Saturday, December 23, 2023

Merry Christmas 2023


The Reason For the Season: Mary gave birth to Jesus and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger (see Luke 2:7). An angel appeared to nearby shepherds with “good tidings of great joy.” The angel told them the Son of God had been born, and they hurried to find their newborn Savior (see Luke 2:8–16).

A Blessed Christmas To Everyone!

Radio History: December 25

➦In 1931...Lawrence Tibbett was the featured vocalist as radio came to the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City. The first opera  broadcast was “Hansel und Gretel”, heard on the NBC network of stations. In between acts of the opera, moderator Olin Downes would conduct an opera quiz, asking celebrity guests opera-related questions.

The program’s host and announcer was Milton Cross, who stayed with the weekly broadcasts for 43 years.

Arturo Toscanini
➦In 1937...Arturo Toscanini conducted the first broadcast of “Symphony of the Air” over NBC radio.

➦In 1945...Gary Lee Sandy born. Sandy played program director Andy Travis on the television sitcom WKRP in Cincinnati.

➦In 1948...92.3 FM NYC frequency signed-on as WMCA-FM. (Today the station is WINS 92.3 FM and is owned by Audacy Communications, simulcasts All-News 1010WINS).

For the next year, it operated daily from 3p-9p, simulcasting WMCA, 570 AM.

The WMCA Happy Face logo
In December 1949, Nathan Straus, president of WMCA, announced he was closing down the station because he was losing $4000 a month.

He had said several times that baseball games were cut short on the FM, deliberately to elicit response from listeners and he had received only 2 letters in regard to this practice during all of the summer of 1949.

Straus cited several reasons for the failure of FM: drifting of receivers, difficulty in tuning them, the union rule that announcers who were simulcast on FM and AM be paid double in New York and he said people could already hear WMCA on AM.

Further, Straus said that he had twice tried to give WMCA-FM away and couldn't.

This announcement drew sharp criticism from Major Edwin Armstrong, the inventor of the FM system of broadcasting, who said that Straus was not giving FM a fair chance.

Straus announced that WMCA-FM would quit permanently on December 31, 1949, but the day before, a group of businessmen and people associated with WIBG in Philadelphia announced their intention of buying WMCA-FM for $7500.

So, WMCA-FM continued its 3p-9p schedule throughout 1950, however the negotiations with the WIBG group fell through.

In late 1950, WHOM 1480 AM, announced that it would purchase WMCA-FM. An agreement was reached and 92.3 became WHOM-FM on February 26, 1951.

By 1975, the station had evolved into a Pop/Rock leaning AC format, with calls of WKTU.

On July 24, 1978, WKTU abruptly switched to an "All Disco" format as "Disco 92", which eventually evolved into more of a Rhythmic CHR by the Fall of 1979.

In the summer of 1984, WKTU became a mainstream CHR.

Then, in July of 1985, after airing the Live Aid concert, the station switched to a mainstream AOR format, featuring new and classic rock as WXRK "K-Rock".

In September 1985, Howard Stern (who had been fired from WNBC earlier that year) joined the station, initially for afternoons and in early 1986 switched to mornings.

In 1987, WXRK had instituted a classic rock format and on January 5, 1996, evolved into an alternative/active rock format.

On April 4, 2005, WXRK debuted a mainstream rock format, encompassing music from the 60's to today.

On December 16, 2005, Howard Stern broadcast his last show on the station, before his anticipated move to Sirius Satellite Radio on January 9, 2006.

On January 3, 2006, 92.3 became an "all-talk" station (with the exception of weekends when it features a rock format) using the "Free FM" slogan and featuring David Lee Roth in mornings. Calls were officially changed to WFNY on January 1. In April 2006, David Lee Roth was replaced with Opie & Anthony.

On May 24, 2007 at 5pm, "K-Rock" returned to 92.3. Calls were changed back to WXRK on May 31, 2007.

On March 11, 2009, 92.3 switched to a CHR format as "92.3 Now FM", with the "K-Rock" format moving to 92.3's HD2 channel.

92.3 changed calls to WNOW on November 8, 2012.

On May 22, 2014 at 2pm, 92.3 re-branded themselves as "92.3 AMP."

Calls changed to WBMP on June 23, 2014.  In 2017, the station was sold by CBS Radio to Entercom (now Audacy).  The format was flipped to Alternative upon the deal closing and calls were changed once again to WNYL.

➦In 1964...In New York, "Murray The K's Big Holiday Show" featured the Zombies, the Nashville Teens, and the Hullabaloos.

➦In 1995...legendary singer/crooner, actor, comedian, and Rat-Pack member Dean Martin died of respiratory failure at age 78.

➦In 2006...the “hardest working man in show business,” urban star James Brown died of pneumonia at an Atlanta hospital. He was 73.

The one-time radio station owner was nicknamed the "Godfather of Soul", died.

➦In 2008... actress & chanteuse Eartha Kitt, best known for her hit songs C’est Si Bon & Santa Baby, who was the 2nd Catwoman on the 1960’s Batman TV series, succumbed to colon cancer at age 81.

Gary Sandy is 78
  • Actor Hanna Schygulla (“Barnum,” ″Casanova”) is 80. 
  • Singer John Edwards of The Spinners is 79. 
  • Actor Gary Sandy (“WKRP In Cincinnati”) is 78. 
  • Country singer Barbara Mandrell is 75. 
  • Actor Sissy Spacek is 74. 
  • Blues musician Joe Louis Walker is 74. 
  • Actor CCH Pounder is 71. 
  • Guitarist Robin Campbell of UB40 is 69. 
  • Singer Annie Lennox is 69. 
  • Singer Steve Wariner is 69. 
  • Actor Klea Scott (“Millennium”) is 55. 
  • Guitarist Noel Hogan of The Cranberries is 52. 
  • Singer Dido is 52. 
  • Singer Mac Powell of Third Day is 51. 
  • Country singer Alecia Elliott is 41. 
  • Actor Perdita Weeks (2018′s “Magnum P.I.”) is 38. 
  • Singer-guitarist Lukas Nelson of Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real is 35.

  • In 1946..W C Fields, writer and comedian (Bank Dick, It's A Gift), dies at 67
  • In 1977..Charlie Chaplin, British actor and comedian (Modern Times, The Kid), dies in Switzerland at 88
  • In 1979..Joan Blondell, American actress (Real McCoys), dies of leukemia at 73
  • In 1989..Billy Martin, American baseball 2nd baseman (MLB All Star 1956; World Series 1951, 52, 53, 56; NY Yankees) and manager (World Series 1977 NY Yankees), killed in a car accident at 61
  • In 1995..Dean Martin, American singer ("That's Amore"; "Everybody Loves Somebody"; "Sway"), comedian and actor (Martin and Lewis, The Dean Martin Show), dies of throat cancer at 78
  • In 1996..Jon Benet Ramsey, Colorado child beauty queen, murdered at 6
  • In 2006..James Brown, American R&B, gospel, soul and funk singer-songwriter known as 'The Godfather of Soul' ("Sex Machine"; "Papa's Got A Brand New Bag"; "Hot Pants"), dies of heart failure at 73
  • In 2008..Eartha Kitt, American singer (Santa Baby), dancer, comedian, actress and activist (Catwoman-Batman), dies at 81
  • In 2009..Tony "T-Bone" Bellamy, American rock guitarist (Redbone), dies of liver failure at 63
  • In 2016..George Michael, English singer-songwriter and pop superstar (Wham! - "Careless Whisper"; "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go"; solo - " I Want Your Sex"; "Faith"), dies of suspected heart failure at 53

Radio History: December 24

➦In 1818...The Christmas carol Silent Night was first performed at St Nicholas parish church in Oberndorf, a village in the Austrian Empire on the Salzach river in present-day Austria.

A young priest, Father Joseph Mohr, had come to Oberndorf the year before. He had written the lyrics of the song "Stille Nacht" in 1816 at Mariapfarr, the hometown of his father in the Salzburg Lungau region. The melody was composed by Franz Xaver Gruber, schoolmaster and organist in the nearby village of Arnsdorf.

Before Christmas Eve, Mohr brought the words to Gruber and asked him to compose a melody and guitar accompaniment for the Christmas Eve mass, after river flooding had damaged the church organ.  The church was eventually destroyed by repeated flooding and replaced with the Silent-Night-Chapel. It is unknown what inspired Mohr to write the lyrics, or what prompted him to create a new carol.

Reginald A Fessenden
➦In 1906... Quebec physcist Reginald A. Fessenden sent his first radio broadcast himself playing ‘O Holy Night’ on his violin for telegraph operators and other sailors aboard ships in the Atlantic and Caribbean.

In the late 1890s, reports began to appear about the success Guglielmo Marconi was having in developing a practical radio transmitting and receiving system. Fessenden began limited radio experimentation, and soon came to the conclusion that he could develop a far more efficient system than the spark-gap transmitter and coherer-receiver combination which had been championed by Oliver Lodge and Marconi.

Wireless Station at Brant Rock, MA
On December 21, 1906, Fessenden made an extensive demonstration of the new alternator-transmitter at Brant Rock, showing its utility for point-to-point wireless telephony, including interconnecting his stations to the wire telephone network. A detailed review of this demonstration appeared in The American Telephone Journal.

A few days later, two additional demonstrations took place, which may have been the first audio radio broadcasts of entertainment and music ever made to a general audience. (Beginning in 1904, the U.S. Navy had broadcast daily time signals and weather reports, but these employed spark transmitters, transmitting in Morse code).

On Christmas Eve 1906, Fessenden used the alternator-transmitter to send out a short program from Brant Rock. It included a phonograph record of Ombra mai fu (Largo) by George Frideric Handel, followed by Fessenden himself playing on the violin Adolphe Adam's carol O Holy Night, singing Gounod's Adore and be Still, and finishing with reading a passage from the Bible: 'Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to men of good will' (Gospel of Luke 2:14).

He petitioned his listeners to write in about the quality of the broadcast as well as their location when they heard it. Surprisingly, his broadcast was heard several hundred miles away; however, accompanying the broadcast was a disturbing noise. This noise was due to irregularities in the spark gap transmitter used.

➦In 1922...the BBC broadcast the first British radio play. It was entitled, "Truth about Father Christmas".

➦In 1928...the first broadcast of “The Voice of Firestone” was heard on the NBC Blue Radio Network, Monday night at 8:30. “The Voice of Firestone”became a hallmark in radio broadcasting, keeping its same night and sponsor for its entire 27 year run. Beginning September 5, 1949, the program of classical and semi-classical music was simulcast on television.

Lionel Barrymore

➦In 1939...The radio version of the classic “A Christmas Carol” with Lionel Barrymore as Scrooge aired live for the first time on Orson Welles’ Campbell Playhouse on CBS.  On prior Christmasses Barrymore had just read the story beginning in 1934.

➦In 1944...The Andrews Sisters starred in the debut of “The Andrews Sisters’ Eight-to-the-Bar Ranch” on ABC radio. Patty, Maxene and LaVerne ran a fictional dude ranch. George “Gabby” Hayes was a regular guest along with Vic Schoen’s orchestra. The ranch stayed in operation until 1946.

➦In 1948...Perry Como made his television debut when NBC televised the Chesterfield Supper Club 15-minute radio program.

➦In 2006…Frank Nicholas Stanton died at age 98 (Born - March 20, 1908).  He served as the president of CBS between 1946 and 1971 and then as vice chairman until 1973. He also served as the chairman of the Rand Corporation from 1961 until 1967.

Frank Stanton 1939
Along with William S. Paley, Stanton is credited with the significant growth of CBS into a communications powerhouse.

Stanton was revered both as a spokesman for the broadcast industry before Congress, and for his passionate support of broadcast journalism and journalists. Former CBS News President Richard S. Salant – a widely respected news chief and an appointee of Stanton's – praised Stanton as a corporate mentor and statesman.

During the period of McCarthyism, Stanton created an office at CBS to review the political leanings of employees.  Although right-wing journalists considered CBS left-leaning, branding it "the Red Network", CBS maintained a questionnaire inquiring about journalists' political affiliations. At Stanton's direction, employees were required to take an oath of loyalty to the US government.

Stanton and Paley "found it expedient to hire only those who were politically neutral", not wishing to take a position against the FCC and Congress, nor to jeopardize profit by "taking a stand against the vigilantes".

According to radio historian Jim Cox, "CBS and the blacklisting became synonymous".   CBS, in response to the culture of blacklisting, instituted a "purge of its own", as had Hollywood and president Truman; Paley was more responsible for policy setting, and Stanton its main executor.

Radio producer William N. Robson was one victim of the CBS purge; initially reassured by Stanton that his listing in the anti-Communist Red Channels pamphlet would not mean the end of his career with CBS, Robson eventually found the executive office of CBS non-responsive to his inquiries, and his earnings collapsed.   Good Night, and Good Luck, a 2005 movie portraying this era, left Stanton out of the film as a character, partly because Stanton was still living and might have objected to his portrayal.

Stanton played a role in the infamous controversy involving Arthur Godfrey, CBS's top money-earner in the early 1950s. Godfrey insisted that the cast members of two of his three CBS shows, a group of singers known as the "Little Godfreys," refrain from hiring managers.

When one singer, Julius LaRosa, hired a manager following a minor dispute with Godfrey, the star consulted with Stanton, who suggested that he fire the popular LaRosa, then a rising star, on the air – just as he'd hired him on the air in 1951. Godfrey did so on October 19, 1953, without informing LaRosa before the airing. The move caused an enormous backlash against Godfrey. Stanton later told Godfrey biographer Arthur Singer that "Maybe (the recommendation) was a mistake."

➦In 2009...Former radio personality and pioneering TV sports highlights host George Michael lost his long battle with leukemia at age 70.  With ‘George Michael’s Sports Machine’ in the 1980’s he is credited with inventing the hyper-clip-style format of shows like ESPN & TSN’s SportsCenter.

Michael was born George Michael Gimpel in St. Louis, Missouri on March 24, 1939. He grew up near Tower Grove Park in the city's south side, and graduated from St. Louis University High School. While attending Saint Louis University, he worked as a Midwest promoter for several record labels such as Scepter and Motown. It was also during this time when he made his radio broadcasting debut on a one-hour Sunday night show at midnight on WIL, which invited individual SLU students to be the hosts every week. He earned a full-time job as a disc jockey at the station after he was judged to be the best of the group.

His first radio job outside of his hometown was in 1962 at WRIT in Milwaukee, where he worked the 6-to-10 pm shift until he was reassigned to 5-to-9 am morning drive time in early 1964.  His next stop was at KBTR in Denver later in 1964, working under the name "King" George Michael for the first time. He earned the nickname due to his success in "ruling" evening radio.

He became one of the original Boss Jocks at WFIL in Philadelphia when its new Top 40 rock and roll format debuted on September 18, 1966.  He served as music director and evening deejay for the next eight years. WFIL, which was popularly known as "Famous 56" after the transition, ended WIBG's listener ratings dominance and became the city's most popular station by the summer of 1967.

Michael was the first Philadelphia rock and roll radio personality to read the scores of local high school football and basketball games on the air. He also helped to start the career of Howard Eskin by hiring him to be his engineer.  Decades later, Eskin would be a contributor to The George Michael Sports Machine.

On George's last WFIL show (on September 6, 1974) he played "When Will I See You Again" by the Three Degrees for the first time ever on any radio station. The playing of this on his show broke the song into the mainstream, and within two months was a huge international hit, reaching number one in the U.K., and number two in the United States. George was personal friends with the owners of Philadelphia International Records and the song's writers Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff. The aircheck of this can be heard on WFIL's tribute site, where he says,"I don't know if this song will be a hit".

Michael, noted for his energetic style, was hired by 77 WABC in New York City; his first on-air stint there was on the evening of September 9, 1974.  Michael now not only was entering the nation's largest media market; he also succeeded radio legend "Cousin Brucie" Morrow, who had jumped to competitor WNBC.

Several incidents from Michael's radio stint there have been chronicled in Morrow's autobiography.  Even though he was reunited with Dan Ingram and Ron Lundy (colleagues from his WIL days in St. Louis), Michael's time at WABC, which ended on November 17, 1979, was mostly frustrating because he was no longer a music director who had any influence on a playlist which was much shorter than the ones with which he was more familiar.  One of the highlights during his time at the station occurred when he anchored its coverage of the New York City blackout of 1977 after the music format was temporarily suspended for the night.

His first experience in sports broadcasting also came in 1974 when he was a TV announcer for the Baltimore Orioles on WJZ-TV.  He declined an offer to work for the ballclub full-time in order to accept the WABC position.  As part of the deal to bring him to New York, Michael also worked for WABC-TV as the weekend sports anchor and a color commentator on New York Islanders telecasts for several seasons, paired mainly with Tim Ryan.   He served as an occasional substitute on ABC American Contemporary Network's Speaking of Sports show whenever Howard Cosell, the primary commentator, was on vacation or assignment.

➦In 2011...NYC Talk personality Lynn Samuels died from a heart attack at age 69.

Lynn Samuels
She began her radio career at WBAI in 1979, where in addition to her on-air work she was music director and an engineer and producer. Walter Sabo, in a tribute on the Alex Bennett program (hosted by Richard Bey) on December 27, 2011, stated that Lynn first worked for WOR on Saturdays from 4–6 p.m. "for quite some time".

Samuels was heard on Talkradio WABC from 1987 until 1992, 1993 until 1997, and 1997 until 2002, including two breaks in which she was fired and then rehired. Her third and final dismissal in 2002 was allegedly due to budget cuts.

Samuels was also a call-screener for Matt Drudge. In 2002, she joined WLIE for a brief time before being hired by Sirius Satellite Radio in 2003.

➦In 2017...Radio and advertising creator Dick Orkin died at age 84 of a hemorrhagic stroke. Orkin was an award-winning radio advertising creator for close to a half-century, was perhaps best known for his syndicated “Chickenman” spoof, which aired initially on Chicago’s WCFL-AM and later on WLUP-FM.

The serial of 2½-minute-long episodes chronicled the adventures of “the most fantastic crime fighter the world has ever known,” an intrepid if incompetent crime fighter out to save the denizens of the fictitious Midland City (pop. 7,043).

First aired in 1966, “Chickenman” was created in the wake of the success of the 1960s live-action “Batman” TV series, and “Chickenman’s” more than 250 episodes remain popular to this day, continuing to air and be available for downloads.

“There was no one else like Dick,” said Ken Draper, who hired Orkin at two different radio stations and gave the green light to “Chickenman.” “He had his own sense of humor and his own perspective on humor, and it was wonderful and he was a wonderful success, as everybody knows, as a result of that.”

Orkin voiced all of the male characters in the serial, and his voice was well-known in radio ads.

Chickenman’s 250-plus episodes have been syndicated around the world and can still be heard on Internet radio, making it the longest-running radio serial of all time.  Orkin also produced more than 300 episodes of another popular serial, The Secret Adventures of the Tooth Fairy.

Born in Williamsport, Pa., Orkin started his radio career as a fill-in on-air personality at WKOK 1070 AM in Sunbury, Pa.  He also worked for a time as a news director at WLAN radio in Lancaster, where he also worked as a farm reporter. Draper, who previously had tried to hire Orkin to work for him at a station in Portland, Ore., later joined KYW-AM — now WTAM-AM — in Cleveland as its program director, and Draper again reached out to Orkin to try to hire him. This time, he was successful, and Orkin joined KYW, working in its public affairs department.

In 1965, Draper moved to Chicago to take the helm at WCFL-AM. He hired Orkin as the station’s production director.   Orkin left WCFL in 1968 and started Dick Orkin Creative Services.

Orkin was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame, the NAB Broadcasting Hall of Fame, the Illinois Broadcasters Hall of Fame, the Pennsylvania Broadcasters Hall of Fame and the Radio Advertising Bureau Hall of Fame.

On January 21, 2010, Orkin wrote to the National Association of Broadcasters, requesting them to remove his name from the Hall of Fame, because he did not wish to share the honor with radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh. 

Ryan Seacrest is 49

  • Actor Grand L. Bush (TV’s “The Visitor,” film’s “Demolition Man”) is 68. 
  • Actor Stephanie Hodge (“Unhappily Ever After”) is 67. 
  • Bassist-synthesizer player Ian Burden of Human League is 66. 
  • Actor Anil Kapoor (“Slumdog Millionaire”) is 64. 
  • Actor Wade Williams (“Prison Break,” “The Bernie Mac Show”) is 62. 
  • Singer Mary Ramsey of 10,000 Maniacs is 60. 
  • Actor Mark Valley (“Boston Legal”) is 59. 
  • Actor Diedrich Bader (“The Drew Carey Show”) is 57. 
  • Actor Amaury Nolasco (TV’s “Deception,” “Prison Break”) is 53. 
  • Singer Ricky Martin is 52. 
  • “Twilight” series author Stephenie Meyer is 50. 
  • TV host Ryan Seacrest (“American Idol”) is 49. 
  • Actor Michael Raymond-James (“Once Upon a Time,” “True Blood”) is 46. 
  • Actor Austin Stowell (“12 Strong”) is 39. 
  • Actor Sofia Black-D’Elia (“Your Honor,” “The Mick”) is 32. 
  • Singer Louis Tomlinson of One Direction is 32
  • In 1984..Peter Lawford, British actor, producer and socialite (Mrs Miniver, Thin Man), dies of cardiac arrest at 61
  • In 1993..Norman Vincent Peale, American clergyman, broadcaster (The Art Of Living), and author (The Power of Positive Thinking), dies at 95
  • In 2006..Frank Stanton, American television executive (CBS), dies at 98
  • In 2009..George Michael, American sportscaster (The George Michael Sports Machine) (b. 1939)
  • In 2012..Charles Durning, American actor (Fury, Sting, Tootsie), dies from natural causes at 89

Radio History: December 23

➦In 1900...Canadian wireless expert Reginald Fessenden, working for the US Weather Service at Brant Rock, Mass. near Boston, broadcast the world’s first voice communications by AM (amplitude modulation) radio wave for a distance of 1.6 km between two 13 metre towers. He asked his assistant, ‘Is it snowing where you are, Mr. Thiessen?’

➦In 1907...the longtime host of ABC radio’s Breakfast Club, Don McNeill was born at Galena Illinois.

In Chicago during the early 1930s, McNeill was assigned to take over an unsponsored early morning variety show, The Pepper Pot, with an 8 a.m. timeslot on the NBC Blue Network. McNeill re-organized the hour as The Breakfast Club, dividing it into four segments which McNeill labeled "the Four Calls to Breakfast."

McNeill's revamped show premiered in 1933, combining music with informal talk and jokes often based on topical events, initially scripted by McNeill but later ad-libbed. In addition to recurring comedy performers, various vocal groups and soloists, listeners heard sentimental verse, conversations with members of the studio audience and a silent moment of prayer. The series eventually gained a sponsor in the Chicago-based meat packer Swift and Company, beginning February 8, 1941. McNeill is credited as the first performer to make morning talk and variety a viable radio format.

He died May 7, 1996 at age 88.

➦In 1922...the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)  began daily newscasts on its radio service in the UK.

➦In station KEX in Portland Oregon began broadcasting. It has been a clear channel 50,000-watt powerhouse at 1190 KHz since 1941.

Some sources show that the station may have originally started broadcasting on 670 kHz. On November 11, 1928, KEX started broadcasting on 1180 kHz under the terms of FCC General Order 40. On March 29, 1941, the station moved to 1190 kHz under the terms of the North American Regional Broadcasting Agreement (NARBA).

KEX was an NBC Blue Network affiliate, carrying its schedule of dramas, comedies, news, sports, game shows, soap operas and big band broadcasts during the Golden Age of Radio. In 1945, as the Blue Network became ABC, KEX's affiliation continued. KEX was the first station to give the voice of Bugs Bunny, Mel Blanc, his own show. Blanc's Cobwebs & Nuts program debuted June 15, 1933, and ran Monday through Saturday from 11 p.m. to midnight.

The Oregonian Publishing Company, which owned The Morning Oregonian newspaper, acquired KEX in 1933. From 1934 to 1943, the station's studios were located in The Oregonian Building, in space shared with co-owned KGW, now KPOJ, which was the NBC Red Network affiliate in Portland. Westinghouse Broadcasting expanded to the West Coast in 1944 with its purchase of KEX, then running 5,000 watts, and sharing its frequency with another Westinghouse station, WOWO in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

In 1948, Westinghouse got the FCC to increase KEX's power to 50,000 watts, day and night. Also in 1948, Westinghouse put KEX-FM on the air at 92.3 MHz (the frequency is now utilized by KGON). KEX-FM mostly simulcasted KEX. But few people had FM radios in those days and KEX-FM was taken off the air in the early 1960s.

Also in the early 1960s, as network programming shifted from radio to television, KEX began airing a mix of middle of the road music, talk, news and sports.

Having reached the FCC's then-limit of seven AM stations, Westinghouse sold KEX to actor and singer Gene Autry's media company, Golden West Broadcasters, in 1967. In 1984, KEX was acquired by Taft Broadcasting. Taft became Citicasters in 1993, which was merged into Clear Channel Communications in 1999. Clear Channel was the forerunner to current owner iHeartMedia, Inc. 

As music listening switched to FM radio stations, KEX cut back on the songs it played till it became a true talk station by the late 1990s.

➦In 1928...a permanent coast-to-coast NBC Radio network was formed. NBC had been formed two years earlier by General Electric, Westinghouse and RCA, with David Sarnoff as its chief organizer.

NBC's network operations were officially launched with a gala broadcast beginning at 8 p.m. Eastern on November 15, 1926. Carl Schlegel of the Metropolitan Opera opened the inaugural broadcast, which also featured Will Rogers and Mary Garden. This broadcast, which included a remote link from KYW in Chicago, was coordinated through WEAF, and carried by twenty-two eastern and Midwestern stations, located as far west as WDAF in Kansas City, Missouri.

On January 1, 1927, NBC formally divided its programming into two networks, called the Red and the Blue. Legend has it that the color designations originated from the push-pins early engineers used to mark affiliates of WEAF (red pins) and WJZ (blue pins), or from the use of double-ended red and blue colored pencils.

The two NBC networks did not have distinct identities or "formats", and, beginning in 1929, they shared use of the distinctive three-note "NBC chimes". The NBC Red Network, with WEAF as its flagship station and a stronger line-up of affiliated stations, often carried the more popular, "big budget" sponsored programs. The Blue Network and WJZ carried a somewhat smaller line-up of often lower-powered stations and sold air time to advertisers at a lower cost. NBC Blue often carried newer, untried programs (which, if successful, often moved "up" to the Red Network), lower cost programs and unsponsored or "sustaining" programs (which were often news, cultural and educational programs). In many cities in addition to New York, the two NBC affiliated stations (Red and Blue) were operated as duopolies, having the same owners and sharing the same staff and facilities.

At this time, most network programs were owned by their sponsors and produced by advertising agencies. The networks had limited control over their schedules, as advertisers bought available time periods and chose which stations would carry a program regardless of what other sponsors might broadcast in other time periods. Networks rented out studio facilities used to produce shows and sold air-time to sponsors. The only network-produced programs were unsponsored programs used to fill unsold time periods (affiliated stations had the option to "break away" from the network to air a local program during these periods) but the network had the "option" to take back the time period if a network sponsor wanted the time period.

On April 5, 1927 NBC reached the West Coast with the launching of the NBC Orange Network, which rebroadcast Red Network programming to the Pacific states and had as its flagship station KGO in San Francisco. NBC Red then extended its reach into the Midwest by acquiring two 50,000–watt clear-channel signals, Cleveland station WTAM on October 16, 1930 and Chicago station WMAQ by 1931. On October 18, 1931, Blue Network programming was introduced along the NBC Gold Network, which broadcast from San Francisco's KPO. In 1936 the Orange Network name was dropped and affiliate stations became part of the Red Network. The Gold Network adopted the Blue Network name.

In a major move in 1931, RCA signed crucial leases with the new Rockefeller Center management that resulted in it becoming the lead tenant of what was to become in 1933 its corporate headquarters, the RCA Building, at 30 Rockefeller Plaza.

➦In 1947... Today is the official birth date for the invention of the transistor by scientists John Bardeen, Walter H. Brattain and William Shockley in a lab in New Jersey. The trio were honored for this milestone with the 1956 Nobel Prize in Physics.

➦In Jack Webb, creator & star of Dragnet, died as a result of a heart attack at age 62.

He started in radio as a deejay & failed comic, then found success as the lead in “Pat Novack For Hire.”  In 1949 he started playing Sgt. Joe Friday on NBC radio, taking “Dragnet” to TV in 1951, where it continued until 1959. 

A second run of the show began in 1967, during which Webb developed the spin-off “Adam 12.”

➦In 1987..."Good Morning, Vietnam" opened in movie theaters.

Set in Saigon in 1965, during the Vietnam War, the film stars Robin Williams as a radio DJ on Armed Forces Radio Service, who proves hugely popular with the troops, but infuriates his superiors with what they call his "irreverent tendency". The story is loosely based on the experiences of AFRS radio DJ Adrian Cronauer.

Most of Williams' performances that portrayed Cronauer's radio broadcasts were improvisations. The film was a critical and commercial success; for his work in the film, Williams won a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor, a BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role.

The film also featured Forest Whitaker, Bruno Kirby, and J.T. Walsh.

Stan Brooks
➦In 2013...Stan Brooks, longtime newsman at 1010 WINS NYC died.

He was 86, and had worked until a month before his death, delivering his last report from City Hall on Nov. 20.

Brooks joined WINS as news director in 1962, when it was still one of the dominant Top40 music stations in the country, with a lineup of popular disc jockeys including Murray Kaufman, known as Murray the K.

When Westinghouse Electric Corporation, the station’s owners, decided to make WINS an all-news operation soon after Brooks’s arrival, he helped assemble the staff and lay the groundwork for one of the first all-news radio stations in the country — and the first in the city.

The switch took place on April 19, 1965. The blackout on Nov. 9 that year, which plunged most of the Northeast into darkness, put Brooks’s news team on the aural map.

WINS was one of the few radio outlets that managed to stay on the air. From a 19th-floor studio in Midtown Manhattan, Brooks and his reporters broadcast news and information throughout the night.

After several years as an executive and then a national correspondent for the Westinghouse Broadcasting radio station system, Brooks became a local reporter at WINS in 1970.

In understated dispatches between 30 seconds and one minute long, he reported on plane crashes, race riots, municipal near-bankruptcies, the tall ships, the Son of Sam, the Attica prison uprising and every mayoral administration from John V. Lindsay to Michael R. Bloomberg.

He liked the precision of short-form journalism. “When you’ve got 35 seconds, you’ve got to tell people what they need right away,” he said in an interview last year. “You want to get to the spine of the story.”

Gordon Hinckley

➦In 2013...Gordon Hinkley, whose Milwaukee radio career spanned more than a half voice was as familiar as an old friend to thousands of listeners, died at age 88.  Known as the “Granddaddy of Milwaukee radio,” his “Ask Your Neighbor” show ran on WTMJ 620 AM for more than 30 years.

Susan Lucci is 77
  • Actor Ronnie Schell (“Gomer Pyle, USMC”) is 92. 
  • Guitarist Jorma Kaukonen (Jefferson Airplane, Hot Tuna) is 83. 
  • Actor-comedian Harry Shearer (“The Simpsons”) is 80. 
  • Actor Susan Lucci (“All My Children”) is 77. 
  • Musician Adrian Belew (King Crimson) is 74. 
  • Guitarist Dave Murray of Iron Maiden is 67. 
  • Actor Joan Severance (TV’s “Wiseguy”) is 65. 
  • Singer Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam is 59. 
  • Jazz trumpeter Irvin Mayfield is 46. 
  • Actor Anna Maria Perez de Tagle (“Hannah Montana,” ″Camp Rock”) is 33. 
  • Actor Spencer Daniels (“Mom”) is 31. 
  • Actor Caleb Foote (TV’s “The Kids Are Alright”) is 30.
  • In 1982..Jack Webb, American screenwriter, director and actor (Dragnet, Sunset Boulevard), dies of a heart attack at 62
  • In 2000..Victor Borge, Danish-American comedian and pianist, dies at 91
  • In 2020..Leslie West [Weinstein], American rock guitarist (Mountain - "Mississippi Queen"; "Theme for an Imaginary Western"), dies of cardiac arrest at 75

Friday, December 22, 2023

Happy Holidays!

Media Confidential is taking a few days off.  

We're Celebrating the Holiday just like you.  We expect to return with stories on Tuesday, December 26.    

Merry Christmas to all.

Radio History: December 22

➦In 1899...Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company of America registered.  It was established as a subsidiary of the British Marconi Company and held the U.S. and Cuban rights to Guglielmo Marconi's radio (then called "wireless telegraphy") patents.

American Marconi initially primarily operated high-powered land and transatlantic shipboard stations. In 1912, it acquired the extensive assets of the bankrupt United Wireless Telegraph Company, becoming the dominant radio communications provider in the United States.

During World War One the United States government assumed control of the radio industry. After the war government officials balked at returning the American Marconi stations to the original owners, distrusting British control of radio communication due to national security concerns.

Led by the U.S. Navy, the government pressured the Marconi companies to transfer American Marconi to a U.S. owner. The American Marconi assets were purchased by General Electric in 1919, which provided the foundation for creating its new subsidiary, the Radio Corporation of America.

➦In 1901...Andre Kostelanetz born (Died – January 13, 1980).  He was a Russian-born orchestral music conductor and arranger who was one of the major exponents of popular orchestra music.

He arrived in the United States that year, and in the 1920s, conducted concerts for radio. In the 1930s, he began his own weekly show on CBS, Andre Kostelanetz Presents. Kostelanetz was known for arranging and recording light classical music pieces for mass audiences, as well as orchestral versions of songs and Broadway show tunes. He made numerous recordings over the course of his career, which had sales of over 50 million.

For many years, he conducted the New York Philharmonic in pops concerts and recordings, in which they were billed as Andre Kostelanetz and His Orchestra.

Kostelanetz may be best known to modern audiences for a series of easy listening instrumental albums on Columbia Records from the 1940s until 1980. Kostelanetz actually started making this music before there was a genre called "easy listening". He continued until after some of his contemporaries, including Mantovani, had stopped recording.

He succumbed to pneumonia Jan. 13, 1980 at age 78.

Rayburn & Finch
➦In 1917...Gene Rayburn born in Christopher, IL (Died at age 81 – November 29, 1999).  He is best known as the host of various editions of the American television game show Match Game for over two decades.

Before appearing in television, Rayburn was an actor and radio performer.

He had a morning drive time radio show in New York City, first with Jack Lescoulie (Anything Goes) and later with Dee Finch (Rayburn & Finch) on WNEW 1130 AM (now WBBR). Rayburn's pairings with Lescoulie and Finch helped to popularize the now-familiar morning drive radio format.  When Rayburn left WNEW, Dee Finch continued the format with Gene Klavan. Rayburn later took the lead role in the Broadway musical Bye Bye Birdie when Dick Van Dyke left the production to star in The Dick Van Dyke Show.

He was broke into TV as announcer for Steve Allen on NBC's original Tonight Show.

Besides Match Game, for which he is best remembered, he also hosted the TV games Make the Connection, Choose Up Sides, Dough Re Mi, and Tic Tac Dough.

➦In 1922...New York radio station WEAF aired radio’s first double wedding ceremony. 4,000 spectators watched as the two couples exchanged vows at Grand Central Palace. The broadcast was made in conjunction with the American Radio Exposition. The couples each got $100; a hefty sum in 1922.

➦In 1962...A surf-rock band The Tornados, formed in England, became the first British group to have a #1 record in the U-S.  Their one-hit wonder was an instrumental 'Telstar', named for the first communications satellite launched earlier in the year, went to the top of the Billboard single chart.  The song charted for a total of 16-weeks.

Thursday, December 21, 2023

Radio Streaming TSL Has Doubled Since 2015

The slow but steady transfer of radio listening from traditional radio sets to streaming continues. Since 2015, the total portion of radio listening time that comes from streams has more than doubled, from 6% to 13% among those age 13+ in the U.S., according to the latest Share of Ear® data.

There is a demographic story as well. As the graph below shows, the portion of listening to AM/FM radio via streams is increasing at about the same pace among all age groups. Naturally the younger group streams the most, but even radio listeners age 55 and older are now getting 9% of their radio-listening time from streams.

According to the tem at Edison, it is worth noting that a large factor in the pace of change is how much radio listening happens in the car. While anyone with a smartphone can listen to radio streams in a vehicle, our estimate is that only about 1% of in-car radio time is via streams.

In 2022 we reported that time spent with all audio on the phone surpassed time spent on a radio set for the first time. No matter who is providing the content, winning on the phone is essential for winning overall.

SiriusXM Static: NY Sues Over Cancellation Policies

The office of New York AG Letitia James on Wednesday filed a lawsuit asking the entertainment company to be forced to pay several thousand dollars in fines for each violation of the state’s law against deceptive business practices, change its subscription cancellation policies and repay any customers who've tried and failed to cancel their subscriptions since Jan. 1, 2019.

James said the company, which offers access to subscriber-only satellite and streaming radio channels for between $13.99 and $23.99 per month, maintains a "deliberately long and burdensome cancellation processes" designed to frustrate customers.

Customers can't cancel their subscriptions without calling or chatting online with an agent, the lawsuit says, and SiriusXM has allegedly trained their customer service agents to "not to take ‘no’ for an answer and to keep bombarding customers with questions or offers until they either relent or become frustrated,” James’ office said in a statement.

James alleges the business practices violated multiple New York state laws that require companies to provide subscribers with "with a cancellation mechanism that is simple, timely, and easy to use."

SiriusXM told Forbes the company offers a “variety of options for customers to sign up for or cancel their SiriusXM subscription” and said it intends to “vigorously defend against these baseless allegations that grossly mischaracterize SiriusXM’s practices.”

By signing up, you accept and agree to our Terms of Service (including the class action waiver and arbitration provisions), and Privacy Statement. 30 minutes. That's how long it takes, on average, for a customer to successfully cancel their SiriusXM subscription online, according to James's office. It takes an average of 11 ½ minutes to do it by phone.

As subscription services for entertainment, home goods, books, pet products, workout wear and more ahave become more common, so have laws surrounding how companies can operate their subscriptions, change fees, recruit subscribers and allow customers to cancel.

Paramount in Talks to Sell BET Network

Paramount Global is in talks to sell its Black Entertainment Television network to a management-led investor group, according Bloomberg citing people with knowledge of the discussions.

The potential buyers include BET Chief Executive Officer Scott Mills and Chinh Chu, a former Blackstone Inc. executive who runs New York-based CC Capital Partners, said the people who asked not to be identified because the negotiations are private. A price of a little under $2 billion has been discussed, the people said.

Chu has created a number of special purpose acquisition companies to acquire businesses. Last year, he merged one with the photo archive Getty Images Holdings Inc. A spokesperson for CC Capital declined to comment.

Paramount, the parent of CBS, MTV and other channels, shopped the network earlier this year, along with the related channel VH1. The company dropped the sale process after failing to get bids it was satisfied with.

Byron Allen
BET, founded in 1980, has close ties with some of the most successful African Americans in entertainment. Kenya Barris and Rashida Jones are investors in BET Studios, while Tyler Perry holds a stake in the BET+ streaming service.

Media mogul Byron Allen, who has also been pursuing the network, has said it should be Black-owned.

Allen sent an email on Tuesday to Paramount’s management and board, reiterating an offer of $3.5 billion for both BET and VH1, another Paramount channel, according to a copy of the message reviewed by Bloomberg.

“You are pursuing an inside sale at a below-market price with management that will not yield the highest price for the stockholders,” Allen wrote. “We believe it would be an egregious breach of fiduciary duty by the Paramount Global management team and board of directors if BET is sold for anything less than the highest price, particularly, in order to provide a sweetheart deal to an insider at the expense of public shareholders.”

R.I.P.: Ken Calvert, Longtime Detroit Personality, Pistons' Voice

Detroit radio legend Ken Calvert has died, his wife confirmed to 7 Action News on Wednesday night. He was 72.

Calvert worked for several radio stations in Detroit for 45 years and was the public address announcer during the Bad Boys era for the Pistons for 16 years.

His cause of death is unclear at this time.

Calvert was born and raised in Detroit and graduated from Brother Rice High School. He went on to attend Oakland Community College and Aquinas College in Grand Rapids.

Calvert, often referred to as “K.C. the “Casual One,” joined the station back in 2000. He most recently has been serving as the official co-host of the WCSX Morning Show with K.C. & Trudi with co-host Trudi Daniels.

Calvert retired from WCSX on Dec. 20, 2013, exactly 10 years before his death. He also hosted "The Ken Calvert Show" podcast.

His wife told us she's feeling the love from so many people telling her how much they loved listening to him. She also said he loved the city of Detroit and working with the Pistons.

NBA Hall of Famer Isiah Thomas posted his condolences on X, formerly Twitter, with a 1989 video of Calvert announcing the Detroit Pistons championship rally introductions.

12/21 WAKE-UP CALL: Supreme Court Likely To Rule on Trump

The Supreme Court will likely have to rule on whether the 14th Amendment’s banning insurrectionists from office applies to Donald Trump The former president’s campaign pledged a swift appeal after Colorado’s highest court ruled 4-3 that Trump was disqualified from the ballot because he had encouraged his supporters to storm the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, in a bid to stop the certification of President Biden’s electoral victory. Trump won a series of early decisions rejecting such challenges, and before yesterday’s court decision, the issue appeared to be fading in importance.

The last time the Supreme Court was forced to intervene so directly in a presidential election was Bush v. Gore in 2000.

➤HAMAS REJECTS ISRAEL OFFER: Hamas rejected Israel’s offer to stop fighting for one week and allow further humanitarian aid into Gaza in exchange for dozens of hostages. The militant group said it wouldn’t discuss releasing its Israeli captives until a cease-fire went into effect, according to Egyptian officials. For the first time, negotiations were to include Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the second-most powerful Palestinian militant group in Gaza. It wanted a pre-negotiations cease-fire, too, and said Israel must free all its thousands of Palestinian prisoners in return for the 100-plus hostages still in Gaza. Islamic Jihad—which, like Hamas, is a U.S.-designated terrorist organization—also participated in the deadly Oct. 7 attacks and took hostages. The 40 captives Israel wanted freed included all remaining women and children as well as elderly men who need urgent medical treatment. Hamas’s military wing didn’t respond to a request for comment.

➤20,000 DEAD IN GAZA:  The leader of the Hamas political wing was in Cairo on Wednesday for talks toward a truce that could allow more prisoner-hostage exchanges and increased humanitarian aid for the devastated Gaza Strip. Ismail Haniyeh was holding "critical discussions" with Egyptian officials, Egypt Today reported, as the Palestinian death toll surpassed a staggering 20,000. 

Could a truce be near? The Wall Street Journal reported that Israel was offering a one-week pause in the fighting in return for the release of 40 hostages.

➤MANY HOSTAGES SEXUALLY ABUSED: Israeli doctors who have been treating hostages released by Hamas say that some freed hostages revealed they suffered violent sexual assaults in captivity. One of the doctors assessed that "many" of the released Israeli female hostages aged 12 to 48 − there are about 30 of them − were sexually assaulted while held by Hamas in Gaza. The second doctor said many of the freed hostages – both male and female – exhibited signs of PTSD and "came to us as patients with the trauma of those who witnessed very severe sexual assaults." And as evidence of rape, sexual violence and mutilation of women and men during the Hamas attacks in southern Israel on Oct. 7 mounts, the families of hostages fear the worst.

➤XI WARNED BIDEN ABOUT TAIWAN: Chinese President Xi Jinping warned President Biden last month that he intends to end Taiwan’s decades-long de facto independence — peacefully, if possible. Xi told the 81-year-old commander-in-chief that “Beijing will reunify Taiwan with mainland China but that the timing has not yet been decided,” NBC News reported Wednesday, citing three current and former US officials briefed on the meeting. The White House didn’t deny the exchange, which occurred during a Nov. 15 summit outside San Francisco that was attended by a dozen US and Chinese officials. “I’m not gonna get into the specifics of the discussion between the two leaders,” National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters on Air Force One en route to Milwaukee. “I think you can understand I’m not gonna read out that private conversation.”

Warner and Paramount CEOs Discussed Possible Merger

Warner Bros. Discovery Chief Executive David Zaslav met Paramount CEO Bob Bakish this week and discussed a possible merger between the media giants, people familiar with the matter said, a deal that would unite some of Hollywood and cable’s biggest brands.

The executives broached the idea of a deal, but no formal talks between the companies are under way, The Wall Street Journal is reporting.

Warner owns its namesake studio, cable networks like CNN, TNT, HBO and HGTV, and a streaming service, Max, that features much of that content. Paramount has its own major studio and bouquet of cable channels like MTV, Nickelodeon and Comedy Central, as well as the CBS broadcast network and the Paramount+ streaming service.

Inside Warner, Zaslav has made no secret of his interest in exploring a deal with Paramount, which could add more programming to the Max service and bring in major NFL sports rights. A deal between Paramount and Warner could face significant regulatory challenges.

Warner’s interest comes as Paramount Global parent National Amusements has been exploring a sale and has had discussions with Skydance Media and investor RedBird Capital.

The media and entertainment industry has been through several waves of consolidation in the past decade, with Warner and Paramount each participating in some of the biggest mergers. For years, CEOs in the industry have talked about the need for scale. They wanted to be big enough to demand high fees for carriage of their channels on cable systems and, more recently, big enough to create streaming services that could compete with Netflix.

But some executives say even more consolidation is necessary to simplify a streaming ecosystem where consumers have too many options—making it hard for streaming companies to find and hold on to customers. To turn profits, streaming companies have been raising prices. Paramount+ would likely be shut down as a stand-alone service and merged into Max if a deal were reached between the companies. 

An acquisition of some or all of Paramount could be a challenge for Zaslav. Warner Bros. Discovery still has a significant debt load, stemming largely from the massive 2021 merger between Discovery and WarnerMedia. 

Warner’s stock has since floundered, and the company has laid off thousands over the past 18 months and killed several high-profile TV and movie projects to save money. The Max service is still trying to establish itself, and Warner’s core cable networks, including TNT and CNN, are dealing with rating declines and a soft advertising market.