Monday, November 20, 2023

Radio History: November 20

➦In 1907
...actress Fran Allison was born in Iowa. She played the folksy tale-telling Aunt Fanny for decades on ABC radio’s Don McNeill’s Breakfast Club.  On TV she was a co-star (with Burr Tillstrom & his puppets) on Kukla Fran & Ollie.

She died of bone marrow failure June 13 1989 at age 81.

➦In 1928…WGH-AM in Newport News, Virginia began signed-on.  The WGH call letters were not used from 9/1/83 to 12/10/84.

The earliest ancestor of WGH Radio was WPAB, granted a license by the Radio Division, Bureau of Navigation, United States Department of Commerce on December 4, 1926.  The licensee was the Radio Corporation of Virginia in Norfolk.  On December 6, 1926, WPAB signed on the air at 1040 kilocycles with a power of 100 watts.  WPAB later became WRCV and broadcast programming mostly of a religious nature.

In January 1927, the Radio Corporation of Virginia put another station on the air, WSEA, which transmitted on the frequency of 1370 kilocycles with a power of 500 watts.  In April 1927 WSEA began broadcasting from the brand new Cavalier Hotel in Virginia Beach but was dark by the middle of 1928, the Radio Corporation of Virginia having gone bankrupt.  WSEA, however, had one shining moment on June 10, 1927 when Norfolk Mayor S. Heth Tyler became the first American to extend coast to coast radio congratulations to aviator Charles Lindbergh after his successful solo flight from New York to Paris.  Lindbergh heard the message on WSEA as he was passing over the Cape Henry Lighthouse.

Tom Little moved the WSEA allocation to Newport News and changed the call letters to WNEW (signifying its new city of license, Newport News) on August 8, 1928.  Facilities were in the Tidewater Hotel at 2400 Washington Avenue in Newport News.  The studio was on the ground floor, directly behind the front desk and switchboard for the hotel, and the transmitter and antenna were on the top floor.  Shortly thereafter  a new licensee, Hampton Roads Broadcasting Company, changed the frequency  to 1430, and government authorization came through on October 8, 1928.

The WNEW calls lasted for only a few weeks, when they were changed to WGH ("World's Greatest Harbor").  It was also among the first 100 radio stations on the air in the United States.  By 1928, however, the station was gone and the available WGH call letters were requested by Hampton Roads Broadcasting.  An application to the Federal Radio Commission was approved on November 19 of that year and the station began identifying itself as "WGH" the next day.

In early 1959, a new era was ushered in with a switch to "Top-40" programming under the "Color Radio" banner.  Late 1950's performers included Jim Stanley, Jack Fisher, Lou Nelson, Dick Lamb, Jack Krueger, Frank Drake, Bob Calvert, Dean Collins (who went on to WPGC in Washington as Dean Griffith and later to New York as Dean Anthony, one of the WMCA "Good Guys"), Don Owens, Roger Clark, Bob Calvert's alter ego (and the inspiration for Wolfman Jack) "Baron Bebop", Throckmorton Quiff, and Gene Creasy.  Early newscasters included Ed Meyer, Dick Kidney, Pete Glazer, Bud Buhler and Art Merrill.

By 1960, the station was broadcasting at 5,000 watts from a non-directional daytime tower at the Newport News Small Boat Harbor, switching to the three-tower directional site in Hampton during the evening hours. Today, WGH operates with 20,000 watts by day and 5,000 watts at night.

➦In 1929… The radio program "The Rise of the Goldbergs," first aired with Gertrude Berg as Molly, was heard on the NBC Blue radio network. Later, the title would be shortened to The Goldbergs. Mrs. Berg, incidentally, wrote the first scripts for the 15-minute program and starred in the show — for $75 a week. The program continued until 1945 (it returned for one more radio season in 1949-1950).  The show also aired on TV first on CBS, then NBC, the Dumont Network, and syndication – between 1949 and 1956.

➦In 1940..The iHeartMedia FM station now known as WRVE in Albany NY has a much longer history as one of the nation's pioneering FM radio stations. A by-product of the station being owned by General Electric with similarly pioneering sisters WGY (AM) and WRGB (TV), WRVE traces its history to W2XDA Schenectady and W2XOY New Scotland, New York - two experimental frequency modulation transmitters on 48.5 MHz, which signed on in 1939. The two were merged into one station with the W2XOY call-letters on November 20, 1940 with the station then taking the W57A designation, and finally the long-running WGFM call-letters in the mid-1940s.

The station eventually settled on 99.5 MHz when the FM band was relocated to the 88-108 MHz portion of the radio spectrum.

On June 1, 1961 at 12:01 AM (EDT), WGFM became the first FM station in the United States to broadcast in stereo.

➦In 1954...when his career as America’s most successful singing cowboy was almost over, Gene Autry appeared for the first time on radio’s “Grand Ole Opry.”

Autry was easily the most popular country singer of the 1930’s and ’40s, with such hits as “Silver Haired Daddy of Mine,” “South of the Border” and “Tweedle-O-Twill.” Autry’s trio of million-selling children’s records — “Here Comes Santa Claus,” “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” and “Peter Cottontail” — were recorded in the late ’40s.

➦In 1955...Sun Records owner and producer Sam Phillips sells Elvis Presley's contract to RCA for $35,000.  Elvis received $13,500 of the total.

➦In 1959… Early rock-n-roll personality Alan Freed was fired from New York's WABC 770 AM after refusing to sign a statement saying he had never accepted "payola" or gifts from record labels in exchange for airplay, a move that triggered his eventual downfall.  This was about two years before it evolved into one of America's great Top 40 stations by launching its "Musicradio" format.

Cathy Lewis
➦In actress and Spokane native Cathy Lewis died of cancer at age 50. Half of “the first couple of radio” (with husband Elliot Lewis) she was featured as Jane Stacy on My Friend Irma on both radio & TV.  She was one of the most oft-used stars on CBS radio’s Suspense series.  When Fibber McGee & Molly came (briefly) to TV, she was cast as Molly.

➦In 1994…Former KFWB-AM morning host, Bruce Hayes, died.

In 1958, the original "Seven Swingin’ Gentlemen" turned KFWB into a rock & roll powerhouse in Los Angeles. Under new owners Crowell-Collier Broadcasting, program director Chuck Blore pioneered the Top 40 format on AM 980, calling it Channel 98 Color Radio. KFWB became one of the most listened-to stations in the Southland and a leader in the Top 40 format around the country.

The air staff during the glory days included Roger Christian (songwriter), Bill Ballance, B. Mitchel Reed, Bruce Hayes, Al Jarvis, Joe Yocam, Elliot Field, Ted Quillin and Gene Weed.

Hourly updates were delivered by a staff of respected newscasters, including Cleve Herrmann, Charles Arlington, John Babcock, Beach Rogers, Mike Henry, Hal Goodwin, Al Wiman, Bill Angel, J. Paul Huddleston and Jackson King.

In the mid-1960s, KFWB was overtaken by rival KRLA. Then KRLA was put in second place by the launch of "Boss Radio" at KHJ, and this relegated KFWB to the position of the third-place Top 40 music station in the L.A. market.

Hayes also worked at KDAY, 1962; KHJ, 1963-64; KFWB, 1965-67; KFI, 1969.

➦In 2000...organist Gaylord Carter died of Parkinson’s at age 95.  Born in Wiesbaden Germany, his family moved to the US when he was a child.  He became active in playing music for bigtime radio, notably “Hollywood Hotel”, “The Packard Show”, “The Second Mrs. Burton”, and “Breakfast In Hollywood”. Carter will always be associated in the public mind with “The Amos & Andy Show”.  For seven years on radio he introduced the show by playing its theme, “The Perfect Song”.  After the war he played for both radio & TV, including “Bride & Groom”, “The Big Payoff”, and “The Pinky Lee” TV show.

➦In 2004…Longtime Toronto radio personality Tom Rivers died of cancer at the age of 57.  In the 90’s he had several gigs in Edmonton, and a talk show on Calgary’s CHQR.

Bo Derek is 67
  • Actor Estelle Parsons (“The Connors,” “Roseanne”) is 96. 
  • Comedian Dick Smothers is 85. 
  • Singer Norman Greenbaum is 81. 
  • Actor Veronica Hamel is 80. 
  • Broadcast journalist Judy Woodruff is 77. 
  • Musician Joe Walsh is 76. 
  • Actor Richard Masur (“One Day at a Time”) is 75. 
  • Actor Bo Derek is 67. 
  • Drummer Jimmy Brown of UB40 is 66. 
  • Actor Sean Young is 64. 
  • Pianist Jim Brickman is 62. 
  • Actor Ming-Na (“Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” ″Mulan”) is 60. 
  • Rapper Mike D of the Beastie Boys is 58. 
  • Rapper Sen Dog of Cypress Hill is 58. 
  • Actor Callie Thorne (“Rescue Me,” “Homicide: Life on the Street”) is 54. 
  • Actor Sabrina Lloyd (“Numb3rs”) is 53. 
  • Actor Joel McHale (“Community”) is 52. 
  • Actor Marisa Ryan (“New York Undercover”) is 49. 
  • Country singer Dierks Bentley is 48. 
  • Actor Joshua Gomez (“Chuck”) is 48. 
  • Country singer Josh Turner is 46. 
  • Actor Nadine Velazquez (“My Name Is Earl”) is 45. 
  • Actor Jacob Pitts (“Sneaky Pete,” “Justified”) is 44. 
  • Actor Andrea Riseborough (“National Treasure”) is 42. 
  • Actor Jeremy Jordan (“Supergirl”) is 39. 
  • Actor Ashley Fink (“Glee”) is 37. 
  • Bassist Jared Followill of Kings of Leon is 37. 
  • Actor Jaina Lee Ortiz (“Station 19”) is 37. 
  • Actor Cody Linley (“Hannah Montana”) is 34. 
  • Guitarist Michael Clifford of 5 Seconds of Summer is 28.

  • In 1983..[Catherine] Cassie Mackin, American newswoman (NBC TV) and 1st woman to regularly anchor an evening network newscast alone, dies of cancer at 43
  • In 2021..Billy Hinsche, American pop musician, singer, and songwriter (Dino, Desi & Billy; The Beach Boys), dies of cancer at 70

No comments:

Post a Comment