Thursday, April 8, 2021

April 8 Radio History

➦In 1961…The BBC banned the Top 40 hit 'A Hundred Pounds of Clay' by Gene McDaniels. The ban arose because the censors interpreted the song as suggesting women were created simply to be sexual beings, and the BBC felt something that was considered blasphemous should not air to avoid controversy.

Larry Norton
➦In 1981...Radio personality Larry "Snortin" Norton completed a publicity stunt. Norton spent 20-plus days on the air at WGRQ-FM in Buffalo.

Norton launched his virtually sleepless quest March 19, grabbing only two hours of shut-eye per night to break the record. Norton officially ended with 484 hours on the air, shattering the previous listing in the Guinness Book of World Records of 367 hours.

➦In 1985…John Frederick Coots died at age 78 (Born - May 2, 1897). He was a songwriter, who composed over 700 popular songs and over a dozen Broadway shows. In 1934, Coots wrote the melody with his then chief collaborator, lyricist Haven Gillespie, for the biggest hit for them both "Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town." The song became one of the biggest sellers in American history.

In 1934, when Gillespie brought him the lyrics to "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town", Coots came up with the skeleton of the music in just ten minutes. Coots took the song to his publisher, Leo Feist Inc., who liked it but thought it was "a kids' song" and didn't expect too much from it.  Coots offered the song to Eddie Cantor who used it on his radio show that November and it became an instant hit. The morning after the radio show there were orders for 100,000 copies of sheet music and by Christmas sales had passed 400,000.

➦In 1987...WFIL 560 AM, Philadelphia ended it's run as "Famous 56".

Capturing The True Sound Of Famous 56! Click Here To Listen.

In February 1964, Triangle moved the WFIL stations to a new state-of-the-art broadcast center at the corner of City Line and Monument Avenues in Philadelphia, from which WPVI continued to broadcast.

Starting on September 18, 1966, WFIL began playing "Top 40" rock and roll. It quickly became the most successful non-RKO "Boss Radio" formatted station, known locally as "The Pop Music Explosion".

The original line up of air personalities, or "Boss Jocks" were scheduled as follows:
  • 6-10am: Chuck Browning
  • 10am-2pm: Jay Cook ("Captain Jay Cook")
  • 2-6pm: Jim Nettleton ("Diamond Jim" Nettleton)
  • 6-10pm: George Michael ("King George" Michael)
  • 10pm-2am: Long John Wade
  • 2-6am: Dave Parks ("Dave the Rave" Parks)
  • Weekends: Frank Kingston Smith

WFIL announcers heard in later years of the Top 40 era included Dr. Don Rose, Jim O'Brien(who later also became a WPVI-TV reporter and station personality), Dan Donovan, J. J. Jeffrey, Dick Heatherton, Tom Dooley, "Tiny" Tom Tyler, Mitch "K.C." Hill, "Big" Ron O'Brien, Kris Chandler, Geoff Richards, Joel Denver, Brother Lee Love (Alan Smith), and Banana Joe Montione.

The format evolved into an adult contemporary sound in the fall of 1977. At some point after that, the WFIL studios were relocated to Domino Lane in the Roxborough section of Philadelphia; they moved into the building of FM station WUSL, which WFIL owner LIN Broadcasting had acquired in late 1976. Growing competition from FM stations in this period did serious damage to WFIL's ratings. In September 1981 country music was tried, but this failed to reverse the downward trend. The station switched to an "oldies" format in September 1983, called "The Boss is Back," with a new line up of "Boss Jocks," playing the hits of 1955 through 1973.

This format lasted until April 8, 1987, when new owner WEAZ Inc. discontinued locally originated music programming in favor of Transtar's "Oldies Channel," a satellite-delivered service. The end of live programming was marked by a production piece consisting of a portion of the song American City Suite by Terry Cashman and Tommy West interspersed with old WFIL airchecks. The "Epilogue to WFIL" was produced by Charlie Mills, who at the time was working cross-town at WPEN, and had been an avid fan of WFIL during his teen years.

Its 5000-watt transmitter enabled its signal to be heard as far away at times as Staten Island, the southernmost borough of New York City. During its top 40 years, WFIL also consistently showed strongly in the ratings books in nearby Wilmington, Delaware, where it has an excellent signal. In addition, WFIL was a popular listening choice in Reading and Allentown, both in Pennsylvania.

Today, WFIL is locally co-owned with Salem Media's WNTP 990 AM. Interestingly, WNTP is the former WIBG. WIBG was WFIL's main rock 'n roll rival in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The studios, offices and transmitters of both stations are located at the former WIBG complex on Ridge Pike in Whitemarsh Township, PA.

➦In 2004...Clear Channel Communications fired Howard Stern for airing sexually explicit material.

''Clear Channel drew a line in the sand today with regard to protecting our listeners from indecent content, and Howard Stern's show blew right through it,'' Clear Channel Radio's president, John Hogan, said in a statement. The statement did not specifically describe the content but said it ''was vulgar, offensive and insulting, not just to women and African Americans but to anyone with a sense of common decency.''

Clear Channel did not disclose how many of its stations carry the show, which is produced and distributed by the Infinity radio unit of Viacom.  Since he was syndicated by Infinity Broadcasting his programs continued uninterrupted.

➦In 2004...Eugene Klavan died at age 79 (Born  - May 4, 1924). He  was a radio personality, columnist and author

His radio career began with brief stints at Baltimore's WITH and WCBM, followed by WTOP in Washington, D.C., where he would remain until moving to WNEW New York in 1952.  Klavan was best known for being one-half of the succesful morning show, "Klavan & Finch". The program ran for many years on WNEW 1130 AM.

Gene Klavan and Dee Finch
Gene Klavan was first as half of the radio show “Klavan and Finch” and then as a solo performer, brought slicing wit, a knack for voices and peppery irreverence to New York morning radio audiences for 25 years.

From 1952 to 1968, Mr. Klavan was the comic half of Klavan and Finch, heard on WNEW, then one of the leading AM radio stations in New York. With Dee Finch as straight man, Mr. Klavan changed into the voices of wacky characters like Trevor Traffic, Mr. Nat, Sy Kology, Victor Verse and Emilio Percolator. The sound of a slamming door signaled a character’s arrival.

Finch retired in 1968 and Mr. Klavan continued the show alone as “Klavan in the Morning.” In 1977 he moved to WOR-AM and left radio in 1980. Finch died in 1983.

  • Comedian Shecky Greene is 95. 
  • Original Mouseketeer Darlene Gillespie is 80. 
  • Singer Peggy Lennon of the Lennon Sisters is 80. 
  • Songwriter Leon Huff of Gamble and Huff is 79. 
  • Actor Stuart Pankin (“Curb Your Enthusiasm,” “Not Necessarily the News”) is 75. 
  • Emma Caulfield is 48
    Guitarist Steve Howe of Yes (and of Asia) is 74. 
  • Bassist Mel Schacher of Grand Funk Railroad is 70. 
  • Singer-actor John Schneider (“The Dukes of Hazzard”) is 61. 
  • Guitarist Izzy Stradlin (Guns N’ Roses) is 59. 
  • Singer-guitarist Donita Sparks of L7 is 58. 
  • Singer Julian Lennon is 58. 
  • Actor Dean Norris (“Breaking Bad,” ″Under the Dome”) is 58. 
  • Rapper Biz Markie (“Yo Gabba Gabba”) is 57. 
  • Actor Robin Wright is 55. 
  • Actor Patricia Arquette is 53. 
  • Actor JR Bourne (TV’s “Teen Wolf,” ″Revenge”) is 51. 
  • Singer Craig Honeycutt of Everything is 51. 
  • Drummer Darren Jessee of Ben Folds Five is 50. 
  • Actor Emma Caulfield (“Buffy the Vampire Slayer”) is 48. 
  • Actor Katee Sackhoff (“Battlestar Galactica”) is 41. 
  • Actor Taylor Kitsch (“True Detective,” ″Friday Night Lights”) is 40. 
  • Singer-guitarist Ezra Koenig of Vampire Weekend is 37. 
  • Actor Taran Noah Smith (“Home Improvement”) is 37. 
  • Guitarist Jamie Sierota (Echosmith) is 28. 
  • Actor Sadie Calvano (“Mom”) is 24.

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