Friday, August 12, 2022

August 12 Radio History

Thomas A Edison

➦In 1877
...Thomas A Edison gave the first public demonstration of his invention:  the phonograph.

The phonograph, also called gramophone,  is a device introduced in 1877 for the recording and reproduction of sound recordings. The sound vibration waveforms are preserved in the form of a groove engraved into the surface of a rotating cylinder or disc. As the recorded surface rotates, a playback stylus traces the waveforms and vibrates to reproduce the recorded sound waves.

While other inventors had produced devices that could record sounds, Edison's phonograph was the first to be able to reproduce the recorded sound. His phonograph originally recorded sound onto a tinfoil sheet phonograph cylinder, and could both record and reproduce sounds. Alexander Graham Bell's Volta Laboratory made several improvements in the 1880s, including the use of wax-coated cardboard cylinders, and a cutting stylus that moved from side to side in a "zig zag" pattern across the record.

In the 1890s, Emile Berliner initiated the transition from phonograph cylinders to flat discs with a spiral groove running from the periphery to near the center. Other improvements were made throughout the years, including modifications to the turntable and its drive system, the stylus or needle, and the sound and equalization systems.

The disc phonograph record was the dominant audio recording format throughout most of the 20th century. From the mid-1980s, phonograph use declined sharply because of the rise of the compact disc and other digital recording formats. While no longer mass-market items, modest numbers of phonographs and phonograph records continue to be produced in the second decade of the 21st century.

➦In 1925...KMA-AM in Shenandoah IA begins radio transmissions

The station was founded by seed salesman Earl May.  May and Henry A. Field of Shenandoah were rivals in the seed business. In 1925 Field of Field's Nursery founded radio station KFNF while May founded KMA. While both stations offered farm news; the two were to become most competitive by offering live productions of hillbilly music. According to KMA's website more than a million people traveled to small town Shenandoah to hear the music.

May built the station headquarters and Mayfair Auditorium (demolished in 1964 due to its being declared structurally unsafe by the Iowa State Fire Marshal) across the street from the nursery business. Between music sets, May would pitch his seeds and tell nostalgic stories. In 1926 May won the third annual Radio Digest Gold Cup Award, after being voted the "World's Most Popular Radio Announcer" by over 452,000 people throughout the United States.

The KMA shows which were broadcast in the afternoons were called the "KMA Country School" and according to the format emanated from the fictional KMA District No. 9 school with the shows beginning with the ringing of a school bell.

The most famous celebrities in KMA's history were the Everly Brothers, Don and Phil. In their early teen years, the brothers and their parents would appear on KMA to sing as "The Everly Family", but by 1952, they were discovered by a talent agent, and made their way to fame in Hollywood with such hit songs as "Wake Up, Little Susie".

With the high visibility KMA operated on a slogan of "Keep Millions Advised", which was adopted in early 1926, after sorting through a reported 4,000 suggestions.  KFNF was to operate on "Keep Friendly, Never Frown."

The county school shows were discontinued in the 1950s and the station continued to offer its farm show and farm housewife shows until the late 1990s; the current format revolves around ABC Radio news at the top of each hour, with some agricultural news, regional high school sports and their "Elephant Shop" where listeners can buy, sell, trade or give away personal property on the air.

➤READ MORE: About KMA from radio veteran Marlin R Taylor: Click Here

The 920 AM frequency formerly occupied by KFNF is now KYFR, a Christian radio station owned by Family Radio.

➦In 1937…Comedian Red Skelton made his radio debut on NBC Radio Network's "Rudy Vallee Show."

➦In 1977...Cousin Brucie Morrow did last show at WNBC 660 AM NYC (now WFAN).

➦In 2001..XM Satellite Radio began broadcasting program content.

➦In 2003...longtime Richmond, Virginia radio personality, Eric E. Stanley, died after a 3-year battle with cancer. He was 53. He was known for his program, "The Bebop, Boogie, and Blues Revue" heard first on WRXL, then WVGO and later on WJMO.

➦In 2004...Charles Wesley Leonard died from lung cancer at age 67 (Born - March 30, 1937).  He was a radio personality at WABC  770 AM in New York City during the 1960s and 1970s. His deep voice and smoothness resonated across 38 states for 14 years at ABC. During his over 40-year career in broadcasting, Leonard worked virtually every shift and played all styles of music at stations including WWRL, WABC, WXLO, WRKS, WBLS, WQEW, WNSW-AM and WJUX.

Chuck Leonard
He has been inducted in the Museum of Television & Radio and is known as the first African-American disc jockey to work on a mainstream radio station.

Leonard began at ABC's flagship New York radio station, Musicradio 77 WABC, under program director Rick Sklar in 1965. He broke the color barrier for all who followed — the first African-American to cross over from black R&B radio to (then-mostly white) mass-appeal radio.

Leonard began in the 11 p.m. to midnight slot, and continued working late nights and Sundays at the station until November 27, 1979. He did the 10:30 p.m. to 1:00 a.m. shift following “Cousin” Bruce Morrow and later George Michael. He also gladly handled weekend and fill-in work.

Leonard was the host of "Sneak Preview," a five-minute Monday-through-Saturday evening program on ABC's American Contemporary Radio Network, which featured newly released songs. He stayed at WABC until 1979, before moving to WXLO and WRKS.

➦In 2005...Newsradio KNX 1070 Newsradio in Los Angeles, left its studios at the CBS Columbia Square broadcast center and moved to 5670 Wilshire Blvd to join other locally owned Infinity radio stations.

KNX-AM had been housed at the CBS Columbia Square building for 67 years, in the heart of Hollywood.

Merv Griffin 1945

➦In 2007...Media Mogul (including several radio stations in the 60s/70s) Merv Griffin, creator of the TV game shows “Wheel of Fortune” and “Jeopardy,” and the host of his own popular long-running syndicated TV show, died of prostate cancer at age 82.

➦In 2009...Rock WBCN 104.1 FM in Boston closed its doors after 41 years on the air. Today, 104.1 is occupied by Audacy's Hot AC WWBX.

➦In 2011...WEMP 101.9 FM ended an Adult Contemporary stunt and went full-time all-news as "FM News 101.9," following in the footsteps of its Chicago sister station WWWN (the former and current WKQX), which flipped to all-news on July 29.

As conceived by Merlin's then-COO, Walter Sabo, "FM News" was what Sabo considered a "redefining" of the all-news format; the on-air presentation was generally looser and conversational in tone, while an emphasis was placed on lifestyle, health, and entertainment features.The initial news staff at WEMP included those with experience in New York radio, including WINS alums Catherine Smith, Alice Stockton-Rossini, and Brett Larson, as well as former WCBS anchor Therese Crowley and WRXP holdover Paul Cavalconte.

Over time, the "FM News" approach on WEMP would be adjusted. The reliance on lifestyle and entertainment features was decreased; the station turned towards a tighter on-air presentation and hard news format. Several new features were added, including "10 minutes of non-stop news" at :00, :20 and :40 past the hour (similar to the fact that WINS delivers news headlines at these intervals), the "top 5 trending stories" leading off every hour, and hourly sports and business updates.

Coinciding with the on-air changes was a major promotional push, including TV ads and promotions that tweaked WINS' longtime "22 minutes" slogan, with WEMP proclaiming "Give us 10 minutes, we'll give you the world." (After WINS owner CBS Radio sent a cease-and-desist letter to Merlin Media, WEMP dropped the slogan, and replaced it by "non-stop news".)

In the time FM News was in operation, it was plagued by a variety of technical issues after management in Chicago decided to automate the news, much like some music stations automate music formats. The controversial approach led to a number of on-air gaffes, including wrong time checks and news stories misplaced. The only live elements on the air were traffic reports.

WEMP and its all-news format struggled to make gains in Arbitron ratings.  Today the station is WFAN 101.9 FM airing sports talk.

Kenny Gamble is 79


  • Actor-TV personality Arlene Dahl (“What’s My Line?”) is 97. 
  • Songwriter Kenny Gamble of Gamble and Huff is 79. 
  • Bassist Jim Kale of the Guess Who is 79. 
  • Country singer John Conlee is 76.  
  • Wrestler-actor Hulk Hogan is 69. 
  • Singer Joe Jackson is 68. 
  • Actor Viola Davis (“How To Get Away With Murder,” ″The Help”) is 57. 
  • Alyson Stoner is 29
    Actor-podcaster Joe Rogan (“Fear Factor,” ″NewsRadio”) is 55. 
  • Actor Anna Gunn (“Breaking Bad”) is 54.
  • Actor Ashley Jensen (“Ugly Betty”) is 54. 
  • Actor Sophie Okonedo (“Hotel Rwanda”) is 54. 
  • Guitarist Charlie Sexton is 54. 
  • Hip-hop artist Ali Shaheed Muhammad is 52. 
  • Actor Nigel Harman (“Downton Abbey”) is 49. 
  • Actor Will Friedle (“Boy Meets World”) is 46. 
  • Singer Ben Gibbard of Death Cab For Cutie is 46. 
  • Actor Rob Kerkovich (“NCIS: New Orleans”) is 43. 
  • Actor Merritt Wever (“Nurse Jackie”) is 42. 
  • Actor Chris Hemsworth (“Tron,” ″The Avengers”) is 39. 
  • Guitarist Heath Fogg of Alabama Shakes is 38. 
  • Singer J-Boog (B2K) is 37. Rapper Asher Roth is 37. 
  • Actor Alyson Stoner (“Cheaper by the Dozen,” ″Camp Rock”) is 29.
  • Actress Lauren Bacall died on this day in 2014. She was 89.
  • Author Ian Fleming, the creator of James Bond, died on this day in 1964. He was 56.
  • Actor Henry Fonda died on this day in 1982. He was 77.
  • TV talk show host Merv Griffin died on this day in 2007. He was 82.
  • Joseph P. Kennedy Jr., the oldest son of Joseph and Rose Kennedy and brother to future president John F. Kennedy and future senators Robert F. Kennedy and Ted Kennedy, was killed on this day in 1944 when his Navy plane blew up over England during World War Two. He was 29.

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