Thursday, February 11, 2021

February 11 Radio History

➦1938…'The Big Broadcast of 1938' opened in theaters. It is a Paramount Pictures musical comedy film featuring W. C. Fields, Martha Raye and Bob Hope.

The film is the last in a series of Big Broadcast movies that were variety show anthologies. This film featured the debut of Hope's signature song, "Thanks for the Memory" by Ralph Rainger. He and Leo Robin won the 1939 Oscar for Best Song for the song. In the movie they song was performed by Bob Hope and Shirley Ross.

➦In 1940...  NBC radio presented “The Chamber Music Society of Lower Basin Street” for the first time. The famous Blue network series included several distinguished alumni — among them, Dinah Shore and Zero Mostel. The chairman, or host, of “The Chamber Music Society of Lower Basin Street” was Milton Cross.

Milton Cross
He would say things like, “A Bostonian looks like he’s smelling something. A New Yorker looks like he’s found it.” The show combined satire, blues and jazz and was built around what were called the three Bs of music: Barrelhouse, Boogie Woogie and Blues.

➦In 1941...Glenn Miller's 'Chattanooga Choo Choo' was released on RCA Records. It was originally recorded as a big band/swing tune and featured in the 1941 movie Sun Valley Serenade. It was the first song to receive a gold record for sales of 1.2 million copies.

➦In 1949...the private-eye radio drama Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar debuted on CBS Radio, with Charles Russell in the title role.  It amazingly survived five changes in the lead actor during its 13 year run.

➥In 1960...The Payola scandal reached a new level of public prominence and legal gravity, when President Eisenhower called it an issue of public morality and the FCC proposed a new law making involvement in Payola a criminal act, according to History.

What exactly was Payola? During the hearings conducted by Congressman Oren Harris (D-Arkansas) and his powerful Subcommittee on Legislative Oversight—fresh off its inquiry into quiz-show rigging—the term was sometimes used as a blanket reference to a range of corrupt practices in the radio and recording industries. But within the music business, Payola referred specifically to a practice that was nearly as old as the industry itself: manufacturing a popular hit by paying for radio play.

As the Payola hearings got under way in February 1960, the public was treated to tales of a lavish disk-jockey convention in Miami bought and paid for by various record companies. One disk jockey, Wesley Hopkins of KYW in Cleveland, admitted to receiving over the course of 1958 and 1959 $12,000 in “listening fees” from record companies for “evaluating the commercial possibilities” of records.

Another DJ named Stan Richard, from station WILD in Boston, also admitted to receiving thousands of dollars from various record promoters, and though like Hopkins he denied letting such fees affect his choice of which records to play on the air, he also offered a vigorous defense of Payola, comparing it to “going to school and giving the teacher a better gift than the fellow at the next desk.”

He practically likened it to Motherhood and Apple Pie: “This seems to be the American way of life, which is a wonderful way of life. It’s primarily built on romance—I’ll do for you, what will you do for me?” It was this comment that prompted President Eisenhower to weigh in on February 11, 1960, with his condemnation of Payola.

Dick Clark Testifies
But what explains the involvement of Congress in this issue? Technically, the concern of the Harris Committee was abuse of public trust, since the airwaves over which radio stations broadcast their signals are property of the people of the United States. However, 1960 was also an election year, and Rep. Harris and his colleagues on the Subcommittee were eager to be seen on the right side of a highly visible “moral” issue. Though it is widely agreed that the famous 1960 hearings on Payola merely reorganized the practice rather than eradicating it, those hearings did accomplish two very concrete things that year: they threatened the career of American Bandstand‘s Dick Clark and they destroyed the man who gave rock and roll its name, the legendary Cleveland disk jockey Alan Freed.

The Beatles in Concert, Washington DC
➦In 1964...The Beatles played their first U.S. concert at the Coliseum Arena in Washington, DC. Tickets ranged from $2 to $4.

The band had traveled from New York to Washington, DC early in the day by rail, as an East Coast snowstorm had caused all flights to be cancelled. Upon arrival at Washington's Union Station The Beatles were greeted by 2,000 fans who braved the eight inches of snow on the ground. They gave a press conference before visiting WWDC, which had been the first US radio station to play a Beatles record.

Also on the bill at the Coliseum were The Chiffons and Tommy Roe. However, The Chiffons were unable to make it due to the previous day's snowstorm. Instead, the opening acts were Jay & The Americans, The Righteous Brothers and Tommy Roe.

The Beatles took to the stage at 8.31pm, and performed 12 songs: Roll Over Beethoven, From Me To You, I Saw Her Standing There, This Boy, All My Loving, I Wanna Be Your Man, Please Please Me, Till There Was You, She Loves You, I Want To Hold Your Hand, Twist And Shout and Long Tall Sally.

The group were performing in the round, and Ringo Starr's drum riser was turned 180 degrees after the third song by Mal Evans, to allow the audience behind them to watch the performance. This was repeated again after I Wanna Be Your Man, and following She Loves You they turned 45 degrees.

➦In 1994…Actor William Conrad died after a heart attack at age 73. He’d been an extremely busy member of the Hollywood talent pool for bigtime radio, notably playing Marshall Matt Dillon in CBS Radio’s Gunsmoke.  On TV he starred in two series, “Cannon” & “Jake and the Fat Man,” and also was greatly in demand for narration.

Conrad estimated that he played more than 7,500 roles during his radio career, including providing the voice of Marshal Matt Dillon in the radio version of 'Gunsmoke'.   At KMPC L-A, the 22-year-old Conrad produced and acted in The Hermit's Cave (circa 1940–44), the Los Angeles incarnation of a popular syndicated horror anthology series created at WJR Detroit

In January 1956, Conrad was the announcer on the debut broadcast of The CBS Radio Workshop, a two-part adaptation of Aldous Huxley's Brave New World which Huxley himself narrated.

➦In 2012…singer Whitney Houston  was found dead submerged in her bath tub at a posh LA hotel.  Cause of death was a lethal combination of prescription drugs and liquor. She was 48. An L-A Coroner's report concluded Houston drowned accidentally and autopsy results revealed heart disease.  Chronic cocaine use was a contributing factor.

➦In 2013...Tom Aspell, a veteran foreign correspondent for NBC News, died after a two-year battle with lung cancer at age 62.

Bob Simon - 2010
➦In 2015…Bob Simon, the longtime “60 Minutes” correspondent and legendary CBS News foreign reporter died when the limo he was in was involved in a car accident in New York City, at age 73.  He was one of a handful of elite journalists who had covered the important news events of the late 1960’s to the present.

  • Actor Conrad Janis (“Mork and Mindy”) is 93. 
  • Singer Jimmy Carter of The Blind Boys of Alabama is 89. 
  • Sheryl Crow is 59
    Actor Tina Louise (“Gilligan’s Island”) is 83. 
  • Musician Sergio Mendes is 80. 
  • Actor Philip Anglim (“The Thorn Birds”) is 69. 
  • Actor Catherine Hickland (“One Life to Live”) is 65. 
  • Drummer David Uosikkinen of The Hooters is 65. 
  • Actor Carey Lowell (“Law and Order”) is 60. 
  • Singer Sheryl Crow is 59. 
  • Actor Jennifer Aniston is 52. 
  • Actor Damian Lewis (“Billions”) is 50. 
  • Singer D’Angelo is 47. 
  • Actor Brice Beckham (“Mr. Belvedere”) is 45. 
  • Vocalist Mike Shinoda of Linkin Park and of Fort Minor is 44. 
  • Singer-actor Brandy (“Moesha”) is 42. 
  • Bassist Jon Jones of Eli Young Band is 41. 
  • Actor Matthew Lawrence (“Boy Meets World”) is 41. 
  • Singer Kelly Rowland (Destiny’s Child) is 40. 
  • Actor Natalie Dormer (“Game of Thrones”) is 39. 
  • Singer Aubrey O’Day (Danity Kane) is 37. 
  • Actor Q’orianka Kilcher (“The New World”) is 31. 
  • Actor Taylor Lautner is 29.

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