Friday, April 17, 2020

April 17 Radio History

Penny Singleton and Arthur Lake
➦In 1905...Arthur Lake was born as Arthur Silverlake Jr. (Died from a heart attack at age 81 – January 9, 1987). He is best known for portraying the Blondie comic strip character of Dagwood Bumstead in twenty-eight Blondie films produced by Columbia Pictures from 1938 to 1950. He was also the voice of Dagwood on the radio series, which ran from 1938 to 1950, earning him a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6646 Hollywood Blvd. Many of the actors on the radio show noted Lake's commitment to the program, stating that on the day of the broadcast, Lake was Dagwood Bumstead.

Far from being upset about being typecast, Lake continued to embrace the role of Dagwood in a short-lived 1957 Blondie TV series, then even into the 1960s and beyond; he would often give speeches to Rotary clubs and other civic organizations, eagerly posing for pictures with a Dagwood sandwich.

➦In 1922...KPO san Francisco signed-on.  Now known at KNBR 680 AM, KPO began broadcasting as a100-watt station owned by the Hale Brothers department store. In 1925, the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper bought half-interest in the operation. Originally located in the department store at 901 Market between 5th and 6th, its horizontal wire antenna on the roof was so efficient, it immediately attracted the attention of audiences all over the Pacific Coast.

KPO Studio -1922 (Courtesy of Bay Area Radio Museum)
In 1927, KPO became an affiliate of the new NBC radio network. In 1933, KPO was sold to NBC's parent company, the Radio Corporation of America (RCA), and its operation was consolidated into that of its co-owned KGO. From there, NBC operated its West Coast network, feeding dozens of stations and operating a news bureau to serve NBC. As NBC's flagship station on the West Coast, it had a full-time orchestra, five studios, and produced many live shows. During the rise of Hollywood, NBC's radio operation was moved to Los Angeles.

During World War II, KPO's news bureau was the major source of NBC of news about the war in the Pacific, and operated shortwave radio stations serving the world. It was at the KPO (RCA) shortwave facility that the message was received that Japanese emperor Hirohito had surrendered, ending World War II.

On November 23, 1947, NBC changed KPO's call sign to KNBC to strengthen its identity as an NBC station (and the only radio station NBC ever owned on the West Coast). This change lasted until fifteen years later, when the network decided to move the KNBC identity to its television station in Los Angeles. NBC had asked the FCC to restore the KPO call letters to the San Francisco radio station but later withdrew that request and 680 AM was renamed KNBR on November 11, 1962.

KNBR evolved into a Middle of the road music format mixing in Adult Standards with Soft Rock cuts by the early 1960s. The station continued to be a news intensive format with personalities in the foreground and music in the background. Personalities included Frank Dill, Les Williams, Dave Niles, and Jack Hayes. Until January, 1975, KNBR carried NBC's long-running weekend show, Monitor. By the mid-1970s, KNBR evolved musically into a straight ahead adult contemporary music format and continued as such into the 1980s.

In March 1989 NBC sold KNBR to Susquehanna Radio Corporation; it was the last radio property held by NBC, which two years earlier made the decision to sell off its radio division following General Electric's 1986 acquisition of RCA. The station soon added some sports talk in evenings, and took a full-time sports format in 1990 with the lone exception of The Rush Limbaugh Show, which KNBR carried from 1988 until 2000.

KNBR carried programs from ESPN Radio and KTCT aired shows from both ESPN Radio and Fox Sports Radio until 2013, when both stations switched to the Cumulus-distributed CBS Sports Radio.

In 2015, KNBR's studios were relocated from 55 Hawthorne Street to 750 Battery Street after parent Cumulus Media consolidated its San Francisco radio stations in one building.

➦In 1923...Harry Truman Reasoner was born (Died at age 68 – August 6, 1991). He was a journalist for ABC and CBS News, known for his inventive use of language as a television commentator, and as a founder of the 60 Minutes program.

Over the course of his career, Reasoner won three Emmy Awards and a George Foster Peabody Award in 1967.

During his time at the school, Reasoner developed his interest in journalism. He went on to study journalism at Stanford University and the University of Minnesota. He served in the Army during World War II and after the war, he then resumed his journalism career with The Minneapolis Times.

After going into radio with CBS in 1948, Reasoner worked for the United States Information Agency in the Philippines. When he returned to the US, he went into television and worked at station KEYD (later KMSP) in Minneapolis. He later joined CBS News in New York, in 1956, where he eventually hosted a morning news program called Calendar from 1961 to 1963, on top of doing commentator and special news narration duties

In 1968, Reasoner teamed up with Mike Wallace to launch 60 Minutes, a new news magazine series. On 60 Minutes and elsewhere, he often worked with producer and writer Andy Rooney, who later became a well-known contributor in his own right.

In 1970, Reasoner was hired away from CBS by ABC to become an anchor on the network's newly revamped nightly newscast.  After a stay of several years in the '70s at ABC. Reasoner returned to CBS and 60 Minutes where he remained until his retirement on May 19, 1991.

➦In 1934...WLW Cincinnati licensed to operate at 500kW.

In January 1934 WLW began broadcasting at the 500 kilowatt level late at night under the experimental callsign W8XO. In April 1934 the station was authorized to operate at 500 kilowatts during regular hours under the WLW call letters. On May 2, 1934, President Franklin D. Roosevelt pressed a ceremonial button that officially launched WLW's 500-kilowatt signal.  As the first station in the world to broadcast at this strength, WLW received repeated complaints from around the United States and Canada that it was overpowering other stations as far away as Toronto.

In December 1934 WLW cut back to 50 kilowatts at night to mitigate the interference, and began construction of three 50 ft. tower antennas to be used to reduce signal strength towards Canada. With these three antennas in place, full-time broadcasting at 500 kilowatts resumed in early 1935.

However, WLW was continuing to operate under special temporary authority that had to be renewed every six months, and each renewal brought complaints about interference and undue domination of the market by such a high-power station. The FCC was having second thoughts about permitting extremely wide-area broadcasting versus more locally oriented stations, and in 1938, the US Senate adopted the "Wheeler" resolution, expressing it to be the sense of that body that more stations with power in excess of 50 kilowatts are against the public interest. As a result, in 1939 the 500-kilowatt broadcast authorization was not renewed, bringing an end to the era of the AM radio superstation.  Because of the impending war and the possible need for national broadcasting in an emergency, the W8XO experimental license for 500 kilowatts remained in effect until December 29, 1942.

In 1962 the Crosley Broadcasting Corporation again applied for a permit to operate at 750 kilowatts, but the FCC denied the application.

➦In 1935…After more than a year as a local program on WENR in Chicago, "Lights Out" debuted to a national audience on NBC Radio Network. In June of 1936, Chicago writer Arch Oboler took over from series creator Wyllis Cooper and stayed with the program until 1943.

Lights Out revival was part of a trend in 1940s American radio toward more horror. Genre series like Inner Sanctum, Suspense and others drew increasingly large ratings. The series continued until the summer of 1947.

➦In 1964…Washington's FBI lab reported it could not determine the lyrics to "Louie Louie." The Kingsmen's recording was the subject of an FBI investigation about the supposed, but nonexistent, obscenity of the lyrics, an investigation that ended without prosecution.[3] Ironically, the recording notably includes the drummer yelling "F#ck!" after dropping his drumstick at the 0:54 mark.

"Louie Louie" has been recognized by organizations and publications worldwide for its influence on the history of rock and roll. A partial list includes the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Grammy Hall of Fame, National Public Radio, VH1, Rolling Stone Magazine, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Recording Industry Association of America.

➦In 1965…RCA and the LearJet Corporation announced the development of the combination 8 track tape player and car radio.  The Stereo 8 Cartridge was created in 1964 by a consortium led by Bill Lear of Lear Jet Corporation, along with Ampex, Ford Motor Company, General Motors, Motorola, and RCA Victor Records.

Anthony Perkins, Peter Potter, Troy Donahue
➦In 1983...Los Angeles radio personality Peter Potter died at age 78.  He was best known for his show “Juke Box Jury,” which appeared on both media during the entire decade of the 1950 s and beyond.

The syndicated show won him two Emmys, in 1953 and 1955, both for Best Entertainment Program, and put his phrase “Will it be a hit, or will it be a miss?" into American pop jargon. Most recording stars made appearances on his Los Angeles-based shows on radio stations KMPC, KFWB and KLAC.

During the 1940s, he was Hollywood's reigning disc jockey, his shows airing seven days a week, often with the highest ratings in daytime radio.

➦In 1986...WRFM 105.1 FM NYC switched from beautiful music to soft rock as WNSR. Today the station is owned by iHeartMedia and airs an Urban format as WWPR Power 105.1 FM

➦In 1994…Peter Hackes died at age 69 (Born June 2, 1924). He was a longtime TV and radio correspondent who late in life had acting roles in two prominent American films.

Peter Hackes
Early in his career, Hackes worked for radio stations in Iowa, New York, Ohio and Kentucky. He then began a three-year stint working at CBS in 1952. Starting in 1955, Hackes spent 30 years based in Washington, D.C. working for NBC, both as a TV correspondent and as a radio correspondent.

In his years at NBC, Hackes covered Capitol Hill, the State Department and NASA, and worked every national political convention from 1956 to 1986. Hackes won an Emmy award for his coverage of the Apollo space flights in 1969 and 1970, and he also won a Peabody Award for his work on NBC’s Second Sunday program.

After voluntarily taking an early retirement from NBC in April 1986, Hackes became the radio voice of the AARP. He hosted a daily radio program for retired Americans called Mature Focus, which aired on 600 radio stations nationwide.

After retiring from NBC, Hackes had acting roles in two prominent films. In 1987, Hackes played heartless network executive Paul Moore in the film Broadcast News, who oversaw an extensive layoff and restructuring of news personnel in a TV network’s Washington bureau.  Hackes also had a small role in the 1991 film True Colors.

➦In 1996...Bob Grant aired last show on 77WABC NYC.

Grant was hired by WABC in 1984 and at first hosted a show from 9-11 p.m., before moving to the 3-6 p.m. afternoon time slot. The Bob Grant Show consistently dominated the ratings in the highly competitive afternoon drive time slot in New York City and at one point the radio station aired recorded promos announcing him as "America's most listened to talk radio personality." The gravel-voiced Grant reminded listeners during the daily introduction that the "program was unscripted and unrehearsed".

Grant's long stay at WABC ended when he was fired for a remark about the April 3, 1996 airplane crash involving Commerce Secretary Ron Brown. Grant remarked to caller named, Carl of Oyster Bay, "My hunch is that (Brown) is the one survivor. I just have that hunch. Maybe it's because, at heart, I'm a pessimist." When Brown was found dead, Grant's comments were widely criticized, and several weeks later, after a media campaign, his contract was terminated.

After being fired, Grant moved down the dial to WOR 710 to host the same afternoon drive-time slot. Grant's age began to show while broadcasting at WOR. He was less engaging with the callers, and not as energetic during his broadcasts. For a time, the Bob Grant show went into national syndication, but has been a local only show since 2001. Grant and his WABC replacement Sean Hannity would sometimes throw jabs at each other. Hannity defeated Grant in the ratings from 2001–2006.

Grant's WOR run ended on January 13, 2006. After several fill-in stints at WABC, Grant returned to WABC in August 2007.  His finals stint lasted less than a year and a half, until his regular nightly show was pulled by WABC in late November 2008 as part of a programming shuffle stemming from the debut of Curtis Sliwa's national show, and later Mark Levin's show expanding to three hours, leaving no room for Grant.

Grant died Hillsborough Township, New Jersey on December 31, 2013, after what was described as a "short illness".

  • Former Spice Girls singer Victoria "Posh Spice" Beckham, who's married to soccer superstar David Beckham, is 46.
  • Sportscaster and former NFL quarterback Boomer Esiason is 59.
  • Actress Jennifer Garner turns 48.
  • Actress Rooney Mara is 35.

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