|The Ritz Theater - 1937|
➦In 1922...KGW-AM, Portland, Oregon signed-on.
R.G. Calvert supervised the operation and Richard “Dick” Haller was the program director. Their aim was to give their listeners news fresh from the press with the best music and outstanding speakers. KGW’s early announcers and writers were usually former newspaper employees, and the first engineers and technicians came from the ranks of former maritime wireless radio operators.
When the station first went on the air, 5,000 radio sets were said to have tuned in. Speakers included The Oregonian’s Editor, Edgar Piper and Mayor George Baker. There was also an opera singer, a novelist and a live musical presentation. Dick Haller became known as KGW’s “Million-Dollar Voice” and his broadcasts were very popular. He would go on to a successful career with NBC in San Francisco.
As an early radio station experiencing tremendous popularity, KGW implemented many innovative new broadcasting ideas. KGW set itself apart from the other stations by having the first radio variety show in the nation, the first audience participation show, the first quiz program, the first library program, the first radio debate, the first in-school listening program and the first singing commercial. In 1925, on-air advertising became a source of KGW’s operating revenue. KGW produced the first-ever singing commercial for Sears, Roebuck and Company in the late 1920s.
KGW was the first station in Oregon to affiliate with a national broadcasting service when they carried the inaugural program of the National Broadcasting Company’s Orange Network on April 5, 1927. The Orange Network was known as the NBC Pacific Coast Network.
One of the performers on the Hoot Owls program, Mel Blanc, achieved fame as the author of cartoon characterization in later years in Hollywood where he became the nation’s voice for cartoon characters such as Elmer Fudd and Bugs Bunny. Blanc, who received his high school education in Portland, joined the program in 1927. Nicknamed "The Grand Snicker" on the Hoot Owls, Blanc became well known for his comedy, as well as his skills as a storyteller, ad-libber, musician, vocalist, and, later, orchestra pit conductor.
Blanc left KGW in 1933 and moved down the hall to perform on sister station KEX in the popular "Cobwebs and Nuts" program, before moving to Hollywood in 1935.
➦In 1924...The first foreign language broadcast aired on WJZ 770 AM, New York City.
In the 1929 movie The Cocoanuts the station was name-checked by Chico Marx in a sequence of running gags between Chico and Groucho: Chico uses the station's call-sign as the punchline of a punning joke based on his confusion over the meaning of the word "radius", which he confuses with 'radios', leading to the mention of the station's call-sign. NBC Blue would become the American Broadcasting Company in 1942. ABC later established WJZ-FM and WJZ-TV at the same time in 1948.
In 1953 ABC merged with United Paramount Theatres, and changed the call letters of their New York area stations to WABC, WABC-FM (now WPLJ) and WABC-TV. Four years later, Westinghouse Broadcasting acquired Baltimore television station WAAM (channel 13) and changed its call letters to WJZ-TV, which remained an ABC affiliate until 1995 when the station switched to CBS.
➦In 1925...Lowell Thomas was first heard on radio as a guest on KDKA, Pittsburgh PA talking about “man’s first flight around the world".
In 1930, he became a broadcaster with the CBS Radio network, delivering a nightly news and commentary program. After two years, he switched to the NBC Radio network but returned to CBS in 1947. In contrast to today's practices, Thomas was not an employee of either NBC News or CBS News. Prior to 1947, he was employed by the broadcast's sponsor Sunoco.
He returned to CBS to take advantage of lower capital-gains tax rates, establishing an independent company to produce the broadcast which he sold to CBS. He hosted the first-ever television news broadcast in 1939 and the first regularly scheduled television news broadcast (even though it was just a camera simulcast of his radio broadcast) beginning on February 21, 1940 over local station W2XBS (now WNBC) New York.
The television news simulcast was a short-lived venture for him, and he favored radio. Indeed, it was over radio that he presented and commented upon the news for four decades until his retirement in 1976, the longest radio career of anyone in his day (a record later surpassed by Paul Harvey).
➦In 1939…Radio Star Kate Smith recorded 'God Bless America', originally written by Irving Berlin in 1918. After updating and revision, Smith had introduced the song on her radio show in November 1938.
Smith was a major star of radio. She began with her twice-a-week NBC series, Kate Smith Sings (quickly expanded to six shows a week), followed by a series of shows for CBS: Kate Smith and Her Swanee Music (1931–33), sponsored by La Palina Cigars; The Kate Smith Matinee (1934–35); The Kate Smith New Star Revue (1934–35); Kate Smith's Coffee Time (1935–36), sponsored by A&P; and The Kate Smith A&P Bandwagon (1936–37).
The Kate Smith Hour was a leading radio variety show, offering comedy, music, and drama with appearances by top personalities of films and theater for eight years (1937–45).
Smith continued on the Mutual Broadcasting System, CBS, ABC, and NBC, doing both music and talk shows on radio until 1960.
➦In 1952...The Moondog Coronation Ball was first host by radio personality Alan Freed. It is generally accepted as the first major rock and roll concert.
At the time, its most remarkable feature was its mix of black and white musical performers, in a revue intended for a racially mixed audience, at a time when almost all performances, radio stations and record labels were de facto segregated by race. One popular belief is that this fact predisposed the authorities to seek reasons to limit or bar the show.
The concert was organized by Alan Freed (a disc jockey considered to have coined the term "Rock and Roll" at WJW-Radio), along with Lew Platt, a local concert promoter, and Freed's sponsors, including Leo Mintz, owner of the Record Rendezvous store. More tickets were printed than the arena's actual capacity, in part due to counterfeiting, and a printing error (tickets for a follow-up ball were sold with the same date printed after the first had sold out). With an estimated 20,000 individuals trying to crowd into an arena that held slightly more than half that — and worries that a riot might break out as people tried to crowd in — the fire authorities shut down the concert after the first song by opening act Paul "Hucklebuck" Williams ended. Freed made a public apology on WJW the next day.
Cleveland rock radio station WMMS 100.7 FM attempted to stage a revival of the concert in 1986 under the name "Moondog Coronation Ball II"; then-program director John Gorman had intended for the event to serve as an oldies rock and roll tribute concert – part of the campaign to bring the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to Cleveland. For legal reasons, the event never materialized.
A few years later in 1992, Gorman, then at local oldies radio station WMJI 105.7 FM, successfully organized a 40th anniversary concert called "Moondog Coronation Ball '92". The concert has been held every year since, featuring oldies rock and roll acts, and sponsored by WMJI. In recent years, the event has been held at Quicken Loans Arena.
➦In 1995...New York City sold the two radio stations it owned: WNYC AM and FM.
WNYC is one of the oldest radio stations in the United States. Funds for the establishment of the station were approved on June 2, 1922 by the New York City Board of Estimate and Apportionment. WNYC made its first official broadcast two years later on July 8, 1924, at 570 AM with a second-hand transmitter shipped from Brazil. With the commencement of WNYC's operations, the City of New York became one of the first American municipalities to be directly involved in broadcasting.
Shortly after becoming mayor in 1994, Rudy Giuliani announced he was considering selling the WNYC stations. Giuliani believed that broadcasting was no longer essential as a municipal entity, and that any financial compensation would be used to help the City cover budget shortfalls. The final decision was made in March 1995: While the City opted to divest WNYC-TV (now WPXN-TV) through a blind auction, WNYC-AM-FM was sold to the WNYC Foundation for $20 million, far less than what the stations could have been sold for if they were placed on the open market.
While this potential sale put an end to the occasional political intrusions of the past, it required the WNYC Foundation to embark on a major appeal towards listeners, other foundations, and private benefactors.
- Actor Kathleen Widdoes (“As the World Turns”) is 82.
- Singer-guitarist Keith Potger of The Seekers is 80.
- Actor Marie-Christine Barrault is 77.
- Singer-keyboardist Rose Stone of Sly and the Family Stone is 76.
Actor Timothy Dalton is 75.
Cynthia Geary is 56
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- Bassist Conrad Lozano of Los Lobos is 70.
- Singer Russell Thompkins Jr. of The Stylistics is 70.
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- Actor Sabrina LeBeauf (“The Cosby Show”) is 63.
- Actor Gary Oldman is 63.
- Actor Kassie Depaiva (“Days of Our Lives”) is 60.
- Actor Matthew Broderick is 59.
- Actor-comedian Rosie O’Donnell is 59.
- Actor Cynthia Geary (“Northern Exposure”) is 56.
- Musician DJ Premier of Gang Starr is 55.
- Musician MC Maxim of Prodigy is 54.
- Keyboardist Jonas “Joker” Berggren of Ace of Base is 54.
- Guitarist Andrew Copeland of Sister Hazel is 53.
- Actor Laura Allen is 47.
- Actor Sonequa Martin-Green (“Star Trek: Discovery,” “The Walking Dead”) is 36.
- Actor Scott Eastwood (“The Longest Ride”) is 35.
- Actor Jasmin Savoy Brown (“For the People”) is 27.
- Actor Forrest Wheeler (“Fresh Off the Boat”) is 17.