Friday, October 22, 2021

October 22 Radio History

Parker Fennelly
In 1891...Parker Fennelly born in Maine (Died – January 22, 1988). He was an actor and playwright who appeared in ten films, numerous television episodes and hundreds of radio programs.

He was a longtime member of Allen’s Alley on NBC’s Fred Allen Show, portraying Titus Moody with a strong “Down East” accent. 

He was much in demand for numerous radio series based in New York, and over a 20 year span on various radio networks.

He died at age 96 on Jan. 22, 1988.

In 1939...the first televised pro football game airedfrom Ebbets Field in Brooklyn, New York. NBC’s flagship, W2XBS, carried the action. Brooklyn beat Philadelphia, 23-14. NBC later changed those experimental call letters to WRCA, and even later, to WNBC.

In 1961... In the midst of a growing “twist” craze, Chubby Checker was on CBS-TV’s Ed Sullivan Show, performing his original hit from the previous year, “The Twist,” along with his followup “Let’s Twist Again.” The resulting attention helped boost “The Twist” back to #1 by early 1962, marking the only time the same recording has hit the top spot on Billboard’s singles chart in two different years.

In 1969…Paul McCartney appeared in public to deny rumors of his death.

In 1986...NY Personality/Traffic Reporter Jane Dornacker died in a helicopter accident while working for WNBC 660 AM Radio in New York City (which became WFAN in 1988).

Dornacker was aboard during two unrelated crashes of the helicopters leased to WNBC. She survived the first crash, but was killed in the second crash into the Hudson River, which occurred as she was in the middle of a live traffic report.

Her death came shortly after that of her husband, Bob Knickerbocker, orphaning their 16-year-old daughter. The NTSB investigation determined the cause of the fatal crash to have been use of improper parts and poor maintenance on the part of Spectrum Helicopters of Ridgefield Park, New Jersey.

In 1992...Sportscaster Walter Lanier "Red" Barber died (Born - February 17, 1908). Barber, nicknamed "The Ol' Redhead", was primarily identified with broadcasts of Major League Baseball, calling play-by-play across four decades with the Cincinnati Reds (1934–1938), Brooklyn Dodgers (1939–1953), and New York Yankees (1954–1966). Like his fellow sports pioneer Mel Allen, Barber also gained a niche calling college and professional American football in his primary market of New York City.

Red Barber
At the age of 21, he hitchhiked from his home in Sanford, FL to Gainesville, FL and enrolled at the University of Florida, majoring in education. During his first year he worked at various jobs including part-time janitor at the University Club. There in January 1930 Barber got his start in broadcasting.

An agriculture professor had been scheduled to appear on WRUF, the university radio station, to read a scholarly paper over the air. When the professor's absence was discovered minutes before the broadcast was to begin, janitor Barber was called in as a substitute. Thus the future sportscaster's first gig was reading "Certain Aspects of Bovine Obstetrics".

After those few minutes in front of a microphone, Barber decided to switch careers. He became WRUF's director and chief announcer and covered Florida football games that autumn. Then he dropped out of school to focus on his radio work. After four more years at WRUF he landed a job broadcasting the Cincinnati Reds on WLW and WSAI when Powel Crosley, Jr., purchased the team in 1934.

On Opening Day 1934 (April 17), Barber attended his first major league game and broadcast its play-by-play, as the Reds lost to the Chicago Cubs 6–0. He called games from the stands of Cincinnati's renamed Crosley Field for the next five seasons.

Barber had been hired by Larry MacPhail, then president of the Reds. When MacPhail moved on to be president of the Dodgers for the 1939 season, he took the play-by-play man along. In Brooklyn, Barber became an institution, widely admired for his folksy style. He was also appreciated by people concerned about Brooklyn's reputation as a land of "dees" and "dems".

In 1939 Barber broadcast the first major-league game on television, on experimental NBC station W2XBS. In 1946 he added to his Brooklyn duties a job as sports director of the CBS Radio Network, succeeding Ted Husing and continuing through 1955. There his greatest contribution was to conceive and host the CBS Football Roundup, which switched listeners back and forth between broadcasts of different regional college games each week.

For most of Barber's run with the Dodgers, the team was broadcast over radio station WMGM (later WHN) at 1050 on the AM dial.

Prior to the 1953 World Series, Barber was selected by Gillette, which sponsored the Series broadcasts, to call the games on NBC Radio Network along with Mel Allen. Barber wanted a larger fee than was offered by Gillette, however, and when Dodgers owner Walter O'Malley refused to back him, Barber declined to work the Series and Vin Scully partnered with Allen on the telecasts instead. As Barber later related in his 1968 autobiography, Rhubarb in the Catbird Seat, it was O'Malley's lack of support that led to his resigning from the Dodgers later that October.

Soon afterward the crosstown Yankees hired Barber. In 1955 he took his long-running television program Red Barber's Corner from CBS to NBC. It ran from 1949 until 1958.

Under the ownership of CBS in 1966, the Yankees finished tenth and last, their first time at the bottom of the standings since 1912 and after more than 40 years of dominating the American League. On September 22, paid attendance of 413 was announced at the 65,000-seat Yankee Stadium.

Barber asked the TV cameras to pan the empty stands as he commented on the low attendance. Although denied the camera shots on orders from the Yankees' head of media relations, he said, "I don't know what the paid attendance is today, but whatever it is, it is the smallest crowd in the history of Yankee Stadium, and this crowd is the story, not the game." By a horrible stroke of luck, that game was the first for CBS executive Mike Burke as team president. A week later, Barber was invited to breakfast where Burke told him that his contract wouldn't be renewed.

After his dismissal by the Yankees in 1966, Barber retired from baseball broadcasting. The National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association inducted Barber into its Hall of Fame in 1973. In 1978, Barber joined former colleague Mel Allen to become the first broadcasters to receive the Ford C. Frick Award from the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. In 1979, he was recognized with a Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Florida, given a Gold Award by the Florida Association of Broadcasters, and inducted into the Florida Sports Hall of Fame. In 1984, Barber was part of the American Sportscasters Association Hall of Fame's inaugural class which included sportscasting legends Don Dunphy, Ted Husing, Bill Stern and Graham McNamee. Barber was given a George Polk Award in 1985 and a Peabody Award in 1990 for his NPR broadcasts, and in 1995 he was posthumously inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame.

In 1993, TV Guide named Barber the best sportscaster of the 1950s

Sonny Taylor w/Chaka Kahn
In 1999...Radio personality Sonny Taylor, who died at age 59.  He programmed WWRL for four years, starting in 1975. Later, he programmed WRKS and he was a deejay at both WWRL and WNJR, where he started in 1966.

"He was a great jock and a tremendous programmer," says Bobby Jay then of WCBS-FM, whom Taylor convinced WNJR to hire from their alma mater, the School of Broadcasting and Announcing. "I remember his words," says Jay. "He said, 'Don't embarrass me!

Like many radio people, Taylor got around: St. Louis, Chicago, Miami. He spent the '90s at WMMJ in Washington, where he was working until he died.

In 2009...Milton Supman died from cancer (Born - January 8, 1926), known professionally as Soupy Sales, he was a comedian, actor, radio/television personality, and jazz aficionado. He was best known for his local and network children's television show Lunch with Soupy Sales (1953–1966), a series of comedy sketches frequently ending with Sales receiving a pie in the face, which became his trademark. From 1968 to 1975 he was a regular panelist on the syndicated revival of What's My Line? and appeared on several other TV game shows. During the 1980s, Sales hosted his own show on WNBC-AM in New York City.

Soupy Sales
Sales got his nickname from his family. His older brothers had been nicknamed "Hambone" and "Chicken Bone." Milton was dubbed "Soup Bone," which was later shortened to "Soupy".

Sales enrolled in Marshall College in Huntington, WV where he earned a Master's Degree in Journalism. While at Marshall, he performed in nightclubs as a comedian, singer and dancer. After graduating, Sales began working as a scriptwriter and disc jockey at radio station WHTN in Huntington. He moved to Cincinnati, Ohio in 1949, where he worked as a morning radio DJ and performed in nightclubs.

On January 1, 1965, miffed at having to work on the holiday, Sales ended his live TV broadcast by encouraging his young viewers to tiptoe into their still-sleeping parents' bedrooms and remove those "funny green pieces of paper with pictures of U.S. Presidents" from their pants and pocketbooks. "Put them in an envelope and mail them to me", Soupy instructed the children. "And I'll send you a postcard from Puerto Rico!" He was then hit with a pie. Several days later, a chagrined Soupy announced that money (mostly Monopoly money was unexpectedly being received in the mail. He explained that he had been joking and announced that the contributions would be donated to charity.

Sales hosted a midday radio show on WNBC 660 AM in New York from March 1985 to March 1987. His program was between the drive time shifts of Don Imus (morning) and Howard Stern (afternoon), with whom Sales had an acrimonious relationship. An example of this was an incident involving Stern telling listeners that he was cutting the strings in Sales' in-studio piano at 4:05 p.m. on May 1, 1985. On December 21, 2007, Stern revealed this was a stunt staged for "theater of the mind" and to torture Sales; in truth, the piano was never harmed.

Sales' on-air crew included his producer, Ray D'Ariano, newscaster Judy DeAngelis (recently retired as AM Drive news anchor on 1010 WINS), and pianist Paul Dver, who was also Soupy's manager.

When Soupy's show was not renewed, his time slot would be taken over by D'ariano. Near the end of his contract, Sales lost his temper on the air, and began to speak very frankly about how he felt he had been treated poorly by the station, and how he felt betrayed that D'ariano would be taking over the show. The show went to break after a commercial - Sales was off the air, replaced without comment or explanation by program director Dale Parsons. Soupy would not return to the air.

➦In 2016....Herbert Rogers Kent died at age 88 (Born - October 5, 1928) was "the longest-running DJ in the history of radio", a radio personality in Chicago, Illinois, for more than seven decades. As a high school student, Kent began hosting a classical music program for Chicago’s WBEZ. Over the years he “has served as an inspiration to a number of aspiring African-American broadcasters.” He was known as the "cool gent", a phrase that he coined to rhyme with his name.

Kent was born Herbert Rogers Kent in Cook County Hospital in Chicago. An only child, he grew up in the Bronzeville neighborhood in Chicago. He told a reporter in 2009 that as early as age 6 he "had a love affair with radio", as he enjoyed listening to a blues station at that age.

Members of Kent's radio audience usually felt as if they knew him personally, even though they might never have met him — a familiarity facilitated by "his lively exchange with guests and co-workers during his broadcasts".

Kent began working in radio in 1944 when he was 16 years old and still in high school, hosting a classical music program on WBEZ in Chicago. That assignment resulted from his acceptance into "highly competitive" workshops conducted by WBEZ.

By the late 1940s, he was working at two stations -- acting in old-time radio dramas on WMAQ in Chicago and hosting a record program on WGRY in Gary, Indiana. He went on to work at WJFC-AM and WJOB-AM before reaching the role for which he became best known.

In the 1950s, Kent became known as "The King of the Dusties" for his development of the oldies format that he called "dusty records", a term he coined while working at WBEE radio in Harvey, Illinois.

Herb Kent WVON-FM

In March 1963, Kent headed the disc jockey lineup at WVON, a newly launched Chicago station that resulted from the purchase of WHFC and a change in format to "uncompromising soul-style rhythm and blues." Kent, who was one of two disc jockeys retained from the WHFC staff, had the 7:30-11 p.m. program. Robert Pruter, in his book, Chicago Soul, noted that Kent had a distinct on-air style: "Unlike many other deejays of the day, black or white, he never shouted or screamed or used an artificial patter. He always talked in a conversational, ultra-cool style."

Hermene Hartman and David Smallwood, in their book, N'Digo Legacy Black Luxe: Media Edition, described WVON as "arguably the most popular Black radio station ever in America" and Kent as the station's most popular disc jockey at his peak. Gary Deeb, radio-TV critic for the Chicago Tribune, noted that Kent's popularity as a night-time disc jockey attracted an audience of young people who also listened to the station at other times.

In March 1977, Kent was fired from WVON. The station's owner blamed Kent's lack of energy, but Deeb wrote that the dismissal of Kent and other WVON personnel resulted from cost-cutting measures.

In 1978, Kent returned to Chicago radio with a 5-6 p.m. weekday program on WXFM. In the 1990s, he was heard on FM station WVAZ in Chicago. By October 1999, he had returned to WVON, but on the station's FM side.

Christopher Lloyd is 83


  • Actor Christopher Lloyd is 83. 
  • Actor Derek Jacobi is 83. 
  • Actor Tony Roberts is 82. 
  • Actor Catherine Deneuve is 78. 
  • Musician Eddie Brigati of The Rascals and Joey Dee and the Starlighters is 76. 
  • Actor Jeff Goldblum is 69. 
  • Keyboardist Greg Hawkes of The Cars is 69. 
  • Actor Luis Guzman (“Code Black”) is 65. 
  • Bassist Cris Kirkwood of Meat Puppets is 61. 
  • Actor Bob Odenkirk is 59. 
  • Christian singer TobyMac (dc Talk) is 57. 
  • Singer-songwriter Wesley Stace (John Wesley Harding) is 56. 
  • Sofia Vassilieva is 29
    Actor Valeria Golino (“Rain Man,” “Hot Shots!”) is 55. 
  • Comedian Carlos Mencia is 54. 
  • Country singer Shelby Lynne is 53. 
  • Reggae rapper Shaggy is 53. 
  • Director Spike Jonze is 52. 
  • Rapper Tracey Lee is 51. 
  • Actor Saffron Burrows (“Boston Legal”) is 49. 
  • Actor Carmen Ejogo (“Selma”) is 48. 
  • Actor Jesse Tyler Ferguson (“Modern Family”) is 46. 
  • Guitarist Jon Foreman of Switchfoot is 45. 
  • Actor Michael Fishman (“Roseanne”) is 40. 
  • Guitarist Rickard Goransson of Carolina Liar is 38. 
  • Drummer Zac Hanson of Hanson is 36. 
  • Actor Corey Hawkins (TV’s “The Walking Dead,” film’s “Straight Outta Compton”) is 33. 
  • Actor Jonathan Lipnicki (“Stuart Little,” ″Jerry Maguire”) is 31. 
  • Actor Sofia Vassilieva (“Medium,” “Eloise”) is 29.
  • Actor Elias Harger (“Fuller House”) is 14.

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