Tuesday, October 19, 2021

October 19 Radio History

Bern Bennett
In 1921...Announcer Bern Bennett born (Died at age 92 – May 29, 2014). For nearly sixty years, beginning in 1944, Bennett was a staff announcer at CBS Radio and television. In the 1940s and 1950s, he was closely associated with Bud Collyer, as announcer on three Collyer-hosted game shows, Winner Take All, Beat the Clock, and To Tell the Truth, all produced by Mark Goodson and Bill Todman.

Other radio programs for which Bennett was the announcer included This Is Broadway, School of the Air and Breakfast With Burrows. In 1960, he was host of Upbeat Saturday Night, a 30-minute program featuring live jazz music on CBS radio.

In 1937...the radio classic, “Big Town“, made its debut on CBS radio. Star reporters at the Illustrated Press, Steve Wilson and Lorelei Kilbourne, were played by Edward G. Robinson and Claire Trevor. In 1942 they were succeeded by Edward Pawley and Fran Carlon, who carried the show for most of its 14 year run.

Julius LaRosa
In 1953...Julius LaRosa was fired live on-air by Arthur Godfrey.

La Rosa was on Godfrey's shows from November 19, 1951 to October 19, 1953. When Archie Bleyer, Godfrey's bandleader, formed Cadence Records in 1952, the first performer signed was La Rosa. Cadence's first single, which was also La Rosa's first recording, was "Anywhere I Wander." It reached the top 30 on the charts, and his next recording, "My Lady Loves To Dance", was a moderate success.

After La Rosa's third recording, and a dispute with Godfrey over his failure to attend a Godfrey-mandated dance class required of all cast members, La Rosa hired his own agent and manager: Tommy Rockwell.

With hit recordings and his appearances on Godfrey's shows, La Rosa's popularity grew exponentially. At one point, La Rosa's fan mail eclipsed Godfrey's. A year after La Rosa was hired, he was receiving 7,000 fan letters a week.  Godfrey did not react well to LaRosa hiring Rockwell as his manager. After consulting with CBS President Frank Stanton, on the morning of October 19, 1953 (in a segment of the show broadcast on radio only), after La Rosa finished singing "Manhattan" on Arthur Godfrey Time, Godfrey fired La Rosa on the air, announcing, "that was Julie's swan song with us." La Rosa tearfully met with Godfrey after the broadcast and thanked him for giving him his "break".

In 1970, he became a very successful and amiable disc jockey at one of America's biggest radio stations in the top market, Metromedia's WNEW 1130 AM in New York City.

In 1958...Brenda Lee, still weeks short of her 14th birthday, recorded a Johnny Marks song destined to become a seasonal classic, ‘Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree.’ Floyd Cramer played piano for the Nashville session, Boots Randolph was on sax.

In 1975...Phillips Haynes Lord died at age 73 (Born - July 13, 1902). He was a radio program writer, creator, producer and narrator as well as a motion picture actor, best known for the Gang Busters radio program that was broadcast from 1935 to 1957.

His thirty-minute program ran on Wednesday nights at 10:00 p.m. on CBS radio and opened with the portentous sounds of machine gun fire, police whistles screaming and tires screeching, causing the phrase "coming on like gangbusters" to be coined. Copied years later by the television show America's Most Wanted, each episode of Gang Busters had up-to-the-minute reports of criminals wanted by the FBI or other law enforcement officials, many of whom were later arrested due to tips from listeners.

The Gang Busters radio show was an enormous long-running success with 1,008 radio broadcasts over twenty-one years from July 20, 1935, to November 20, 1957.  In 1998, Gang Busters was part of the 30-hour audio cassette called CBS's 60 Greatest Old-Time Radio Shows.

In 1991...Grant Turner, WSM-AM Nashville and Grand Ole Opry announcer for 49 years, died at the age of 79.

Jesse Granderson "Grant" Turner was born May 17, 1912 in Baird, Texas, near Abilene. In 1928, while in high school, he performed as Ike and His Guitar announced for Abilene, TX. Turner majored in journalism at college and worked for Texas and Louisiana newspapers during the 1930s, but he returned to radio announcing in 1940 at KFRO in Longview, TX., before joining a station in Sherman, TX.

Grant Turner
In 1942, he moved to Knoxville, TN.. Turner rode an all-night bus to Nashville and auditioned for WSM, where he joined the staff on June 6, 1944, which was D-Day, the day the Allies invaded Europe in World War II.

He first announced early-morning programs, but a few months later joined George D. Hay's staff of Saturday night Grand Ole Opry announcers. Turner became announcer for R. J. Reynolds's NBC network half hour of the Grand Ole Opry, in the late 1940s: the Prince Albert Show, piped weekly to some 170 stations and some 10 million listeners by 1953. In the early 1950s he hosted WSM's Mr. DJ, USA program, featuring guest DJs from around the nation, and in the mid-1950s became the third regular announcer for Ernest Tubb's WSM Midnight Jamboree, a job he held until 1977

Turner for years hosted the pre-Opry Grand Ole Opry Warmup Show-spinning records and taking requests on the Opry House stage. He worked the Friday and Saturday night Opry shows, besides the summer matinees, until the night before he died. Grant Turner was one of three original members to be inducted into the Country Music D J Hall of Fame in 1975. He was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1981.

In 1991...Dan Ingram debuted at Oldies WCBS 101.1 FM NYC.  Here's an un-dated aircheck:

In 1994...comedienne/singer/actress Martha Raye died after a lengthy illness at age 78. The big-mouthed comic appeared with Al Jolson on radio, and had her own weekly TV series 1954-56. Thereafter she was a frequent guest on numerous TV variety shows.

Boom Boom Branigan
In 2010…Albany NY radio personality "Boom Boom Brannigan" died at age 82.

Born in Utica as Joseph Charles Motto, he became well known during the 1960s as a disc jockey at Albany-Troy giant WPTR 1540 AM. Brannigan was going by the name Ronny Victor at a Buffalo radio station when he landed the job at WPTR during the early 1960s.

In a 1998 interview, Brannigan said he was trying to think of a new name for the Capital Region market when he tuned in his new employer and learned his stage identity had already been chosen. “I heard this jingle that said ‘Boom Boom is coming’ and then there would be this sound of drums,” he said. Brannigan remained at WPTR until 1975, when the popularity of disc jockey-driven rock ’n’ roll had been replaced by album-oriented rock formats and talk radio.

Later, he would buy small radio stations like WKOL in Amsterdam and WSCG in Corinth, both NY.

Brannigan had chances to move to bigger broadcasts in New York City and Philadelphia to compete against national talents such as Dick Clark and Wolfman Jack, but Brannigan didn’t want to move to talk radio.

In 2014...Chattanooga radio legend  Luther Masingill passed away after a short illness at age 92.  With a career that spanned an incredible 74 years, Luther had been at the morning mic at WDEF radio for both Pearl Harbor (1941) and 9/11 (2001).

He had also appeared on the WDEF-TV noon news every weekday since the station signed on in 1954.

John Lithgow is 76


  • Actor Tony Lo Bianco (“The French Connection”) is 85. 
  • Artist Peter Max is 84. 
  • Actor Michael Gambon (“Harry Potter” films) is 81. 
  • Actor John Lithgow is 76. 
  • Singer Jeannie C. Riley is 76. 
  • Singer Patrick Simmons of The Doobie Brothers is 73. 
  • Actor Annie Golden (“Orange is the New Black”) is 70. 
  • Talk show host Charlie Chase is 69. 
  • Singer-keyboardist Karl Wallinger of World Party is 64. 
  • Singer Jennifer Holliday is 61. 
  • TV host Ty Pennington (“Extreme Makeover: Home Edition”) is 57. 
  • Singer-guitarist Todd Park Mohr of Big Head Todd and the Monsters is 56. 
  • Rebecca Ferguson is 38
    Actor Jon Favreau is 55. 
  • “South Park” co-creator Trey Parker is 52. 
  • Comedian Chris Kattan (“Saturday Night Live”) is 51. 
  • Singer Pras Michel of The Fugees is 49. 
  • Actor Omar Gooding (“Hangin’ With Mr. Cooper”) is 45. 
  • Country singer Cyndi Thomson is 45. 
  • Writer-director Jason Reitman (“Juno”) is 44. 
  • Actor Benjamin Salisbury (“The Nanny”) is 41. 
  • Actor Gillian Jacobs (“Community”) is 39. 
  • Actor Rebecca Ferguson (“Dune,” “The Greatest Showman”) is 38. 
  • Singer Zac Barnett of American Authors is 35. 
  • Actor Ciara Renee (“Legends of Tomorrow”) is 31. 
  • Actor Hunter King (“The Young and the Restless”) is 28.

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