Tuesday, July 9, 2024

Radio History July 9

➦In 1879…Bell Telephone Company founded.

➦In 1933
...Radio producer/voice actor  Dick Orkin was born in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.

Orkin was 16 when he began his radio career as a fill-in announcer at WKOK 1070 AM Sunbury PA . After earning his BA in speech and theater from Franklin & Marshall College he attended the Yale School of Drama, then returned to Pennsylvania to become the news director at WLAN 1390 AM Lancaster in 1959. Later he joined the staff of KYW Cleveland. In 1967 Orkin moved to WCFL Chicago and created 'Chickenman', a Batman parody which chronicled the exploits of a crime-fighting “white-winged warrior” and his secret identity as mild-mannered shoe salesman Benton Harbor.

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

Inspired by the commercial parodies on Stan Freberg and Bob & Ray’s radio shows, Orkin created the Famous Radio Ranch in 1973 to produce his own comedic radio spots. Stationed in California since ’78, the Radio Ranch, currently headed by his daughter Lisa, has produced hundreds of memorable ads for a variety of clients, ranging from Time magazine to First American Bank to the Gap, and garnered more than 200 awards in the process.

Dick Orkin was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame in 2014.  He died December 26, 2017.

➦In 1955..."(We're Gonna) Rock Around The Clock" by Bill Haley & The Comets peaked at Number One, where it remained for eight weeks. It was the first rock 'n roll record to hit Number One on the Billboard charts.

Dick Clark

➦In 1956…In Philadelphia, 26-year-old Dick Clark made his debut as host of "Bandstand" on WFIL-TV following the DUI arrest of the show's former host, Bob Horn. The program's name changed to "American Bandstand" when it became a network show on ABC in 1957. Clark relinquished his hosting duties in 1989 to David Hirsch, but the program was cancelled within a matter of months.

➦In 1960…77WABC-AM, New York introduced the WABC MusicChart

➦In 1972....Johnny Donovan started at Musicradio 77 WABC.  

He grew up in Poughkeepsie, New York, nicknamed "Sarge," after his father's rank in the United States Army during World War II.

A radio enthusiast from an early age (with an amateur radio station K2KOQ in a corner of the basement), he became a DJ ("Large Sarge") on WHVW in nearby Hyde Park, after helping build the station.

He went on to stations in Kingston (WBAZ) and Binghamton (WENE), New York and Atlantic City, New Jersey (WMID) before landing in New York City, first at WOR-FM, and finally at WABC.

Donovan stayed on at WABC as Production Director and staff announcer when WABC went to a talk format in 1982.

After 44 years of service at both MusicRadio and TalkRadio 77 WABC production guru Johnny Donovan retired in May 2015.

Eric Sevareid
➦In 1992…News correspondent and commentator Eric Sevareid died of stomach cancer at age 79 in Washington, D.C.   He was one of a group of war correspondents who were hired by CBS newsman Edward R. Murrow and nicknamed "Murrow's Boys." Sevareid was the first to report the Fall of Paris in 1940, when the city was captured by German forces during World War II.

Traveling into Burma in the Pacific theater in 1943, his transport aircraft was shot down, and he was rescued from behind enemy lines by a U.S. Army Air Forces search and rescue team.

Sevareid followed in Murrow's footsteps as a commentator on the CBS Evening News for thirteen years, for which he was recognized with Emmy and Peabody Awards.

➦In 2004...longtime Cleveland deejay Bill Randle succumbed to cancer at age 81.  He had been instrumental in introducing Elvis Presley, along with the likes of Tony Bennett, Bobby Darin, Rosemary Clooney, Johnnie Ray, Sarah Vaughan and Fats Domino to the national music scene.

Bill Randle
He was born William McKinley Randle Jr. on March 14, 1923, in Detroit, Michigan. He hosted a popular show on WJLB-AM radio (now WDTK) called The Interracial Goodwill Hour, featuring rhythm and blues music and hot jazz. Curiously enough, Randle almost did not survive early radio. One Thanksgiving, he played an unusual version of "Silent Night" sung by gospel and blues artist Sister Rosetta Tharpe. Many persons called in to complain and the station manager, longtime radio and television fixture Sidney Andorn fired Randle. The next morning, WERE owner Ray T. Miller, the chairman of the Cuyahoga County Democratic Party, rehired Randle after he learned he had so many listeners to Randle's program, and fired Andorn instead.

As a pioneering disc jockey at radio station WERE in Cleveland, Ohio he helped change the face of American music.

In the 1950s, Time Magazine called Bill Randle the top DJ in America. His popularity and huge listening audience allowed him to bolster the careers of a number of young musicians, including the Four Lads, Bobby Darin, and Fats Domino. Nicknamed "The Pied Piper of Cleveland", a 1955 musical documentary film was made about him titled The Pied Piper of Cleveland: A Day in the Life of a Famous Disc Jockey. The film includes a Cleveland concert at Brooklyn High School on October 20, 1955 featuring Pat Boone and Bill Haley & His Comets with Elvis Presley as the opening act. It is the first film footage of a Presley performance.

While working in Cleveland, Randle would travel back to Detroit for some radio programs. In the late 1950s, Randle would fly back and forth from Cleveland to New York where he produced radio shows in both markets (at WERE and WCBS-AM, respectively). He sat alongside other top DJs of the era including Carl Reese, Phil McLean and Howie Lund.

Many songs that Randle championed on-air ended up as commercial hits, the most successful of which was an edited 45 rpm single of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir's "Battle Hymn of the Republic." That version, which Randle suggested to and arranged with Columbia Records (then owned by CBS and a sister property to WCBS-AM) was an unlikely hit in 1959; it ended up on the Billboard charts for 11 weeks and reached as high as #13 on Billboard's "Hot 100" that autumn.

Bill Randle - 1992

During the 1970s and 1980s, Randle resurfaced on several different Cleveland radio stations, even hosting a talk show on WBBG 1260 AM in 1977. In the 1990s, Randle joined the airstaff of the now-defunct WRMR 850 AM, anchoring the "Big Show" on Sunday afternoons and an late-afternoon program.

➦In 2016…Longtime New York City radio personality Vaughn Harper, died at age 71.

Vaughn Harper
As one of the deejays mentored by Frankie Crocker on WBLS, Harper entered radio in 1976. In May 1983, WBLS hired Champaine, an African American woman deejay, and together Harper and Champaine developed a quiet storm late night format patterned after the successful show which had been introduced by WHUR jock Melvin Lindsey in 1976. Others took to the format but WBLS had greater reach and more listeners. The Harper/Champaine quiet storm program became a staple that lasted thru station changeovers and garnered a following in the New York Market. With a deep, mellifluous voice, listeners said Harper sounded romantic, eliciting a peaceful respite at the end of the day.

In 1979 along with his co-horts Ken Webb, Johnny Allen, and Frankie Crocker, WBLS reached #1 in the Billboard Radio rankings as rated by Arbitron.

In 1993 Harper suffered a stroke and spent years effecting a comeback. In his absence, Champaine hosted Quiet Storm II on WBLS.  Harper left WBLS for WWRL in 1997. Reading live ads upon returning to radio in 1998 had improved his delivery to his pre-stroke professionalism and at WBGO-FM he felt the energy returning to his program. Listeners will get a certain energy from me he promised.

Harper rejoined WBLS and continued as a radio host until 2008.

Linda Park is 46
  • Singer Dee Dee Kenniebrew of The Crystals is 79. 
  • Author Dean Koontz is 79. 
  • Actor Chris Cooper is 73. 
  • TV personality-turned-musician John Tesh is 72. 
  • Country singer David Ball is 71. 
  • Business leader Kevin O’Leary (“Shark Tank”) is 70. 
  • Singer Debbie Sledge of Sister Sledge is 70. 
  • Actor Jimmy Smits is 69. 
  • Actor Tom Hanks is 68. 
  • Singer Marc Almond of Soft Cell is 67. 
  • Actor Kelly McGillis is 67. 
  • Singer Jim Kerr of Simple Minds is 65. 
  • Singer Courtney Love is 60. 
  • Bassist Frank Bello of Anthrax is 59. 
  • Actor David O’Hara (“The District”) is 59. 
  • Actor Pamela Adlon (“King of the Hill,” “Louie”) is 58. 
  • Actor Scott Grimes (“ER,” ″Party of Five”) is 53. 
  • Singer-guitarist Isaac Brock of Modest Mouse is 49. 
  • Musician Jack White is 49. 
  • Singer Dan Estrin of Hoobastank is 48. 
  • Actor Fred Savage is 48. 
  • Actor Linda Park (“Star Trek: Enterprise”) is 46. 
  • Actor Megan Parlen (“Hang Time”) is 44. 
  • Singer-actor Kiely Williams of 3LW (“Cheetah Girls” films) is 38. 
  • Actor Mitchel Musso (“Phineas and Ferb,” “Hannah Montana”) is 33. 
  • Actor Georgie Henley (“The Chronicles of Narnia”) is 29.

  • In 1992..Eric Sevareid, American author and News correspondent (CBS), dies at 79
  • In 2002..Rod Steiger, Actor (Illustrated Man, Pawnbroker), dies of pneumonia at 77
  • In 2006..Milan Williams, American keyboardist (Commodores - "Three Times A Lady"), dies of cancer at 58

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