Tuesday, May 19, 2020

May 19 Radio History

➦In 1926...inventor Thomas Edison spoke at a dinner for the National Electric Light Association in Atlantic City, NJ. Reportedly, when asked to speak into the microphone, he said, “I don’t know what to say. This is the first time I ever spoke into one of these things … Good night.”

➦In 1960...On this day in 1960, the man who coined the term, "Rock And Roll", Alan Freed, along with Mel Leeds and 7 other NYC disc-jockeys were accused of taking payola.

The others  included: Peter Tripp of WMGM, Hal Jackson of WLIB, Tommy (Dr. Jive) Smalls of WWRL and  Jack Walker, ex-WOV.

Peter Tripp was immediately fired from his popular late afternoon air shift at WMGM.

After departing from 1010 WINS, Freed for a time was employed in New York by WABC 770 AM around 1958, about two years before it evolved into one of America's great Top 40 stations by launching its "Musicradio" format.

At this time, WABC (unlike Top40 WINS) was more of a full-service station which began implementing some music programming elements.

Freed was fired in 1959 by WABC during a dispute where he refused to sign a statement certifying that he had never accepted payola.

➦In 1994....Humorist Henry Morgan died at age 79 from lung cancer (Born - Henry Lerner Van Ost Jr.).  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.

He began his radio career as a page at New York City station WMCA in 1932, after which he held a number of obscure radio jobs, including announcing. In 1940, he was offered a daily 15-minute series on Mutual Broadcasting System's flagship station, WOR. This show was a 15-minute comedy,[which he opened almost invariably with "Good evening, anybody; here's Morgan."  He also was a personality for WOR, WNBC and WNEW-AM.

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."

Morgan targeted his sponsors freely. One early sponsor had been Adler Shoe Stores, which came close to canceling its account after Morgan started making references to "Old Man Adler" on the air; the chain changed its mind after it was learned business spiked upward, with many new patrons asking to meet Old Man Adler. Morgan had to read an Adler commercial heralding the new fall line of colors; Morgan thought the colors were dreadful, and said he wouldn't wear them to a dogfight, but perhaps the listeners would like them. Old Man Adler demanded a retraction on the air. Morgan obliged: "I would wear them to a dogfight." Morgan later recalled with bemusement, "It made him happy."

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.

He continued to target sponsors whose advertising copy rankled him, and those barbs didn't always sit well with his new sponsors, either. He is alleged to have said of his sponsor's Oh Henry! candy bar (after exhorting listeners to try one), "Eat two, and your teeth will fall out."

Life Savers candy, another 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.

Morgan had his fans and his professional admirers, including authors Robert Benchley and James Thurber, fellow radio humorists Fred Allen, Jack Benny, and Fanny Brice, future Today Show host Dave Garroway, and Red Skelton.

➦In 2010…Longtime Seattle radio personality Bob Liddle, with more than 50 years on the air in the Pacific Northwest died at age 88.

Bob Liddle
Liddle spent much of his nearly 60-year radio career announcing, spinning big-band records, hosting easy-listening shows and reading the news on Seattle's KIXI 880 AM. He is perhaps best known for his years hosting KIXI's "Sunday Brunch."

But in his long career he also worked as the station's program director and often hosted New Year's Eve "Tuxedo Junction" celebrations at the downtown Seattle Westin Hotel.

➦In 2016...Newly retired TV newsman and 60 Minutes correspondent Morley Safer died at age 84. During his lengthy career he brought the horrors of the Vietnam War into American living rooms in the 1960s, and was a mainstay of the CBS newsmagazine “60 Minutes” for almost five decades.

Kim Zolciak Bierman
  • TV personality David Hartman is 85. 
  • Actor James Fox is 81. 
  • Actress Nancy Kwan is 81. 
  • Musician Pete Townshend is 75. 
  • Singer-bassist Dusty Hill of ZZ Top is 71. 
  • Singer-actress-model Grace Jones is 69. 
  • Drummer Phil Rudd (AC/DC) is 66. 
  • Actor Steven Ford is 64. 
  • Actress Toni Lewis (“Homicide,” ″Oz,” ″As the World Turns”) is 60. 
  • Guitarist Iain Harvie of Del Amitri is 58. 
  • Actor Jason Gray-Stanford (“Monk”) is 50. 
  • Singer Jenny Berggren of Ace of Base is 48. 
  • TV personality Kim Zolciak Biermann (“Real Housewives of Atlanta”) is 42. 
  • Comedian Michael Che (“Saturday Night Live”) is 37. 
  • Actor Eric Lloyd (“The Santa Clause”) is 34. 
  • Singer Sam Smith is 28. 
  • Actor Nolan Lyons (“Boardwalk Empire”) is 19.

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