Saturday, September 18, 2021

September 18 Radio History

➦In 1907... Edmund Lincoln Anderson born (Died at age 71 – February 28, 1977) was an American comedian and actor. To a generation of early radio and television comedy he was known as "Rochester."

Anderson got his start in show business as a teenager on the vaudeville circuit. In the early 1930s, he transitioned into films and radio. In 1937, he began his most famous role of Rochester van Jones, usually known simply as "Rochester", the valet of Jack Benny, on his NBC radio show The Jack Benny Program. Anderson became the first Black American to have a regular role on a nationwide radio program. When the series moved to CBS television in 1950, Anderson continued in the role until the series' end in 1965.

➦In 1927...the Columbia Phonograph Broadcasting System debuted with a network of 16 radio stations. (Although some sources say 18.) The name was later changed to Columbia Broadcasting System, CBS.

The origins of CBS date back to January 27, 1927, with the creation of the "United Independent Broadcasters" network in Chicago by New York City talent-agent Arthur Judson. The fledgling network soon needed additional investors though, and the Columbia Phonograph Company, manufacturers of Columbia Records, rescued it in April 1927; as a result, the network was renamed the "Columbia Phonographic Broadcasting System" on September 18 of that year. Columbia Phonographic went on the air on September 18, 1927, with a presentation by the Howard Barlow Orchestra from flagship station WOR in Newark, New Jersey, and fifteen affiliates.

William Paley
Operational costs were steep, particularly the payments to AT&T for use of its land lines, and by the end of 1927, Columbia Phonograph wanted out.

In early 1928, Judson sold the network to brothers Isaac and Leon Levy, owners of the network's Philadelphia affiliate WCAU, and their partner Jerome Louchenheim. None of the three were interested in assuming day-to-day management of the network, so they installed wealthy 26-year-old William S. Paley, son of a Philadelphia cigar family and in-law of the Levys, as president.

With the record company out of the picture, Paley quickly streamlined the corporate name to "Columbia Broadcasting System".   He believed in the power of radio advertising since his family's "La Palina" cigars had doubled their sales after young William convinced his elders to advertise on radio.   By September 1928, Paley bought out the Louchenheim share of CBS and became its majority owner with 51% of the business.

During Louchenheim's brief regime, Columbia paid $410,000 to A.H. Grebe's Atlantic Broadcasting Company for a small Brooklyn station, WABC (no relation to the current WABC), which would become the network's flagship station, WCBS.  WABC was quickly upgraded, and the signal relocated to 860 kHz.

Other owned-and-operated stations were KNX in Los Angeles, KCBS in San Francisco (originally KQW), WBBM in Chicago, WCAU in Philadelphia, WJSV in Washington, D.C. (later WTOP, which moved to the FM band in 2005; the AM facility is now WFED, also a secondary CBS affiliate), KMOX in St. Louis, and WCCO in Minneapolis. By the turn of 1929, the network could boast to sponsors of having 47 affiliates.

Paley moved right away to put his network on a firmer financial footing. In the fall of 1928, he entered into talks with Adolph Zukor of Paramount Pictures, who planned to move into radio in response to RCA's forays into motion pictures with the advent of talkies.  The deal came to fruition in September 1929: Paramount acquired 49% of CBS in return for a block of its stock worth $3.8 million at the time. The agreement specified that Paramount would buy that same stock back by March 1, 1932 for a flat $5 million, provided CBS had earned $2 million during 1931 and 1932.

For a brief time there was talk that the network might be renamed "Paramount Radio", but it only lasted a month – the 1929 stock market crash sent all stock value tumbling. It galvanized Paley and his troops, who "had no alternative but to turn the network around and earn the $2,000,000 in two years.... This is the atmosphere in which the CBS of today was born."  The near-bankrupt movie studio sold its CBS shares back to CBS in 1932. In the first year of Paley's watch, CBS's gross earnings more than tripled, going from $1.4 million to $4.7 million.

Much of the increase was a result of Paley's second upgrade to the CBS business plan – improved affiliate relations. There were two types of program at the time: sponsored and sustaining, i.e., unsponsored. Rival NBC paid affiliates for every sponsored show they carried and charged them for every sustaining show they ran.  It was onerous for small and medium stations, and resulted in both unhappy affiliates and limited carriage of sustaining programs. Paley had a different idea, designed to get CBS programs emanating from as many radio sets as possible:  he would give the sustaining programs away for free, provided the station would run every sponsored show, and accept CBS's check for doing so.  CBS soon had more affiliates than either NBC Red or NBC Blue.

➦In 1967...NYC radio personality Martin Block died (Born  - February 3, 1903). It is said that gossip columnist and radi personalty Walter Winchell invented the term "disk jockey" as a means of describing Block's radio work.

A native of Los Angeles, Block began working in radio in Tijuana, Mexico; before that, he sold small household items and appliances.  When his career had stalled in Los Angeles, Block moved his family to New York; he was only there for a week before he got an announcing job. He came up with two famous advertising slogans for his sponsors: "ABC-Always Buy Chesterfield" for Liggett & Myers and "LSMFT"-Lucky Strike Means Fine Tobacco" for Lucky Strike.

Martin Block
In 1934, Block went to work for WNEW at a salary of $20 per week.  In 1935, while listeners to New York's WNEW in New York (now business information outlet WBBR) were awaiting developments in the Lindbergh kidnapping, Block built his audience by playing records between the Lindbergh news bulletins. This led to his Make Believe Ballroom, which began on February 3, 1935 with Block borrowing both the concept and the title from West Coast disc jockey Al Jarvis, creating the illusion that he was broadcasting from a ballroom with the nation’s top dance bands performing live. He bought some records from a local music shop for the program as the radio station had none. Block purchased five Clyde McCoy records, selecting his "Sugar Blues" for the radio show's initial theme song.

Block's style of announcing was considerably different than the usual manner of delivery at the time. Instead of speaking in a voice loud enough to be heard in a theater, Block spoke in a normal voice, as if he was having a one-on-one conversation with a listener.

In the 1940s Block hired a young record collector, Joe Franklin, as his "record picker." Franklin went on to host his own radio and television programs in the New York City market for more than 65 years.

➦In 1968...Gary Stevens aired his last show on Top40 WMCA 570 AM. Stevens went on to become an executive with Doubleday Broadcast.  He was named president of the company in 1977.

➦In 1970...rock radio mourned the loss of rock music legend Jimi Hendrix. He died in London at age 27 of an overdose of sleeping pills. He had left a message on his manager’s answering phone earlier in the evening–“I need help man.” Hendrix’s Purple Haze and Foxy Lady became anthems for a generation at war in Vietnam.

➦In 1978…"WKRP in Cincinnati" debuted on CBS-TV.  It aired for four seasons and starred Gary Sandy, Howard Hesseman, Gordon Jump, Loni Anderson, Tim Reid, Jan Smithers, Richard Sanders, and Frank Bonner.

➦In 1997....Ron Lundy retired from oldies WCBS 101.1 FM in NYC.  Aircheck from January 1990..

Lundy was born June 25, 1934 in Memphis, Tennessee, the only child of Fred Sr., a railroad engineer, and Mary Lundy. He served in the United States Marine Corps 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, Missouri in 1960 by Dan Ingram, who was the station's program director until the middle of the next year. 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, and sometimes when Ingram was running late to the studio, Lundy would keep going until Dan arrived, doing impressions of The Shadow, where he would play Margo Lane and Lamont Cranston. The two best friends hosted "The Last Show" before WABC's format conversion from music to talk radio at noon on May 10, 1982.

In February 1984, Lundy resurfaced at New York's oldies station WCBS-FM in the mid-morning slot, following former WABC colleague Harry Harrison. According to program director Joe McCoy, the station created the slot especially for Lundy, reducing other shifts from four hours to three.

On the following aircheck, Ron is working morning drive for Harry Harrison who was taking a few days off.   Dan Ingram stops-by,  at 10:10 into the audio, prior to doing Ron's regular late morning shift...

In June, 1997, Lundy's WCBS-FM show was awarded the 1997 "Bronze World Medal" at the New York Festivals Radio Programming Awards for the "best local personality".

Lundy retired from WCBS-FM on September 18, 1997. Upon retiring from radio, Ron and his wife Shirley moved to the small town of Bruce, Mississippi. However, during this time, Lundy did occasional interviews with Mark Simone on The Saturday Night Oldies Show for his former station, WABC.

Lundy was inducted the St. Louis Hall Radio Hall of Fame on January 1, 2006.

Lundy died of a heart attack at age 75 on March 15, 2010 in Oxford, Mississippi. He had been recovering from a previous heart attack after being dehydrated.

➦In 2009…After 72 years the soap opera "The Guiding Light" aired the last of its 18,262 episodes. The show aired on radio and TV.

Frankie Avalon is 81
  • Actor Robert Blake is 88. 
  • Gospel singer Bobby Jones is 83. 
  • Singer-actor Frankie Avalon is 81. 
  • Actor Beth Grant (“The Mindy Project,” ″No Country for Old Men”) is 72. 
  • Guitarist Kerry Livgren (Kansas) is 72. 
  • Actor Anna Deavere Smith (“The West Wing”) is 71. 
  • Director Mark Romanek is 62. 
  • Guitarist Mark Olson (The Jayhawks) is 60. 
    Tae Dye is 26
  • Singer Joanne Catherall of Human League is 59. 
  • Actor Holly Robinson Peete (“Hangin’ With Mr. Cooper”) is 57. 
  • Singer Ricky Bell (Bell Biv Devoe, New Edition) is 54. 
  • Actor and talk show host Aisha Tyler is 51. 
  • Actor Jada Pinkett Smith is 50. 
  • Actor James Marsden (“The Notebook,” ″Ally McBeal”) is 48. 
  • Actor Emily Rutherfurd (“The New Adventures of Old Christine”) is 47. 
  • Actor Travis Schuldt (“Scrubs”) is 47. 
  • Rapper Xzibit is 47. 
  • Comedian Jason Sudeikis (“Ted Lasso”) is 46. 
  • Actor Sophina Brown (“Numb3rs”) is 45. 
  • Actor Barrett Foa (“NCIS: Los Angeles”) is 44. 
  • TV personality Sara Haines (“GMA3: Strahan, Sara and Keke,” “The View”) is 44. 
  • Actor-comedian Billy Eichner (“American Horror Story”) is 43. 
  • Actors Taylor and Brandon Porter (“Party of Five”) are 28. 
  • Actor Patrick Schwarzenegger (“Midnight Sun”) is 28. 
  • Country singer Tae Dye of Maddie and Tae is 26.

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