Tuesday, December 8, 2020

December 8 Radio History

➦In 1927…The term "Grand Ole Opry" was used for the first time to refer to the Saturday Night aired on WSM, Nashville. The show was originally named WSM Barn Dance, and George D. Hay billed himself as "The Solemn Old Judge."

The Barn Dance was broadcast after NBC's Music Appreciation Hour, a program featuring classical music and grand opera. On this day in, the final music piece on the Music Appreciation Hour depicted the sound of a rushing locomotive. After the show ended, "Judge Hay" opened the WSM Barn Dance with this announcement:
Friends, the program which just came to a close was devoted to the classics. Doctor Damrosch [host of the program] told us that there is no place in the classics for realism. However, from here on out for the next three hours, we will present nothing but realism. It will be down to earth for the 'earthy'.
Hay then introduced the man he dubbed "The Harmonica Wizard," DeFord Bailey, who played his classic train song, "The Pan American Blues," named for the crack Louisville and Nashville Railroad passenger train The Pan-American. After Bailey's performance, Hay commented, "For the past hour, we have been listening to music taken largely from Grand Opera. From now on we will present the Grand Ole Opry."

➦In 1940...the first NFL championship game heard nationally aired on the Mutual Broadcasting System. Red Barber called the game  and the Bears beat the Redskins, 73-0, in the most one-sided NFL final ever.

➦In 1941…A Presidential Address was delivered at 12:30 p.m. to a Joint Session of Congress by U. S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, one day after the Empire of Japan's attack on the Pearl Harbor Naval Base in Hawaii. Roosevelt described the previous day as "a date which will live in infamy."

Within an hour of the speech, Congress passed a formal declaration of war against Japan and officially brought the U.S. into World War II. Britain and Canada also declared war on Japan, although both countries already had been fighting World War II in Europe against Germany.

➦In 1962…DJ-promoter Alan Freed appeared at his payola trial in NYC and admitted to receiving money from record labels to play their songs on the air.

He was found guilty, fined $300, and given six months probation, but the irreparable damage to his reputation and career had been done.

Dick Clark, host of ABC-TV's "American Bandstand," was also questioned but was cleared of all charges.

➦In 1962...During the 1962–63 New York City newspaper strike,WABC 95.5 FM  programmed news for 17 hours daily. This was  about two-and-a-half years before 1010 WINS launched its own around-the-clock, all-news format in April 1965.

The all-news effort on WABC-FM was followed by stints with Broadway show tunes and general freeform programming, including broadcasts of New York Mets baseball games.

➦In 1980...John Lennon, formerly of The Beatles, was fatally shot in the archway of the Dakota, his residence in New York City.

The perp was Mark David Chapman, who stated that he was incensed by Lennon's lifestyle and public statements, especially his much-publicized remark about the Beatles being "more popular than Jesus" and the lyrics of his later songs "God" and "Imagine". Chapman also said he was inspired by the fictional character Holden Caulfield from J. D. Salinger's novel The Catcher in the Rye.

Chapman planned the killing over the course of several months and waited for Lennon at the Dakota in the morning.

During the evening, he met Lennon, who signed his copy of the just-released album 'Double Fantasy'. Lennon then left with wife Yoko Ono for a recording session at Record Plant Studio. Later that night, the couple returned to the Dakota.

As they walked toward the archway entrance of the building, Chapman fired five hollow-point bullets from a .38 special revolver, four of which hit Lennon in the back. Chapman remained at the scene until he was arrested by the police, reading The Catcher in the Rye.

Lennon was rushed in a police cruiser to Roosevelt Hospital, where he was pronounced dead on arrival. 

Ono asked the hospital not to report to the media that her husband was dead until she had informed their 5-year-old son Sean, who was at home. However, news producer Alan J. Weiss of WABC-TV7 NYC had been waiting to be treated in the Roosevelt Hospital ER after being injured in a motorcycle accident earlier in the evening. Weiss recalled in a 2013 interview for the CNN series Crimes of the Century that he had seen Lennon being wheeled into the room surrounded by several police officers. After he learned what happened, Weiss called back to the station to relay the information. Eventually, word made its way through the chain of command to ABC News president Roone Arledge.

Arledge, who was also the president of the network's sports division, was presiding over ABC's telecast of Monday Night Football in his capacity as its executive producer. When Arledge received word of Lennon's death, a game between the New England Patriots and the Miami Dolphins was tied with less than a minute left in the fourth quarter and the Patriots were driving toward the potential winning score. As the Patriots tried to put themselves in position for a field goal, Arledge informed Frank Gifford and Howard Cosell of the shooting and suggested that they be the ones to report on the murder.

Cosell, who had interviewed Lennon during a Monday Night Football broadcast in 1974, was chosen to do so but was apprehensive of it at first, as he felt the game should take precedence and that it was not their place to break such a big story. Gifford convinced Cosell otherwise. (see video above).

Chapman pleaded guilty of murdering Lennon and was given a sentence of 20-years-to-life imprisonment. He has been denied parole ten times since he became eligible in 2000.

➦In 2004…Iconic "American Bandstand" host Dick Clark suffered what was initially termed a minor stroke. The 75-year-old was hospitalized in Los Angeles and it was later announced that Clark would be unable to host his annual New Year's Rockin' Eve broadcast.

Clark returned to the series the following year, but the dysarthria that resulted from the stroke rendered him unable to speak clearly for the remainder of his life. On April 18, 2012, Clark died from a fatal heart attack in April 2012 at the age of 82 while undergoing a transurethral resection procedure to treat an enlarged prostate.

➦In 2012…Hartford radio personality Arnold Dean, who aired for nearly 65 years as host of WTIC's "SportsTalk", died at age 82 following surgery for a pacemaker replaced.

He began his career at WKRT in Cortland, New York, later moving onto WAGE in Syracuse. He then returned to his home state, joining WTIC in 1965.

In 1976, Dean launched his own radio show, which would host celebrities and sports celebrities.

➦In 2015...Bonnie Lou, a pioneering country music artist and rockabilly singer died at age 91.

In 1941, aged 16, she was singing and performing on WJBC-AM in Bloomington, Illinois. At 17, after she graduated from high school, she sent an audition record to KMBC in Kansas City, MO, and was signed to a five-year contract to perform on the Brush Creek Follies barn dance show as "Sally Carson," and with a group called The Rhythm Rangers. The show was broadcast nationwide on the CBS, and has been described as "one of the biggest music programs in the country" at the time.

In 1945, Bill McCluskey, executive at WLW in Cincinnati, first learned of Bonnie Lou from a salesman he met on a train who “proceeded to rave about a young teenage country and western singer named Sally Carson who in his opinion was the best in the business..."

McCluskey had the girl send a transcription of her singing to WLW. Impressed, he then requested a recording of her singing and yodeling "Train Whistle Blues." He hired her, however because KMBC owned the rights to "Sally Carson" had to change her name. She said "My real name is Mary Jo". He said "Not Country enough" and redubbed her as Bonnie Lou.

She was promptly featured on Boone County Jamboree, which became Midwestern Hayride Country & Western Radio Program broadcasts and live tours.  During her years with WLW, Bonnie Lou often performed at country music in Nashville on weekends, including several times at the Grand Ole Opry.

  • Singer Jerry Butler is 81. 
  • Flute player James Galway is 81. 
  • Drummer Bobby Elliott of The Hollies is 79. 
  • Actor Mary Woronov (“Eating Raoul,” “The Munsters” films) is 77. 
  • Actor John Rubinstein (“Family,” ″Crazy Like a Fox”) is 74. 
  • Actor Kim Basinger is 67. 
  • Guitarist Warren Cuccurullo (Duran Duran, Missing Persons) is 64. 
  • Guitarist Phil Collen of Def Leppard is 64. 
  • Country singer Marty Raybon (The Raybon Brothers, Shenandoah) is 61. 
  • Wallis Currie-Wood is 29
    Guitarist Marty Friedman (Megadeth) is 58. 
  • Actor Wendell Pierce (“The Wire,” “Treme”) is 57. 
  • Actor Teri Hatcher is 56. 
  • Actor David Harewood (“Supergirl,” ″Homeland”) is 55. 
  • Singer Sinead O’Connor is 54. 
  • Actor Matthew Laborteaux (“Little House on the Prairie”) is 54. 
  • Guitarist Ryan Newell of Sister Hazel is 48. 
  • Actor Dominic Monaghan (“Lost,” ″Lord of the Rings”) is 44. 
  • Actor Ian Somerhalder (“The Vampire Diaries,” ″Lost,”) is 42. 
  • Singer Ingrid Michaelson is 41. 
  • Singer Chrisette Michele is 38. 
  • Country singer Sam Hunt is 36. 
  • Singer Kate Voegele (“One Tree Hill”) is 34. 
  • Drummer Jen Ledger of Skillet is 31. 
  • Actor Wallis Currie-Wood (“Madam Secretary”) is 29. 
  • Actor AnnaSophia Robb (film’s “Race to Witch Mountain,” TV’s “The Carrie Diaries”) is 27.

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