Wednesday, March 3, 2021

March 3 Radio History

Alexander Graham Bell
➦In 1847...Alexander Graham Bell born (Died - August 2, 1922). The Scottish-born scientist, inventor, engineer, and innovator is credited with inventing and patenting the first practical telephone. He also founded the American Telephone and Telegraph Company (AT&T) in 1885.

Bell's father, grandfather, and brother had all been associated with work on elocution and speech and both his mother and wife were deaf, profoundly influencing Bell's life's work. His research on hearing and speech further led him to experiment with hearing devices which eventually culminated in Bell being awarded the first U.S. patent for the telephone in 1876. Bell considered his invention an intrusion on his real work as a scientist and refused to have a telephone in his study.

Many other inventions marked Bell's later life, including groundbreaking work in optical telecommunications, hydrofoils, and aeronautics. 

➦In 1885...Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor of the telephone, established American Telephone and Telegraph Company in 1885, which acquired the Bell Telephone Company and became the primary phone company in the United States. This company maintained a monopoly on telephone service in the United States until anti-trust regulators split the company in 1982.

AT&T Corporation was eventually purchased by one of its Baby Bells, the former Southwestern Bell, in 2005 and the combined company became known as AT&T Inc.

➦In 1922...WWJ-AM, Detroit, Michigan signed-on.

WWJ first signed on the air on August 20, 1920 under the call sign 8MK, and was founded by The Detroit News; the mixed letter/number calls were assigned to the station by the United States Department of Commerce Bureau of Navigation, the government bureau responsible for radio regulation at the time. The 8 in the call sign referred to its location in the 8th Radio Inspection District, while the M in the call sign identified that the station operated under an amateur license. It is not clear why the Detroit News applied for an amateur license instead of an experimental license. As an amateur station, it broadcast at 200 meters (the equivalent of 1500 AM).

8MK was initially licensed to Michael DeLisle Lyons, a teenager, and radio pioneer. He assembled the station in the Detroit News Building but the Scripps family asked him to register the station in his name, because they were worried this new technology might only be a fad, and wanted to keep some distance.

The Scripps family were also worried radio might replace newspapers if the medium caught on, so the family financially supported Michael. In fact, most early radio stations were built, for the same reason, by families who owned newspapers – out of concern that radio would put them out of business, on the basis that newspaper readers would find it more timelier to tune to listen to the headlines on radio at any given time than wait to read them in a daily newspaper the next day.

On October 13, 1921, the station was granted a limited commercial license and was assigned the call letters WBL. With the new license, the station began broadcasting at 360 meters (833 AM), with weather reports and other government reports broadcast at 485 meters (619 AM).

On March 3, 1922, for reasons that are not known, the call letters, 'WWJ, were assigned to the station. Some believe the new call letters are an abbreviation for stockholders William and John Scripps, but on page 82 of a book published by the Detroit News in 1922, WWJ-The Detroit News, it stated that "WWJ is not the initials of any name. It is a symbol. It was issued to the Detroit News by the government in connection with the licensing of this broadcasting plant."

Ty Tyson was the original “voice” of the Detroit Tigers was 39 years old that first radio summer of 1927.

Today Newsradio WWJ 950 AM is owned by Entercom.

➦In 1925...KFWB Los Angeles signed-on.

The station was launched by Sam Warner, a co-founder of Warner Brothers. The station launched the careers of such stars as Ronald Reagan and Bing Crosby. The station was the first to broadcast the annual Rose Parade in Pasadena, California.

Although some think its call letters stand for Keep Filming Warner Brothers or (K)-Four Warner Brothers, actually the callsign was sequentially issued by the Department of Commerce, predecessor to the FCC (March 1925) at the same time as KFWA in Ogden, Utah (Feb 1925) and KFWC for San Bernardino (also Feb 1925).

On February 8, 1937, KFWB opened a new facility on the south end of the Warner Brothers lot. It included six large studios, one of which was a 500-seat theater, and a "multi-manual pipe organ, built especially for broadcasting."

In 1946, KFWB imported two disc jockeys from New York City: Maurice Hart of WNEW, whose drive-time show Start the Day Right was described as "Words and Music Straight from the Hart," and Martin Block, who coined the phrase "Make-Believe Ballroom," which was later used by Al Jarvis when Block returned to New York. In those days, disc jockeys selected their own music, either from KFWB's extensive record library, or new songs brought to them by "song pluggers." Old and new, vocal and instrumental were mixed together to the disc jockey's choice.

KFWB was sold to its long-time general manager, Harry Maizlish, in 1950, and soon after moved off the Warner Brothers lot to join Maizlish's FM station, KFMV, on Hollywood Boulevard.

In 1958, the original "Seven Swingin’ Gentlemen" took Rock and Roll into its first major market, at KFWB.

Also in 1958, under new owners Crowell-Collier Broadcasting, program director Chuck Blore transformed the station into a Top 40 format called Channel 98 Color Radio. The station became one of the most highly listened to stations in the Southland and in the nation. The air staff during the glory days included Bill Ballance, B. Mitchell Reed, Bruce Hayes, Al Jarvis, Joe Yocam, Elliot Field, Ted Quillin. and Gene Weed. Their staff of highly respected newscasters included Cleve Herrmann, Charles Arlington, John Babcock, Beach Rogers, Mike Henry, Hal Goodwin, Al Wiman, Bill Angel, J. Paul Huddleston and Jackson King. But times changed, and in the mid-60's, KFWB was overtaken by rival KRLA.

Then KRLA was put in second place by the launch of Boss Radio at 93/KHJ, and this relegated KFWB to the position of the third-place pop music station in the L.A. market.

KFWB was later purchased by Westinghouse in 1966. On March 11, 1968, the station was relaunched as an all news radio station. The station promoted itself with its slogan, "You give us 22 minutes, we'll give you the world," as first used by New York Westinghouse station WINS, although the station's format used a 30 minute news cycle.

Until spun off into a trust, KFWB was owned by CBS Radio, a subsidiary of CBS Corporation, formerly known as Westinghouse, which also owns KNX, the only all-news station in Los Angeles. KFWB and KNX famously feuded as all-news rivals for years, both on radio and in television advertising. Like its former sister stations (and fellow all-news stations) WINS in New York and KYW in Philadelphia, KFWB had a running Teletype sound effect in the background during regular newscasts.

On Sept. 22, 2014, KFWB became "The Beast 980", an all-sports format...and on March 1 2016, The Beast ended operations as an all-sports station after the station’s asset trust sold the business to Universal Media Access KFWB-AM LLC headed by Charles W. Banta of Buffalo NY. for $8M.

Universal Media Access launched a South Asian format branding as “Desi 980“, on March 1, 2016.

➦In 1952... “Whispering Streets” debuted on ABC radio, remaining on the air until Thanksgiving week, 1960. The end of that show brought down the curtain on what is called “the last day of the radio soap opera” (November 25, 1960).

Whispering Streets had multiple well-known hostesses/narrators throughout the show's run including Bette Davis, Cathy Lewis, Hope Winslow, Ann Seymour, Gertrude Warner.  The most dramatic narrator of the show's run is Bette Davis who begins each show with a "Hell-low" and ends with "Goohdd-bye."

➦In 1956...'Heartbreak Hotel'  The First RCA  single for Elvis Presley entered the Billboard top 100 at #68.  It was released as a single on January 27, 1956, Presley's first on his new record label RCA Victor. It was written by Tommy Durden and Mae Boren Axton.

A newspaper article about the suicide of a lonely man who jumped from a hotel window inspired the lyrics. Axton presented the song to Presley in November 1955 at a country music convention in Nashville. Presley agreed to record it, and did so on January 10, 1956, in a session with his band, The Blue Moon Boys, the guitarist Chet Atkins, and the pianist Floyd Cramer. "Heartbreak Hotel" comprises an eight-bar blues progression, with heavy reverberation throughout the track, to imitate the character of Presley's Sun recordings.

The single topped Billboard's Top 100 chart for seven weeks, Cashbox's pop singles chart for six weeks, was No. 1 on the Country and Western chart for seventeen weeks and reached No. 3 on the R&B chart, becoming Presley's first million-seller, and one of the best-selling singles of 1956. "Heartbreak Hotel" achieved unheard feats as it reached the top 5 of Country and Western, pop, and Rhythm 'n' Blues charts simultaneously.  It would eventually be certified double platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America. Presley had first performed "Heartbreak Hotel" during a live show in December 1955 during a tour of the Louisiana Hayride, but the song gained strong popularity after his appearance on Stage Show in March 1956. It became a staple of Presley's repertoire in live appearances, last performed by him on May 29, 1977, at the Civic Center in Baltimore, Maryland.

➦In 1959... rotund comedian Lou Costello died of a heart attack just three days before his 53rd birthday. He with straight man Bud Abbott formed the ‘Abbott & Costello’ comedy team that starred in vaudeville, radio & early TV.  They have been immortalized via their famous ‘Who’s on First’ vaudeville routine

Jack Kelk, Ezra Stone of 'The Aldrich Family'
➦In 1994...Ezra Stone died in a NJ car accident at age 76. (Born - December 2, 1917). He was a actor and director who had a long career on the stage, in films, radio, and television, mostly as a director. His most notable role as an actor was that of the awkwardly mischievous teenager Henry Aldrich in the radio comedy hit, The Aldrich Family, for most of its fourteen-year run.

➦In 2008...Norman "Hurricane" Smith died at age 85 (Born - February 22, 1923).  He was an English musician, record producer and engineer.

Smith was the engineer on all of the EMI studio recordings by the Beatles until the autumn of 1965, when EMI promoted him from engineer to producer. The last Beatles album he recorded was Rubber Soul, and Smith engineered the sound for almost 100 Beatles songs in total.

John Lennon first bestowed upon Smith the nickname of "Normal", and it was quickly picked up by the other Beatles. Lennon did so as a humorous reference to Smith's very unhurried, unflappable and amiable nature.

In early 1967, he began working with a new group, Pink Floyd.  In 1972, he enjoyed a transatlantic hit with "Oh, Babe, What Would You Say?", which became a US No. 1 Cash Box and a Billboard Pop No. 3 hit.

➦In 2014...Having departed the WPLJ NYC Morning Show on February 7, 2014, Scott Shannon launched "The Big Show" mornings on Classic Hits WCBS 101.1 FM.

Shannon is particularly known for creating the "morning zoo" concept which debuted in Tampa in the early 1980s on WRBQ. The Q Morning Zoo show with Scott and Cleveland Wheeler was the template for hundreds of morning shows across America using the concept and name. For a period of time the trademark for the name "Morning Zoo" was owned by Edens Broadcasting, the owners of WRBQ during that period.

Current cast of the WCBS-FM 'Big Show'
Shannon then took the concept to startup WHTZ (Z100) in New York City in the early 1980s. Along with former disc jockey Ross Brittain of WABC's Ross & Wilson Show, he founded the Z Morning Zoo. He was the driving force in helping Z100 become the top-rated FM station in New York City within a mere 74 days of signing on the air. During this period, he served as one of the original VJs on VH1.

  • Singer-guitarist Mike Pender of The Searchers is 80. 
  • Movie producer-director George Miller (“Mad Max”) is 76. 
  • Jessica Biel is 39
    Actor Hattie Winston (“Becker”) is 76. 
  • Singer Jennifer Warnes is 74. 
  • Actor-director Tim Kazurinsky (“Police Academy” films) is 71.
  • Musician Robyn Hitchcock is 68. 
  • Actor Robert Gossett (“Major Crimes,” “The Closer”) is 67. 
  • Guitarist John Lilley of The Hooters is 67. 
  • Actor Miranda Richardson is 63. 
  • Actor Mary Page Keller (“Ryan’s Hope,” “Another World” is 60. 
  • Actor Laura Harring (“Mulholland Drive,” ″Gossip Girl”) is 57. 
  • Drummer Duncan Phillips of Newsboys is 57. 
  • Rapper-actor Tone Loc is 55. 
  • Actor Julie Bowen (“Modern Family”) is 51. 
  • Singer Brett Warren of The Warren Brothers is 50. 
  • Actor David Faustino (“Married... With Children”) is 47. 
  • Gospel singer Jason Crabb is 44. 
  • Singer Ronan Keating of Boyzone is 44. 
  • Rapper Lil’ Flip is 40. 
  • Actor Jessica Biel is 39. 
  • Guitarist Joe “Blower” Garvey of Hinder is 37. 
  • Musician Brett Hite of Frenship is 35. 
  • Singer Camila Cabello is 24. 
  • Actor Thomas Barbusca (“The Mick”) is 18. 
  • Actor Reylynn Caster (TV’s “Me, Myself and I”) is 18.

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