Saturday, August 8, 2020

August 9 Radio History

➦In newscaster Robert McCormick, for more than 30 years a feature member of the NBC news corps, was born in Danville, KY.

The Depression curtailed his formal education, one day he dropped in at the old Washington DC Daily News in hopes of getting a baseball game pass. Instead, he was hired at 18 as a copy boy. He stayed at the News six years as a sports editor, city editor and columnist. He then became Washington correspondent for Colliers magazine, then a major and influential publication.

Robert McCormick
In 1942, when Colliers refused to send him abroad as a World War II correspondent, he moved to NBC. The following year he became central Pacific correspondent, based first at Pearl Harbor and then at Guam. He roamed much of the Pacific and was shot at by Japanese snipers while covering the conquest of Iwo Jima. Many years later he was shot at by rebels in Angola while covering the rebellion against Portuguese rule.

In this country, Mr. McCormick's assignments included many political conventions. They included the 1948 Democratic and Republican conclaves, the first to be covered by television.

When he returned from Europe in 1955 and to his home in Bethesda, he was assigned first to the State Department and then the Capitol, particularly the Senate. He was praised on the Senate floor when he retired from the network in 1976.

For some time Mr. McCormick struggled with alcoholism. Not only did he win, but he became so interested in the lack of treatment for the disease that he wrote a book about it, "Facing Alcoholism," recently reprinted.

He died of heart failure at age 74.

Rex Stout
➦In 1942...CBS radio broadcasts the debut of "Our Secret Weapon." Our Secret Weapon (1942–1943) was a radio series created to counter Axis shortwave radio propaganda broadcasts during World War II.

Writer Rex Stout, chairman of the Writers' War Board and representative of Freedom House, would rebut the most entertaining lies of the week. Sponsored by Freedom House and Philco, the 15-minute weekly series was broadcast Sundays at 7 p.m. ET through October 18, 1942, then Fridays at 7:15 p.m. ET through its final broadcast October 8, 1943.

"Secret Weapon was designed to whip up and excite the nation to a greater war effort — in industry in buying war bonds, in every avenue toward victory," said series creator Sue Taylor White of Freedom House.

➦In 1945....Radio brought news of the dropping of a second atomic bomb which caused Japan’s surrender ending World War II. The US Air Force exploded a nuclear device over Nagasaki, instantly killing an estimated 39,000 people. The explosion came just three days after a similar atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima.

In 1964...Storer-owned WJBK 1500 AM in Detroit, dropped Top40 music and adopted an easy-listening format.

In 1954, WJBK moved to its current frequency at 1500 AM with 10,000 watts. By this time, Storer Broadcasting owned WJBK-AM-FM and had also signed on WJBK-TV on channel 2 as Detroit's CBS TV affiliate. In 1956, WJBK became the first radio station in Detroit to feature the Top 40 format 24 hours a day; WJBK also published Detroit's first printed survey of the station's most popular songs for distribution at local record stores, dubbed "Formula 45" (which became the station's catchphrase). WJBK's chief competitor in the format during the late 1950s and early 1960s was WXYZ/1270, and the two stations were frequently neck-and-neck in the ratings. 

Since WJBK had retained ownership of the "Jack the Bellboy" name after Ed McKenzie left the station, there were several more "Jack the Bellboy"s at Radio 15 during the late 1950s and early 1960s, including Tom Clay (known for creating a romantic aura on the air), Dave Shafer, Terry Knight and Robin Walker. Other popular WJBK personalities included longtime morning host Marc Avery, midday host Clark Reid and afternoon drive personality Robert E. Lee (who claimed to be an actual descendant of the legendary Confederate Civil War general and opened his show every afternoon with a "Rebel Yell").

In 1962, WJBK was granted 50,000 watts day and 5,000 watts, night.

Then, WKNR "Keener 13" was launched at 1310 AM on Halloween 1963, burying the Motor City's Top 40 competition - including WJBK - in its wake with a shorter playlist and a tighter, more energetic presentation than any other station in the market. WJBK gave up the fight in 1964 and switched to an easy listening music format. In 1966 the station tweaked to an early version of what would today be called Hot Adult Contemporary, featuring a mix of softer Hot 100 chart hits from the likes of the Mamas & the Papas, B.J. Thomas, Nancy Sinatra and Bob Dylan, and select album cuts. Through the changes, ratings remained low. The station made a second attempt at Top 40 in 1969 with a lineup of disc jockeys that included K.O. Bayley, Lee 'Baby' Simms, Tom Dean, Jim Hampton and CKLW mainstay Tom Shannon, but it lasted only a few months.

WJBK made another run at Top 40 format in 1969.  The format lasted only a few months. WJBK dropped Top 40 late in 1969 and became WDEE, airing a country format.  It used a Top 40-style sound to present country sound, driving old-style country competitor WEXL out of the format. WDEE also aired a racy program called “Fem Forum,” in which female listeners called in to share their sexual frustrations.

Today 1500 AM is WLQV and airs religious programming.

➦In 1978...The great 88-day NYC newspaper strike began.  During the strike, leader William J. Kennedy delighted his union's members, but angered managers at The Daily News, The New York Post and The New York Times, by digging in against the newspapers' demands to cut back the number of people operating their printing presses.

➦In 2015...former pro footall star/TV commentator Frank Gifford died one week short of his 85th birthday. A post mortem found that he had been suffering from the football-centered brain injury CTE.  For 27 years he was a commentator for ABC-TV’s Monday Night Football.  From 1986 he was married to TV personality Kathie Lee Gifford.

Jessica Capshaw is 44
  • Actor Cynthia Harris (“Mad About You,” “L.A. Law”) is 86. 
  • Jazz drummer Jack DeJohnette is 78. 
  • Comedian David Steinberg is 78. 
  • Actor Sam Elliott is 76. 
  • Singer Barbara Mason is 73. 
  • Actor Melanie Griffith is 63. 
  • Actor Amanda Bearse (“Married...With Children”) is 62. 
  • Rapper Kurtis Blow is 61. “Today” co-host Hoda Kotb is 56. 
  • Actor Pat Petersen (“Knots Landing”) is 54. 
  • Actor Gillian Anderson (“The X-Files”) is 52. 
  • Actor Eric Bana (“Star Trek,” ″The Hulk”) is 52. 
  • News correspondent Chris Cuomo is 50. 
  • Actor Thomas Lennon (new “The Odd Couple,” ″Reno 911!”) is 50. 
  • Bassist Arion Salazar (Third Eye Blind) is 50. 
  • Rapper Mack 10 is 49. 
  • Singer Juanes is 48. 
  • Actor Liz Vassey (“CSI,” ″All My Children”) is 48. 
  • Actor Kevin McKidd (“Grey’s Anatomy”) is 47. 
  • Actor Rhona Mitra (“Nip/Tuck,” “Boston Legal”) is 45. 
  • Actor Jessica Capshaw (“Grey’s Anatomy,” “The Practice”) is 44. 
  • Actor Ashley Johnson (“The Help”) is 37. 
  • Actor Anna Kendrick (“Pitch Perfect,” ″Twilight”) is 35.

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