Wednesday, May 20, 2020

May 20 Radio History

➦In 1901...Reginald Fessenden applied for high-frequency dynamo patent.  Fessenden (October 6, 1866 – July 22, 1932) was a Canadian-born inventor, who did a majority of his work in the United States and also claimed U-S citizenship through his American-born father.  During his life he received hundreds of patents in various fields, most notably ones related to radio and sonar.

Fessenden is best known for his pioneering work developing radio technology, including the foundations of amplitude modulation (AM) radio. His achievements included the first transmission of speech by radio (1900), and the first two-way radiotelegraphic communication across the Atlantic Ocean (1906). In 1932 he reported that, in late 1906, he also made the first radio broadcast of entertainment and music, although a lack of verifiable details has led to some doubts about this claim.

Reginald Aubrey Fessenden, is generally ignored and largely unknown. On December 24, 1906, at 9 P.M. eastern standard time, Reginald Fessenden transmitted human voices from Brant Rock near Boston, Massachusetts to several ships at sea owned by the United Fruit Company.

The host of the broadcast was Fessenden. After giving a resume of the program Fessenden played a recording of Handel's "Largo" on an Ediphone thus establishing two records - the first recording of the first broadcast. Fessenden then dazzled his listeners with his talent as a violinist playing appropriately for the Christmas season, "Oh Holy Night" and actually singing the last verse as he played. Mrs. Helen Fessenden and Fessenden's secretary Miss Bent, had promised to read seasonal passages from the Bible including, "Glory to God in the highest -and on earth peace to men of good will," but when the time came to perform they stood speechless, paralyzed with mike fright. Fessenden took over for them and concluded the broadcast by extending Christmas greetings to his listeners - as well as asking them to write and report to him on the broadcast wherever they were.

The mail response confirmed that Fessenden had successfully invented radio as we know it.

Technically, he had invented radio telephony or what radio listeners would call "real" radio as opposed to Marconi's Morse code broadcasting. Fessenden could truly lay claim to be the inventor of radio and he fully expected the world to beat a path to his door. Instead, he never received his due recognition, lost control of his patents and the ensuing revenue which made other inventors and companies immensely wealthy. Even today the Encyclopedia Canadiana does not give him a separate listing. Mention of him is only included under the listing for his mother Clementina who established Empire Day in Canada. Reginald is mentioned as one of her four sons, "inventor of the wireless telephone, the radio compass and the visible bullet for machine guns, he also invented the first television set in North America in 1919."

➦In 1919...In 1919, the Canadian Marconi Co. was licensed for  XWA (Experimental Wireless Apparatus) in Montreal and in 1920,  it became the first commercial broadcast radio station (CFCF) in Canada, operating at 600 AM.

➦In 1960...WRCA 660 AM in NYC became WNBC...again.

WNBC signed on for the first time on March 2, 1922, as WEAF, owned by AT&T Western Electric. It was the first radio station in New York City.

The call are popularly thought to have stood for Western Electric AT&T Fone or Water, Earth, Air, and Fire (the 4 classical elements).   However, records suggest that the call letters were assigned from an alphabetical sequence. The first assigned call was actually WDAM; it was quickly dropped, but presumably came from the same alphabetical sequence.

In 1922, WEAF broadcast what it later claimed to be the first radio advertisement (actually a roughly 10-minute long talk anticipating today's radio and television infomercials) which promoted an apartment development in Jackson Heights near a new elevated train line, (the IRT's Flushing-Corona line, now the number 7 line).

In 1926, WEAF was purchased by the Radio Corporation of America, making it a sister station to WJZ. RCA then formed the National Broadcasting Company, which operated two radio chains.

WEAF became the flagship station of the NBC Red Network. The other chain was the NBC Blue Network, whose programming originated at WJZ (now WABC), also owned by RCA. As a result of the North American Radio Broadcasting Agreement of 1941, WEAF became a clear channel station, and could be heard across most of the eastern half of North America at night.

On November 11, 1928, WEAF moved from 610 to 660 AM. The move that solidified WEAF's position as the most pretigious of all broadcasters took place in the autumn of 1933, when NBC moved to 30 Rockefeller Plaza and became the "radio" that gave Radio City its name.

In 1943, the United States Supreme Court ordered RCA to sell off one of its radio networks, citing antitrust concerns. The company decided to keep the Red Network, and it was rebranded as the NBC Radio Network after the Blue Network was divested, along with several stations (including WJZ), to Edward J. Noble and rechristened the Blue Network as the American Broadcasting Company. WEAF's call letters were changed to WNBC in 1946, then to WRCA in 1954, and back to WNBC in 1960.

In 1988...Howard Stern fans disrupt WMMR's & John DeBella's "Louie Louie" parade in Philadelphia.

➦In 2011…John Cigna died at age 75 following a stroke ( Born - December 11, 1935).  He spent 28 years at KDKA 1020 AM in Pittsburgh, starting in 1973 until his retirement in 2001.

Cigna was born in 1935 in Brooklyn, New York.  He worked at radio stations in West Virginia, Ohio and Indiana before moving to Pittsburgh in 1969 to take up a position at WJAS as the sports anchor and morning news director.

John Cigna
Cigna moved to KDKA-AM in Pittsburgh on March 11, 1973, when he hosted a talk show from 9:00 PM to midnight. Cigna became known for his often brash and confrontational demeanor, unafraid to call unreasonable listeners 'stupid' when provoked. He also became known for his famous catchphrases, including 'babycakes', 'piece of cake', 'I don't believe this', and 'Oh, brother!'.

Cigna's late night tenure lasted until 1983, where he moved to the morning slot after previous morning host Jack Bogut moved to WTAE-AM.  The show, dubbed "John Cigna and the K-Team" consisted of Dave James, Fred Honsberger and sportscaster Nellie King.

Management, fearing a ratings dip after Bogut's departure, embarked on a heavy advertising campaign to promote Cigna on co-owned KDKA-TV, where Cigna appeared in a number of self-depricating promos that usually began with "John Cigna is learning firsthand about...", and depending on the ad, it would be KDKA news, the KDKA Storm Center, and the KDKA Traffic Copter, among others.

Cigna also became noted for performing two stunts in the KDKA news promo, where he jumped onto the hood of a moving station vehicle, and having a door slammed into his face (accidentally) by then-News Director Honsberger. Though KDKA was long-established as the top-rated station in Pittsburgh, ratings remained fairly steady after Cigna's move to mornings.

Cigna was paired with Honsberger in 1996 to do the morning show, now dubbed The Morning News with John Cigna, but Honsberger was moved back to his afternoon slot 6 months later.

Upon his retirement in September 2001, Cigna's on-air absences had been getting more frequent, to the point where billboards promoted "Where's Cigna?". Cigna's health began to decline since suffering injuries in a motorcycle crash two years prior. He was succeeded by Larry Richert as host of the morning show.

➦In 2014...77-year-old Bill Berg, a popular afternoon-drive talk show host on WGN 720 AM in the 1970s, died of complications from Parkinson's disease.  Berg's first radio job was with a station in a small town in Illinois.

Bill Berg
He then worked at stations in Springfield, Lafayette, Ind., Detroit and Milwaukee before moving to Chicago in May 1966 to host an overnight program called "Nightwatch" on WIND.

In 1969, Mr. Berg began, hosting and producing a nightly sports talk radio show at WIND and working as its sports director. He also moderated a talk show featuring then-Cubs manager Leo Durocher. In 1970, Mr. Berg spent a season helping out on Bulls broadcasts.

In August 1971, Mr. Berg joined WGN as its afternoon drive-time music and talk show host.

Berg generated strong ratings at WGN during the 1970s. He also worked occasional Cubs games on the station and on WGN-TV, and also broadcast DePaul and Loyola basketball games and the Big Ten football game of the week. With Merri Dee, Mr. Berg co-hosted a short-lived WGN-TV show in 1973 called "Our Town Today."

  • Actor David Proval (“The Sopranos”) is 78. 
  • Singer-actress Cher is 74. 
  • Actor Dave Thomas (“Grace Under Fire,” ″SCTV”) is 72. 
  • Actor Dean Butler (“Little House on the Prairie”) is 64. 
  • Guitarist Jane Wiedlin of The Go-Go’s is 62. 
  • Actor Bronson Pinchot is 61. 
  • Singer Susan Cowsill of The Cowsills is 61. 
  • Actor John Billingsley (“True Blood,” ″Enterprise”) is 60. 
  • Actor Tony Goldwyn (“Scandal”) is 60. 
  • Singer Nick Heyward of Haircut 100 is 59. 
  • TV personality Ted Allen (“Queer Eye for the Straight Guy”) is 55. 
  • Actress Mindy Cohn (“Facts of Life”) is 54. 
  • Rapper Busta Rhymes is 48. 
  • Actor Matt Czuchry (“The Good Wife,” ″Gilmore Girls”) is 43. 
  • Country singer Jon Pardi is 35.

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