Saturday, May 21, 2022

May 21 Radio History

➦In 1916...entertainer Dennis Day born, Owen Patrick Eugene McNulty (Died at age 72 of Lou Gehrig's Disease – June 22, 1988). He was a singer, radio, television and film personality and comedian of Irish descent.

Dennis Day
Day appeared for the first time on Jack Benny's radio show on October 8, 1939. He remained associated with Benny's radio and television programs until Benny's death in 1974. Mary Livingstone, Benny's wife, brought the singer to Benny's attention after hearing Day on the radio during a visit to New York.

Besides singing, Day was a mimic. On the Benny program, Day performed impressions of various celebrities of the era, including Ronald Colman, Jimmy Durante and James Stewart.

From 1944 through 1946 he served in the United States Navy as a Lieutenant. While in service he was temporarily replaced on the Benny radio program by fellow tenor Larry Stevens. On his return to civilian life, he continued to work with Benny while also starring on his own NBC show, A Day in the Life of Dennis Day (1946–1951).

On Benny's show, Day's having two programs in comparison to Benny's one was the subject of numerous jokes and gags, usually revolving around Day rubbing Benny's, and sometimes other cast members' and guest stars' noses in that fact (e.g., "Dennis, why do you have two horns on your bicycle?" "Why shouldn't I? I've got two shows!"). His last radio series was a comedy and variety show that aired on NBC's Sunday afternoon schedule during the 1954–55 season.

He went on to star in his own NBC radio sitcom (Dennis Day Show.) On TV he appeared in 237 episodes of the Benny Show, plus about a dozen guest acting gigs.

➦In 1931...WOR radio in New York City premiered The Witch’s Tale. Beginning in 1934 the pioneering horror show was broadcast on the Mutual Broadcasting System (of which WOR was the flagship station) where it aired until 1938.

➦In 1955...Comedian Ernie Kovacs started a daily morning radio show at WABC 770 AM NYC.  While working at WABC-AM as a morning-drive radio announcer and doing a mid-morning television series for NBC, Kovacs claimed to dislike eating breakfast alone while his wife, Edie Adams, was sleeping after her Broadway performances. His solution was to hire a taxi driver to come into their apartment with his own key and make breakfast for them both, then take Kovacs to the WABC studios.

While working in Vermont in 1939, he became so seriously ill with pneumonia and pleurisy that his doctors didn't expect him to survive. During the next year and a half, his comedic talents developed as he entertained both doctors and patients with his antics during stays at several hospitals.  While hospitalized, Kovacs developed a lifelong love of classical music by the gift of a radio, which he kept tuned to WQXR. By the time he was released, Kovacs went back to Trenton NJ, living with his mother in a two-room apartment. He began work as a cigar salesman, which resulted in a lifelong cigar-smoking habit.

Kovacs's first paid entertainment work was during 1941 as an announcer for Trenton's radio station WTTM. He spent the next nine years with WTTM, becoming the station's director of special events.

➦In 1960...KFAX 1100 AM in San Francisco debuted a news and information format. It’s the first new radio format without a single record. No music anywhere. The format consists of a 15-minute newscast on the hour, a five-minute summary on the half-hour, plus news analysis commentary, editorial and features to fill-out each hour. (KFAX is still on-air, owened by Salem Media, and airs Christian teaching programs.)

➦In 1961...Capital Cities Broadcasting Corp. purchased easy listening WPAT 930 AM  in Paterson, NJ for $5 million. It's  the first company purchase of a station outside a “capital city.” They own WTEN-TV/WROW-AM - Albany, WPRO-TV/Radio -Providence and WTVD-TV/Raleigh-Durham. WPAT is a successful station serving the New York area.  In 1986, following the Cap Cities purchase of ABC, WPAT was sold to Park Communications.

Donna Reed, Carl Betz, Bob Crane

➦In 1963...It was announced that Los Angeles radio personality Bob Crane would be a regular on the “Donna Reed Show” in the Fall. Bob slowly built his acting career ever since he began doing mornings on KNX 1070 AM in 1956.

Barry Gray
➦In 1966..."two-way talk radio" was making a name for itself and was a viable format on some stations. On the East Coast, Barry Gray is one of the best-known two-way radio hosts. He aired his show on WMCA 570 AM from 11p to 1a.

Gray signed a new four year contract with WMCA. The new arrangement is expected to give Gray $150,000 annually - a 50% raise!

WMCA was anxious to keep the high-rated talker. One reason, WCBS 880 AM made a bid for his services. Gray will actually split the show’s profits - 50/50. At the going rate (and his show is sold-out between 11p and 1a).

Bob Grant
➦In 1971...Los Angeles radio talk transplant Bob Grant was airing an afternoon talk show over WMCA 570 NYC. Grant said that New York is not like Los Angeles, where he spent many a year doing telephone talk radio over KABC and KLAC.

“L.A. radio is really hip compared to New York. Here the scene is very provincial and ethnic and liberal. Being a conservative, I am referred to by most of my callers as the house right-winger or fascist. Actually, it gets pretty funny because they do more yelling at me than engaging in useful debate. The audience in Los Angeles was much more sophisticated. Since WMCA started Dialog Radio, it’s really shot up in the ratings, we’ve gone from around 12th to third in the market.  One of the things WMCA is big on, though, is newsmaker calls and I do a lot of them."

➦In 1973...singer and bandleader Vaughn Monroe died shortly after stomach surgery at age 61. An immensely popular performer on radio and records, Monroe had more than 50 hits on the Billboard charts in the pre-rock ‘n’ roll era. Among his number-one records were 1945′s “There I’ve Said It Again” — revived by Bobby Vinton in 1963 — and 1949′s “Ghost Riders in the Sky.”

➦In 1975...More than ever, disco music was spilling over to Top 40 radio.

The influence of the Discotheque – big in New York, was spreading. Disco records have been breaking into the top-40 more and more because of the initial play at discos. The so-called discotheque came to the U.S. from France during the early 1960’s, but the current trend came from gay clubs. Tom Moulton, who wrote about the disco scene for Billboard – summed it up by saying New York is the hub of America’s disco scene. “The disco scene has doubled in New York in the last two years. New discos are opening all the time. In the New York area there are about 600 discos and about 30 key discos that you can look at to find out what songs are popular.”

 ➦In 1980...FCC re-aligned AM Clear Channel Stations.

The FCC voted to limit the coverage of so-called “clear channel” AM stations to 750 miles. The restriction covers 25 clear channel stations including KFI, Los Angeles, WCBS, WABC, WNBC in New York City, WLS, WBBM and WMAQ, Chicago and WSM - the home of the Grand Ol’ Opry in Nashville. These stations were “protected” so that their nighttime signals can be heard in outlying areas, providing radio service to rural communities at night where there was no radio service. The FCC modified the rules in the mid-40’s, to allow new nighttime stations to operate on some of the channels, but the distance between stations was far away (WABC- KOB, Albuquerque) and only two operated (at the most) on one channel at night in the continental USA. Some channels still remain clear, such as WCCO in Minneapolis and WSM, which can still be picked-up thousands of miles away from Nashville.

The new rules allowed smaller stations to broadcast at night, thereby “interfering” with the distant broadcasts. The FCC says it will make room for 125 more nighttime AM stations.

Other stations with clear channel status - WSB - Atlanta, WBAP - Ft Worth, WLW  - Cincinnati, WJR - Detroit, KDKA - Pittsburgh, KMOX - St Louis, WWWE - Cleveland, WHAM, Rochester, WCAU - Philadelphia, WOAI - San Antonio, WHO - Des Moines, WOR - New York, WWL - New Orleans, KSL - Salt Lake City, WBZ - Boston.

Certain medium wave frequencies were set aside under the North American Radio Broadcasting Agreement (NARBA) for night time use by only one or two specific AM stations, covering a wide area via skywave propagation; these frequencies were known as the clear channels, and the stations on them are thus clear-channel stations. Where only one station was assigned to a clear channel, the treaty provides that it must operate with a nominal power of 50 kilowatts or more; stations on the other clear channels, with two or more stations, must use between 10 kW and 50 kW, and most often use a directional antenna so as not to interfere with each other. In addition to the frequencies, the treaty also specified the specific locations where stations on this second kind of channel (known as class I-B) could be built.

Some of the original NARBA signatories, including the United States, Canada and Mexico, have implemented bilateral agreements that supersede its terms, eliminating among other things the distinction between the two kinds of clear channel: the original "I-A", "I-B", and "I-N" station classes are now all included in class A.

Clear-channel stations, unlike all other AM stations in North America, have a secondary service area—that is, they are entitled to protection from interference to their nighttime skywave signals. Other stations are entitled, at most, to protection from nighttime interference in their primary service area — that which is covered by their ground wave signal.

Bill Champlin is 75


  • Singer Ron Isley of the Isley Brothers is 81. 
  • Keyboardist Bill Champlin (Chicago) is 75. 
  • Actor Carol Potter (“Beverly Hills, 90210,” ″Sunset Beach”) is 74. 
  • Singer Leo Sayer is 74. 
  • Comedian and former U.S. Senator Al Franken is 71. 
  • Actor Mr. T is 70. 
  • Drummer Stan Lynch (Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers) is 67. 
  • Ashlie Brillault is 35
    Actor Judge Reinhold is 65. 
  • Actor-director Nick Cassavetes (“The Notebook”) is 63. 
  • Actor Lisa Edelstein (“House”) is 56. 
  • Actor Fairuza Balk (“The Waterboy”) is 48. 
  • Singer-guitarist Mikel Jollet of Airborne Toxic Event is 48. 
  • Rapper Havoc of Mobb Deep is 48. 
  • Drummer Tony LoGerfo of Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real is 39. 
  • Actor Sunkrish Bala (“Castle”) is 38. 
  • Actor David Ajala (“Star Trek: Discovery,” “Black Box”) is 36. 
  • Actor Ashlie Brillault (“Lizzie McGuire”) is 35. 
  • Country singer Cody Johnson is 35. 
  • Actor Scott Leavenworth (“7th Heaven”) is 32. 
  • Actor Sarah Ramos (“Parenthood,” ″American Dreams”) is 31.

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