Monday, December 4, 2023

Radio History: December 4

➦In 1889...Isabel Randolph born  (Died at age 83 – January 11, 1973). She was a  character actress in radio and film from the 1940s through the 1960s and on TV from the early 1950s to the middle 1960s.

She gained nationwide popularity on the radio show Fibber McGee and Molly (on the air 1935-1959), where she began in various "snooty" roles January 13, 1936, eventually becoming a long-running series character, the pompous Mrs. Abigail Uppington, a snooty society matron whom Fibber addressed as "Uppy," and whose pretensions Fibber delighted in deflating. She stayed with the comedy series for seven years until the show began its eighth season in the fall of 1943.

She also starred as the wife in NBC's soap opera Dan Harding's Wife (on the air January 20, 1936 through February 10, 1939), and was in the cast of two other NBC serials, One Man's Family (on the air 1932-59) during the 1940s.

In the early days of TV her credits include Our Miss Brooks, The Andy Griffith Show, Meet Millie, The Abbott & Costello Show, and Perry Mason.

Even while young, Randolph specialized in middle-aged "grand dame" roles on stage and radio, continuing in these roles when she entered films in 1940.

➦In 1915...Newscaster  Alan Jackson was born in Hot Springs, Arkansas. He was the head anchor at CBS Radio News in New York City. (Jackson died April 26, 1976, from complications following an operation.)

Jackson began his 33-year career during the Second World War, reading the 6:00 PM national evening news (then the network's main news program) and anchoring coverage of many of the major news headlines of the day. He anchored CBS News's coverage of the D-Day invasion on June 6, 1944, of the joining of US and Soviet forces in April 1945, and of V-E Day in May of that year.

He was one of the first national radio newscasters to announce the assassination of John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963. According to former CBS News Correspondent Dan Rather in his book "The Camera Never Blinks" and in the 2003 book "President Kennedy Has Been Shot", Rather had advised CBS news headquarters in New York from Dallas that there were unconfirmed reports that the President was dead. Jackson was handed a slip of paper reading "JFK DEAD" and immediately went on air with the announcement, reporting Kennedy's death as a fact (which had not yet been confirmed, although it was true that Kennedy was already dead), and playing the U.S. national anthem, The Star-Spangled Banner.

He died in April 1976 at age 60. from complications after gall bladder surgery.

Deanne Durbin 'Something In the Winds' 1947

➦In 1921...Edna Mae Durbin born (Died at age 91 – April 17, 2013), known professionally as Deanna Durbin, was a Winnipeg, Canadian-born actress and singer, later settled in France, who appeared in musical films in the 1930s and 1940s. With the technical skill and vocal range of a legitimate lyric soprano, she performed many styles from popular standards to operatic arias.  However she established genuine radio credentials as a singing star of the popular Eddie Cantor Show.

Durbin made her first film appearance with Judy Garland in Every Sunday (1936), and subsequently signed a contract with Universal Studios. Her success as the ideal teenaged daughter in films such as Three Smart Girls (1936) was credited with saving the studio from bankruptcy. In 1938, at the age of 17, Durbin was awarded the Academy Juvenile Award.

As she matured, Durbin grew dissatisfied with the girl-next-door roles assigned to her, and attempted to portray a more womanly and sophisticated style. The film noir Christmas Holiday (1944) and the whodunit Lady on a Train (1945) were, however, not as well received as her musical comedies and romances had been. Durbin retired from acting and singing in 1949, and withdrew from public life, granting no interviews for the remainder of her life, except for one in 1983. She married film producer-director Charles Henri David in 1950, and the couple moved to a farmhouse near Paris.

➦In 1923...The Eveready Hour premiered on WEAF Radio in NYC  It was the first commercially sponsored variety program in the history of broadcasting.It was paid for by the National Carbon Company, which at the time owned Eveready Battery. The host for many years was the banjo-playing vocalist Wendell Hall, "The Red Headed Music Maker," who wrote the popular "It Ain't Gonna Rain No Mo'" (Victor Records). Hall was married on The Eveready Hour in 1924.

In early 1924 The Eveready Hour began to be carried simultaneously by a second station, WJAR in Providence, Rhode Island, and the number of outlets was expanded to a group of Eastern and Midwestern stations "as quickly as WEAF could add stations" to its "WEAF chain" radio network.

On election night, November 4, 1924, the program, hosted by Wendell Hall, was carried by 18 stations, with Will Rogers, Art Gillham, Carson Robison and the Eveready Quartet entertaining between election returns given by Graham McNamee. Joseph Knecht led the Waldorf-Astoria Dance Orchestra. In 1926 the WEAF chain operations were purchased by the Radio Corporation of America, becoming the basis of the National Broadcasting Company (NBC) in early 1927. The Eveready Hour continued as a featured broadcast on NBC until 1930.

➦In 1932...Walter Winchell premiered his WJZ Radio with the the famous opening:  “Good evening, Mr. and Mrs. North and South America and all the ships at sea. Let’s go to press!”

He made his radio debut over WABC (now WCBS-AM) in New York, a CBS affiliate, on May 12, 1930. The show, entitled Saks on Broadway, was a 15-minute feature that provided business news about Broadway. He switched to WJZ (now WABC) and the NBC Blue (later ABC Radio) in 1932 for the Jergens Journal.

Winchell kept that gossip show going on the radio for 23 years.

➦In 1933...The radio soap opera Ma Perkins made the leap from WLW in Cincinnati to  the NBC Red Network.   It aired from 1933 to 1949 and on CBS from 1942 to 1960. Between 1942 and 1949, the show was heard simultaneously on both networks.

During part of its run on NBC, that network's coverage was augmented by use of transcriptions. Beginning April 1, 1935, nine stations broadcast the transcriptions. The program continued with various sponsors until 1960.

"America’s mother of the air" was portrayed by actress Virginia Payne, who began the role at the age of 23 and never missed a performance during the program's 27-year run. Kindly, trusting widow Ma Perkins had a big heart and a great love of humanity. She always offered her homespun philosophy to troubled souls in need of advice.

Ma Perkins is widely credited with giving birth to storytelling.

➦In 1944...Country entertainer Eddy Arnold record his signature song 'Cattle Call' at the WSM Radio studios in Nashville.

➦In 1944...Beach Boys drummer, keyboardist and songwriter Dennis Wilson was born in 1944. He drowned on Dec. 28, 1983 at 39.  Dennis Wilson interview with Pete Fornatale on WNEW 102.7 FM, New York City from November 1976.

➦In 1954...“Mr. Sandman” by the Chordettes on Cadence Records topped the music charts and stayed there for 7 weeks.

➦In 1954..The NY Supreme Court ruled 1010 WINS radio disc jockey Alan Freed could no longer use the nickname "Moondog." Freed had been sued for infringement by New York street musician Louis T. Hardin, who claimed prior ownership of the nickname.

Freed started calling his show "The Moondog House" and billed himself as "The King of the Moondoggers" while working at WJW In Cleveland in 1951. He had been inspired by an offbeat instrumental called "Moondog Symphony" that had been recorded by New York street musician Louis T. Hardin, aka "Moondog". Freed adopted the record as his show's theme music.

His on-air manner was energetic, in contrast to many contemporary radio presenters of traditional pop music, who tended to sound more subdued and low-key in manner. He addressed his listeners as if they were all part of a make-believe kingdom of hipsters, united in their love for black music. He also began popularizing the phrase "rock and roll" to describe the music he played.

He was one of the organizers of a five-act show called "The Moondog Coronation Ball" on March 21, 1952, at the Cleveland Arena. This event is considered the first rock and roll concert. Crowds attended in numbers far beyond the arena's capacity, and the concert was shut down early due to overcrowding and a near-riot. Freed gained a priceless notoriety from the incident. WJW immediately increased the airtime allotted to Freed's program, and his popularity soared.

In those days, Cleveland was considered by the music industry to be a "breakout" city, where national trends first appeared in a regional market. Freed's popularity made the pop music business take notice. Soon, tapes of Freed's program began to air in the New York City area over station WNJR 1430 (now WNSW), in Newark, New Jersey.

In July 1954, following his success on the air in Cleveland, Freed moved to 1010 WINS in New York City. that's when Hardin, the original Moondog, took a court action suit against WINS for damages against Freed for infringement in 1956, arguing prior claim to the name "Moondog", under which he had been composing since 1947. Hardin collected a $6,000 judgment from Freed, as well as an agreement to give up further usage of the name Moondog. WINS eventually became an around-the-clock Top 40 rock and roll radio station, and would remain so until April 19, 1965—long after Freed left and three months after he had died— when it became an all-news outlet.

➦In 1957...CKWS in Kingston, Ontario played Elvis Presley's newly release Christmas album in its entirety, opening the phones to public comment. Most listeners approve of the album.

➦In 1967...Sportscaster Harry Wismer died at age 54 (Born June 30, 1913). Wismer played college football at both the University of Florida and Michigan State College, his playing career ending at the latter school when he damaged a knee severely during a game against the University of Michigan. He then began broadcasting Michigan State sports on MSC's radio station WKAR in a position arranged for him by Spartans head coach Charlie Bachman.

In 1934, he was hired as the public-address announcer for the Detroit Lions. The Lions were in their first season in Detroit and were owned by George A. "Dick" Richards, who also owned Detroit radio station WJR. Wismer soon began doing a ten-minute daily radio show covering the Lions in addition to his PA duties, while continuing as a student at Michigan State.

Harry Wismer
After the 1936 season, Wismer was encouraged by Richards to abandon his studies and come to work for WJR on a full-time basis as the station's sports director. Among Wismer's WJR duties was serving as play-by-play announcer for the station's Lions broadcasts. He stayed until 1941 when he was hired by the NBC Blue Network, the predecessor to ABC. During the 1940s Wismer was named Sportscaster of the Year three years running by Sporting News magazine.

In 1947, he was named one of 10 outstanding young Americans of the year by the U.S. Jaycees, along with congressman John F. Kennedy, historian Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., and physicist Philip Morrison.  However, a subsequent management change at ABC led to a new regime that was hostile to sports, and Wismer became a free-lancer, selling his service to the highest bidder. Wismer became known for an enormous ego and developed a reputation as a "namedropper", preferring to announce the names of celebrities of his acquaintance who were in the audience to the actual game action, and was alleged at times to include them in the crowd of games which he announced when they were in fact elsewhere.

Wismer achieved the height of his fame as the voice of the Washington Redskins. His first game for the Redskins was a most inauspicious one in December 1940, their 73–0 loss to the Chicago Bears' great "Monsters of the Midway" team in the 1940 championship game. At one point Wismer was a 25% owner of the club as well, with the majority of the stock being retained by founding owner George Preston Marshall. However, the relationship between the two had greatly degenerated by the mid-1950s over several issues, not the least of which was Marshall's steadfast refusal to sign any black players. The relationship dissolved in claims, counterclaims, and litigation, and Marshall then set out to destroy Wismer's future as a broadcaster, with some success. Wismer was also involved for a time in the broadcasting of Notre Dame football.

In 1953, Wismer was involved in an early attempt to expand football into prime time network television, when ABC, now with a renewed interest in sports, broadcast an edited replay on Sunday nights of the previous day's Notre Dame games, which were cut down to 75 minutes in length by removing the time between plays, halftime, and even some of the more uneventful plays. (While this format was not successful in prime time, a similar presentation of Notre Dame football later became a staple of Sunday mornings for many years on CBS with Lindsey Nelson as the announcer.)

Also that season was the first attempt at prime time coverage of pro football, with Wismer at the microphone on the old DuMont Network. Unlike ABC's Notre Dame coverage, DuMont's NFL game was presented live on Saturday nights, but interest was not adequate to save the DuMont Network, which had by this point already entered what would be a terminal decline (although it did mount a subsequent 1954 season of NFL telecasts, minus Wismer, which proved to be one of its last regular programs).

➦In 1967...WCBS 880 AM expanded "All News" format to midnight.

By the late 1950s and early 1960s, WCBS had evolved into a Middle of the road (MOR) music and personality format, which included limited talk programming. Personalities included legendary morning host Jack Sterling, Bill Randle and Lee Jordan. Like many MOR stations at the time, WCBS did mix in softer songs by rock-and-roll artists, as its ratings at the time were ordinary compared to the higher ratings at WOR and WNEW, both of which also had MOR formats and more distinct identities. Through it all, the variety show "Arthur Godfrey Time" remained a weekday mid-morning staple.

Eventually, WCBS gained a foothold in local news coverage (WOR and WNEW's strengths) bolstered by its standing as CBS's flagship radio station.

William S Paley
During the 1960s, CBS chairman William S. Paley was concerned about the station's low ratings, and that concern started a process that would lead to the creation of a news radio format that would become known as "Newsradio 88". This format debuted on August 28, 1967.

Initially, the station ran news in the drive time periods but maintained an MOR format during the midday and overnight hours, and within a couple of years, it ran all-news programming for much of the broadcast day except for overnights. "Newsradio 88" began its transformation into an all-news format in 1970, when the overnight American Airlines-sponsored Music Till Dawn ended in January of that year, and completed the process in 1972, when Godfrey's weekday morning variety show came to an end. The station built a reputation as an all-news powerhouse during the 1970s, and has continued with an all-news format to this day.

➦In 1989...Howard Hoffman and Stephanie Miller first show at WQHT 97.1 FM.

In the fall of 1988, Emmis had purchased WYNY from NBC, as well as the license of WNBC (AM), which would be shut down. On September 22, 1988, at 5:30 p.m., the stations swapped frequencies. WYNY was moved to 103.5 FM, while WQHT's rhythmic contemporary format moved to 97.1 FM and became "Hot 97." After the transition to Hot 97, Stephanie Miller and Howard Hoffman were brought in to do the morning show, J. Paul Emerson stayed on as newsman, with Daniel Ivankovich ("Reverend Doctor D") and brought in as producer.

The last song played on "Hot 103" was Debbie Gibson's "Stayin' Together" and the first song played on "Hot 97" was M.A.R.R.S.' "Pump Up the Volume".

The station started to lean towards top 40 by 1989 due to decreasing ratings.

Wink Martindale is 90

  • Game show host Wink Martindale is 90. 
  • Singer Freddy “Boom Boom” Cannon is 87. 
  • Actor-producer-director Max Baer Junior (“The Beverly Hillbillies”) is 86. 
  • Bassist Bob Mosley of Moby Grape is 81. 
  • Singer-bassist Chris Hillman (The Byrds, the Flying Burrito Brothers) is 79. 
  • Singer Southside Johnny Lyon of Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes is 75. 
  • Actor Jeff Bridges is 74. 
  • Actor Patricia Wettig is 72. 
  • Actor Tony Todd (“Final Destination” films) is 69. 
  • Drummer Brian Prout of Diamond Rio is 68. 
  • Jazz singer Cassandra Wilson is 68. 
  • Bassist Bob Griffin (The BoDeans) is 64. 
  • Singer Vinnie Dombroski of Sponge is 61. 
  • Actor Chelsea Noble (“Growing Pains,” ″Kirk”) is 59. 
  • Actor Marisa Tomei is 59. 
  • Comedian Fred Armisen (“Portlandia,” ″Saturday Night Live”) is 57. 
  • Rapper Jay-Z is 54. 
  • Actor Kevin Sussman (“Ugly Betty”) is 53. 
  • Model Tyra Banks is 50. 
  • Country singer Lila McCann is 42. 
  • Actor Lindsay Felton (“Caitlin’s Way”) is 39. 
  • Actor Orlando Brown (“That’s So Raven”) is 36. 
  • Actor Scarlett Estevez (“Lucifer”) is 16.
  • In 1967..Bert Lahr [Irving Lahrheim], American comic and actor (The Wizard of Oz - "Lion"), dies of cancer at 72
  • In 1967..Harry Wismer, American sports broadcaster (NBC Blue Network, ABC, voice of Washington Redskins) and AFL team owner (New York Titans), dies after a fall at 54
  • In 1993..Frank Zappa, American rock guitarist, composer, (Mothers of Invention - "Peaches en Regalia"; "Baby Snakes"), activist, and filmmaker (200 Motels), dies from prostate cancer at 52
  • In 2022..Bob McGrath, American musician, singer (Sing Along With Mitch), and actor (Sesame Street, 1969-2017), dies of complications from a stroke at 90

No comments:

Post a Comment