Friday, September 30, 2022

September 30 Radio History

➦In 1912...Singer Kenny Baker born  (Died from a heart attack at age 72  – August 10, 1985). He was a singer and actor who first gained notice as the featured singer on radio's The Jack Benny Program during the 1930s.

At the height of his radio fame, and after leaving the Benny show in 1939 (succeeded by Dennis Day, whose tenor voice was very similar to Baker's), he appeared in 17 film musicals, including Mr. Dodd Takes the Air (1937), At the Circus (1939), and The Harvey Girls (1946).

Baker returned to radio as a regular performer on Fred Allen's Texaco Star Theater program (1940–1942). He was also heard on Blue Ribbon Town (1943–1944) and Glamour Manor (1945–1947). He had his own programs, the Kenny Baker Show (1954) and Sincerely—Kenny Baker (1946). The latter was syndicated by the Frederick W. Ziv Company via electrical transcription.

➦In Lamont Johnson was born in Stockton Calif. When he was 16, Johnson began his career in radio, eventually playing the role of Tarzan in a popular syndicated series in 1951.He also worked as a newscaster and a disc jockey Johnson was also one of several actors to play Archie Goodwin in The New Adventures of Nero Wolfe, opposite Sydney Greenstreet on NBC Radio. He then turned to films and television, first as an actor, then as a director.

He became an active member of the Los Angeles radio acting pool.

"The National Farm and Home Hour"

➦In 1929…“The National Farm and Home Hour" started airing as a variety show which was broadcast in various formats from 1928 to 1958. Aimed at listeners in rural America, it was known as "the farmer's bulletin board" and was produced by the United States Department of Agriculture with contributions from, and the cooperation of, various farm organizations (among them the American Farm Bureau, 4-H Club, Farmers Union, Future Farmers of America and the National Grange). Raymond Edward Johnson and, later, Don Ameche appeared in dramatic sketches in the role of the Forest Ranger.

With live coverage of livestock expositions, harvest festivals and "the most spectacular happenings in agricultural America," the program offered tips to farmers, music and news, plus advice from agencies and government officials.

The series first aired on Pittsburgh's KDKA (1928-29), moving to the Blue Network (later ABC) from September 30, 1929 to March 17, 1945, usually heard Monday through Saturday at 12:30 (Eastern). Under the sponsorship of Allis-Chalmers, it continued on NBC as a 30-minute show on Saturdays at noon (Eastern) from September 15, 1945 to January 25, 1958; in its final three years (1955-58), it would be incorporated into the Saturday lineup of NBC's weekend anthology Monitor.

➦In 1930…The radio anthology series "Death Valley Days," created.  It also begin airing on TV in 1952.  The series featuring true accounts of the American Old West, particularly the Death Valley country of southeastern California. Created in 1930 by Ruth Woodman, the program was broadcast on radio until 1945. From 1952 to 1970, it became a syndicated television series, with reruns (updated with new narrations) continuing through August 1, 1975. The radio and television versions combined to make the show "one of the longest-running western programs in broadcast history."

The series was sponsored by the Pacific Coast Borax Company (20 Mule Team Borax, Boraxo) and hosted by Stanley Andrews ("The Old Ranger") (1952–1964), Ronald Reagan (1964–1965), Rosemary DeCamp (1965), Robert Taylor (1966–1969), and Dale Robertson (1969–1970). With the death of Dale Robertson in 2013, all former Death Valley Days hosts are now deceased. Hosting the series was Reagan's final work as an actor; he left the series to run in 1966 for governor of California.

➦In 1933...WLS (then 870 AM)  radio in Chicago's popular program The National Barn Dance went national with a move to NBC radio.

National Barn Dance was founded by Edgar L. Bill. To him goes the credit for arranging to have a program of "down-home" tunes broadcast from radio station WLS, of which Bill was then director. Having lived on a farm, he knew how people loved the familiar sound and informal spirit of old-fashioned barn dance music. The first broadcast was an impromptu sustaining program. An avalanche of telephone calls and letters indicated a definite demand from the public for this type of broadcast, and National Barn Dance was born. It first aired on WLS on April 19, 1924 and NBC expanded the program's coverage in 1942, adding it to the schedules of international shortwave stations. In 1946 it switched to the ABC Radio Network and aired until 1952 on Saturday nights from 6:30 p.m. to midnight.

George D. Hay (a.k.a. The Solemn Ole Judge) has always claimed that he started the WLS Barn Dance when he worked for them as an announcer, but research is showing that this was a falsehood of documented history and that his claim was to help him get a job as the first director of WSM Radio c. 1925 Nashville, Tennessee. 

The show regularly featured Gene Autry, Red Foley, The Three Little Maids, Jenny Lou Carson, Eddie Dean, Lulu Belle and Scotty, Pat Buttram, George Gobel, The Williams Brothers (featuring future crooner Andy Williams), Arkansas Woodchopper, The DeZurik Sisters and the Hoosier Hot Shots. Other guests included Smiley Burnette, Eddie Peabody and Joe Kelly, best remembered today as the host and moderator of NBC's Quiz Kids. The announcer was Jack Holden and it was once sponsored by Alka-Seltzer.

ABC made two moves that ultimately led to National Barn Dance's slow demise. The first was the cancellation of the network broadcast in 1952. After a few years, audiences finally began to wane, and the program ceased live performances after 1957. The show continued to air on WLS until 1959 when ABC bought the station and changed the format to Top 40 rock and roll, canceling National Barn Dance outright. The show moved to Chicago's WGN-AM, with Orion Samuelson as the show's host, until it finally left the air in 1968.

➦In 1935…The police drama series "The Adventures of Dick Tracy" went national on the Mutual Radio Network after being heard on CBS four times a week earlier that year. The radio show ended on the ABC Network in 1948.

➦In 1940...The radio serial “Captain Midnight” went coast to coast on Mutual. Sponsored by the Skelly Oil Company, the Captain Midnight radio program was the creation of radio scripters Wilfred G. Moore and Robert M. Burtt, who had previously scored a success for Skelly with their boy pilot adventure serial The Air Adventures of Jimmie Allen.

Developed at the Blackett, Sample and Hummert advertising agency in Chicago, Captain Midnight began as a syndicated show in 1938, airing through the spring of 1940 on a few Midwest stations, including Chicago's WGN. In 1940, Ovaltine, a product of The Wander Company, took over sponsorship. With Pierre Andre as announcer, the series was then heard nationally on the Mutual Radio Network where it remained until 1942. It moved to the Merchandise Mart and the NBC Blue Network in September 1942. When the U.S. Government broke up the NBC Red and Blue Networks, Ovaltine moved the series back to Mutual, beginning September 1945, where it remained until December 1949.

➦In 1950...WSM Radio's "Grand Ole Opry" was first broadcast on television.

Ryman Theater
The Grand Ole Opry started as the WSM Barn Dance in the new fifth-floor radio studio of the National Life & Accident Insurance Company in downtown Nashville on November 28, 1925.

On October 18, 1925, management began a program featuring "Dr. Humphrey Bate and his string quartet of old-time musicians." On November 2, WSM hired long-time announcer and program director George D. "Judge" Hay, an enterprising pioneer from the National Barn Dance program at WLS in Chicago, who was also named the most popular radio announcer in America as a result of his radio work with both WLS and WMC in Memphis, Tennessee.

Hay launched the WSM Barn Dance with 77-year-old fiddler Uncle Jimmy Thompson on November 28, 1925, which is celebrated as the birth date of the Grand Ole Opry.

On December 10, 1927 the phrase 'Grand Ole Opry' was first uttered on-air. That night Barn Dance followed the NBC Red Network's Music Appreciation Hour, a program of classical music and selections from Grand Opera presented by classical conductor Walter Damrosch. That night, Damrosch remarked that “there is no place in the classics for realism,” In response, Opry presenter George Hay said:

"Friends, the program which just came to a close was devoted to the classics. Doctor Damrosch told us that there is no place in the classics for realism. However, from here on out for the next three hours, we will present nothing but realism. It will be down to earth for the 'earthy'."

Hay then introduced DeFord Bailey, the man he had dubbed the "Harmonica Wizard", saying

"For the past hour, we have been listening to music taken largely from Grand Opera. From now on, we will present the 'Grand Ole Opry'."

Bailey then stepped up to the mic to play "The Pan American Blues", his song inspired by the Pan American, an L&N Railroad express/passenger train.

➦In 1951...the Red Skelton Show debuted on NBC-TV (almost 10 years to the day after Red first got his own radio show). It was a TV comedy/variety show that, from 1951 to 1971, was an entertainment staple and an institution to a generation of viewers. It was second to Gunsmoke (1955–1975) and third to The Ed Sullivan Show (1948–1971) in the ratings during that time. In the decade prior to hosting the show, Richard Bernard "Red" Skelton had a successful career as a radio and motion pictures star.

Although his television series is largely associated with CBS, where it appeared for more than sixteen years, it actually began and ended on NBC. During its run, the program received three Emmy Awards, for Skelton as best comedian and the program as best comedy show during its initial season, and an award for comedy writing in 1961. In 1959 Skelton also received a Golden Globe for Best TV Show.

➦In 1996...Radio Personality Charlie Greer died.

Charlie Greer (1923-1996) was a radio personality at WAKR in Akron, Ohio before moving to  New York City's WABC on December 7, 1960, where he did middays and overnight.

Given WABC's 50,000 watt clear channel signal, Greer became a popular all-night disc jockey heard on more than 38 states punching his way through famous tongue twister commercials for an all night clothing store called Dennison's in Union, New Jersey.

Greer also spent time with New York City's WCBS-FM in 1973, then and became part of WCBS-FM's Rock and Roll Radio Greats Weekend in the eighties and nineties.

He moved to Philadelphia's WIP in 1969 and then back to the New York area to WRKL in New City for a short while, and later worked at WHAM AM in Rochester, before returning to Akron. (Ted David, Moderator, New York Broadcasting History Board)

➦In 1997...Al “Jazzbeaux” Collins died from pancreatic cancer at age 78 (born January 4, 1919.

Al "Jazzbeau' Collins
Born in Rochester, New York, in 1919,[1] Collins grew up on Long Island, New York. In 1941, while attending the University of Miami in Florida, he substituted as the announcer on his English teacher's campus radio program and decided he wanted to be in radio. Collins began his professional career as the disc jockey at a bluegrass station in Logan, West Virginia; by 1943, he was at WKPA in Pittsburgh, moving in 1945 to WIND in Chicago and in 1946 to Salt Lake City's KNAK.

In 1950, he relocated to New York, where he joined the staff of WNEW and was a horst NBC's Monitor when it began in 1955. Collins made several appearances on The Tonight Show with Steve Allen in the early 50s (and even briefly took over the show after Allen's departure; see below). In 1953, Allen adapted several nursery rhymes (including Little Red Riding Hood) into jazz-flavored recitations, with Collins on vocals and Lou Stein on piano.

Al's career at WNEW in New York began as a 3:00-to-4:30 slot in the afternoon, "Collins on a Cloud." Al would pretend to be flying above the city and give traffic and weather reports from his vantage point high above the city. It was his usual eclectic mix of music that he played along with his usual repartee. He was, after all, Al. His downfall at this slot was "Mr. Sandman." Al liked it so much he played it for an hour and a half, through the news, weather, station breaks and ads. Management informed him they had other plans for him and let him go.

The name "Jazzbo" derived from a product Collins had seen, clip-on bowties named Jazzbows. Just as Martin Block created the illusion that he was speaking from the Make Believe Ballroom, Collins claimed to be broadcasting from his inner sanctum, a place known as the Purple Grotto, an imaginary setting suggested by radio station WNEW's interior design.

In 1957, NBC-TV installed him for five weeks as the host of the Tonight show when it was known as Tonight! America After Dark in the period between hosts Steve Allen and Jack Paar.

Also in 1957, Collins starred (as himself) in an episode of NBC radio's science fiction radio series X Minus One. By 1959, he was with KSFO in San Francisco, hanging out with the beatnik hipsters in North Beach. On-air, Jazzbo would say that he was broadcasting "from the purpleness of the Grotto", often mentioning his assistant "Harrison, the long-tailed purple Tasmanian owl".

On the TV side, Collins hosted "The Al Collins Show," which aired mornings on KGO-TV. The format included light talk and guest appearances by local celebrities such as Moe Howard of The Three Stooges. Later in the 1960s, he was the host of Jazz for the Asking (VOA), and he worked with several Los Angeles stations late in the decade: KMET (1966), KFI (1967) and KGBS (1968).

He officially changed the spelling of his name to Jazzbeaux when he went to Pittsburgh's WTAE in 1969. He moved to WIXZ in Pittsburgh (1973) before heading back to the West Coast three years later.

➦In 2012...Bob Vernon 'with a V' WNBC 660 AM died at the age of 70

Vernon grew up in Ohio and dreamed of being an artist, until a trusted high school teacher told him to make it a hobby. He launched a career in radio and went on to work for 66WNBC in New York on the show “Vernon with a V.”

After radio, his news career carried him back to Ohio where he switched to TV, and moved around to several different newsrooms.

Vernon (right) worked as the noon news anchor at WRAL-TV in Raleigh, NC from 1989-1995.

Robert Vernon Cosart Jr., passed away in Parker, Colorado, after suffering blood complications.

Johnny Mathis is 87

  • Actor Angie Dickinson is 91. 
  • Singer Cissy Houston is 89. 
  • Singer Johnny Mathis is 87. 
  • Actor Len Cariou (TV’s “Blue Bloods,” film “The Four Seasons”) is 83. 
  • Singer Marilyn McCoo is 79. 
  • Singer Sylvia Peterson of The Chiffons is 76. 
  • Actor John Finn (“Cold Case”) is 70. 
  • Guitarist John Lombardo (10,000 Maniacs) is 70. 
  • Country singer Deborah Allen is 69. 
  • Actor Calvin Levels (“Adventures in Babysitting”) is 68. 
  • Jazz singer Patrice Rushen is 68. 
  • Crystal Bernard is 61
    Actor Barry Williams (“The Brady Bunch”) is 68. 
  • Actor Fran Drescher is 65. 
  • Country singer Marty Stuart is 64. 
  • Actor Crystal Bernard (“Wings”) is 61. 
  • Actor Eric Stoltz is 61. 
  • Rapper-producer Marley Marl is 60. 
  • Country singer Eddie Montgomery of Montgomery Gentry is 59. 
  • Singer Trey Anastasio of Phish is 58. 
  • Bassist Robby Takac of The Goo Goo Dolls is 58. 
  • Actor Monica Bellucci (“The Passion of the Christ,” ″The Matrix Reloaded”) is 58. 
  • Actor Lisa Thornhill (“Veronica Mars”) is 56. 
  • Actor Andrea Roth (“Rescue Me”) is 55. 
  • Actor Amy Landecker (“The Handmaid’s Tale”) is 53. 
  • Actor Silas Weir Mitchell (“Grimm”) is 53. 
  • Actor Tony Hale (“Veep,” ″Arrested Development”) is 52. 
  • Actor Jenna Elfman is 51. 
  • Actor Ashley Hamilton is 48. 
  • Actor Marion Cotillard (“Public Enemies,” ″La Vie en Rose”) is 47. 
  • Actor Christopher Jackson (“Bull,” ″Oz”) is 47. 
  • Actor Toni Trucks (“SEAL Team”) is 42. 
  • Actor Lacey Chabert (“Mean Girls,” ″Party of Five”) is 40. 
  • Actor Kieran Culkin is 39. 
  • Rapper T-Pain is 38.

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