Friday, April 3, 2020

April 3 Radio History

➦In 1930...1930 2nd Academy Awards: "The Broadway Melody", Warner Baxter & Mary Pickford win. First time Academy Awards are broadcast on the radio

➦In 1939...The radio crime drama 'Mr. District Attorney' debuted on NBC Radio. Later it carried by ABC Radio  until it ended June 13, 1952. The series focused on a crusading D.A., initially known only as "Mister District Attorney," or "Chief", and was later translated to television. On television the D.A. had a name, Paul Garrett, and the radio version picked up this name in the final years when David Brian played the role.

➦In 1942...'People Are Funny' was first heard on NBC Radio.  The game show was created by John Guedel and aired from 1942 to 1960.  Contestants were asked to carry out stunts in order to prove that "People Are Funny." Many of these stunts lasted weeks, months, or even years. But contestants who were successful received prizes. "People Are Funny" rarely had celebrities, focusing instead on everyday people. As a result, few recordings of the show were saved.

On October 1, 1943, host Art Baker was replaced by Art Linkletter, who continued for the rest of the series. For a memorable stunt of 1945, Linkletter announced that $1,000 would go to the first person to find one of 12 plastic balls floating off California. Two years later, an Ennylageban Island native claimed the prize.

As the popularity of the program escalated, a movie musical titled People Are Funny was released in 1946, offering a fictional version of the show's origin in a tale of rival radio producers. Phillip Reed appeared as Guedel, with Linkletter and Frances Langford portraying themselves. Also in the cast were Jack Haley, Helen Walker, Ozzie Nelson and Rudy Vallée.

The radio series moved to CBS from 1951 to 1954, returning to NBC from 1954 to 1960.

➦In 1948…The Louisiana Hayride debuted on KWKH 1130 AM in Shreveport, LA.  The country music show broadcast from the Shreveport Municipal Memorial Auditorium in Shreveport, Louisiana, that during its heyday from 1948 to 1960 helped to launch the careers of some of the greatest names in American country and western music. Elvis Presley performed on the radio version of the program in 1954 and made his first television appearance on the television version of Louisiana Hayride on March 3, 1955.

Within a year of its debut, the program was so popular that a regional 25-station network was set up to broadcast portions of the show, and was even heard overseas on Armed Forces Radio. The popularity of Louisiana Hayride spawned various incarnations in other parts of the United States, most notably in Cincinnati on WLW radio and later television; its version was dubbed Midwestern Hayride.

The Hayride was where talented, but virtual unknowns, were also given exposure to a large audience. Over the years, country music greats such as Hank Williams, Webb Pierce, Kitty Wells, Jimmie Davis, Will Strahan, Slim Whitman, Floyd Cramer, Sonny James, Hank Snow, Faron Young, Johnny Horton, Jim Reeves, Claude King, Jimmy Martin, George Jones, John and The Three Wise Men, Johnny Cash, Frankie Miller, Tex Ritter, Cowboy Jack Hunt & Little Joe Hunt of the Rhythm Ranch Hands, Nat Stuckey, and Lefty Frizzell, among many others, performed on Louisiana Hayride.

On October 16, 1954, Elvis Presley appeared on the radio program. Presley's performance of his debut release on the Sun Records label, "That's All Right".  Presley was signed to a one-year contract for future appearances. Presley became so popular that after his final appearance on Hayride in 1956, emcee Horace Logan announced to the crowd a phrase that would become famous: "Elvis has left the building."

Within a few years, rock and roll had come to dominate the music scene, and on August 27, 1960, Louisiana Hayride ended its primary run.

➦In 1949...The Martin and Lewis radio show debuted on the NBC Radio Network and continued until July 14, 1953.

After losing The Jack Benny Program and Amos 'n' Andy from its Sunday night lineup to what had been called "the CBS talent raids" of 1948-49, NBC turned to the young comedy team of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, a pair "virtually unknown to a radio audience." Reinehr and Swartz commented in their old-time radio reference book, "the program ... was never as successful as the network had hoped, because much of Martin and Lewis's comedy was visual.

Billboard magazine reported that the network spent approximately $400,000 over five months getting the show ready. The basis for NBC's investment was a five-year radio contract signed in December 1948. The deal guaranteed the pair $150,000 per year and "a choice time slot."

➦In 1949...KQW-AM, San Francisco, California changed call letters to KCBS-AM.

Charles Herrold
KCBS has its roots in the experiments of San Jose engineer Charles "Doc" Herrold as far back as 1909, making the broadcaster a leading contender for the title of oldest continuously broadcasting station in the United States and possibly the world.

Herrold used a variety of different radio call signs in the early days, including FN, SJN, 6XF and 6XE. In the very beginning, Herrold used a simple greeting like "San Jose calling."

That greeting and the initial FN sign (which was an inverted abbreviation of "National Fone") reflected the fact that he had been partially working on the idea of a radiotelephone.

On December 9, 1921, Herrold received a commercial license under the callsign KQW. It was the 21st licensed radio station in the United States and the 11th in the state of California.

Original KQW Transmitter (courtesy of The Radio Historian)
However, the "arc-phone" Herrold had been using for over a decade had to be scrapped. It would only work at wavelengths above 600 meters, and all radio stations were restricted to 360 meters (roughly the equivalent of 833 kHz). He quickly created a replacement, using a tube-like transmitter drawing power from San Jose's streetcar lines. However, he never recovered financially from the loss of his arc-phone, and was forced to put the station on the market in 1925. After initially giving an option to a civic foundation, he sold it to the First Baptist Church of San Jose. Herrold stayed on as a technician for the station he had created for a few years, but died in obscurity in 1947.

There is at least one authentic broadcast recording chronicling this early history. On November 10, 1945, KQW presented a special program called "The Story of KQW," commemorating Herrold's early broadcasts. It includes a brief recorded statement by Herrold, just before his 70th birthday. During the introduction to the program, a KQW announcer explains that the program was produced to mark the 25th anniversary of the broadcasting industry as well as the 36th anniversary of KQW. The announcer then goes on to say that KQW was the first radio station in the world to operate on a regular schedule. The major events in Herrold's work are then dramatized.

In 1926, station manager James Hart bought KQW's license and facilities, eventually buying the station itself in 1930. A series of power boosts brought the station's effective radiated power to 5,000 watts by 1935. It served as the San Jose affiliate of the Don Lee Broadcasting System from 1937 to 1941; during the time, that it was owned by Julius Brunton & Sons, the station's operations being co-located with KJBS at 1470 Pine Street in San Francisco.

However, in 1942 CBS offered to move its San Francisco affiliation to KQW after KSFO (560 AM) turned down CBS' offer to buy the station. KQW jumped at this offer, having been without a source of network programming for over a year. CBS moved its affiliation to KQW later that year, with an option to buy the station outright. KJBS Broadcasters then sold the station and KQW moved to a lavish CBS-owned studio at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco. For all intents and purposes, it became a San Francisco station, though it continued to be licensed in San Jose.

At the end of World War II, KQW found itself in a battle with KSFO for its longtime home on 740 AM, the last Bay Area frequency that was authorized to operate at 50,000 watts. When CBS affiliated with KSFO in 1937, it cut a deal with KQW to swap frequencies with KSFO, which would then boost its power to 50,000 watts. The change was awaiting Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approval when World War II broke out.

By 1945, however, KQW had become San Francisco's CBS affiliate, and CBS was obviously not about to give up the advantage of having the last 50,000-watt frequency in the Bay Area. While the FCC granted the frequency to KSFO, its owners, Associated Broadcasters, later decided to concentrate on plans for its new television station, KPIX-TV (channel 5). Eventually, Associated Broadcasters traded 740 back to CBS in return for KPIX getting the CBS television affiliation for the Bay Area.

CBS exercised its option to buy KQW in 1949, changing the calls to KCBS (the KCBS callsign predates the use on the CBS-owned television station (then KNXT) in Los Angeles by over 30 years, and KCBS-FM there as well). The station also officially changed its city of license to San Francisco after seven years. In 1951, KCBS signed on at 50,000 watts for the first time from an elaborate multi-tower facility in Novato originally intended for KSFO. However, the station is a class B station, not a Class A (clear-channel).

In 1968, KCBS became one of the first all-news stations in the country. However, it already had a long history in news dating back to World War II, when it was the center of CBS' newsgathering efforts in the Pacific Theater.

➦In 1953...The first issue of TV Guide was released in 1953, with a photograph of Lucille Ball and her newborn son, Desi Arnaz, Jr.   The publication reached a circulation of 1,500,000 readers in its first year.

➦In 1959…"Charlie Brown" by The Coasters was banned by the BBC because it contained the word "spitball."  The ban was lifted two weeks later.

➦In 1974...NYC Radio Personality Murray the K exited WNBC 660 AM.  He had joined NBC in 1972 for the weekend NBC Monitor and also for a regular evening weekend program on WNBC radio. Although it was low-key, Murray's WNBC show featured his own innovative trademark programming style, including telling stories that were illustrated by selected songs, his unique segues, and his pairing cuts by theme or idiosyncratic associations.

➦In 1978...Mutual Broadcasting System moved the "Larry King Show" talk show to Washington DC from Miami.

➦In 2014…WBT Charlotte and WSPA Spartnburg radio host Arthur Smith died at age 93.

Smith was also noted for his "Feudin' Banjos" (1955), which was also recorded by Lester Flatt. It was revived as "Dueling Banjos" and used as a theme song in the popular movie, Deliverance (1972).

Released as a single, it became a hit, played on Top 40, AOR, and country stations alike. It reached the Top Ten and hit #1 in the US and Canada.  Because he was not credited in the film for the song, Smith sued Warner Brothers, and gained a settlement. His name was added to the film credits for his piece, and he received a share of royalties.

➦In 2015...Morning host Jim Scott made his final broadcast on WLW 700 AM in Cincinnati after nearly 50 years on the air.

Known for his cheerful disposition and fast-moving show, Scott said he has always enjoyed the intimacy of radio as a medium: "It's just you and me."

Scott started in radio in Cincinnati in 1968. He had been with WLW since 1984.

Jennie Garth
  • Alec Baldwin (actor, 30 Rock, The Cooler, The Hunt For Red October) (62)
  • Adam Scott (actor, Parks and Recreation, Step Brothers, Party Down) (47)
  • Jane Goodall (anthropologist, known for her work with African chimpanzees) (86)
  • Marsha Mason (actress, Cinderella Liberty, wife of Neil Simon) (78)
  • Eddie Murphy (comedian and actor, Daddy Day Care, Trading Places, Dr. Doolittle,Beverly Hills Cop, Coming To America) (59)
  • Wayne Newton (singer) (78)
  • David Hyde Pierce (actor, Frasier's Dr. Niles Crane) (61)
  • Jennie Garth (actress, Beverly Hills, 90210) (48)
  • Amanda Bynes (actress, What A Girl Wants, She's the Man, Hairspray) (34)
  • Aries Spears (actor/comedian, MADtv) (45)
  • Sebastian Bach (rock star, Skid Row) (52)
  • Richard Thompson (singer-songwriter) (71)
  • Tony Orlando (singer, "Tie A Yellow Ribbon Round The Ole Oak Tree," "Knock Three Times") (76)
  • Matthew Goode (actor, Match Point, A Single Man, Watchmen, Leap Year, The Imitation Game, The Good Wife, Downton Abbey) (42)
  • Cobie Smulders (actress, How I Met Your Mother) (38)
  • Leona Lewis (singer, X Factor winner) (34)
  • Paris Jackson (daughter of Michael Jackson) (22)

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