Friday, April 9, 2021

April 9 Radio History

➦In 1860...Edouard-Leon Scott de Martinville invented the phonautogram to record sound.

Its  earliest known device for recording sound. Previously, tracings had been obtained of the sound-producing vibratory motions of tuning forks and other objects by physical contact with them, but not of actual sound waves as they propagated through air or other media. It transcribed sound waves as undulations or other deviations in a line traced on smoke-blackened paper or glass. Intended solely as a laboratory instrument for the study of acoustics, it could be used to visually study and measure the amplitude envelopes and waveforms of speech and other sounds, or to determine the frequency of a given musical pitch by comparison with a simultaneously recorded reference frequency.

Apparently, it did not occur to anyone before the 1870s that the recordings, called phonautograms, contained enough information about the sound that they could, in theory, be used to recreate it. Because the phonautogram tracing was an insubstantial two-dimensional line, direct physical playback was impossible in any case.

Bob Hope
➦In 1950…Bob Hope began his long association with NBC-TV. Hope's career in broadcasting began on radio in 1934. His first regular series for NBC Radio was the Woodbury Soap Hour in 1937, on a 26-week contract. A year later, The Pepsodent Show Starring Bob Hope began, and Hope signed a ten-year contract with the show's sponsor, Lever Brothers.

He hired eight writers and paid them out of his salary of $2,500 a week. The original staff included Mel Shavelson, Norman Panama, Jack Rose, Sherwood Schwartz, and Schwartz's brother Al. The writing staff eventually grew to fifteen. The show became the top radio program in the country. Regulars on the series included Jerry Colonna and Barbara Jo Allen as spinster Vera Vague. Hope continued his lucrative career in radio through to the 1950s, when radio's popularity began being overshadowed by the upstart television medium

His first appearance on television came in 1932 during a test transmission from an experimental CBS studio in New York.

➦In 1973...Pat St. John started at WPLJ 95.5 FM, NYC.

St. John was born in Detroit and was raised on the music of Motown. In early 1969, at the age of 18, he landed his first gig as a radio personality on Windsor's CKLW, where he also worked for CKLW's 20/20 news doing newscasts one day a week, and part-time booth announcing on CKLW-TV Channel 9. In late 1970 he moved across the border to WKNR and was then hired in early 1972 at the ABC-owned album-oriented rock (AOR) station WRIF until 1973.

In April 1973, St. John began an almost 15-year stint at New York's WPLJ.

For most of his years at WPLJ he was rated by Arbitron as the most listened to afternoon radio personality in America. He survived the station's transition from AOR to top 40 in 1983, and during that era, continued his Arbitron ratings success with that same ranking.

He left WPLJ in 1987, and returned to his rock roots on WNEW 102.7 FM, which had been WPLJ's rival during its AOR years. He became the station's program director in the early 1990s while continuing his mid-day show until being asked to do morning-drive (which he did from 1994 through 1996) and then moved to afternoons where then followed Scott Muni who moved to mid-days). Pat remained with the station until it switched to a hot talk format in 1998.

Today, St. John works for SiriusXM's 60 On 6 channel, based in San Diego.

➦In 1996...WWRL, WNEW Radio and TV NYC personality Sandy Becker died.

Becker was born and raised in New York City.  He held local radio announcing jobs before first reaching public fame on radio as the title character of "Young Doctor Malone".

Originally a pre-medical student at New York University in the 1930s, Becker played the good doctor on radio for a decade.  Then, he started working for Channel 5 TV and became the host of a program featuring Bugs Bunny cartoons, "The Looney Tunes Show" on weeknights from 1955 to 1958. A second Friday night program called "Bugs Bunny Theater" ran from 1956 to 1957. Becker also did television announcing, such as for Wildroot Cream-Oil ads in the television series "The Adventures of Robin Hood."

In the middle of those activities, Becker found his true calling, spun in large part off his knack for entertaining his own three children with his vocal and comic versatility. This led him to his morning show beginning in 1955, and he added a noontime program "Sandy Becker's Funhouse" briefly in 1955. He hosted the syndicated "Wonderama" from 1955-56.

Becker would also host a weekday evening & afternoon children's wraparound show which had him playing comedic characters, performing puppet skits and engaging his viewers in informational segments,contests and interview guest performers and personalities in between the reruns of movie and TV cartoons."The Sandy Becker Show" was seen weekday evening and afternoons from Monday March 30, 1961 to Friday February 16, 1968.

Becker created such characters as double-talking disc jockey Hambone, addled but brilliant Big Professor (who claimed to know the answer to every question in the world), rumpled Hispanic kid's show host K. Lastima, incompetent mad-scientist Dr. Gesundheit, and — showing a remarkable knack for silent comedy — simple-minded Norton Nork, whose routines of earnest bumbling were joined only by musical accompaniment and a droll Becker narration that ended, invariably, with, "That's my boy, Norton Nork — you've done it again!" He also had a real bird in a cage called "Chipper".

Sandy's show was so popular in the NY area that when he began using a version of the Hambone Theme music from an old 78 RPM record by Red Saunders which was recorded in 1952, the Okeh record company re-released the song on a 45 RPM record. Enough kids bought the record that it reached Survey position #22 on local rock radio station WMCA in March 1963. For his show's own theme music, Sandy came to use Guy Warren's "That Happy Feeling" as recorded in 1962 by Bert Kaempfert.

Becker is warmly remembered for the manner in which he handled one of America's deepest tragedies on the air. On November 22, 1963, after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, Becker went on the air and, quite movingly, attempted to explain to his young viewers what had happened.

Sadly, most of Becker's programs were not preserved.

➦In 2013…Tampa Bay radio veteran Scott Farrell, who logged more than a dozen years as the midday music host on WFLA 970 AM following a stint at WTCN in Minneapolis, died at the age of 86.

In 1966, the St. Paul, Minnesota native joined 970 WFLA to fill the midday shift and went on to become the morning host, program director, and general manager of WFLA-FM before leaving to do mornings at FM101 WJYW in 1981.

He was a WWII Army vet and earned his degree in broadcasting from Macalester College, a private undergraduate liberal arts college in St. Paul, where he majored in speech and radio. Before moving to Tampa Bay, his early stops included KICD in Spencer, Iowa and WTCN in Minneapolis.

  • Actor Michael Learned (“The Waltons”) is 82. 
  • Country singer Margo Smith is 79. 
  • Actor Dennis Quaid is 67. 
  • Keyboardist Dave Innis of Restless Heart is 62. 
  • Annie Funke is 36
    Talk show host Joe Scarborough (“Morning Joe”) is 58. 
  • Actor Mark Pellegrino (“Dexter”) is 56. 
  • Actor-model Paulina Porizkova is 56. 
  • Actor Cynthia Nixon (“Sex and the City”) is 55. 
  • Singer Kevin Martin of Candlebox is 52. 
  • TV personality Sunny Anderson (“The Kitchen”) is 46. 
  • Singer Gerard Way of My Chemical Romance is 44. 
  • Actor Keshia Knight Pulliam (“The Cosby Show”) is 42. 
  • Guitarist Albert Hammond Jr. of The Strokes is 41. 
  • Actor Charlie Hunnam (“Sons of Anarchy”) is 41. 
  • Actor Jay Baruchel (“Knocked Up,” ″Tropic Thunder”) is 39. 
  • Actor Annie Funke (“Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders”) is 36. 
  • Actor Jordan Masterson (“Last Man Standing”) is 35. 
  • Actor Leighton Meester (“Gossip Girl”) is 35. 
  • Singer-actor Jesse McCartney (“Summerland”) is 34. 
  • Singer Jazmine Sullivan is 34. 
  • Actor Kristen Stewart (“Twilight”) is 31. 
  • Actor Elle Fanning (“Because of Winn-Dixie”) is 23. 
  • Musician Lil Nas X is 22. 
  • Actor Isaac Hempstead Wright (“Game of Thrones”) is 22. 
  • Singer Jackie Evancho is 21.

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