Thursday, December 31, 2020

December 31 Radio History

➦In 1910...Actor Dick Kollmar was born in Rigewood NJ. He starred as 'Boston Blackie' in the long-running radio show, and co-hosted a WOR New York chat show with his wife, gossip columnist Dorothy Kilgallen.  On TV he hosted the series Broadway Spotlight & Guess What. He died Jan. 7 1971, an apparent suicide at age 60.

➦In 1914...Roy Rogers’ sidekick Pat Brady was born in Toledo Ohio. He appeared in more than 100 episodes of TV’s Roy Rogers Show, after hooking up with Roy in films & on radio.   He also sang with the western group Sons of the Pioneers. He died in a car accident Feb. 27 1972 at age 57.

➦In 1920...cowboy actor & narrator Rex Allen was born on a ranch in Arizona. Although he sang on radio’s WLS National Barn Dance, published over 300 songs, and starred in 19 Republic western movies, he is best remembered today for his distinctive narration of dozens of Disney films & TV shows.  He died Dec 17, 1999 just days short of his 79th birthday, after being accidently run over in his own driveway.

➦In 1923...In London,, the BBC began using the distinctive Big Ben chime ID.

➦In 1923...the first transatlantic radio broadcast of a voice occurred between Pittsburgh and Manchester, England.

➦In 1926...KOMO signed on the air in Seattle at AM 980.  Today the longtime Fisher Broadcasting outlet has an all-news format at AM 1000.

KOMO Control circa 1948 (Photos courtesy of

In July 1926, KOMO was founded on Harbor Island as KGFA 980 by two owners: Birt F. Fisher, whose lease on Seattle radio station KTCL was about to run out, and the Fisher brothers of Fisher Flouring Mills, who had been on the island since 1911. (The Fisher Brothers and Birt Fisher were not related.) In preparation for the switch to the new station, Birt Fisher changed KTCL's call sign to KOMO.

In December, his lease ended, and he took the call letters with him to KGFA. KOMO 980's first broadcast was December 31, 1926. The studios moved to Downtown Seattle in 1927. The station also began a long-running affiliation with NBC Radio that year as well, primarily with the Red Network, but also with the short-lived West Coast NBC Orange Network from 1931 to 1933. Over the following years, KOMO's frequency would go from 980 to 1080, back to 980, down to 920, up to 970, then back to 920, and settled at 950 after the NARBA frequency shakeup in 1941.

Circa 1948

Fisher's Blend Station, owner of KOMO, bought NBC Blue Network affiliate KJR from NBC in 1941. In 1944, KOMO switched frequencies with KJR (then at 1000 kHz) and sold KJR off two years later. At its new frequency, KOMO began broadcasting with 50,000 watts of power from its current transmitter site on Vashon Island in 1948. New studios at the corner of Fourth and Denny, near what is now the Seattle Center, were dedicated in February 1948.

➦In 1928...For the first time Auld Lang Syne was played by Guy Lombardo and his Royal Canadians to bring in 1929, during the band’s annual New Year’s Eve Party at  New York’s Hotel Roosevelt Grill. The event was heard on the CBS radio network, and became the longest running annual special program in broadcast history.

➦In 1940...ASCAP prevented the radio industry from playing any ASCAP-licensed music. The ban lasted for ten months. It was in reaction to a dispute between the radio networks and ASCAP, the American Society of Composers and Publishers.

➦In 1943...Country singer John Denver was born Henry John Deutschendorf.  Denver was killed AT age 53 on Oct 12, 1997, when his home-built high-performance aircraft he was piloting over Monterey Bay, California. crashed.

➦In 1961...LA radio station KFWB hired the Beach Boys for $300, appearing under that name for the first time, to perform at their Ritchie Valen’s Memorial Dance in Long Beach.   Previously the group had played California nightclubs as The Pendletones, as Kenny and the Cadets, and as Carl and the Passions.

➦In 1963...The "Dear Abby Show" premiered on the CBS Radio network. The 5-minutes program aired for 11 years.

➦In 1967...Radio stations across the nation had to comply with an FCC mandate that AM/FM outlets in major cities had to air non-duplicated programming.  The limit was 50 percent for simulcasts. Here's a NY Times story dated December 31, 1966 concerning NYC stations...

➦In 1970...Paul McCartney filed a suit against the rest of The Beatles to dissolve their partnership.

➦In 1972..., “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve” aired for the first time on NBC-TV. The annual Times Square special moved to ABC-TV two years later. Three Dog Night, Blood, Sweat & Tears, Helen Reddy, and Al Green, performed.

➦In 1982...the "CBS Mystery Theater" aired its final episode after 8 years on radio.

➦In 1982...the NBC Radio network cancelled practically all of it's daily features.

➦In 1985...singer Rick Nelson was killed when fire broke out aboard a private plane that was taking him to a New Year’s Eve performance in Dallas. His fiancee and five other people were also killed. the fire was caused by a malfunctioning gas heater.

Nelson was 45.

➦In 1989...The final edit was added to the traditional WLS Music Montage.

Every New Year's Eve, the "Top 89" songs of the year were counted down on WLS-AM (and FM). After the #1 song was played at about 4 minutes before Midnight.

Each year added about a minute of the previous top songs in Chicago. The montage originally started short, as you can guess, and ultimately ended up as this 27+ minute marathon.

After WLS-AM changed to all-talk in 1989, this montage was no longer heard in Chicago. But thanks to Scott Childers, this version can be heard exactly as it was played every year. Kudos to Scott for putting this together!

This is an appreciation to the production work that Scott, Tommy Edwards (the originator) and the production staff created over the years.

Thanks to Scott Childers for the permission to post this. Check out his site at

Bob Grant
➦In 2013...Veteran talk radio personality Bob Grant died at age 84. His career spanned more than 60-years.

Grant began working in radio in the 1940s at the news department at WBBM-AM in Chicago, as a radio personality and television talk show host at KNX-AM in Los Angeles, and as an actor. During the Korean War, he served in the Naval Reserve.

He later became sports director at KABC-AM in Los Angeles, where after some substitute appearances he inherited the talk show of early controversialist Joe Pyne in 1964 and began to build a following. Grant hosted three shows on KABC-AM in 1964 titled, "Open Line," "Night Line," and "Sunday Line."

Grant was approached to come to New York by executives at WMCA 570 AM when the station was beocming a talk station. He was recommended to them by broadcast executive Jack Thayer, who had been the station manager of KLAC. Grant was opposed to the move, as he hated what he knew about New York i.e. the subways, crime, and congestion. He also had four children and a home in Los Angeles.

Grant was convinced to come to New York when an executive said to him at the end of a meeting, "It's just too bad that the number-one talk-show host in America doesn't want to come to the number-one market in America."  Grant came to New York and did his first show on WMCA on September 21, 1970, where he worked for station manager R. Peter Straus.

 After being in New York for a short time, Grant wanted to go back to Los Angeles. He was contacted by the former news director at KLAC, who was now a program director at another station to join his station, but Grant declined, because he had signed a two-year contract with WMCA.  Grant's unhappiness being in New York led to him becoming angry with the callers. He hoped to get fired by R. Peter Strauss, however his ratings soared as he got angrier.

  • Actor Anthony Hopkins is 83. 
  • Bebe Neuwirth is 62
    Actor Tim Considine (“My Three Sons”) is 80. 
  • Actor Sarah Miles (“The Big Sleep”) is 79. 
  • Actor Barbara Carrera (“Never Say Never Again”) is 79. 
  • Guitarist Andy Summers of The Police is 78. 
  • Actor Ben Kingsley is 77. 
  • Actor Tim Matheson is 73. 
  • Singer Burton Cummings of The Guess Who is 73. 
  • Actor Joe Dallesandro (“The Limey”) is 72. 
  • Bassist Tom Hamilton of Aerosmith is 69. 
  • Actor James Remar (“Dexter”) is 67. 
  • Actor Bebe Neuwirth (“Madam Secretary,” “Cheers”) is 62. 
  • Singer Paul Westerberg is 61. 
  • Actor Val Kilmer is 61. 
  • Guitarist Ric Ivanisevich of Oleander is 58. 
  • Guitarist Scott Ian of Anthrax is 57. 
  • Actor Lance Reddick (“Fringe,” ″The Wire”) is 51. 
  • Singer-actor Joe McIntyre of New Kids on the Block is 48. 
  • Cellist Mikko Siren of Apocalyptica is 45. 
  • Singer Psy is 43. 
  • Drummer Bob Bryar (My Chemical Romance) is 41. 
  • Drummer Jason Sechrist of Portugal. The Man is 41. 
  • Actor Ricky Whittle (“American Gods”) is 41. 
  • Actor Erich Bergen (“Madam Secretary,” ″Jersey Boys”) is 35. 
  • Musician Drew Taggart of The Chainsmokers is 31.

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