Saturday, December 4, 2021

December 5 Radio History

➦In 1901...Walter Elias Disney born (Died at age 65 – December 15, 1966).  He was the founder of the Disney entertainment empire and an animator, voice actor and film producer. 

Mickey & Friend
A pioneer of the American animation industry, he introduced several developments in the production of cartoons. As a film producer, Disney holds the record for most Academy Awards earned by an individual, having won 22 Oscars from 59 nominations. He was presented with two Golden Globe Special Achievement Awards and an Emmy Award, among other honors. Several of his films are included in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress.

Born in Chicago in 1901, Disney developed an early interest in drawing. He took art classes as a boy and got a job as a commercial illustrator at the age of 18. He moved to California in the early 1920s and set up the Disney Brothers Studio with his brother Roy. With Ub Iwerks, Walt developed the character Mickey Mouse in 1928, his first highly popular success; he also provided the voice for his creation in the early years.

➦In 1902...Guglielmo Marconi transmitted the first readable wireless radio signals 3,200 km across the Atlantic from his station at Glace Bay, Cape Breton to Poldhu in Cornwall, England.

➦In 1906...Radio, TV writer, producer and director William Spier was born in NYC (Died at age 66 - May 30, 1973). He is best known for his radio work, notably Suspense and The Adventures of Sam Spade.

Spier began his career on the editorial staff of Musical America magazine, eventually becoming its chief critic.   His radio career began in 1929, when he produced and directed The Atwater Kent Hour, an hour-long Sunday night presentation of Metropolitan Opera artists.

Spier was chief of the writers' department and director of development at CBS in 1940, when he was co-producer of Suspense and Duffy's Tavern. In 1947, he won a Mystery Writers of America award for The Adventures of Sam Spade. A 1949 magazine article said Spier "is generally rated radio's top-notch creator of suspense-type dramas."

➦In 1925...WIBX Utica NY signed-on. WIBX 1460 AM would move around the dial until 1948

According to the WIBX website,  at the time WIBX began transmitting, there were about 1,600 radio stations operating throughout the United States. It was estimated that when WIBX signed on the air, only about 19-percent of households actually had radio receivers and it wouldn't be until the late 1930s that radios would be considered standard features in cars. 

Over the years, WIBX's programming would change significantly. In the 1930s, WIBX would become an affiliate of the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) and would broadcast programs from "the Golden Age of Radio" including dramas, comedies, soap operas, and sports; as well as newscasts which would become the standard for the top and bottom of every hour. In the 1950s, the sports talk program Sportswatch debuted and would continue until 2013, with many legendary hosts that would move on to the national scene. Through the 1960s and 70s, WIBX would become known for its Middle of the Road (MOR) format which would include a mixture of music and personality, sports, nationally syndicated programs and news. In the late-1980s, WIBX dropped music and moved towards the news-talk format that it runs today, that features Rush Limbaugh's nationally syndicated program and its affiliation with Fox News Radio.

Bing Crosby
➦In 1936...Bing Crosby started hosting the Kraft Music Hall radio show on NBC.

The program debuted June 26, 1933 as a musical-variety program featuring orchestra leader Paul Whiteman and served to supplement print advertising and in-store displays promoting Kraft products. During its first year the show went through a series of name changes, including Kraft Musical Revue, until it finally settled on Kraft Music Hall in 1934. Paul Whiteman remained the host until December 6, 1935. Ford Bond was the announcer.

Bing Crosby was host until May 9, 1946. Other entertainers who appeared regularly during Crosby's tenure included Connie Boswell, Victor Borge, and Mary Martin. A review in Billboard magazine commented, "It is a tribute to Bing Crosby, program's highlight, that the Music Hall seems to survive all talent change -- these changes simply pointing up the fact that the show is completely dependent on Crosby."

For the advertising managers at Kraft, it was imperative that advertising and entertainment be kept separate. For this reason, Kraft insisted that an announcer, not cast members, read its commercials.

➦In 1952..Mutual Radio broadcast “The Green Hornet” for the final time. The show left the air after 15 years on Mutual, NBC and ABC. “The Green Hornet” reappeared in 1966, this time on TV.

➦In 1955...Disc-Jockey Alan Freed‘s movie “Rock Rock Rock” (with Connie Francis singing for Tuesday Weld) opened to packed theaters in New York City. Other artists featured were Chuck Berry, LaVern Baker, Teddy Randazzo, The Moonglows, The Flamingos, and The Teenagers with Frankie Lymon.

➦In 1967... Top 40 WMCA 570 AM  was rated by Billboard magazine as the most influential in selling single records in New York.

A typical music meeting is held on Tuesday. Usually on hand - the station’s Program Director - Ruth Meyer, music assistants Joe Bogart and Frank Costa and several WMCA deejays.  WMCA says its policy is to select records that the station believes will become hits or those that are already established hits in other cities. WMCA says “it will not play dirty records.”

➦In 2011...Former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Don Meredith, who in the heyday of Monday Night Football shared the ABC broadcast booth with Howard Cosell and Frank Gifford, suffered a fatal brain hemorrhage at age 72.

Jim Messina


  • Actor Jeroen Krabbe (“The Fugitive”) is 77. 
  • Opera singer Jose Carreras is 75. 
  • Singer Jim Messina (Loggins and Messina, Poco) is 74. 
  • Actor Morgan Brittany (“Dallas”) is 70. 
  • Actor Brian Backer (“Fast Times at Ridgemont High”) is 65. 
  • Paula Patton is 46
    Country singer Ty England is 58. 
  • Singer-guitarist John Rzeznik of The Goo Goo Dolls is 56. 
  • Country singer Gary Allan is 54. 
  • Comedian Margaret Cho is 53. 
  • Actor Alex Kapp Horner (“The New Adventures of Old Christine”) is 52. 
  • Actor Kali Rocha (TV’s “Man with a Plan”) is 50. 
  • Bassist Regina Zernay of Cowboy Mouth is 49. 
  • Actor Paula Patton (“Precious”) is 46. 
  • Actor Amy Acker (“Person of Interest,” ″Angel”) is 45. 
  • Actor Nick Stahl (TV’s “Carnivale,” film’s “Terminator 3”) is 42. 
  • Actor Adan Canto (“Designated Survivor”) is 40.
  • Singer Keri Hilson is 39. 
  • Actor Gabriel Luna (“Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”) is 39. 
  • Actor Frankie Muniz (“Malcolm in the Middle”) is 36. 
  • Actor Ross Bagley (“Fresh Prince of Bel-Air”) is 33.

CNN Fires Chris Cuomo

CNN said it has fired anchor Chris Cuomo after an investigation into his efforts to help his brother, former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, respond to accusations of sexual misconduct, reports The Wall Street Journal.

In a statement Saturday, CNN said it had hired a law firm to investigate Chris Cuomo’s conduct after newly released records by the office of New York Attorney General Letitia James showed the anchor had taken a greater role in the defense of Andrew Cuomo than was previously known.

The law firm compared the records released by the New York attorney general’s office with Chris Cuomo’s on-air statements and conversations he had with CNN employees about his role in Andrew Cuomo’s defense, according to a person familiar with the matter. The firm found gaps between Chris Cuomo’s statements and the records released by Ms. James’s office and concluded that CNN had cause to fire Chris Cuomo, the person said.

CNN President Jeff Zucker called Chris Cuomo earlier Saturday to fire him, the person said.

Chris Cuomo said in a statement on Twitter Saturday afternoon this wasn’t how he had wanted his time at CNN to end, and thanked his co-workers. “I owe them all and I will miss that group of special people who did really important work,” he said.

CNN may investigate new information that came to light during the review of Chris Cuomo’s conduct, the person familiar with the matter said.

“Despite the termination, we will investigate as appropriate,” CNN said in its statement.

On Monday, Ms. James’s office released new records that showed Chris Cuomo checked with sources to find out if stories about his brother’s accusers were forthcoming and gave detailed feedback on his brother’s statements to the press.

CNN, a unit of AT&T Inc.’s WarnerMedia, said Monday that the “thousands of pages of additional transcripts and exhibits” released by Ms. James’s office deserved “a thorough review and consideration.” A day later, the network said Chris Cuomo was suspended indefinitely. “These documents point to a greater level of involvement in his brother’s efforts than we previously knew,” a CNN spokesman said at the time.

The records released Monday by Ms. James’s office showed Chris Cuomo texted one of his brother’s former advisers, Melissa DeRosa, telling her he had “a lead on the wedding girl” shortly after the New York Times published a report that quoted a woman who said Andrew Cuomo touched her inappropriately at a wedding. It couldn’t be learned whether Chris Cuomo was referring to that woman.

The records also include an interview with Chris Cuomo conducted by investigators in which the anchor said he contacted other journalists to figure out whether stories about Andrew Cuomo’s conduct were in the works.

Chris Cuomo’s exit from CNN leaves a hole in the network’s crucial prime-time programming block. CNN on Friday said anchor Michael Smerconish would temporarily fill in for Chris Cuomo next week, but no permanent replacement has been named for the network’s highly rated hour.

PA Radio: FCC Sets Hearing For Roger Wahl's Station License

Roger Wahl
A day after the Federal Communications Commission terminated the Meyersdale-based WQZS 93.3 FM owner's hearing, it has rescinded the termination, reports The Daily American.

The FCC initially claimed that Roger Wahl, owner and founder of the oldies and classic rock station, did not file a written appearance in time allotted stating that he would appear at a designated hearing before the commission to present evidence on the issues. Presiding FCC Administrative Law Judge Jane Halprin stated in an order issued Thursday, however, that she learned a day later that Wahl had submitted an appearance via certified mail Nov. 11.

He also attempted to file his appearance with the FCC's Electronic Comment Filing System that serves as the repository for official records on the same date, according to the FCC's new order.

This was well within the timeframe of Nov. 8 to Nov. 29 opened for his response about the FCC hearing. FCC officials indicated that Wahl applied incorrectly, which is why it appeared that he had not responded.

"The termination order will therefore be rescinded and this hearing proceeding restored to pending status," Halprin wrote.

Wahl, the station owner as well as a disc jockey, pled guilty last year to secretly taking nude photographs of a woman inside her home using a concealed camera that had been installed in her bathroom. According to court documents, he also impersonated the woman on an online dating site, sent nude photos of the woman to at least one man whom he connected with through that site and solicited that man to have sexual relations with the woman without her consent.

Initially, Wahl also pleaded guilty to invasion of privacy; after learning that that charge would require him to register as a sex offender, however, he withdrew that guilty plea and instead pled guilty to identity theft. He was sentenced to three years of probation, four months of electronic monitoring, and was required to pay $600 in fines as well as the costs of his prosecution and supervision.

In 2020, Wahl pleaded guilty and four months later was placed in a three-year probationary sentence for the 2019 offenses of criminal use of a communication facility, a third-degree felony, and lesser-graded misdemeanors of recklessly endangering another person, unlawful dissemination of an intimate image and tampering with evidence.

Among the factors that could revoke a license is "evidence of any conviction for misconduct constitution a felony," according to the FCC's initial order.

WQZS being sold?

Wendy Sipple, Wahl's daughter, has a pending $10 deal to buy WQZS from her father. The FCC's media bureau put a hold on the sale of the station noting, that it did so because Wahl’s convictions raise questions under the commission’s character qualifications policy statement about whether he possesses the requisite qualifications to remain a commission licensee.

Sipple filed a motion with the FCC to intervene Nov. 29 as the prospective assignee of the station. In the initial order Halprin stated in her order that because the hearing proceeding was terminated, Sipple's motion will be "dismissed as moot."

Buffalo NY Radio: Bob Barnett Named PD For WYRK, WMSX

Townsquare Media Buffalo has announced Bob Barnett is joining our team as the Director of Content and Brand Manager of Country WYRK 106.5 FM and AC WMSX 96.1 FM.

Bob Barnett
“I’m beyond excited to be heading home to Buffalo, where I was born and raised, to work for Townsquare Media’s successful group of stations,” commented Bob. “I’m grateful for the opportunity to share my experience and knowledge with the amazing Buffalo team that’s already focused on being the best!”

“We are thrilled to have Bob Barnett join our team. He has a track record of success throughout his career that is beyond impressive. Bob is a winner and will be a key component to our success as we strive to be the #1 Media Company in Buffalo,” added Townsquare Buffalo Market President and Chief Revenue Officer, Mark Plimpton.

Bob has over 35 years of experience in radio leadership and management positions. Bob has spent 21 years in two stints as the Operations Manager for Entercom/Audacy in Rochester, NY, including the last eight year as VP of Programming. He has also worked in Nashville, St. Louis, and Miami during his career.

Edison To Unveil 'Super Listeners' Profile

The third annual Super Listeners study will debut on Wednesday, December 15, at 2 PM ET in a webinar from Edison Research, iHeartMedia and Ad Results Media.

“Super Listeners” listen to five or more hours of podcasts weekly and are the people most likely to hear podcasting ads, and to have an opinion about them.

Conal Byrne, CEO at iHeartMedia, Marshall Williams, Partner and CEO at Ad Results Media, and Tom Webster, SVP at Edison Research will walk attendees through an exclusive look at those who spend the most time listening to podcasts, their attitudes towards podcast advertising, and how they view podcasting in the greater media landscape.

This year’s in-depth analysis of podcast super listeners further explores the perceptions of podcast advertising with specific insights on the following:
  • How super listeners feel about the number of ads in podcasts and the length of ad breaks
  • Attitudes about host-read ads v. pre-recorded ads v. sponsorships
  • How podcast advertising affects intent to purchase and other brand fit measures
  • Ad-skipping behavior
Click here to register for Super Listeners 2021

Birmingham, Nashville Radio: Matt Murphy EXITS WZRR For WWTN

Matt Murphy
Friday during his Birmingham Talk WZRR 99.5 morning show, long-time Alabama radio host Matt Murphy announced he was departing the Magic City’s airwaves and accepting a job with WWTN 99.5 FM in Nashville. Both stations are owned by Cumulus Media.

Murphy, who has been a fixture in Alabama radio, both Montgomery and Birmingham, since 1999, will be filling a void left behind by the late Phil Valentine, who died because of complications from COVID-19 earlier this year.

“And so, I will continue to head up I-65 as I did 19 years ago from Montgomery to Birmingham and head to Nashville starting after next week,” Murphy said to his listening audience on Friday. “Never you fear, for you are in wonderful, wonderful hands at Talk 99.5.”

“Not only will Valerie remain here in this day part — she will be joined by another,” he continued. “There will be new voices and new individuals coming to the microphone starting a week from Monday.”

Murphy will host from noon-3 p.m. at WWTN.

CNN: Michael Smerconish To Cover Chris Cuomo Time Slot

CNN confirmed Friday that Michael Smerconish, who hosts a weekly program on the network each Saturday, will fill in for Chis Cuomo, anchoring CNN’s nightly 9 p.m ET slot. Cuomo was suspended this week after a new information shed new light on his involvement in his brother Andrew Cuomo’s response to sexual harassment claims.

Smerconish has filled in for Cuomo in the past. This week, the network has been airing a second hour of lead-in program Anderson Cooper 360 in the Cuomo Prime Time slot.

Smerconish came to CNN in 2014 from MSNBC. He also hosts The Michael Smerconish Program on SiriusXM. Hed also had a sting at Philadelphia's WPHT 1210 AM.

Cuomo addressed his suspension on his own SiriusXM Satellite Radio show earlier this week, saying in part, “The last thing I ever wanted to do was compromise any of my colleagues.”

Lehigh Valley Radio: WSAN Drops Podcasts For Real Oldies

iHeartMedia Allentown announced Friday the debut WSAN Real Oldies 1470, the Lehigh Valley’s greatest hits of the 60s and 70s.

Real Oldies 1470 will play the biggest hits of the 60’s and 70’s from top artists including The Beatles, Bee Gees, The Four Seasons, The Grass Roots, Elvis Presley to Motown’s popular artists and everything in between. Real Oldies 1470 is the Valley’s one stop shop for the greatest hits.

“I am super excited to bring back 60’s and 70’s hits to the Lehigh Valley, this is the music that originally aired on 1470 when it was new,” said Craig Steves, Senior Vice President of Programming for iHeartMedia Allentown. “This fills a musical void and I am confident it will be well received.”

“We’re thrilled to introduce the Lehigh Valley to Real Oldies 1470,” said Jeff Hurley, Executive Vice President of Programming for iHeartMedia. “The music is timeless and sounds perfect on the radio, whether it’s in your car or on a smartspeaker. These songs deserve a spot on your radio and we’re happy to provide it to the listeners of the Lehigh Valley.”

Full Programming Lineup:
  • Craig Stevens 5-10 a.m.
  • Christie James 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
  • Nick Donovan 3 p.m.-7 p.m.
  • Jeffrey T. Mason 7 p.m.-12 a.m.

Study: TV As Bad Or Worse Than Social Media In Spreading Conspiracies

While conventional wisdom may be that social media platforms are the primary source for spreading conspiracy theories, new research indicates television often is just as bad -- or even worse.

Mediapost reports the study, which was released this week by Ipsos MORI, is based on a survey of British adults conducted in May, but the authors say it likely is representative of people in other markets.

One of the top-line findings of the study, however, is that the nature of conspiracy theories -- the degree to which people actually believe in them, how they spread or take actions once exposed to them, and how they utilize media to do that -- is much more nuanced than previously thought, and requires a thorough assessment of the "content" and "context" for marketers, governments or other institutions to effectively respond to them.

The study, entitled "Tackling Conspiracy Theories," was not conducted for a client, but was fielded by Ipsos MORI as a public service.

It examined a range of popular conspiracy theories, and also asked respondents what media they heard it from, including other people (word of mouth). Some of the ones most relevant to the U.S. are shown in the above chart, but on an overall basis of "any conspiracy theory," the same percentage (41%) cited TV and social media as their source.

For certain theories -- including the outcome of the 2020 U.S. presidential election being "falsified," climate change being a hoax, and government involvement in UFOs -- TV outweighed social media as the dominant source.

The study also provides another snapshot of the overall trustworthiness of various societal institutions, and not surprisingly, shows media being among the most distrusted -- just one percentage point behind political institutions.

In an encouraging sign for many brand marketers, "business" ranked relatively low in terms of being "untrustworthy."

D/FW Radio: KSCS Sending Holiday Greetings To Troops

New Country KSCS 96.3 FM morning show, Hawkeye in the Morning, concluded the third annual 10,000 for the Troops holiday card drive to send warm, hopeful wishes to the brave men and women serving our country overseas this holiday season. The station has partnered with Support Our Soldiers, a local 501(c)(3) organization based in Fort Worth, Texas, to send the holiday cards to “high risk” units/individuals that are either in isolated areas or do not have support coming from home. 

The campaign kicked off November 1, 2021, with the goal of collecting 10,000 cards. Listeners and supporters were able to mail cards to the radio station or deliver them to the T-Mobile Experience Store in Southlake or Plano, Texas, or any of the Dallas/Fort Worth Urban Air Adventure Parks, Gigi’s Cupcakes, and Sun & Ski Sports store locations. 

The station announced today that this year’s campaign collected 87,845 cards, with more expected to arrive in the mail over the next week. 

“We were blown away by the amazing support we received in our third year with entire school districts, offices, church groups and a variety of organizations coming together to raise a record number of cards to send to our troops overseas. We’re so grateful to our listeners who are an extension of our family,” comments Hawkeye in the Morning Show co-host Michelle Rodriguez, on the record-breaking campaign. 

The cards will be included in care packages sent to the Troops by Support Our Soldiers just in time for Christmas.

December 4 Radio History

➦In 1889...Isabel Randolph born  (Died at age 83 – January 11, 1973). She was a  character actress in radio and film from the 1940s through the 1960s and on TV from the early 1950s to the middle 1960s.

She gained nationwide popularity on the radio show Fibber McGee and Molly (on the air 1935-1959), where she began in various "snooty" roles January 13, 1936, eventually becoming a long-running series character, the pompous Mrs. Abigail Uppington, a snooty society matron whom Fibber addressed as "Uppy," and whose pretensions Fibber delighted in deflating. She stayed with the comedy series for seven years until the show began its eighth season in the fall of 1943.

She also starred as the wife in NBC's soap opera Dan Harding's Wife (on the air January 20, 1936 through February 10, 1939), and was in the cast of two other NBC serials, One Man's Family (on the air 1932-59) during the 1940s.

In the early days of TV her credits include Our Miss Brooks, The Andy Griffith Show, Meet Millie, The Abbott & Costello Show, and Perry Mason.

Even while young, Randolph specialized in middle-aged "grand dame" roles on stage and radio, continuing in these roles when she entered films in 1940.

➦In 1915...Newscaster  Alan Jackson was born in Hot Springs, Arkansas. He was the head anchor at CBS Radio News in New York City. (Jackson died April 26, 1976, from complications following an operation.)

Jackson began his 33-year career during the Second World War, reading the 6:00 PM national evening news (then the network's main news program) and anchoring coverage of many of the major news headlines of the day. He anchored CBS News's coverage of the D-Day invasion on June 6, 1944, of the joining of US and Soviet forces in April 1945, and of V-E Day in May of that year.

He was one of the first national radio newscasters to announce the assassination of John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963. According to former CBS News Correspondent Dan Rather in his book "The Camera Never Blinks" and in the 2003 book "President Kennedy Has Been Shot", Rather had advised CBS news headquarters in New York from Dallas that there were unconfirmed reports that the President was dead. Jackson was handed a slip of paper reading "JFK DEAD" and immediately went on air with the announcement, reporting Kennedy's death as a fact (which had not yet been confirmed, although it was true that Kennedy was already dead), and playing the U.S. national anthem, The Star-Spangled Banner.

He died in April 1976 at age 60. from complications after gall bladder surgery.

Deanne Durbin 'Something In the Winds' 1947

➦In 1921...Edna Mae Durbin born (Died at age 91 – April 17, 2013), known professionally as Deanna Durbin, was a Winnipeg, Canadian-born actress and singer, later settled in France, who appeared in musical films in the 1930s and 1940s. With the technical skill and vocal range of a legitimate lyric soprano, she performed many styles from popular standards to operatic arias.  However she established genuine radio credentials as a singing star of the popular Eddie Cantor Show.

Durbin made her first film appearance with Judy Garland in Every Sunday (1936), and subsequently signed a contract with Universal Studios. Her success as the ideal teenaged daughter in films such as Three Smart Girls (1936) was credited with saving the studio from bankruptcy. In 1938, at the age of 17, Durbin was awarded the Academy Juvenile Award.

As she matured, Durbin grew dissatisfied with the girl-next-door roles assigned to her, and attempted to portray a more womanly and sophisticated style. The film noir Christmas Holiday (1944) and the whodunit Lady on a Train (1945) were, however, not as well received as her musical comedies and romances had been. Durbin retired from acting and singing in 1949, and withdrew from public life, granting no interviews for the remainder of her life, except for one in 1983. She married film producer-director Charles Henri David in 1950, and the couple moved to a farmhouse near Paris.

➦In 1923...The Eveready Hour premiered on WEAF Radio in NYC  It was the first commercially sponsored variety program in the history of broadcasting.It was paid for by the National Carbon Company, which at the time owned Eveready Battery. The host for many years was the banjo-playing vocalist Wendell Hall, "The Red Headed Music Maker," who wrote the popular "It Ain't Gonna Rain No Mo'" (Victor Records). Hall was married on The Eveready Hour in 1924.

In early 1924 The Eveready Hour began to be carried simultaneously by a second station, WJAR in Providence, Rhode Island, and the number of outlets was expanded to a group of Eastern and Midwestern stations "as quickly as WEAF could add stations" to its "WEAF chain" radio network.

On election night, November 4, 1924, the program, hosted by Wendell Hall, was carried by 18 stations, with Will Rogers, Art Gillham, Carson Robison and the Eveready Quartet entertaining between election returns given by Graham McNamee. Joseph Knecht led the Waldorf-Astoria Dance Orchestra. In 1926 the WEAF chain operations were purchased by the Radio Corporation of America, becoming the basis of the National Broadcasting Company (NBC) in early 1927. The Eveready Hour continued as a featured broadcast on NBC until 1930.

➦In 1932...Walter Winchell premiered his WJZ Radio with the the famous opening:  “Good evening, Mr. and Mrs. North and South America and all the ships at sea. Let’s go to press!”

He made his radio debut over WABC (now WCBS-AM) in New York, a CBS affiliate, on May 12, 1930. The show, entitled Saks on Broadway, was a 15-minute feature that provided business news about Broadway. He switched to WJZ (now WABC) and the NBC Blue (later ABC Radio) in 1932 for the Jergens Journal.

Winchell kept that gossip show going on the radio for 23 years.

➦In 1933...The radio soap opera Ma Perkins made the leap from WLW in Cincinnati to  the NBC Red Network.   It aired from 1933 to 1949 and on CBS from 1942 to 1960. Between 1942 and 1949, the show was heard simultaneously on both networks.

During part of its run on NBC, that network's coverage was augmented by use of transcriptions. Beginning April 1, 1935, nine stations broadcast the transcriptions. The program continued with various sponsors until 1960.

"America’s mother of the air" was portrayed by actress Virginia Payne, who began the role at the age of 23 and never missed a performance during the program's 27-year run. Kindly, trusting widow Ma Perkins had a big heart and a great love of humanity. She always offered her homespun philosophy to troubled souls in need of advice.

Ma Perkins is widely credited with giving birth to storytelling.

➦In 1944...Country entertainer Eddy Arnold record his signature song 'Cattle Call' at the WSM Radio studios in Nashville.

➦In 1944...Beach Boys drummer, keyboardist and songwriter Dennis Wilson was born in 1944. He drowned on Dec. 28, 1983 at 39.  Dennis Wilson interview with Pete Fornatale on WNEW 102.7 FM, New York City from November 1976.

➦In 1954...“Mr. Sandman” by the Chordettes on Cadence Records topped the music charts and stayed there for 7 weeks.

➦In 1954..The NY Supreme Court ruled 1010 WINS radio disc jockey Alan Freed could no longer use the nickname "Moondog." Freed had been sued for infringement by New York street musician Louis T. Hardin, who claimed prior ownership of the nickname.

Freed started calling his show "The Moondog House" and billed himself as "The King of the Moondoggers" while working at WJW In Cleveland in 1951. He had been inspired by an offbeat instrumental called "Moondog Symphony" that had been recorded by New York street musician Louis T. Hardin, aka "Moondog". Freed adopted the record as his show's theme music.

His on-air manner was energetic, in contrast to many contemporary radio presenters of traditional pop music, who tended to sound more subdued and low-key in manner. He addressed his listeners as if they were all part of a make-believe kingdom of hipsters, united in their love for black music. He also began popularizing the phrase "rock and roll" to describe the music he played.

He was one of the organizers of a five-act show called "The Moondog Coronation Ball" on March 21, 1952, at the Cleveland Arena. This event is considered the first rock and roll concert. Crowds attended in numbers far beyond the arena's capacity, and the concert was shut down early due to overcrowding and a near-riot. Freed gained a priceless notoriety from the incident. WJW immediately increased the airtime allotted to Freed's program, and his popularity soared.

In those days, Cleveland was considered by the music industry to be a "breakout" city, where national trends first appeared in a regional market. Freed's popularity made the pop music business take notice. Soon, tapes of Freed's program began to air in the New York City area over station WNJR 1430 (now WNSW), in Newark, New Jersey.

In July 1954, following his success on the air in Cleveland, Freed moved to 1010 WINS in New York City. that's when Hardin, the original Moondog, took a court action suit against WINS for damages against Freed for infringement in 1956, arguing prior claim to the name "Moondog", under which he had been composing since 1947. Hardin collected a $6,000 judgment from Freed, as well as an agreement to give up further usage of the name Moondog. WINS eventually became an around-the-clock Top 40 rock and roll radio station, and would remain so until April 19, 1965—long after Freed left and three months after he had died— when it became an all-news outlet.

➦In 1957...CKWS in Kingston, Ontario played Elvis Presley's newly release Christmas album in its entirety, opening the phones to public comment. Most listeners approve of the album.

➦In 1967...Sportscaster Harry Wismer died at age 54 (Born June 30, 1913). Wismer played college football at both the University of Florida and Michigan State College, his playing career ending at the latter school when he damaged a knee severely during a game against the University of Michigan. He then began broadcasting Michigan State sports on MSC's radio station WKAR in a position arranged for him by Spartans head coach Charlie Bachman.

In 1934, he was hired as the public-address announcer for the Detroit Lions. The Lions were in their first season in Detroit and were owned by George A. "Dick" Richards, who also owned Detroit radio station WJR. Wismer soon began doing a ten-minute daily radio show covering the Lions in addition to his PA duties, while continuing as a student at Michigan State.

Harry Wismer
After the 1936 season, Wismer was encouraged by Richards to abandon his studies and come to work for WJR on a full-time basis as the station's sports director. Among Wismer's WJR duties was serving as play-by-play announcer for the station's Lions broadcasts. He stayed until 1941 when he was hired by the NBC Blue Network, the predecessor to ABC. During the 1940s Wismer was named Sportscaster of the Year three years running by Sporting News magazine.

In 1947, he was named one of 10 outstanding young Americans of the year by the U.S. Jaycees, along with congressman John F. Kennedy, historian Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., and physicist Philip Morrison.  However, a subsequent management change at ABC led to a new regime that was hostile to sports, and Wismer became a free-lancer, selling his service to the highest bidder. Wismer became known for an enormous ego and developed a reputation as a "namedropper", preferring to announce the names of celebrities of his acquaintance who were in the audience to the actual game action, and was alleged at times to include them in the crowd of games which he announced when they were in fact elsewhere.

Wismer achieved the height of his fame as the voice of the Washington Redskins. His first game for the Redskins was a most inauspicious one in December 1940, their 73–0 loss to the Chicago Bears' great "Monsters of the Midway" team in the 1940 championship game. At one point Wismer was a 25% owner of the club as well, with the majority of the stock being retained by founding owner George Preston Marshall. However, the relationship between the two had greatly degenerated by the mid-1950s over several issues, not the least of which was Marshall's steadfast refusal to sign any black players. The relationship dissolved in claims, counterclaims, and litigation, and Marshall then set out to destroy Wismer's future as a broadcaster, with some success. Wismer was also involved for a time in the broadcasting of Notre Dame football.

In 1953, Wismer was involved in an early attempt to expand football into prime time network television, when ABC, now with a renewed interest in sports, broadcast an edited replay on Sunday nights of the previous day's Notre Dame games, which were cut down to 75 minutes in length by removing the time between plays, halftime, and even some of the more uneventful plays. (While this format was not successful in prime time, a similar presentation of Notre Dame football later became a staple of Sunday mornings for many years on CBS with Lindsey Nelson as the announcer.)

Also that season was the first attempt at prime time coverage of pro football, with Wismer at the microphone on the old DuMont Network. Unlike ABC's Notre Dame coverage, DuMont's NFL game was presented live on Saturday nights, but interest was not adequate to save the DuMont Network, which had by this point already entered what would be a terminal decline (although it did mount a subsequent 1954 season of NFL telecasts, minus Wismer, which proved to be one of its last regular programs).

➦In 1967...WCBS 880 AM expanded "All News" format to midnight.

By the late 1950s and early 1960s, WCBS had evolved into a Middle of the road (MOR) music and personality format, which included limited talk programming. Personalities included legendary morning host Jack Sterling, Bill Randle and Lee Jordan. Like many MOR stations at the time, WCBS did mix in softer songs by rock-and-roll artists, as its ratings at the time were ordinary compared to the higher ratings at WOR and WNEW, both of which also had MOR formats and more distinct identities. Through it all, the variety show "Arthur Godfrey Time" remained a weekday mid-morning staple.

Eventually, WCBS gained a foothold in local news coverage (WOR and WNEW's strengths) bolstered by its standing as CBS's flagship radio station.

William S Paley
During the 1960s, CBS chairman William S. Paley was concerned about the station's low ratings, and that concern started a process that would lead to the creation of a news radio format that would become known as "Newsradio 88". This format debuted on August 28, 1967.

Initially, the station ran news in the drive time periods but maintained an MOR format during the midday and overnight hours, and within a couple of years, it ran all-news programming for much of the broadcast day except for overnights. "Newsradio 88" began its transformation into an all-news format in 1970, when the overnight American Airlines-sponsored Music Till Dawn ended in January of that year, and completed the process in 1972, when Godfrey's weekday morning variety show came to an end. The station built a reputation as an all-news powerhouse during the 1970s, and has continued with an all-news format to this day.

➦In 1989...Howard Hoffman and Stephanie Miller first show at WQHT 97.1 FM.

In the fall of 1988, Emmis had purchased WYNY from NBC, as well as the license of WNBC (AM), which would be shut down. On September 22, 1988, at 5:30 p.m., the stations swapped frequencies. WYNY was moved to 103.5 FM, while WQHT's rhythmic contemporary format moved to 97.1 FM and became "Hot 97." After the transition to Hot 97, Stephanie Miller and Howard Hoffman were brought in to do the morning show, J. Paul Emerson stayed on as newsman, with Daniel Ivankovich ("Reverend Doctor D") and brought in as producer.

The last song played on "Hot 103" was Debbie Gibson's "Stayin' Together" and the first song played on "Hot 97" was M.A.R.R.S.' "Pump Up the Volume".

The station started to lean towards top 40 by 1989 due to decreasing ratings.

Wink Martindale is 88

  • Game show host Wink Martindale is 88. 
  • Singer Freddy “Boom Boom” Cannon is 85. 
  • Actor-producer-director Max Baer Jr. (“The Beverly Hillbillies”) is 84. 
  • Bassist Bob Mosley of Moby Grape is 79. 
  • Singer-bassist Chris Hillman (The Byrds, the Flying Burrito Brothers) is 77. 
  • Singer Southside Johnny Lyon of Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes is 73. 
  • Actor Jeff Bridges is 72. 
  • Guitarist Gary Rossington (Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Rossington Collins Band) is 70. 
  • Lila McCann is 40
    Actor Patricia Wettig is 70. 
  • Actor Tony Todd (“Final Destination” films) is 67. 
  • Drummer Brian Prout of Diamond Rio is 66. 
  • Jazz singer Cassandra Wilson is 66. 
  • Bassist Bob Griffin (The BoDeans) is 62. 
  • Singer Vinnie Dombroski of Sponge is 59. 
  • Actor Chelsea Noble (“Growing Pains,” ″Kirk”) is 57. 
  • Actor Marisa Tomei is 57. 
  • Comedian Fred Armisen (“Portlandia,” ″Saturday Night Live”) is 55. 
  • Rapper Jay-Z is 52. 
  • Actor Kevin Sussman (“Ugly Betty”) is 51. 
  • Model Tyra Banks is 48. 
  • Country singer Lila McCann is 40. 
  • Actor Lindsay Felton (“Caitlin’s Way”) is 37. 
  • Actor Orlando Brown (“That’s So Raven”) is 34. 
  • Actor Scarlett Estevez (“Lucifer”) is 14.

Friday, December 3, 2021

Gray, Perloff Get PM Drive ON CBS Sports Radio

Audacy announced a new weekday afternoon show starring Maggie Gray and Andrew Perloff for CBS Sports Radio. The new show will be heard on over 300 stations across the country, weekdays from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. local time beginning January 3.

Maggie Gray
“We’re excited to grow Maggie’s footprint to a wider national audience on CBS Sports Radio and welcome Andrew to join her as co-host,” said Spike Eskin, Vice President of Programming, WFAN 101.9 FM / 660 AM and CBS Sports Radio. “Together, Maggie and Andrew will deliver a fresh weekday show for our listeners, adding another must-listen program to the station’s impressive slate of content.”

The move marks a return to CBS Sports Radio for Gray, who co-hosted a Saturday morning show from 2013 to 2018. She has most recently served as a midday show co-host for WFAN 101.9 FM / 660 AM in New York since 2018. Gray is also an analyst for SNY, appearing on “Baseball Night in New York.” Gray also previously spent eight years at Sports Illustrated, hosting the daily digital talk show “SI NOW” on and reporting from marquee sports events throughout the country. Prior to Sports Illustrated, Gray worked for, NBA TV and MSG Network, as well as a production assistant for Westwood One for both the Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece and the Winter Olympics in Torino, Italy.

Andrew Perloff
Andrew Perloff joins Audacy after serving as an on-air personality for the television and radio sports talk program “The Dan Patrick Show” since 2009. Known for his humor and “Against the Grain” sports takes, Perloff – nicknamed “McLovin” on the show – helped earn four sports Emmy nominations from 2017 to 2020. Before joining “The Dan Patrick Show,” Perloff was an editor and contributing writer at Sports Illustrated and He has also written or co-written magazine stories, books and television shows and co-hosted his own weekend show at NBC Sports Radio from 2016 to 2019.

Listeners can tune in to CBS Sports Radio online, as well as nationwide on the Audacy app and website. Fans can also connect with the station on social media via Twitter and Facebook.

CBS Sports Radio delivers around-the-clock national sports coverage to more than 300 stations across the country, providing original programming that features commentary from national opinion leaders, expert sports analysis, interviews with major sports figures along with listener calls and fan interaction.

NYC Radio: Massive Shake-Up At WFAN

Audacy has announced the addition of “Tiki & Tierney” to the weekday programming lineup on WFAN 101.9 FM / 660 AM in New York. The duo, which had previously aired on CBS Sports Radio, will be heard on the station weekdays from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. ET, effective January 3.

“Tiki and Tierney have a perspective and sound that is tailor made for New York City and their addition will further solidify WFAN’s iconic position as the area’s most influential sports platform,” said Chris Oliviero, Senior Vice President and Market Manager, Audacy New York. “Both are already very familiar to the FAN audience, so their voices joining “Boomer & Gio” and “Carton & Roberts” creates a powerful must listen to our weekday lineup for both listeners and advertisers.

Tiki Barber played 10 seasons in the NFL with the New York Giants, retiring in 2007 as the Giants all-time leading rusher, and all-purpose yardage leader. In 2010, he was inducted into the New York Giants inaugural Ring of Honor class and in January 2011, he was enshrined into the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame. He began his broadcasting career working for WFAN in 1998, which led to stints at WCBS-TV, Sirius Satellite Radio, YES Network and eventually as a morning host on FOX News Channel’s “Fox & Friends.” Upon retiring from the NFL, Barber served as a correspondent for NBC News and Sports, principally, “The TODAY Show” and “Football Night in America,” but also covering the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing for MSNBC.

As one of the bright, electric voices in sports talk radio, Brooklyn native Brandon Tierney has made a name for himself as a respected, entertaining, insightful and well-informed personality. In addition to this role, he also serves as a radio analyst for St. John’s basketball games and hosts the “Red Storm Report” with former head coach Steve Lavin on MSG Network. In 2013, Tierney returned home to New York as host of CBS Sports Radio’s morning program. Prior to CBS Sports Radio, Tierney hosted afternoons on San Francisco sister station 95.7 The Game (KGMZ-FM).

📻New WFAN 101.9 FM / 660 AM weekday lineup is as follows.
  • 5:00 a.m. – 6:00 a.m. ET:   “The Warm-Up Show” with Al Dukes and Jerry Recco
  • 6:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. ET:  “Boomer & Gio”
  • 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. ET:   “Tiki & Tierney”
  • 2:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. ET:     “Carton & Roberts”
  • 7:00 p.m. – 12:00 a.m. ET:     Keith McPherson
  • 12:00 a.m. – 5:00 a.m. ET:     Sal Licata 
The NY Post reports for the 46-year-old Barber it is another step in a comeback that saw him go from media darling when he stepped off the field in 2006 and onto the “Today” show to something of a pariah. 

His media career was upended by uneven on-air performance and a very public affair. He will now, though, be a central part of New York sports talk to go along with his work as a CBS NFL game analyst.

Tierney, who grew up in Brooklyn, had a regular gig with FAN’s cross-town rival WEPN 98.7 FM ESPN New York and spent time as a host in San Francisco. 

The last eight years, Tierney and Barber have hosted together on CBS Sports Radio Network. This will be advantageous, as they will arrive in the FAN studios for their 10-2 time slot with an already developed rhythm.

The duo will end their national afternoon show, which is simulcast on CBS Sports Network, this month.

Gray is expected to have another role with FAN or its parent company, Audacy, while Malusis could go back to part-time hosting. Malusis also works for SNY.

Gray and Malusis were on the clock this year, and their ratings have only been OK, failing to provide a strong liftoff for FAN’s afternoon program “Carton & Roberts.” Gray and Malusis were informed of FAN’s decision following their show Thursday afternoon. Their contracts were up at the end of the year.

Gray was originally hired by FAN in 2017 to join Chris Carlin and Bart Scott during Mike Francesa’s initial retirement. After one ratings book, Francesa un-retired and replaced “CMB,” which had good ratings when it moved to middays. Scott and Carlin have since moved on to ESPN Radio. 

FAN likes the idea of adding Barber to its team because not only does he have credibility as a former All-Pro athlete, his big name helps with advertiser meet-and-greets.

Since Chris Oliviero, who oversees WFAN for its parent company, Audacy, and FAN VP Spike Eskin took over, the station has had a complete makeover. Oliviero returned to the station in May of last year, which foretold Carton’s comeback after he was released from prison.

Over the past year and a half, FAN has seen Francesa, longtime program director Mark Chernoff, Steve Somers, Joe Benigno and John Minko leave the station. 

Neil Best at Newsday notes Barber is the Giants’ career rushing leader, with 10,449 yards from 1997-2006. He and Tierney have worked together since 2013, originally as a morning team.

Gray posted a tweet Thursday thanking everyone she had gotten to know at WFAN over the last four years — "from our callers, producers, board ops, engineers, co-hosts sales team and more" — and saying that "the next chapter was about to begin, and I can't wait to share it with you soon."

L-A Radio: Beata Murphy Named PD At KIIS-FM

iHeartMedia has announced Beata Murphy has been named Program Director for KIIS 102.7 FM in Los Angeles. She will report to John Peake, Senior Vice President of Programming for iHeartMedia Los Angeles.

Beata Murphy
“Programming KIIS FM is a job for the best and brightest which makes Beata the perfect leader for this legendary brand,” said Peake. “She’s joining the ranks of some of our industry’s finest and most elite programmers. Beata is a fresh and forward thinker, has multi format experience, is a savvy talent coach and has impeccable industry relationships that will further elevate the KIIS FM brand to stellar ratings, revenue and digital innovation. I am very excited to work with her in this capacity.”

“I made the offer for Beata to be the APD/MD for KIIS in 2013 at Brent’s Deli in Northridge” said John Ivey, President of CHR Content Development and Strategy for iHeartMedia. Since then, she has grown as a programmer, garnered the respect of the KIIS staff as well as the Music and Artist community. Through the pandemic Beata has been the KIIS day to day and boots on the ground. Now is the perfect time for me to pass the baton to Beata for the PD position at the legendary KIIS-FM.”

A true music industry veteran, Beata began her career in radio in 1999 at WLLD in Tampa, FL, while still in college. From there she became National Director at Jive Records in 2006, continuing her career helping develop radio marketing plans for major artists like Justin Timberlake, Britney Spears, Usher and many others. During her time at Jive/RCA, Beata’s team delivered multiple #1 singles at RHY Radio and helped break new artists. In 2013 she went back to her first love, one of the nation’s most prestigious radio stations, KIIS-FM Los Angeles. Beata is also passionate in supporting the Los Angeles community philanthropically, and through the power of radio has helped raise more than a million dollars in partnership with record labels and artists as an industry!

“My time at KIIS FM has been filled with impassioned and winning teamwork from a staff of truly unmatched talent, and ‘hall of fame’ leadership & guidance from the legendary John Ivey,” said Beata Murphy, Program Director for iHeartMedia’s KIIS FM. “This new chapter represents every ambition I have worked, planned and hoped for throughout my career. My gratitude is matched only by my enthusiasm to get started. Thanks always to Tom Poleman, John Ivey, Kevin LeGrett and John Peake for this thrilling opportunity. To all of you who have put your faith in me through this incredible new role – and especially the girls & women reading this news – I won’t let you down.”

R.I.P.: Marvell Reed, KDEE Sacramento Program Director

KDEE 97.5 FM
radio program director and general manager Marvell Reed unexpectedly passed away Wednesday morning at age 52, according to the Sacramento Bee

Reed took over as manager of the radio station in 2008, succeeding the late-Aubry Stone. He helped build the station and expand its reach in the last 13 years. He was responsible for changing the focus of the station and implementing increased community engagement. The California Black Chamber of Commerce (CalBCC) announced Reed’s passing on its Instagram account.

It is indeed with great sadness that we announce the passing of Mr. Marvell Reed, the program director and general manager of KDEE 97.5FM. Please keep the family in your prayers,” read the social media post. 

Reed’s vision was for KDEE to become the “Black voice of Sacramento.” He wanted to combine great music with great programming. Cyber Monday Sale Unlimited digital access - $6 for 6 months CLAIM OFFER He brought in on-air personalities that discussed and educated the community on important aspects such as real estate, financial literacy, community news and the culture of Black Sacramento.  

Nov PPMs Day 2: D-C, Boston, Tampa +9 More Markets Now Out

 👉Nielsen on Thursday, December 2, 2021 released the second batch of November 2021 PPM data for the following markets:

 7   Washington DC

10    Boston

11    Miami-Ft. Lauderdale- Hollywood

12    Seattle-Tacoma

13    Detroit

14     Phoenix

15     Minneapolis-St. Paul

16     San Diego

17     Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater

18     Denver-Boulder

22     Baltimore

24     St. Louis

Click Here To View Topline Numbers for Subscribing Nielsen Stations

Wake-Up Call: U-S Coping With New Virus Variant

In a speech yesterday, President Joe Biden said the U.S. will "fight this variant with science and speed, not chaos and confusion."

The national plan for coping with yet another new variant of the COVID-19 virus through this winter season includes more vaccination sites, booster shots for every willing adult, and new test requirements for inbound international travelers. Free at-home virus test kits will be available. But there is no plan to shut down businesses or schools.
Five people in the New York City area have been confirmed to be infected with the omicron variant as of late yesterday. One case was identified in Minnesota and one in Colorado. The man in Minnesota, who reportedly has only minor symptoms, may have picked up the virus during a recent trip to a convention in New York.

Meanwhile, Germany has ordered unvaccinated people to stay home and has barred them from all but essential interaction with the public. The government is considering making vaccination mandatory. Germany and other European countries are coping with a big surge in new COVID cases.

➤GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN AVERTED: Congress passed a stopgap bill that extends government spending authorization into the middle of February. Both the House and the Senate passed the bill yesterday, a day ahead of a midnight deadline that would have caused the government to grind to a halt if no action had been taken. The flurry of action was forced by a handful of Republican senators who oppose vaccine requirements and tried to delay all funding in protest.

➤PRAIRIE FIRES STRIKE IN MONTANA: Unseasonably high temperatures, strong winds and dry air are causing a series of unusual December prairie fires in Montana this week. The worst of the fires burned at least two dozen homes and businesses in Denton, east of Great Falls. Temperatures all the way from the Great Plains to the mid-Atlantic were in the 60s and 70s, about 20 to 30 degrees warmer than normal according to the National Weather Service.

➤ALEC BALDWIN NOT WORRIED ABOUT CHARGES IN 'RUST' SHOOTING:  Alec Baldwin opened up to George Stephanopoulos about the shooting death of Halnya Hutchins Thursday (Dec. 2nd) night.

The actor, who claims he never pulled the trigger on the gun that accidentally shot Rust’s director of photography, says the incident took place during a “marking” rehearsal on the set on October 21st.
With Hutchins directing Baldwin where and how to stand, he asked if she wanted to see him cock the gun. According to Baldwin, she said yes, and he did as he was told while aiming the gun right below her armpit.

He told the ABC host, “And I cocked the gun and go, ‘Can you see that? Can you see that? And I let go of the hammer on the gun, and the gun goes off.”

The 30 Rock alum says he doesn’t worry that he will be criminally charged in the shooting, adding, “I have been told by people who are in the know, in terms of even inside the state, that it’s highly unlikely that I would be charged with anything criminally.”

Santa Fe District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies has not ruled out criminal charges as the investigation continues.

➤JUSSIE SMOLLET'S DEFENSE TEAM ARGUES THAT ONE OF THE OSUNDAIRO BROTHERS IS A DISGRUNTLED EX LOVER: Yesterday, during a cross examination, Abimbola Osundairo, the prosecutions star witness in the Jussie Smollett trial, Smollett's lawyers alleged that Osundairo was a bitter ex lover who attacked Smollett because he wouldn't hire him as a bodyguard.

Jussie Smollett
According to The New York Post, Smollett's defense attorney Shay Allen claimed Osundairo used his alleged relationship with Smollett to further his career and told Smollett he’d make this “all go away” and not testify if he paid him and his brother, Olabinjo, $1 million each Allen asked Osundairo, “You told him if he gave you and your brother a million dollars each, you wouldn’t testify?” Osundairo responded “No.”

Allen also tried to make the claim that Smollett and Osundairo had a sexual relationship together by asking when he and the actor started dating. Osundairo responded, “We were never dating."

🎉HOLIDAY EVENTS IN LIMBO: The giant New Year's Eve party in New York's Times Square in still scheduled to go on, but the city of Baltimore has canceled its New Year's Eve fireworks spectacular. Organizers of holiday events across the U.S. are considering whether they should or shouldn't go ahead with plans for their traditional crowd-pleasing events in light of worries about the appearance of the new omnicron variant of the COVID virus. Best to check before heading out to the party.

➤GEORGIA ELECTION WORKERS SUE PUNDIT: Two Georgia election workers have filed a defamation suit against a website, The Gateway Pundit, that falsely accused them of adding 18,000 fraudulent ballots to the count for Joe Biden on election night. The accusation against Ruby Freeman and her daughter, Shaye Moss, was quickly debunked by county and state election officials but was spread widely by some news media. The two women have faced death threats, harassment, and racial slurs since the story appeared.

➤ZOOM SEES YOU WHEN YOU'RE SLEEPING. IT KNOWS WHEN YOU'RE AWAKE: The video conference app Zoom just added a feature that rats out people who are late for a meeting. The "attendance status" tool allows Zoom hosts to see whether meeting participants showed up on time or at all for their scheduled sessions.

📚STUDY..PAPER BOOKS BETTER THAN DEVICES WHEN READING TO TODDLERS: Parents who want to read to their toddlers to give them a developmental boost should use traditional books rather than an e-book on a tablet, a new study suggests. University of Michigan researchers found that toddlers are more likely to interact with their parents when they’re sharing a paper children’s book rather than a tablet. Parents also tended to talk more to their children when reading from a paper book. In addition, unruly children prone to emotional outbursts responded better to their parents when reading from print versus digital. Dr. Dipesh Navasaria, an associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Wisconsin, who was not involved in the study, says, “Children thrive from back-and-forth interactions with loving, responsive adults in their environment. That’s the number one thing that drives their development, whether it’s speech or social/emotional skills.”

➤FEDEX DRIVER DUMPS PACKAGES: A driver for FedEx dumped from 300 to 400 packages into the bottom of a ravine in Blount County, Alabama, and left them there, according to local authorities. The sheriff said about 450 customers had their deliveries dumped. The embarrassed company has picked up the packages and is working on getting them to their intended recipients. No one has explained why the driver tossed the deliveries.

🏀LeBRON JAMES IS BACK: LeBron James was cleared to play basketball late yesterday after two consecutive COVID tests turned up negative. That means he's eligible to play for the Los Angeles Lakers in tonight's game against the L.A. Clippers.

🏈ANTONIO BROWN SUSPENDED: Tampa Bay Buccaneers receiver Antonio Brown has been suspended for three games after "misrepresenting" his COVID-19 vaccination status to the NFL. Buccaneers cornerback Mike Edwards and free-agent cornerback John Franklin III were also suspended. In a statement, Brown's lawyer insisted in a statement that Brown has been vaccinated.

🎾CHINESE TENNIS STAR SAYS SHE'S SAFE: Chinese tennis star Peng Suai told concerned officials from the International Olympic Committee that she is "safe and well" during a phone call Thursday. Peng disappeared from public view for two weeks after publicly accusing a former top Communist Party official of making a sexual assault on her three years ago. The publication of "proof of life" photos and videos by Chinese government-controlled media and sports officials has not dispelled concerns about her well-being.

🏀BROOK LOPEZ UNDERGOES SURGERY: Milwaukee Bucks center Brook Lopez underwent back surgery yesterday to address the injury that has kept him from playing since this season's opening game. He is headed for physical therapy now, with no word on when he may be able to return.

🏈CURLEY CULP DIES AT AGE 75: Pro football Hall of Famer Curley Culp has died of pancreatic cancer at age 75. He was a defensive tackle for the Kansas City Chiefs and the Houston Oilers in the 1960s and 1970s and played in two Pro Bowls.