Monday, February 6, 2023

February 6 Radio History

➦In 1911
...Ronald Wilson Reagan was born (died June 5, 2004). He was our 40th president from 1981 to 1989. Prior to his presidency, he was a Hollywood actor and union leader before serving as the 33rd governor of California from 1967 to 1975.

Reagan was raised in a poor family in small towns of northern Illinois. He graduated from Eureka College in 1932, Reagan drove to Iowa, where he held jobs as a radio announcer at several stations.

He moved to WHO radio in Des Moines as an announcer for Chicago Cubs baseball games. His specialty was creating play-by-play accounts of games using only basic descriptions that the station received by wire as the games were in progress. While traveling with the Cubs in California in 1937, Reagan took a screen test that led to a seven-year contract with Warner Brothers studios

➦In 1925…WMCA NYC signed-on on 428.6 meters wavelength (700 kHz) with a power of 500 watts. The station was the 13th radio station to begin operations in New York City and was owned by broadcasting pioneer Donald Flamm. The station's original studios and antenna were atop the Hotel McAlpin, located on Herald Square and from which WMCA's call letters derive. In 1928 it moved to the 570 kHz frequency, sharing time for the next three years with municipally-owned WNYC.

On April 19, 1932, the Federal Radio Commission approved WMCA's application to broadcast full-time on 570 kHz.

Through its early decades WMCA had a varied programming history, playing music, hosting dramas, and broadcasting New York Giants baseball games. In 1943, it was acquired by the Straus family when Edward J. Noble acquired the Blue Network and its owned-and-operated stations from NBC, including WJZ (now WABC) in New York; the Blue Network would later be renamed the American Broadcasting Company (ABC).

In 1945, host Barry Gray began dropping music and adding talk with celebrities and later call-in listeners; he is thus sometimes considered "The Father of Talk Radio", and his show lasted on WMCA through several decades and format changes.

WMCA began playing hit music in the late 1950s with a Top 40 format. Among its disc jockey staff were future legends Scott Muni, Frankie Crocker, Harry Harrison and Murray "the K" Kaufman.

Led by program director Ruth Meyer, the first woman to hold the position in New York City radio, this was the era of the high-profile Top 40 disc jockey with an exuberant personality aimed at a certain audience segment. With the advent of the Good Guys format, WMCA became more"on top" of new music and started to become known for "playing the hits."

In the early 1960s, the top 40 format was still young, and the field was crowded in New York City. Two major 50,000-watt stations, WMGM 1050 AM (now WEPN-AM) and WINS 1010 AM, had battled each other for years. Then in 1960, WABC 770 am joined the fray and started featuring top 40 music. Ultimately, it was WMCA's earnest competition with rival WABC that forced WMGM (in early 1962) and then WINS (in spring 1965) to abandon the top-40 format. There was so much attention on the high-profile WMCA-WABC battle that WMGM and WINS were each summarily forced to find a new niche.

➦In 1926..Flashback 97-years and find out what was going on with radio...Click Here

Courtesy of  American Radio History

➦In 1929… the Victor Talking Machine Company merged with Radio Corporation of America to become RCA Victor, and the Canadian subsidiary became RCA Victor of Canada, then the world's largest manufacturer of phonographs (including the famous "Victrola") and phonograph records. The company then became RCA Victor. In absorbing Victor, RCA acquired the New World rights to the famous Nipper/"His Master's Voice" trademark.

In September 1931, RCA Victor introduced the first 33⅓ rpm records sold to the public, calling them "Program Transcriptions". These used a shallower and more closely spaced implementation of the large "standard groove" found on contemporary 78 rpm records, rather than the "microgroove" used for post-World War II 33⅓ rpm "LP" (long play) records. The format was a commercial failure, partly because the new Victrolas with two-speed turntables designed to play these records were exorbitantly priced, the least expensive model retailing for $395.00 in the depths of the Great Depression. The format was abandoned by 1933 and two-speed turntables were no longer offered, but some Program Transcriptions lingered in the Victor record catalog until the end of the 1930s.

➦In 1943…Frank Sinatra made his first appearance as star of CBS radio’s “Lucky Strike Hit Parade.”  Frankie had left the Tommy Dorsey Band just four months prior to beginning the radio program, where he remained the singing star & host for two years.

➦In 1950...“Dangerous Assignment” starring Brian Donlevy found a weekly timeslot on NBC Radio.  The adventure show, set in many international venues, had tested well as a summer replacement six months earlier, and continued for about five years.

That same evening in 1950, also on NBC Radio, “Nightbeat” starring Frank Lovejoy as a newspaper reporter with an eye for human interest stories, began a two-and-a-half-year run.

Paul Harvey
➦In commentator Paul Harvey was arrested for trying to sneak into the Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, to prove that security was lax at this top secret installation. One of his regular topics was lax security, in particular at Argonne National Laboratory, a nuclear research facility located 20 miles west of Chicago. To demonstrate his concern, just after midnight on February 6, 1951, Harvey engaged in an "act of participatory journalism".  Harvey's "escapade" prompted the U.S. attorney for Illinois to asked a grand jury to consider an espionage indictment; Harvey "went on the air to suggest he was being set up"; the grand jury subsequently declined to indict Harvey.

➦In 1986...Radio programming consultant Bob Hattrick was found stabbed to death at his St. Louis home. Get the news and Flashback to 1986 through the pages of Radio&Records..Click Here

Courtesy of American Radio History
Danny, daughter Marlo Thomas - 1960

➦In 1991..Radio-TV personality Danny Thomas  died of a heart attack at age 76, after five decades in show business.

Doris Day, Danny Thomas
Thomas first reached mass audiences on network radio in the 1940s playing shifty brother-in-law Amos in The Bickersons, which began as sketches on the music-comedy show Drene Time, co-hosted by Don Ameche and Frances Langford. Thomas also portrayed himself as a scatterbrained Lothario on this show. His other network radio work included a stint as Jerry Dingle the postman on Fanny Brice's The Baby Snooks Show, and appearances on the popular NBC variety program, The Big Show, hosted by stage legend Tallulah Bankhead.

Thomas also had his own radio program, The Danny Thomas Show. The 30-minute weekly variety show was on ABC in 1942-43 and on CBS in 1947-48.

As a "starving actor", Thomas had made a vow: If he found success, he would open a shrine dedicated to St. Jude Thaddeus, the patron saint of hopeless causes. Thomas never forgot his promise to St. Jude, and after becoming a successful actor in the early 1950s, his wife joined him and began traveling the United States to help raise funds to build his dream - St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.  He fervently believed “no child should die in the dawn of life.” With help from Dr. Lemuel Diggs and close friend, Anthony Abraham, an auto magnate in Miami, Florida, Thomas founded the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1962. Since its inception, St. Jude has treated children from all 50 states and around the world, continuing the mission of finding cures and saving children.

➦In 1998...Carl Wilson of the Beach Boys died of lung cancer in Los Angeles. He was 51 and a lifelong smoker.

Joe O'Brien

➦In 2000…Former WMCA Good Guy Joe O'Brien retired.  A Yonkers native, he began his career in 1935 when he got his first radio job with WMCA 570 AM in New York City.

He worked at the station for 34 years and became one of the Good Guys team of disc jockeys in the late 1960's. They played Top 40 hits and became nearly as popular as the music they played.

They had the same clean-cut hairstyles, wore matching suits and worked together at record hops and personal appearances. They also sang as a group and released an album. During that time, Mr. O'Brien was the No. 1 morning man in New York City.

In 1970 he left for WNBC-AM, where he handled morning duties until he was replaced by Don Imus in 1972. Mr. O'Brien then went to WHUD in Peekskill, N.Y. He retired in 1986, but continued to do weekend specials for WHUD until 2000.

O'Brien died in an auto accident July 26, 2005 at age 90.

➦In 2005...Karl Haas died at age 91 (Born December 6, 1913) He was best known as a classical music radio host with a sonorous speaking voice, humanistic approach to music appreciation, and popularization of classical music. He was the host of the classical music radio program Adventures in Good Music, which was syndicated to commercial and public radio stations around the world. He also published the book Inside Music. He was a respected musicologist, as well as an accomplished pianist and conductor.

➦In 2006...Buffalo’s WWKB 1520 AM ended a three-year run as an oldies station with a format change to predominantly syndicated progressive talk. A syndicated overnight show hosted by former WKBW personality Joey Reynolds survived the format change.  The last song played was “Yesterday’s Gone” by Chad & Jeremy.

➦In 2006…Citadel confirmed that it going to acquire 24 radio stations from ABC Radio, but not the radio network. The company was founded in 1984 in Phoenix, Arizona by Larry Wilson as Citadel Associates Limited Partnership. In 1990 it was renamed Citadel Associates Montana Limited Partnership for the purpose of owning and operating stations in Montana that were formerly owned by CALP.

A year later, Citadel Broadcasting was officially incorporated and in 1984 it acquired all of the radio stations owned by its predecessors. Within a decade, Citadel expanded to 26 states. Within that time period, it absorbed all Bloomington Broadcasting radio holdings and 11 stations from Dick Broadcasting Company and also acquired three radio stations from Slone Broadcasting, Inc. and Slone Radio, LLC. In 2000, Liggett Broadcasting sold its radio stations in Michigan, New York, Minnesota, South Carolina, Ohio, and California to Citadel, with Bob Liggett becoming a member of Citadel's Board of Directors. In 2001, Larry Wilson sold Citadel to private equity firm Forstmann Little & Company for $2.1 billion. By that time, the company had grown to 205 stations in 42 markets.

On February 6, 2006, Forstmann Little and The Walt Disney Company agreed to merge Citadel with Disney's ABC Radio.Shares representing 57% of Citadel were distributed to shareholders of The Walt Disney Company following the company's acquisition of 22 stations from ABC Radio.  The company eventually evolved into Cumulus Media.

Ralph Kiner

➦In 2014…baseball Hall of Famer and a NY Met broadcaster for over half-a-century, Ralph Kiner died of natural causes at age 91. After a Hall of Fame baseball career, Kiner entered the broadcast booth in 1961  for the Chicago White Sox.

The following year, Kiner, Lindsey Nelson and Bob Murphy began broadcasting the games of the expansion New York Mets on WOR-TV9 in New York City. The trio rotated announcing duties. Kiner also hosted a post-game show known as "Kiner's Korner" on WOR-TV. Nationally, he helped call the Mets' appearance in the 1969 and 1973 World Series for NBC Radio. He won a local Emmy Award for his broadcasting work.

Despite a bout with Bell's palsy, which left him with slightly slurred speech, Kiner continued broadcasting for 53 seasons.

Mike Farrell is 84

  • Actor Mamie Van Doren is 92. 
  • Actor Mike Farrell is 84. 
  • NBC news anchorman Tom Brokaw is 83. 
  • Singer Fabian is 80. 
  • Actor Gayle Hunnicutt is 80. 
  • Actor Michael Tucker (“L.A. Law”) is 78. 
  • Actor Jon Walmsley (“The Waltons”) is 67. 
  • Actor-director Robert Townsend (“The Parent ‘Hood”) is 66. 
  • Actor Kathy Najimy (“Veronica’s Closet,” ″King of the Hill”) is 66. 
  • Drummer Simon Phillips of Toto is 66. 
  • Actor Barry Miller (“Saturday Night Fever,” ″Fame”) is 65. 
  • Actor Megan Gallagher (“Millennium”) is 63. 
  • Country singer Richie McDonald of Lonestar is 61. 
  • Vocalist Axl Rose of Guns N’ Roses is 61. 
  • Singer Rick Astley is 57. 
  • Bassist Tim Brown of the Boo Radleys is 54. 
  • TV host Amy Robach is 50. 
  • Actor Josh Stewart (“Criminal Minds,” ″Third Watch”) is 46. 
  • Actor Ben Lawson (“Designated Survivor”) is 43. 
  • Actor Crystal Reed (“Teen Wolf”) is 38. 
  • Actor Anna Diop (“24: Legacy”) is 35.
  • Singer Tinashe is 30.
  • In 1960..Jesse Belvin, Pop singer, piano player (Mr. Easy), and songwriter (Earth Angel), dies in a car crash after a concert in Little Rock, Arkansas at 27
  • In 1981..Hugo Montenegro, Composer, arranger, and orchestra leader, dies of emphysema at 55
  • In 1991..Danny Thomas, comedian (Jazz Singer), dies of a heart attack at 79
  • In 1998..Carl Wilson, Rock vocalist and guitarist (Beach Boys), dies of lung cancer at 51
  • In 2005..Karl Haas, American radio presenter (b. 1913)
  • In 2007..Frankie Laine [Francesco Paolo LoVecchio], Singer ("Jezebel"; "Rawhide"; "Blazing Saddles"), songwriter ("We'll Be Together Again"), and actor (Bring Your Smile Along), dies of heart failure at 93

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