave way to FM stereo in the 1970s, Steele continued to remain a popular personality at the station. Following the years at 93/KHJ, The Real Don Steele continued to be heard on Los Angeles radio stations, including KIQQ (K-100), KTNQ (Ten-Q), KRLA, KCBS-FM and KRTH-FM (K-Earth 101), until his death in August 1997.

Steele also gained additional notoriety due to an ill-fated promotion which KHJ undertook on behalf of his show during the summer of 1970. The promotion was dubbed a “Super Summer Spectacular” and involved Steele driving around the Los Angeles-area in a flashy red car. Throughout the day, KHJ would broadcast clues about Steele’s location, and listeners who successfully tracked him down would receive cash prizes of about $25. On July 16, 1970, two teenagers attempting to track Steele by car at speeds of roughly 80 miles per hour forced another car into a highway center divider, causing the death of Ronald Weirum. Weirum's family sued various parties, including KHJ, asserting that the tragedy was a foreseeable consequence of the recklessness inherent to the nature of the "Super Summer Spectacular" promotion. The family's lawsuit eventually reached the Supreme Court of California, which held for the plaintiffs. The Court's opinion in the case, Weirum v. RKO General, Inc., 15 Cal.3d 40 (1975) has since become a well-known holding on the subject of foreseeability in torts law, and is often studied in American law schools.

"Robert W. Morgan was the first one hired for Boss Radio," RKO program consultant Bill Drake said. "He recommended Steele. He flew down from San Francisco. I was a little leery because I had heard he was kind of a crazy man, but it turned out he was very dedicated to his work." One of Steele's ongoing on-air bits was the refrain, "Tina Delgado is alive, alive!" Legends grew as to the meaning of the phrase, but Steele never did reveal what it really meant, or who the girl was who uttered the words.

The Real Don Steele stayed at KHJ until June 1973, then moved on to L.A. radio stations KIQQ, KTNQ, KRLA, KODJ / KCBS and arrived at KRTH in July 1992. He recorded commercials and at one time had a successful, nationally syndicated radio show.

That show, "Live From the 60's", was created by Steele along with friend and contemporary M.G."Machine Gun" Kelly, who followed Steele at KHJ-AM, then D.J'd with him in the '70s at 10Q. "Live From the 60's" was a three-hour program that featured oldies exclusively from the 1960s.

A poll seeking the top 10 disc jockeys in Los Angeles from 1957 to 1997 rated Steele second (behind Gary Owens) among the 232 personalities nominated.

➦In 1951…the ABC Radio Network debuted Paul Harvey News and Comment "Commentary and analysis of Paul Harvey each weekday at 12 Noon". Harvey was also heard originally on Sundays; the first Sunday program was Harvey's introduction. Later, the Sunday program would move to Saturdays. The program continued until his death on February 28, 2009 at 90-years-of-age.

Chet Huntley
➦In 1956...News anchor Chet Huntley began his career with NBC.

Huntley began his radio newscast career in 1934 at Seattle's KIRO AM, later working on radio stations in Spokane (KHQ) and Portland. His time (1936–37) in Portland was with KGW-AM, owned by The Oregonian, a Portland daily newspaper. At KGW he was writer, newscaster and announcer. In 1937 he went to work for KFI in Los Angeles, moving to CBS Radio from 1939 to 1951, then ABC Radio from 1951 to 1955. In 1955, he joined the NBC Radio network, viewed by network executives as "another Ed Murrow".

After NBC successfully teamed him with David Brinkley for 1956 election coverage the duo became coanchors of the nightly Huntley-Brinkley Report. Huntley (in New York) and Brinkley (in Washington) closed each broadcast with the trademark, “Good night Chet. Good night David. And good night from NBC News.”

➦In 1958...WMCA began playing Top 40 music. Among its disc jockey staff were future legends Scott Muni, Frankie Crocker, Harry Harrison and Murray "the K" Kaufman.

The WMCA "Good Guys" (1964): Joe O'Brien, Harry Harrison, Jack Spector, Dan Daniel, B. Mitchel Reed and Johnny Dark.

In 1960, WMCA began promoting itself by stressing its on-air personalities, who were collectively known as the Good Guys. Led by program director Ruth Meyer, the first woman to hold the position in New York City radio, this was the era of the high-profile Top 40 disc jockey with an exuberant personality aimed at a certain audience segment. With the advent of the Good Guys format, WMCA became more "on top" of new music and started to become known for "playing the hits."

In the early 1960s, the top 40 format was still young, and the field was crowded in New York City. Two major 50,000-watt stations, WMGM (frequency now occupied by WEPN-AM) and WINS, had battled each other, playing pop music for years. Then in 1960, WABC joined the fray and started featuring top 40 music. Ultimately, it was WMCA's earnest competition with rival WABC that forced WMGM (in early 1962) and then WINS (in spring 1965) to abandon the top-40 format. There was so much attention on the high-profile WMCA-WABC battle that WMGM and WINS were each summarily forced to find a new niche.

For four consecutive years (1963 through 1966) WMCA had the highest ratings share of all radio stations in New York City, according to Arbitron–in spite of its directional, 5,000-watt signal which geographically reached about one-third of the audience ratings area of non-directional, 50,000-watt WABC. WMCA's ratings strength was concentrated within New York City itself, along with the suburban areas immediately north and east. However, WABC proved more popular in outlying areas where WMCA's signal didn't come in as well on standard 1960s-era AM radio receivers. The areas where WMCA did not have a strong signal were southwest, west, and northwest of its transmitter in Kearny, New Jersey. By 1967 and 1968, WMCA still demonstrated a strong showing in total audience surveys, and as late as February 1969, Pulse ratings surveys showed that WMCA continued to best WABC in New York City.

➦In 1966...Chickenman, a radio comedy serial, debuted during the Jim Runyon Show on Top40 WCFL 1000 AM in Chicago. (Exact start date is unknown, but the first episodes aired during Spring '66.)

Dick Orkin conceived and wrote the Chickenman radio series.  Born in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, in 1933, Orkin was 16 when he began his radio career as a fill-in announcer at WKOK 1070 AM  in Sunbury.

After college he attended the Yale School of Drama, then returned to Pennsylvania to become the news director at WLAN 1390 Lancaster in 1959. Later he joined the staff of KYW 1200 AM in Cleveland.

In 1967 Orkin moved to WCFL and created Chickenman, which chronicled the exploits of a crime-fighting “white-winged warrior” and his secret identity as mildmannered shoe salesman Benton Harbor. Chickenman’s 250-plus episodes have been syndicated around the world and can still be heard on Internet radio, making it the longest-running radio serial of all time. At WCFL Orkin also produced more than 300 episodes of another popular serial, The Secret Adventures of the Tooth Fairy.

Inspired by the commercial parodies on Stan Freberg and Bob & Ray’s radio shows, Orkin created the Famous Radio Ranch in 1973 to produce his own comedic radio spots. Stationed in California since ’78, the Radio Ranch, currently helmed by Orkin and his daughter Lisa, has produced hundreds of memorable ads for a variety of clients, ranging from Time magazine to First American Bank to the Gap, and garnered more than 200 awards in the process.  Dick Orkin was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame in 2014.

Orkin died December 24, 2017 at age 84.

Here are two episodes to enjoy.

➦In 1970…U.S. President Richard Nixon signed the Public Health Cigarette Smoking Act.

The Public Health Cigarette Smoking Act is a 1970 federal law in the United States designed to limit the practice of smoking. As approved by the United States Congress, the act required a stronger health warning on cigarette packages, saying "Warning: The Surgeon General Has Determined that Cigarette Smoking Is Dangerous to Your Health". It also banned cigarette advertisements on American radio and television.

The Public Health Cigarette Smoking Act was one of the major bills resulting from the 1964 report by the Surgeon General, Luther Terry. The report found that lung cancer and chronic bronchitis are causally related to cigarette smoking.  One of the major advocates of the cigarette advertising ban was the FCC. The FCC argued that since the topic of smoking is controversial, numerous TV and radio stations continued to break the Fairness Doctrine when airing these commercials because they did not give equal time to the opposing viewpoint that smoking is dangerous.

The actual cigarette advertising ban did not come into force until January 2, 1971, as per a compromise that allowed broadcasters to air these commercials during their telecasts of college football bowl games on New Year's Day.  The last cigarette ad on U-S television, advertising Virginia Slims, was carried on the last possible legal minute at 11:59 p.m ET/PT, 10:59 p.m. CT/MT that evening on NBC's The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.

➦In 1971...For April Fool's Day, WCFL Chicago published a special edition of its music survey.  If you're of a certain age, you'll appreciate the humor.

➦In 1974...WWDJ 970 AM in the NYC market flipped from Top40 to religion.

The station was put up for sale in the fall of 1970. Around that time, future sister station WMCA dropped top 40 for a talk format, leaving WABC as the only Top 40 radio station.

WJRZ was sold to Pacific and Southern Broadcasting (which merged with Combined Communications Corporation in 1974) on January 6, 1971 and the call letters were changed on May 16 of that year to WWDJ (known on the air as "97-DJ"), and the station attempted to take on WABC and replace WMCA as the New York market's second Top 40 outlet.

The station was hampered by a directional signal that covered Manhattan and parts of New Jersey well but suffered in the rest of the Five Boroughs and was virtually nonexistent on Long Island and western New Jersey. Eventually, FM competition from WCBS-FM and adult top 40 station WXLO (now WEPN-FM), and an evolution to adult Top 40 by WNBC (now WFAN), began to eat into WWDJ's ratings. In November 1973 it was ranked 15th in the Arbitron ratings.

By 1974, the station was losing money and unable to sell enough advertising. In the fall of 1973, the station began selling airtime to religious groups on weekends, which brought much-needed revenue for the station as it continued with Top 40 during weekdays into 1974. But as a result of the religious hours making money, WWDJ abruptly dropped the top 40 format on April 1 and switched to a religious format full time. Because the change took place on April Fool's Day, many listeners thought the switch was some sort of joke.

Initially, WWDJ sold two-thirds of its daily airtime to outside ministries and played traditional Christian music the rest of the time, with the exception of a few hours on Saturdays devoted to a then-new genre, contemporary Christian music. WWDJ was sold to Communicom Corporation of America in April 1978,[31] about a year before Combined Communications' merger into the Gannett Company in 1979.

Today 970 is owned by Salem Media and airs talk format, with call letters WNYM.

➦From 1986...Flashback to the first week of April edition of Radio&Records.

➦In 1988
...James Edward Jordan died at age 91 (Born - November 16, 1896). He was an actor who played Fibber McGee in Fibber McGee and Molly and voiced the albatross Orville in Disney's The Rescuers (1977).

Fibber McGee and Molly aired as a weekly series, becoming one of radio's most popular programs, until 1953. The show would transition to a pre-recorded daily sitcom from 1953 to 1956, then to a short-form weekly series (under the name Just Molly and Me) for NBC's weekend show Monitor from 1957 to 1959.

➦In 2007…Charles Herbert "Herb" Carneal died of heart failure at age 83 (Born - May 10, 1923). He was a Major League Baseball sportscaster.

From 1962 through 2006, he was a play-by-play voice of Minnesota Twins radio broadcasts, becoming the lead announcer in 1967 after Ray Scott left to work exclusively with CBS. Prior to 1962, he was the voice of the Baltimore Orioles, partnering with Ernie Harwell from 1957 to 1959, and with Bob Murphy in 1960–1961.

Hillary Scott
  • Ali MacGraw (actress, Love Story, The Getaway; former wife of the late Steve McQueen) (81)
  • Josh Zuckerman (actor, played young "Dr. Evil" in Austin Powers In Goldmember, 90210, Kyle XY) (35)
  • Bijou Phillips (actress/model, Almost Famous, Raising Hope) (40)
  • Annette O'Toole (actress, 48 Hrs., Superman III, It, Smallville) (68)
  • John Barbata (drummer, Jefferson Airplane/Jefferson Starship) (75)
  • Jimmy Cliff (reggae legend) (72)
  • Terry Nichols (Oklahoma City bomber) (65)
  • Rudolph Isley (Rock And Roll Hall Of Famer, of the Isley Brothers) (81)
  • Samuel Alito (Supreme Court Justice) (70)
  • Barry Sonnenfeld (director/producer: Men In Black, Wild Wild West, Men In Black II, cinematographer: Throw Mamma From the Train, Big, When Harry Met Sally..., Misery, Miller's Crossing, The Addams Family, The Addams Family Values) (67)
  • Taran Killam (actor/comedian, Saturday Night Live) (38)
  • Asa Butterfield (actor, Hugo, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas) (23)
  • Matt Lanter (actor, 90210, Timeless) (37)
  • Hillary Scott (singer, Lady Antebellum) (34)

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