Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Radio History: November 28

➦In 1917...Elliott Lewis was born in New York City (Died from cardiac arrest at age 72 – May 23, 1990). He was active during the Golden Age of Radio as an actor, writer, producer and director, proficient in both comedy and drama. These talents earned him the nickname "Mr. Radio".

Elliot Lewis - 1954
Elliott Lewis made his radio debut in 1936, at the age of 18, in a bit part on a True Boardman-produced biography of Simon Bolivar. Lewis' role was to scream and bang metal chairs, in an earthquake scene.

As an actor, Lewis was in high demand on radio, and he displayed a talent for everything from comedy to melodrama. He gave voice to the bitter Harvard-educated Soundman on the 1940-41 series of Burns and Allen and several characters (Rudy the radio detective, the quick-tempered delivery man, and Joe Bagley) on the 1947-48 series, many characters on The Jack Benny Radio Show (including the thuggish "Mooley", and cowboy star "Rodney Dangerfield"), a variety of comic and serious characters on the Parkyakarkus show, and Rex Stout's roguish private eye Archie Goodwin, playing opposite Francis X. Bushman in The Amazing Nero Wolfe (1945). He played adventurer Phillip Carney on the Mutual Broadcasting System's Voyage of the Scarlet Queen, and appeared on many episodes of Suspense and The Whistler.

But perhaps Lewis' most famous role on radio was that of the hard-living, trouble-making left-handed guitar player Frankie Remley on NBC's The Phil Harris-Alice Faye Show.

During the run of The Phil Harris-Alice Faye Show, Lewis took over as a director of the well-known radio series Suspense.

In the 1970s, Lewis produced radio dramas during a brief reincarnation of the medium. In 1973-74, he directed Mutual's The Zero Hour, hosted by Rod Serling. In 1979, he and Fletcher Markle produced the Sears Radio Theater, with Sears as the sole sponsor. Lewis wrote the episodes "The Thirteenth Governess" and "Cataclysm at Carbon River" (the latter was pulled by CBS due to its subject matter of a nuclear disaster, and was never aired), and acted on the episodes "Getting Drafted", "The Old Boy", "Here's Morgan Again", "Here's Morgan Once More", and "Survival". [11]

In 1980, the series moved from CBS to Mutual and was renamed The Mutual Radio Theater, sponsored by Sears and other sponsors. Lewis scripted the episodes "Yes Sir, That's My Baby" and "Our Man on Omega", and acted on the episodes "Interlude", "Night", "Hotel Terminal", and "Lion Hunt".

➦In 1925..."The Grand Ole Opry" debuted on WSM, Nashville under the name "Barn Dance". The first artist to perform on the show was fiddler Uncle Jimmy Thompson.

George Hay
In June 1928, the Opry got its name by an unusual coincidence: Soon after Program Director George D. Hay started his show, WSM radio joined the NBC radio network. Since the program followed a performance on the network called the Metropolitan Grand Opera. So, Hay decided to call his program the Grand Ole Opry.

Hay was born in Attica, Indiana. In Memphis, Tennessee, after World War I, he was a reporter for the Commercial Appeal, and when the newspaper launched its own radio station, WMC, in January 1923, he became a late-night announcer at the station. His popularity increased and in May 1924 he left for WLS in Chicago, where he served as the announcer on a program that became National Barn Dance.

On November 9, 1925 he moved on to WSM in Nashville. Getting a strong listener reaction to 78-year-old fiddler Uncle Jimmy Thompson, Hay announced the following month that WSM would feature "an hour or two" of old-time music every Saturday night. He promoted the music and formed a booking agency.

In the 1930s the show began hiring professionals and expanded to four hours; and WSM, broadcasting by then with 50,000 watts, made the program a Saturday night musical tradition in nearly 30 states. In 1939, it debuted nationally on NBC Radio. The Opry moved to a permanent home, the Ryman Auditorium, in 1943. As it developed in importance, so did the city of Nashville, which became America's "country music capital". The Grand Ole Opry holds such significance in Nashville that its name is included on the city/county line signs on all major roadways. The signs read "Music City | Metropolitan Nashville Davidson County | Home of the Grand Ole Opry".

Membership in the Opry remains one of country music's crowning achievements. Such country music legends as Hank Williams, Patsy Cline, Marty Robbins, Roy Acuff, the Carter family, Bill Monroe, Ernest Tubb, Kitty Wells and Minnie Pearl became regulars on the Opry's stage. In recent decades, the Opry has hosted such contemporary country stars as Dolly Parton, Alan Jackson, Garth Brooks, Reba McEntire, Josh Turner, Carrie Underwood, Brad Paisley, Rascal Flatts, Dierks Bentley, Blake Shelton and the Dixie Chicks. Since 1974, the show has been broadcast from the Grand Ole Opry House east of downtown Nashville, with an annual three-month winter foray back to the Ryman since 1999.

The Grand Ole Opry is broadcast live on WSM 650 AM at 7 p.m. CT on Saturday nights.

The Opry can also be heard live on Willie's Roadhouse on channel 59 on Sirius XM Satellite Radio. A condensed radio program, America's Opry Weekend, is syndicated to stations around the United States. The program is also streamed on WSM's website.

➦In 1932...Groucho Marx performed on radio for the first time. Besides, his film work Marx is best know for  his show 'You Bet Your Life' debuted in October 1947 on ABC radio (which aired it from 1947 to 1949) and then on CBS (1949–50), and finally NBC. The show was on radio only from 1947 to 1950; on both radio and television from 1950 to 1960; and on television only, from 1960 to 1961.

The show proved a huge hit, being one of the most popular on television by the mid-1950s. With George Fenneman as his announcer and straight man, Marx entertained his audiences with improvised conversation with his guests. Since You Bet Your Life was mostly ad-libbed and unscripted—although writers did pre-interview the guests and feed Marx ready-made lines in advance—the producers insisted that the network prerecord it instead of it being broadcast live.

There were two reasons for this: prerecording provided Marx with time to fish around for funny exchanges and any intervening dead spots to be edited out; and secondly to protect the network, since Marx was a notorious loose cannon and known to say almost anything.

The television show ran for 11 seasons until it was canceled in 1961.

➦In 1960...The CBS Radio Network expanded its Top of the Hours newscasts from 5 to 10 minutes.

➦In 1987...Pat St. John debuted on WNEW 102.7 FM, New York City. He was previously at WPLJ. In April 1973, St. John began an almost 15-year stint at New York's WPLJ. For most of his years at WPLJ he was rated by Arbitron as the most-listened-to afternoon radio personality in America. He survived the station's transition from AOR to top 40 in 1983.

He left WPLJ in 1987, and returned to his rock roots on WNEW-FM, which had been WPLJ's rival during its AOR years. He became the station's program director in the early 1990s while continuing his mid-day show until being asked to do morning-drive (which he did from 1994 through 1996) and then moved to afternoons where then followed Scott Muni who moved to mid-days). St. John remained with the station until it switched to a hot talk format in 1998.

➦In 1993...Radio, TV host Garry Moore died of emphysema at age 78 (Born - January 31, 1915).

Starting in 1937, he worked for Baltimore radio station WBAL as an announcer, writer and actor/comedian.  He began a long career with the CBS network on radio in the 1940s and was a television host on several variety and game shows from the 1950s through the 1970s.

He hosted several daytime and prime time TV programs titled The Garry Moore Show, and the game shows I've Got a Secret and To Tell the Truth. He was instrumental in furthering the career of comedic actress Carol Burnett. He became known for his bow ties and his crew cut fashion  early in his career.

Berry Gordy is 94

  • Motown Records founder Berry Gordy Jr. is 94. 
  • Singer-songwriter Bruce Channel is 83. 
  • Singer Randy Newman is 80. 
  • Musician Paul Shaffer (“Late Show With David Letterman”) is 74. 
  • Actor Ed Harris is 73. 
  • Actor S. Epatha Merkerson (“Law & Order”) is 71. 
  • Country singer Kristine Arnold of Sweethearts of the Rodeo is 67. 
  • Actor Judd Nelson is 64. 
  • Director Alfonso Cuarón (“Roma,” “Gravity”) is 62. 
  • Drummer Matt Cameron (Pearl Jam, Soundgarden) is 61. 
  • Actor Jane Sibbett (“Friends, “Herman’s Head”) is 61. 
  • Comedian Jon Stewart (“The Daily Show”) is 61. 
  • Actor Garcelle Beauvais (“NYPD Blue,” ″The Jamie Foxx Show”) is 57. 
  • Singer Dawn Robinson (En Vogue, Lucy Pearl) is 55. 
  • Actor Gina Tognoni (“The Young and the Restless”) is 50. 
  • Musician apl.de.ap of Black Eyed Peas is 49. 
  • Actor Malcolm Goodwin (“iZombie”) is 48. 
  • Actor Ryan Kwanten (“True Blood”) is 47. 
  • Actor Aimee Garcia (“Lucifer”) is 45. 
  • Rapper Chamillionaire is 44. 
  • Actor Daniel Henney (“Criminal Minds”) is 44. 
  • Keyboardist Rostam Batmanglij (Vampire Weekend) is 40. 
  • Singer-keyboardist Tyler Glenn of Neon Trees is 40. 
  • Singer Trey Songz is 39. 
  • Actor Mary Elizabeth Winstead (“Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter,” “Scott Pilgrim vs. The World”) is 39. 
  • Actor Scarlett Pomers (“Reba”) is 35. 
  • Actor-rapper Bryshere Gray (“Empire”) is 30.

  • In 1954..Enrico Fermi, Italian-American nuclear physicist, gone fission, fermium (Nobel Prize 1938), dies of stomach cancer at 53
  • In 1969..(Catherine) Rosalind Russell, American stage and screen actress (His Girl Friday; Auntie Mame; Gypsy), dies of breast cancer at 69
  • In 1993..Garry Moore, TV host (I've Got A Secret), dies of emphysema at 78
  • In 1993..Jerry Edmonton, Canadian rock drummer (Steppenwolf), dies at 47
  • In 2010..Leslie Nielsen, Canadian actor (Spy Hard, Forbidden Planet, Naked Gun), dies of pneumonia at 84
  • In 2015..Marjorie Lord [Wollenberg], American actress (Make Room for Daddy, Sherlock Holmes in Washington), dies of natural causes at 97
  • In 2016..Grant Tinker, American TV executive (Chairman of NBC), dies at 90

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