Saturday, December 2, 2023

Radio History: December 2

➦In Ezra Stone was born in New Bedford Mass.  ezra-stone His major acting success was as the teenaged son, Henry, in the popular radio comedy The Aldrich Family. As director he shot that show when it came to TV, as well as The Munsters & Lost in Space. He died at age 76 in an auto accident Mar 3, 1994.

➦In 1932..."The Adventures of Charlie Chan" first aired on the NBC Blue Radio Network. The Chinese detective became even more popular on the movie screen in the 1930s and 1940s.

On radio, Charlie Chan was heard in several different series on three networks (the NBC Blue Network, Mutual, and ABC) between 1932 and 1948.  Walter Connolly initially portrayed Chan on Esso Oil's Five Star Theater.  Ed Begley, Sr. had the title role in NBC's The Adventures of Charlie Chan (1944–45), followed by Santos Ortega (1947–48). Leon Janney and Rodney Jacobs were heard as Lee Chan, Number One Son, and Dorian St. George was the announcer.

➦In 1963...Jay Nelson aired his first morning show on CHUM 1050 AM Toronto.

Born Frank Coxe in Scranton, Pa., Nelson was a disc jockey there before arriving in  Buffalo, where WKBW was riding the crest of rock's surging popularity.

He joined Joey Reynolds, Danny Neaverth, Fred Klestine and a handful of other star disc jockeys who were kings of radio and school record hops. Owing to the station's 50,000 watts of power, their irreverent voices and record selections boomed into homes up and down the Eastern Seaboard.

On weekends Nelson changed into a pith helmet and khakis for his role as host of WKBW-TV's "Jungle Jay Show," a humorous audience participation series that aired on Saturday morning.

The program was a hit with Canadian viewers as well, and it was Nelson's cross-border popularity that earned him the morning job at CHUM.

Nelson had a 17 year run in morning drive at CHUM, finally stepping down in 1980.

Nelson went on to gigs at CITY-TV, CKFM, CKEY, CHFI and CJEZ and was teaching radio at George Brown College in Toronto shortly before his death.

On February 18, 1994, Toronto radio fans were shocked at the news that long-time CHUM morning man Jay Nelson had died.

➦In 1971...Don Imus started at 660 WNBC, New York City.

Imus was a brakeman on the Southern Pacific Railroad. Upon winning a talent contest at Johnny Otis's nightclub, he began working as a singer/songwriter, managed by Otis.  After hearing a morning disc-jockey, he went to the nearby radio station and persuaded the owner to hire him. Thus he began his career as a radio disc jockey on June 28, 1968 at radio station KUTY in Palmdale, California. He stayed at the station until 1969 when he left for a job at KJOY, a small radio station in Stockton, California.

He was later fired for saying "hell" on air.  After being fired in Stockton, he went to KXOA in Sacramento, California.  His on-air pranks, such as calling up a restaurant and ordering 1200 hamburgers to go, made his show immensely popular and boosted ratings. He was inspired to pursue a career in radio by listening to California radio personality Don MacKinnon.

After a stint at WGAR 1220 AM radio in Cleveland, Ohio, Imus moved to New York City and WNBC 660 AM radio in December 1971. During this first stint at WNBC, Imus recorded three record albums, two for the RCA Victor label (1200 Hamburgers to Go, including some of his more popular humor from KXOA, WGAR and WNBC broadcasts.

Imus was fired from WNBC in August 1977 along with several of the station's other personalities, in an effort to revamp the station's sound and boost ratings. In 1978 he returned to Cleveland radio as afternoon drive host on WHK, making the front page of the Cleveland Plain Dealer on his first day back in town.

In a surprise, Imus was rehired by WNBC in September 1979, and revived his morning drive show. From 1982 to 1985, the station also employed talk-radio host Howard Stern, and WNBC heavily promoted the pair in print and TV commercials, which often featured the slogan "If We Weren't So Bad, We Wouldn't Be So Good."

In March 2009, Imus was diagnosed with stage 2 prostate cancer. He was advised to have radiation treatments, but said he chose to treat the disease holistically.  He retired from his radio show March 29, 2018 and was hospitalized at Baylor Scott & White Medical Center in College Station, Texas, on December 24, 2019. He died three days later, on December 27, at the age of 79, of complications from lung disease.

Imus won four Marconi Awards, three for Major Market Personality of the Year and one for Network Syndicated Personality (1994). Imus was named one of the 25 Most Influential People in America in Time magazine (April 21, 1997). He was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame in 1989. In 2002, Talkers magazine ranked Imus as one of the 25 greatest radio talk show hosts of all time.

➦In 1992...WQXR 1560 AM New York City changed calls to WQEW-AM. Today the station is WFME and is owned by Family Stations.

The change in call letters co-incided with owner New York Times flipping to popular standards format, which was inaugurated by a live studio performance by Tony Bennett. The change came a few months after WNEW 1130 AM, New York's heritage popular standards station, announced an impending sale to Bloomberg L.P. and a format switch to business information with the new call letters WBBR. The format change at 1560 to standards happened 10 days before WNEW's transition.

The station focused on a broad range of pop standards–the format's foundation artists including Frank Sinatra, Nat "King" Cole, Ella Fitzgerald, Dean Martin and Perry Como, but also artists from the big band era (such as Tommy Dorsey, Artie Shaw, Glenn Miller, Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington); and non-rock-and-roll pop hits (by artists like Neil Diamond, Barbra Streisand, Ray Charles, Bobby Darin and Pat Boone, among others). Light rock'n'roll material such as the Turtles was also occasionally heard.

Although initially successful, the station's advertising revenues were not spectacular, and older audience demographics were deemed undesirable for long-term success. On December 3, 1998, the Times announced that WQEW would switch to Radio Disney after agreeing to what was initially an eight-year local marketing agreement term with the Walt Disney Company and its ABC Radio subsidiary.  Radio Disney programming launched on WQEW on December 28, 1998.

At the end of the agreement with the Times in late 2006, Disney had the option to purchase the station or to extend the arrangement with the Times maintaining ownership. Disney exercised the option to purchase in early January 2007.  Disney/ABC officially became the owner of the station on May 24, 2007.

On August 13, 2014, Disney announced its intention to end terrestrial distribution of the Radio Disney format, in order to focus on digital distribution. Disney would also sell its remaining Radio Disney broadcast outlets, including WQEW and with the lone exception of KDIS in Los Angeles.

On November 21, 2014, Oakland, California-based Family Stations announced it would purchase WQEW from Disney/ABC for $12.95 million.  In January 2013 Family Radio sold the original, Newark, New Jersey-licensed WFME 94.7 FM, which it had owned since 1966 but had been programming since 1963) to Cumulus Media, who converted the station into country music-formatted WNSH. 

In what amounted to a station trade-plus-cash transaction, Family Stations also acquired the license for WDVY (106.3 FM) in Mount Kisco, NY. The 106.3 FM signal, combined in tandem with Family Radio-owned WFRH (91.7 FM) in Kingston, New York mainly serves the Hudson Valley region; another Family Radio outlet, WFRS (88.9 FM) in Smithtown, New York serves Long Island. This left Family Radio programming unavailable over-the-air in New York City proper and northern New Jersey (including Newark) for over two years.

After the FCC approved the sale on February 10, 2015,  1560 AM went silent on February 17 in preparation of the format change. The sale was finalized on February 20 and the call sign was changed to WFME. The station returned to the air on February 27, again giving Family Radio full coverage of the New York City market.

In late November 2020, Family Radio announced the sale of the property surrounding WFME's broadcast towers in Queens, but stipulated that the terms included that Family Radio would still use this site until a suitable alternate location for the station was found. However, no alternate site proved to be immediately available, therefore WFME in early 2021 ended regular programming and began broadcasting a recurring announcement that the station would suspend operations "in just a few days".Although Family Radio officials expressed a desire to eventually return to the New York airwaves, they noted that there were no immediate plans; listeners were directed to access either WFRS in Smithtown and WFME-FM in Mount Kisco, in addition to the Family Radio webstream. In much of central and southern New Jersey, Family Radio programming can also be heard on WKDN (950 AM) in Philadelphia. On October 26, 2021, the station returned to air from a new site in West Orange, New Jersey, running at 1,000 watts.

➦In 2008...Canadian broadcaster/cellular mogul Ted Rogers Jr. died at his home in Toronto, after recently being admitted to hospital with a cardiac condition. While he was best known for Canada's Rogers Cable, his communications empire actually makes more money from the mobile phone business.

➦In 2010…Former MLB Chicago Cubs player and sportscaster Ron Santo died.  He was 70.  He had been dealing with diabetes and other health issues for some time.

As the "single biggest Cubs fan of all time", Santo joined the Cubs' broadcast booth in 1990 as the WGN radio color commentator.  He worked with play-by-play announcer Pat Hughes, and these radio broadcasts were also known as the Pat and Ron Show. He also worked with Harry Caray, Thom Brennaman, Steve Stone and Bob Brenly.

Santo also briefly worked with Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers commentator Wayne Larrivee.

Cathy Lee Crosby is 79

  • Actor Cathy Lee Crosby (“That’s Incredible”) is 79. 
  • Director Penelope Spheeris (“Wayne’s World,” “The Decline of Western Civilization”) is 78. 
  • Actor Ron Raines (“Guiding Light”) is 74. 
  • Country singer John Wesley Ryles is 73. 
  • Actor Keith Szarabajka (”Angel,” “The Equalizer”) is 71. 
  • Actor Dan Butler (“Frasier”) is 69. 
  • News anchor Stone Phillips is 69. 
  • Actor Dennis Christopher (“Breaking Away,” ″Chariots of Fire”) is 68. 
  • Actor Steven Bauer (“Scarface”) is 67. 
  • Bassist Rick Savage of Def Leppard is 63. 
  • Actor Brendan Coyle (“Downton Abbey”) is 60. 
  • Actor Lucy Liu is 55. 
  • Bassist Nate Mendel of Foo Fighters is 55. 
  • Actor Suzy Nakamura (“Dr. Ken”) is 55. 
  • Actor Rena Sofer (“24,” ″Just Shoot Me”) is 55. 
  • Rapper Treach of Naughty By Nature is 53. 
  • Actor Joe Lo Truglio (“Brooklyn Nine-Nine”) is 53. 
  • Singer Nelly Furtado is 45. 
  • Singer Britney Spears is 42. 
  • Singer-actor Jana Kramer is 40. 
  • Actor Daniela Ruah (“NCIS: Los Angeles”) is 40. 
  • Actor Alfred Enoch (“How To Get Away With Murder”) is 35. 
  • Singer Charlie Puth is 32.

  • In 1936..John Ringling, American circus owner (b. 1866)
  • In 1982..Marty Feldman, English comedian (Young Frankenstein), dies of a heart attack at 49
  • In 1986..Desi Arnaz, Cuban-American singer ("Babalú"), bandleader, actor (I Love Lucy - "Ricky Riccardo"), and television producer (The Untouchables), dies of lung cancer at 69
  • In 1990..Aaron Copland, American composer (Billy the Kid, Fanfare for Common Man), dies of Alzheimer's disease and respiratory failure at 90
  • In 1990..Robert Cummings, American actor (Love that Bob, Dial M For Murder), dies of kidney failure at 80
  • In 1999..Charlie Byrd, American jazz and bossa nova guitarist (Desfinado), dies of lung cancer at 74
  • In 2000..Gail Fisher, American Emmy Award-winning actress (Mannix - "Peggy"), dies of kidney failure at 65
  • In 2008..(Edward) "Ted" Rogers, Canadian entrepreneur (Rogers Communications), MLB team owner (Toronto Blue Jays), and philanthropist, dies of congestive heart failure at 75
  • In 2010..Ron Santo, American Baseball Hall of Fame third baseman (9 x MLB All Star; 5 x Gold Glove; Chicago Cubs), dies from bladder cancer at 70

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