Tuesday, May 4, 2021

May 4 Radio History

➦In 1886...The graphophone, the  bridge between the earlier gramophone and the modern phonograph, was patented, featuring wax cylinders which conducted music better than Thomas Edison's original tinfoil ones.

It was invented at the Volta Laboratory established by Alexander Graham Bell in Washington, D.C., United States.

Its trademark usage was acquired successively by the Volta Graphophone Company, then the American Graphophone Company, the North American Phonograph Company, and finally by the Columbia Phonograph Company (later to become Columbia Records), all of which either produced or sold Graphophones.

It took five years of research under the directorship of Charles Sumner Tainter and Chichester Bell at the Volta Laboratory to develop and distinguish their machine from Thomas Edison's phonograph.

Among their other innovations, the researchers experimented with lateral recording techniques as early as 1881. Contrary to the vertically-cut grooves of Edison phonographs, the lateral recording method used a cutting stylus that moved from side to side in a "zig zag" pattern across the record. While cylinder phonographs never employed the lateral cutting process commercially, this was later to become the primary method of phonograph disc recording.

Bell and Tainter also developed wax-coated cardboard cylinders for their record cylinders, instead of Edison's cast iron cylinder which was covered with a removable film of tinfoil (the actual recording medium) which was prone to damage during installation or removal.  Tainter received a separate patent for a tube assembly machine to automatically produce the coiled cardboard tubes which served as the foundation for the wax cylinder records. The shift from tinfoil to wax resulted in increased sound fidelity as well as record longevity.

Besides being far easier to handle, the wax recording medium also allowed for lengthier recordings and created superior playback quality. Additionally the Graphophones initially deployed foot treadles to rotate the recordings, then wind-up clockwork drive mechanisms, and finally migrated to electric motors, instead of the manual crank that was used on Edison's phonograph.

➦In 1922...WJR Detroit sign-on as WCX, owned by the Detroit Free Press newspaper, operating at 580 kHz from the Free Press Building. It shared this frequency with WWJ, another station owned by The Detroit News.  In 1925, the Jewett Radio & Phonograph Company of Pontiac, Michigan purchased WCX. Sometime thereafter the station became known as WCX/WJR.  Also by 1925, WWJ was at 850 kHz, and both stations were broadcasting with 5000 watts of power. On November 11, 1928, it moved to 750 as a result of the FRC's General Order 40 (it has broadcast on 950 AM since 1941).

On December 16, 1928, the station moved from the newspaper's offices to its current location in the Fisher Building. It began identifying as "WJR Detroit, from the Golden Tower of the Fisher Building," which soon became famous across the country. Goodwill Stations Inc., formed by George A. Richards (who also owned the Detroit Lions), acquired WJR in 1929, and it became known as "The Goodwill Station" (along with WGAR in Cleveland and KMPC in Los Angeles).

WCX ceased to exist, and WJR acquired all its assets. In 1931, the station raised its power to 10,000 watts; four years later, it would broadcast with 50,000 watts.  On March 29, 1941, WJR moved from 750 to 760 kHz in accordance with the NARBA frequency reallocations. Before North American Regional Broadcasting Agreement of 1941, 750 kHz was a clear channel under 1928 rules.

The Fisher Building, a National Historic site in the City's New Center area, is home to the Fisher Theatre, with the WJR radio antenna

WJR became a CBS affiliate on September 29, 1935, after having been affiliated with NBC-Blue. On the same date, WJR's officials formally dedicated the station's new 50,000 W transmitter.

Logo '70s-'80s
Richards died in May 1951, and in 1964, Goodwill Stations was sold to Capital Cities Communications, which later merged with ABC and later with the Walt Disney Company. Upon the sale, WJR's air slogan became "The Great Voice of the Great Lakes". Also in 1964, WJR acquired full rights to Detroit Tigers baseball games with announcers Ernie Harwell and George Kell. The station became the flagship of the "Tiger Baseball Network." In the late 1960s, WJR also became the flagship station for Detroit Red Wings hockey and Detroit Pistons basketball.

Logo Today
The station is also remembered among many Metro Detroiters for its advertising campaigns and jingles including "W-J-R ... Radio 76 ... Cares About Detroit." Another: "This is America's finest - AM stereo 76." Regularly on his show, J.P. McCarthy would state in a nonchalant way "This is the world's greatest radio station, WJR Detroit," with a manner that made it seem like the most obvious of facts.

WJR signed on an FM outlet in 1948 at 96.3 MHz. The station was known as WJR-FM until 1982 when it became WHYT. It is now WDVD.

Music programming on WJR has been phased out almost entirely over the past two decades. As of June 2014.

WJR was sold with other ABC Radio stations to Citadel Broadcasting in January 2006. Citadel merged with Cumulus Media on September 16, 2011.

➦In 1922...KNX-AM, Los Angeles, California signed-on.

KNX began as a five-watt amateur radio station, 6ADZ, which Fred Christian put on the air on September 10, 1920, broadcasting on a wavelength of 200 meters (1500 kHz). In December 1921, the station moved to 360 meters (833 kHz) and became KGC, sharing time with other stations that broadcast on the same frequency.   On May 4, 1922, the station increased power to 50 watts and became KNX. Power was raised to 100 watts in 1923. A year later, Fred Christian sold KNX to Guy Earle, owner of the Los Angeles Evening Express.

During the 1920s KNX, like most stations across the country, changed frequencies several times, landing on 1050 AM as a result of the Federal Radio Commission's reconfigurations of the AM radio band in 1927 and 1928. In 1929, the station's transmitter was upgraded from 500 to 5,000 watts, and in 1932, was raised to 10,000 watts of power. During this time, the station changed owners and was then operated by the Western Broadcast Company. In 1933, the station moved its studios to another part of Hollywood, and was granted permission by the FCC to raise its output to 25,000 watts. The following year, KNX's transmitting power was raised to the nationwide maximum of 50,000 watts, which the station continues presently. It changed to its current 1070 AM channel in 1941.

Broadcasting ad 1935
CBS purchased and began operating KNX as its West Coast flagship station in 1936, ending an eight-year affiliation with KHJ.  In 1938, the CBS Columbia Square studios were dedicated for KNX as well as West Coast operations for the entire CBS radio network.

George Burns, Gracie Allen
Several legendary performers from the Golden Age of American network radio broadcast from there, including Jack Benny, Bing Crosby, George Burns, Edgar Bergen,  and situation comedy star Bob Crane, who was KNX morning man between 1957 and 1965 at the same time he was appearing as a featured supporting player on the ABC television network's The Donna Reed Show.

KNX was a strong competitor in the Los Angeles market while Crane was a morning personality, but began declining in popularity after he left to star in the CBS television series Hogan's Heroes. Following the example of corporate sister station WCBS in New York City, which had enjoyed renewed success with an all-news format, KNX then became an all-news station in the spring of 1968;  its first major breaking news coverage was of the assassination of Democratic Presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy, in the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, in June of that year.

Bob Crane
In August 2005, KNX moved out of Columbia Square after operating there for 67 years, and began broadcasting from new studios in the Miracle Mile district on Wilshire Boulevard.

In 2009, KNX adopted the slogan "All News, All the Time." It was previously used for 40 years by KFWB, KNX's historic rival in the news radio wars before both became sister stations through the 1995 merger of Westinghouse Electric (KFWB's owner) and CBS. KFWB's format change to news-talk in September 2009 now leaves KNX the only all-news outlet in the Los Angeles area, which is now emphasized in its alternate slogan, "L.A.'s only all-news radio station".

➦In 1957...The "Alan Freed Show," prime-time network television's first rock 'n' roll program, debuted on ABC. The first show in the series featured performances by Guy Mitchell, the Dell-Vikings, the Clovers, Sal Mineo, and Screamin' Jay Hawkins.

➦In 1965...Norman Brokenshire died from a stroke at age 66. (Born - June 10, 1898).  He was nicknamed: "Sir Silken Speech" and was a familiar radio voice in the 1940s, heard as an announcer on such programs as Theatre Guild on the Air. He was the first radio announcer to break from anonymity and use his name on the air.

Norman Brokenshire - 1953
Brokenshire's broadcasting career began in 1924 at WJZ, where he immediately attracted attention. The New York Herald Tribune asked, "Who is this new AON? He speaks with perfect enunciation and exceptional modulation." That same year, he became the first announcer to cover a political convention when he worked the Democrats' meeting in New York.

In the summer of 1927, Brokenshire had his own program, A Half Hour With Norman Brokenshire on WPG.

Brokenshire was known for his folksy greeting, "How do you do, ladies and gentlemen, how do you do." By 1947, he was earning $50,000 annually.

Old-time radio programs for which Brokenshire was the announcer included The Chesterfield Hour, Eddie Cantor's Follies, Inner Sanctum Mystery, and Major Bowes Amateur Hour.

In 1961, Brokenshire returned to radio "after an absence of some years, ... doing commercials on radio station WMMM in Westport, Conn."

➦In 1975...Dick "Two Ton" Baker died (Born - May 2, 1916) He was a prominent Chicago radio and television personality for three decades; the 1940s to the 1960s.

Baker's full-time professional entertaining career began in 1938, playing for night clubs with notable dates at the Chicago Theatre and the Riverside in Milwaukee. In 1939 he began a job as a disc jockey at radio station WJJD with a two-hour show entitled Sunday Morning Party. It was early in his radio career that he was given the entertainment name "Two Ton" by a fellow radio-station employee. He quit WJJD in 1943 and concentrated on his nightclub work, but he was given his own radio show, One Man Show, on station WGN in 1944. For the next several years Baker was closely associated with that station, and vice versa.

"Two Ton" Baker performing with Bubbles the porpoise from the Chicago children's television show The Happy Pirates
Baker was part of WGN-TV's grand opening show on April 5, 1948.  The next day was WGN's first full day of programming which included Baker's show Wonder House, a puppet program hosted in conjunction with Art Nelson.

Baker gained national radio exposure when The Two Ton Baker Show, originating from WGN, was carried across the Mutual network.

➦In 1981...“Rockline” premiered on KLOS 95.5  FM in Los Angeles.

➦In 2008... John Eastman, a former Tampa radio and television TV personality who successfully sued two tobacco companies for contributing to his nicotine addiction, died Sunday at age 79.

John Eastman
Eastman had a popular radio show on WDAE in the 1970s and a morning talk show on WTSP, Channel 10. In 2005, he collected more than $3.2 million from Philip Morris USA and the Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp. It was the first time that Philip Morris, the world’s largest cigarette maker, paid a judgment in an individual case. Eastman was known as “The Dean of Tampa Bay Talk Radio.”

He started his broadcast career in the early 1950s as an announcer at a Sioux City, Iowa, radio station. He worked at radio stations in Cedar Rapids,; Jacksonville;, Mobile, Ala.,; Los Angeles and Pittsburgh. By the 1960s he was in Miami, where he worked at WIOD, WAME and WINZ (with CNN’s Larry King). He came to Tampa in 1977, and his “Talk of the Town” radio show, about a local issues and personalities, was a hit for two years on WDAE. He then went to WPLP radio, and in 1980 he began hosting “The John Eastman Show,” which ran on WTSP, Channel 10, for four years.

His career in radio and TV ended in the 1990 after he was diagnosed with emphysema, which robbed him of his voice. In 1997, he filed suit against Philip Morris USA and the Brown & Williamson. Tobacco Corp. By the time a jury ruled in his favor in 2003, he said he was living on Social Security and a small military pension.

➦In 2010...Ernie Harwell died of cancer at age 92 (Born January 25, 1918). He was a sportscaster, known for his long career calling play-by-play of Major League Baseball games.

After graduating from college, Harwell worked as a copy editor and sportswriter for the Atlanta Constitution. In 1943, he began announcing games for the Crackers on WSB radio, after which he served four years in the United States Marine Corps.

Ernie Harwell
For 55 seasons, 42 of them with the Detroit Tigers, Harwell called the action on radio and/or television. In 1948, Harwell became the only announcer in baseball history to be traded for a player when the Brooklyn Dodgers' general manager, Branch Rickey, traded catcher Cliff Dapper to the Crackers in exchange for breaking Harwell's broadcasting contract. (Harwell was brought to Brooklyn to substitute for regular Dodger announcer Red Barber, who was hospitalized with a bleeding ulcer.)

Harwell broadcast for the Dodgers through 1949, the New York Giants from 1950-53, and the Baltimore Orioles from 1954-59. Early in his career, he also broadcast The Masters golf tournament,as well as pro and college football.

In January 2009, the American Sportscasters Association ranked Harwell 16th on its list of Top 50 Sportscasters of All Time.

Erin Andrews is 43
  • Jazz bassist Ron Carter is 84. 
  • Singer Peggy Santiglia Davison of The Angels is 77. 
  • Actor Richard Jenkins (“The Shape of Water”) is 74. 
  • Country singer Stella Parton is 72. 
  • Lance Bass is 42
    Actor-turned-minister Hilly Hicks (“Roots”) is 71. 
  • Bassist Darryl Hunt of The Pogues is 71. 
  • Singer Jackie Jackson of The Jacksons is 70. 
  • Singer-actor Pia Zadora is 69. 
  • Singer Oleta Adams is 68. 
  • Country singer Randy Travis is 62. 
  • Actor Mary McDonough (“The Waltons”) is 60. 
  • Comedian Ana Gasteyer (“Saturday Night Live”) is 54. 
  • Actor Will Arnett (“Arrested Development,” ″Blades of Glory”) is 51. 
  • Bassist Mike Dirnt of Green Day is 49. 
  • Contemporary Christian singer Chris Tomlin is 49. 
  • TV personality Kimora Lee Simmons is 46. 
  • Sports reporter and TV personality Erin Andrews is 43. 
  • Singer Lance Bass (’N Sync) is 42. 
  • Actor Ruth Negga (“Loving”) is 40. 
  • Rapper Jidenna is 36. Actor Alexander Gould (“Weeds,” “Finding Nemo”) is 27. 
  • Country singer RaeLynn is 27. 
  • Actor Amara Miller (“The Descendants”) is 21.

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