Wednesday, September 1, 2021

September 1 Radio History

➦In 1887…Inventor Emile Berliner filed for a patent for the lateral-cut, flat-disk gramophone he invented, a device better known as a record player.

A disc from 1897
A year earlier Berliner began experimenting with methods of sound recording. He was granted his first patent for what he called the "Gramophone" later in 1887. The patent described recording sound using horizontal modulation of a stylus as it traced a line on a rotating cylindrical surface coated with an unresisting opaque material such as lampblack, subsequently fixed with varnish and used to photoengrave a corresponding groove into the surface of a metal playback cylinder.

In practice, Berliner opted for the disc format, which made the photoengraving step much less difficult and offered the prospect of making multiple copies of the result by some simpler process such as electrotyping, molding or stamping. In 1888 Berliner was using a more direct recording method, in which the stylus traced a line through a very thin coating of wax on a zinc disc, which was then etched in acid to convert the line of bared metal into a playable groove.

Berliner also invented what was probably the first radial aircraft engine (1908), a helicopter (1919), and acoustical tiles (1920s).

➦In 1900...Don Wilson was born (Died from a stroke at age 81 – April 25, 1982). He  is remembered best as the rotund announcer and comic foil to the star of The Jack Benny Program.

Don Wilson
Wilson began his radio career as a singer over Denver radio station KFEL in 1923.By 1929, he was working at KFI, and shortly afterwards for Don Lee at KHJ, in Los Angeles. In a 1978 appearance on Tomorrow with Tom Snyder, Wilson claimed he was fired from KHJ because he had bought a Packard from Earle C. Anthony, the business arch-rival of Cadillac dealer Don Lee and owner of KFI and KECA.

Though best known for his comedy work with Benny, Wilson had a background as a sportscaster, covering the opening of the 1932 Summer Olympics. Don appeared in two Broadway shows in the 1930s, "The Passionate Pilgrim", which opened October 19, 1932, and "The First Legion", which opened October 1, 1934.

Wilson first worked with Benny on the broadcast of April 6, 1934, he possessed a resonant voice, a deep belly laugh, and a plump figure, all of which would become important parts of his character with Benny.

➦In 1934...CKLW radio Windsor moved from 840 KHz to 1030 KHz with 5000 watts.

CKLW first came on the air on June 2, 1932 as CKOK on 540 kilocycles.  The Station was built by George Storer and was sold to a group of Windsor-area businessmen led by Malcolm Campbell, operating as "Essex Broadcasters, Ltd." CKOK became CKLW and moved to 840 kHz in 1933, when Essex Broadcasters, Ltd. merged with the London, ON Free Press and its station CJGC (now CFPL), and became "Western Ontario Broadcasting", which was co-owned by Essex Broadcasters, and the London Free Press. The "LW" in the callsign is said to have stood for "London, Windsor", considered to be the two chief cities in the station's listening area.

In 1934, when London Free Press's station CJGC pulled out of the agreement, the station's ownership became wholly owned by Western Ontario Broadcasters. CJGC later evolved into today's CFPL 980, while CKLW moved from 840 to 1030 kc. in 1934, before settling on its present frequency of 800 kHz in 1941, thanks to a shuffle of frequency allocations.

CKLW for most of its history had a distinct American accent to its programming, and for a number of years served as the Detroit affiliate of the Mutual Broadcasting System, an affiliation that began with its switch from CBS to Mutual September 29, 1935, and which would last from then until its purchase by RKO General in 1963.

After RKO General took over the station and its FM sister (93.9) in 1963, CKLW began to shed the variety-format approach and, as "Radio Eight-Oh", began focusing more aggressively on playing contemporary hits and issuing a record survey. Davies, Knowles, Dave Shafer, Tom Clay, Tom Shannon, Larry Morrow (as "Duke Windsor"), Terry Knight, and Don Zee were among the "Radio Eight-Oh" personalities during this time. The station did well thanks to its huge signal, and beat the local competition in Cleveland, Ohio, though in the local Detroit ratings CKLW still lagged well behind competing hit outlet WKNR.

However, on April 4, 1967, CKLW got a drastic makeover with Bill Drake's "Boss Radio" format, programmed locally by Paul Drew. Initially known as "Radio 8" with PAMS jingles, within a few months the station's final transformation into "The Big 8," with new jingles sung by the Johnny Mann Singers, was complete, and the station was on a rapid ratings upswing. In July 1967, CKLW claimed the number one spot in the Detroit ratings for the first time, and WKNR was left in the dust, switching to an easy listening format as WNIC less than five years later.

➦In 1955...Legendary radio personality Alan Freed held his "First Anniversary Rock 'n Roll Party" at Brooklyn's Paramount Theater, featuring Chuck Berry, and for some reason, Tony Bennett. 

➦In 1952...Art Linkletter started his daily House Party on CBS-TV. The variety show featuring ‘Kids Say the Darndest Things” had its start in 1945 on daytime radio.

➦In 1960...Boston's WXKS 107.9 FM, better known as Kiss 108, first went on the air September 1, 1960 as WHIL-FM, a simulcast of sister station WHIL 1430 AM, now WKOX, and broadcasting its own programming after sunset when WHIL signed-off. For much of the sixties, WHIL & WHIL-FM were country-music stations, but in late 1972, both stations switched to beautiful music as WWEL-AM and FM ("Well"). The Calls refer to Wellington Sq in Medford MA, where the station studios were located.

Despite moving the FM transmitter to the top of the Prudential Tower in 1972, WWEL-FM was not very successful as a beautiful-music format. In 1978, WWEL-FM broadcast the night games of the Boston Red Sox baseball team as the flagship station WITS 1510 delivered a poor night signal in much of Metro Boston.

The stations were sold to Heftel Communications, operated by U.S. Rep. Cecil Heftel (D-Hawai) in early 1979. Heftel changed the call letters to WXKS, adopted "Kiss 108" as an identity and changed to a disco format on February 10, 1979 at 12:00am.  Under Heftel, the station soared to near the top of the Arbitron ratings, and forced WBOS (which had been first in Boston with a 24/7 disco sound and had a short period of huge success with it) out of the format in early 1980.

Matty In The Morning circa 2009
Sunny Joe White, a young programmer (who had previously programmed WILD in Boston) came aboard at Kiss-108 upon its shift to disco and had much to do with the station's early success.

At the end of 1979, WXKS dropped disco to adopt an adult standards format, while the FM slowly evolved into urban contemporary when disco's popularity crashed. By the end of 1981 and into early 1982, the station became a CHR with a heavily Rhythmic R&B/Dance direction under the guidance of White, and in turn became one of the most influential Top 40 stations in the nation, in part due to their reputation for breaking songs that did not fit the traditional Top 40/CHR model, and given that Boston lacked a Urban Contemporary FM outlet during this period, and since WILD was an AM daytimer, it wasn't afraid to play songs from that genre.

The genre would later become the format now known as Rhythmic contemporary, which is now the current format of sister station WJMN. By 1988, WXKS began to shift out of the Rhythmic direction and evolved into its current successful Top 40/CHR format.  It is currently owned by iHeartMedia.

➦In 1965...Ron Lundy started at WABC 770 AM.

Ron Lundy
Lundy was born June 25, 1934 in Memphis, TN.  He served as a US Marine after graduating from high school. Following the completion of his military stint, he returned to his hometown and attended a local radio broadcasting school on the G.I. Bill.

At the same time, he worked across the street at WHHM-AM, where he got his first on-air experience one night when he substituted for the regular disc jockey who failed to report for his shift. This resulted in Lundy being hired as a full-time radio announcer by Hodding Carter for WDDT-AM, the latter's new station in Greenville, Mississippi.

After a stop in Baton Rouge, Louisiana at WLCS-AM, Lundy was brought to WIL-AM in St. Louis, MO in 1960 by Dan Ingram, who was the station's program director until the middle of 1971. Nicknamed the "Wil' Child", Lundy had a style which was described as a combination of "country and crawfish pie" by Bob Whitney, who also played a major role in the appointment.

Lundy was reunited with Ingram at WABC-AM in 1965.

He made his New York radio debut on September 1, working the overnight shift as "The Swingin' Nightwalker."  Beginning in May 1966, he became the midday fixture at the station for the next sixteen years.  With his catchphrase "Hello, Love–this is Ron Lundy from the Greatest City in the World," he usually preceded Ingram's afternoon drive time program,. Ron and Dan became best friends and  hosted "The Last Show" before WABC's format conversion from music to talk radio at noon on May 10, 1982.

The following year he joined NYC Oldies WCBS 101.1 FM and retired in 1997.

Lundy was inducted the St. Louis Hall Radio Hall of Fame on January 1, 2006, with a banquet held June 10, 2006. He died of a heart attack at age 75 on March 15, 2010 in Oxford, Mississippi. He had recently been recovering from a previous heart attack after being dehydrated.

➦In 1967...Flashback with the WLS Music Survey...53-years ago today...

➦In 1975...KOL-AM in Seattle Washington changed its call letters to KMPS ("Kountry Music Puget Sound"), as a country station

➦In 1977...WNBC 660 AM switched to the “Bob Pittman” format.

Bob Pitman circa Late 70s
Bob Pittman had been hired as WNBC's new Program Director, replacing Mel Phillips. His first decision was to lay-off all of the station's personalities, some of which were veterans (including Don Imus, Cousin Brucie, Norm N. Nite and Joe McCoy), replacing them with younger-sounding disc jockeys from medium markets.

He also shifted the format to from Adult Top 40 or Hot AC to a more aggressively current-based Top 40 format, with occasional nods to FM radio (such as commercial-free hours).

As a result of this tweaking, the station was now playing artists such as Andy Gibb, KC & the Sunshine Band, Boston, Peter Frampton, Fleetwood Mac, the Eagles, Billy Joel, the Bee Gees, among others.

However, listenership did not go up, but actually went down.

By 1979, Pittman would leave WNBC. John Lund was hired back as program director (from KHOW in Denver), and Don Imus returned to the morning show. Under program director John Lund, WNBC's playlist was tweaked back to an Adult top 40 format, and ratings increased by 50% to surpass WABC by the summer of 1980..

➦In 1981…The RKO Radio Network became the first company to offer two separate live overnight services via satellite to affiliate radio stations as its "America Overnight" talk show premiered. The six-hour program featured three-hour segments hosted by Ed Busch in Dallas and Eric Tracey in Los Angeles.

Debuting eight months earlier, the RKO Radio Network's "Night Time America," based in New York City and hosted/produced by Bob Dearborn, was the first, live, daily, satellite-delivered music show in radio history.  Dearborn produced and hosted the five-hour adult contemporary show from January 9, 1981 until 1984.

The RKO Radio Networks, a subsidiary of RKO General, were the first commercial radio networks to distribute programming entirely by satellite. When it began operations on October 1, 1979, the initial RKO network was the first new full-service American radio network in 40 years.

The newscasts, aimed at a young adult audience, had a conversational, high-energy style developed by co-founders Vice President and News Director Dave Cooke, and Vice President of Programming Jo Interrante.

The original network, which fed newscasts at :50 repeated at :00, became known as RKO 1 when RKO 2 debuted on September 1, 1981. RKO 2 fed newscasts at :20 repeated at :30 and was aimed at an older audience. Both networks offered sportscasts, music, public affairs programming and closed-circuit affiliate feeds of news and sports correspondent reports and news-maker actualities.

➦In 1983...WGH-AM in Newport News VA changed call letters to WNSY.

As WPAB, the station was first licensed on 940 kHz on December 6, 1926. The station took the callsign WGH and moved to 1310 kHz in 1928. Because it dates back to the early days of radio, WGH is the only station in Virginia to retain its three-letter call sign, although there were periods in its history when it used the call letters WNSY and WCMS.

The call letters for WGH and its sister station 97.3 WGH-FM stand for World's Greatest Harbor, a slogan for the Hampton Roads or Tidewater area of Virginia, where there is a large shipbuilding industry and both commercial and military ports.

For much of the 1960s and 70s, WGH was a popular top 40 station.  On October 5, 2009, WGH swapped formats with WXEZ 94.1 FM and became an urban gospel station as "Star 1310".  On July 28, 2017, WGH switched to a format of 1950s-60s oldies.

On February 28, 2019, WGH changed its format from oldies to urban talk and urban oldies, branded as "1310 The Power" it is owned by Maxx Media.

➦In 2001...WEVD 1050 AM NYC changed to ESPN Sports Radio.

➦In 2005...Barry Cowsill, bassist for the Cowsills, died in New Orleans from injuries suffered during Hurricane Katrina at the age of 51.

His body was not recovered until December 28. He had left several urgent phone messages for his sister Susan on September 1.

➦In 2008…Voice-over artist Don LaFontaine died (Born August 26, 1940).  He was a voice actor who recorded more than 5,000 film trailers and hundreds of thousands of television advertisements, network promotions, and video game trailers.

He became identified with the phrase "In a world...", used in so many movie trailers that it became a cliché. Widely known in the film industry, the man whose nicknames included "Thunder Throat" and "The Voice of God", became known to a wider audience through commercials for GEICO insurance and the Mega Millions lottery game.

LaFontaine said his voice cracked at age 13 in mid-sentence, giving him the bass tones that later brought him much fame and success.

In 2012...Songwriter Hal David died of a stroke at the age of 91 in Los Angeles. In 1957, David met composer Burt Bacharach at Famous Music in the Brill Building in New York. The two teamed up and wrote their first hit "The Story of My Life", recorded by Marty Robbins in 1957. Subsequently, in the 1960s and early 1970s Bacharach and David wrote some of the most enduring songs in American popular music, many for Dionne Warwick but also for The Carpenters, Dusty Springfield, B. J. Thomas, Gene Pitney, Tom Jones, Jackie DeShannon and others.

Their hits included "(They Long to Be) Close To You", "Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head", "This Guy's in Love with You", "One Less Bell to Answer", "What the World Needs Now Is Love", "The Look of Love", "Do You Know the Way to San Jose", "I'll Never Fall in Love Again" and "Walk On By".

David was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1972.

Dan Donovan, John Lennon
Dan Donovan
➤In 2014...Twin Cities and Philadelphia radio legend Dan Donovan died of a heart attack.

Born Blaine Harvey in Philadelphia, Donovan got interested in radio growing up in Gettysburg, PA. He began his career at WGET 1320 AM, later moving to WSBA 910 AM in nearby York. After studying journalism at Penn State, he moved on to WICE Radio in Providence, Rhode Island, in the early 1960s. He then moved to WMEX 1510 in Boston and WCBM 680 in Baltimore before beginning a ten-year run at WFIL 560 AM in Philadelphia.

He arrived KSTP 94.5 FM KS 95FM in the Twin Cities in 1979, and joined KQQL 107.9 FM KOOL 108 FM in 1991, bringing the enthusiasm and style that have made him one of the region’s best known and best loved DJ’s to his popular afternoon drive and Sunday oldies shows.

DAN DONOVAN from Pavek Museum on Vimeo.

Donovan last worked at Clear Channel's KQQL, but was RIFed in 2009.

➦In 2014...Fox News Radio White House reporter Mike Majchrowitz died, following a battle with cancer. He was 51.
Majchrowitz aboard Air Force 1
Mike Majchrowitz, the Congressional and White House reporter with the unspellable last name, joined FOX News Radio at its very beginning in 2005. Mac and Rich Johnson were the backbone of the Washington bureau.

Born in 1963 in Racine, Wisconsin, a Washington D.C. Correspondent since 1997, Mac traveled the world covering Presidential trips.

He anchored coverage of elections, conventions and debates, returning to cover the 2012 campaign while battling cancer.

“Mike was an original – a solidly tenacious reporter, a thoughtful anchor and a good man,” Mitch Davis, VP of Fox News Radio, said in a statement.  ”He earned the respect of his colleagues for many things, not the least of which was his kindness. From our earliest days he helped Fox News Radio grow into what we are now. His voice was unique, as was his courage. Throughout his struggle, he remained positive and was an inspiration to us all. We will miss him.”

Barry Gibb is 75
  • Actor George Maharis (“Route 66”) is 93. 
  • Comedian-actor Lily Tomlin is 82. 
  • Actor Don Stroud is 78. 
  • Singer Archie Bell of Archie Bell and the Drells is 77. 
  • Singer Barry Gibb of the Bee Gees is 75. 
  • Drummer Greg Errico of Sly and the Family Stone is 73. 
  • Talk show host Dr. Phil is 71. 
  • Singer Gloria Estefan is 64. 
  • Gloria Estefan is 64
    Jazz saxophonist Boney James is 60. 
  • Singer-guitarist Grant Lee Phillips (“Gilmore Girls”) is 58. 
  • Country singer-songwriter Charlie Robison is 57. 
  • DJ Spigg Nice of Lost Boyz is 51. 
  • Actor Ricardo Antonio Chavira (“Desperate Housewives”) is 50. 
  • Actor Maury Sterling (“Homeland”) is 50. 
  • Actor Scott Speedman (“Felicity”) is 46. 
  • Singer Angaleena Presley of Pistol Annies is 45. 
  • Actor Boyd Holbrook (“Narcos”) is 40. 
  • Actor Zoe Lister-Jones (“Life in Pieces,” ″New Girl”) is 39. 
  • Guitarist Joe Trohman of Fall Out Boy is 37. 
  • Actor Aisling Loftus (“Mr. Selfridge”) is 31.

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