Monday, May 18, 2020

May 18 Radio History

Meredith Wilson (far left) and band at KPO Studios, San Francisco
➦In 1902...Composer/bandleader/radio personality Meredith Willson was born in Mason City, Iowa.

Besides his celebrity as the creator of the Broadway smash, ‘Music Man.’ Willson was a giant in radio.

In San Francisco, Willson was concert director for radio station KFRC, and then as a musical director for the NBC radio network in Hollywood.[His on-air radio debut came on KFRC in 1928 on Blue Monday Jamboree.

His work in films included composing the score for Charlie Chaplin's The Great Dictator (1940) (Academy Award nomination for Best Original Score), and arranging music for the score of William Wyler's The Little Foxes (1941) (Academy Award nomination for Best Music Score of a Dramatic Picture).

During World War II, he worked for the United States' Armed Forces Radio Service. His work with the AFRS teamed him with George Burns, Gracie Allen and Bill Goodwin. He would work with all three as the bandleader, and a regular character, on the Burns and Allen radio program. He played a shy man, always trying to get advice on women. His character was ditsy as well, basically a male version of Gracie Allen's character.

He suffered heart failure and died June 15, 1984 at age 82.

➦In 1934...‘The Hour of Charm’ debuted, beginning an intermittent 14-year run on the CBS and NBC radio networks.  The musical half-hour featured Phil Spitalny and his All-Girl Orchestra.

➦In’s espionage adventure drama 'Counterspy' premiered on the Blue Network/ABC. The 30-minute show with the distinctive theme (Love of Three Oranges) would last on radio for 15 years, including runs in the 1950s on NBC and Mutual.

➦In 1966...there was  a Top 40 battle in Denver between KIMN 950 AM and KBTR 710.

Listeners were tuning in to hear Gary Todd, Robert E. Lee, Jim O’Brien, Chuck Buell, Hal Moore, JayMack, Johnny Presley, George Michael.

KEWB Playlist - circa 1960
➦In 1966...KEWB 910 AM San Francisco switched from Top40 to easy listening. The station was probably anticipating the arrival of Drake-formatted KFRC 610 AM.  KEWB switched its call letters to KNEW and mimicked sister station WNEW in NYC.

➦In 1966..93KHJ, Los Angeles was a solid #1. The station has just raised its advertising rates for the fifth time to about $70.00 a spot.

WMID Playlist -circa 1967
➦In 1969...WMID 1340 AM Atlantic City, NJ sounding a lot like WABC NYC, gets a 42 share in the latest Pulse ratings.

➦In 1969...KNEW 910 AM flipped formats again. It was talk, but is now presenting a hip, easy listening music format featuring Simon and Garfunkle, Dionne Warwick, Gary Puckett, Frank Sinatra etc. The only talkhost staying is Hilly Rose, which airs from 10pm to 2am. KNEW had tried a low-key music format in 1966, when the station flipped to KNEW from KEWB.

➦In 1969...“Love” - the new syndicated album rock format from ABC Radio, launched amonthly album list. It will be available in area record stores in all markets offeringthe show. Call letters of the individual stations will be on the list. It was about 21 inches long on heavy stock paper. ABC says it will not be based on sales of albums, but on the total number of cuts from each album played each month on “Love.” The format is hosted by John Rydgren.

➦In 1969...Top-40 started airing more oldies. First on  WOR-FM, WMCA NYC.  Also WHK, Cleveland and WEEL,Washington. Drake formatted stations like KHJ, Los Angeles and WRKO, Boston featured “Million Dollar” weekends.

➦In 1969...Clark Race. highly-rated evening deejay on KDKA, quit claiming that radio in Pittsburgh has become boring because he no longer has a say in the music. He had a TV pilot pending at NBC and ended-up on KMPC 710 AM Los Angeles

➦In 1975...American composer/conductor Leroy Anderson succumbed to cancer at age 66.  He is best remembered for his light concert instrumentals  such as Blue Tango, Sleigh Ride, the Syncopated Clock, the Typewriter, and Bugler’s Holiday.

➦In 1979...Rick Dees joined 93KHJ Los Angeles for mornings… Dusty Street is doing mornings at crosstown KROQ. M.G. Kelly departed Top40 KTNQ 1020 AM L-A saying he’s leaving radio to concentrate on television. He has a new 30-minute “The M.G. Kelly TV Show,” now in production.

➦In 1979...Speaking at an advertising seminar...Rick Sklar argued that disco played on a contemporary station doesn’t make that station a disco station. Sklar pointed to “unheard of skews of demographics” among disco stations. He was talking about WKTU-FM – a station that was now beating WABC, Sklar went on to say that the station has a 21 share among single listeners and a 17 share among divorced listeners.

➦In 1979...Steve Marshall departed KNX-FM L-A as program director to join “WKRP In Cincinnati” as writer and story editor.

➦In 1979...Matrix Communications signed Charlie Tuna to voice something called “The Radio Picture Show” – six 90-minute TV music specials. The show will feature video performances by leading pop-rock-disco artists in a top-40 rotation. A series of jingles and mini-features with visual accompaniment have been produced to be inter-spaced throughout the musical countdown.

Ruth Meyer with Jack Spector, Barbara Mandrell
➦In 1985...Ruth Meyer was now station manager of WHN, New York. Her boss is Gary Stevens, President of Doubleday. She was once Gary’s boss when he was a WMCA Good Guy during the 1960’s. She programmed WHN when is switched to country in 1973.

➦In 1986...Bobby Jay started full time at WCBS 101.1 FM NYC.

➦In 1989...New York 12+ ratings...Z100 – 5.2...Oldies WCBS-FM 5.0...WPLJ-3.5…WXRK mornings with Howard Stern – 5.8.

In Los Angeles...KIIS-FM 6.2…Pirate Radio is flat at a 2.7. Rick Dees mornings at KIIS AM/FM – 7.4 share. Rival Jay Thomas at KPWR 5.7.

➦In 1989.... John Rio, the voice of “Mr. Leonard” on WHTZ, the Z-100 morning zoo singed a new, exclusive five-year deal with Malrite, Z100’s owner and will work out a separate contact to keep working with Scott Shannon’s “Rockin’ America” countdown and perhaps with Shannon’s “Pirate Radio” in Los Angeles.

➦In 2005..."Crazy Cabbie” (Lee Mroszak) - best know to Howard Stern listeners - is sentenced to a year in prison for income tax evasion. He had pleaded not guilty - but admitted to doing so on the Stern show.

➦In 2011…Worcester, Massachusetts radio legend Dick Smith, who spent 30 years as a broadcaster for WORC, died at the age of 84.

➦In 2012...WRKS  NYC changed calls to WEPN-FM.

➦In 2017…Fox News Channel founder/ex-chairman/CEO Roger Ailes died of head injuries suffered in a fall in his bathroom at the age of 77.

Francesca Battistelli
  • Actress Priscilla Pointer (“Dallas,” ″Carrie,” ″Blue Velvet”) is 96. 
  • Actor Robert Morse is 89. 
  • Actor Dwayne Hickman (“The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis”) is 86. 
  • Actress Candice Azzara (“In Her Shoes,” ″Caroline in the City,” ″Rhoda”) is 79. 
  • Bluegrass singer-guitarist Rodney Dillard of The Dillards is 78. 
  • Country singer Joe Bonsall of the Oak Ridge Boys is 72. 
  • Keyboardist Rick Wakeman of Yes is 71. 
  • Singer Mark Mothersbaugh of Devo is 70. 
  • Actor James Stephens (“Paper Chase,” ″Father Dowling Mysteries”) is 69. 
  • Country singer George Strait is 68. 
  • Actor Chow Yun-Fat (“Anna and the King,” ″The Replacement Killers”) is 65. 
  • Singer-actress Martika (“Wiseguy”) is 51. 
  • Comedian Tina Fey (“30 Rock,” ″Saturday Night Live”) is 50.
  •  Musician Jack Johnson is 45. 
  • Country singer David Nail is 41. 
  • Singer Darryl Allen of Mista is 40. 
  • Actor Allen Leech (“Downton Abbey”) is 39. 
  • Guitarist Kevin Huguley of Rush of Fools is 38. 
  • Contemporary Christian singer Francesca Battistelli is 35. 
  • Actress Violett Beane (“God Friended Me”) is 24.

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