Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia is a federally recognized, state chartered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization serving the Philadelphia Broadcast Community since January of 1962.
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If you haven't already done so, kindly return your form and check at your earliest convenience. Please also note that on the form is a very important little box that you can check if you would like to make an extra contribution. Our archival project is becoming an expensive thing to do. It costs us about $8,000 a year just to store all our material. If you can can afford it and wish to do so, please help us in this important project. Any additional amount will be greatly appreciated!
A LITTLE BIT OF BROADCAST HISTORY!
(left to page) Member Nat Wright
MEET OUR NEW MEMBERS
David Ratcliffe (aka Dave Edwards) has been a part of our wonderful industry since 1967. He worked at WCHE in West Chester 45 years ago and then moved to WKBO in our state's capital, Harrisburg. Then in 1976, the bicentennial year, he moved a little further west to Altoona and WVAM. Shortly thereafter, he returned to WKBO and Harrisburg where he stayed for another five years. Then he moved on to WQVE-FM in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania. He was at our last luncheon and we were delighted to see him.
Dan Steele (aka Lou Braasch) started as a WKBO part-timer on Sunday mornings in 1971. He tells us that "I was paid the federal minimum wage of $1.60 an hour. Over the years, I managed to do much better." Dan has also worked at WPGC in our nation's capital, Washington, DC, where a manager gave him the name Dan Steele & it has stuck throughout the decades. Dan moved back to central Pennsylvania and worked at a number of stations in the Harrisburg-York-Lancaster area ending up at WHP for the last dozen years before retiring.
Tara Levy is been in the business for ten years and just made it under our ten year minimum for full membership. She currently does public relations for "Child's World News" and is the brand ambassador for Keystone Gardens. Today, she is the president and social media personality for her own company, Levy Business Development. A graduate of Widener University here in the Delaware Valley, she has been a professional photographer for Kodak and a spokesperson for Rockefeller Center in NYC.
We are thrilled to have these new members. Over 500 Members. More than ever. We hope to see as many of our members as possible at our June luncheon.
DIGITAL ARCHIVAL PROJECT NEWS:
Member Mike Strug on left and member Terry Ruggles on right
Broadcast Pioneers VP Brad Seecof (with camera) in background
Wednesday, April 20, 2016
After our Wednesday, April 20th, luncheon, our Broadcast Pioneers production team of Brad Seecof, Steve Sacks and Michael Muderick went and met up with members Terry Ruggles and Mike Strug. The purpose was to record a half-hour interview about the life and career of Strug. You have seen Mike Strug on camera on various TV stations around town and also on our "Pioneers of Philadelphia Broadcasting" interviews. In this case, Strug isn't the interviewer but the interviewee.
(video courtesy of Broadcast Pioneers VP Brad Seecof and Metramedia Broadcasting & Studios)
Our first audio clip this month comes from the WIP News Department during the last couple months of the Eisenhower Administration. The date is Friday, December 2, 1960. It's the 7 am newscast on the Joe McCauley AM Drive broadcast. We asked member Bill McCloskey to tell us a little about the newscaster Charles Edwards. Bill told us that one-time WIP Program Director Dick Carr helped jar his memory on a few things. Our thanks to both. Bill told us:
Charles Edwards came to WIP News from Nashville. John Kluge, who bought WIP from Gimbels, owned a piece of station WKDA in Nashville and Harvey Glascock, who would become WIP's (and later WNEW New York's) general manager was GM of WKDA. Kluge brought Glascock to Philly and Glascock brought Edwards about the time that Paul Rust was taking over the news department of the newly minted Metropolitan Broadcasting station WIP. (Kluge sold WKDA in 1959 about a year before he bought WIP.)
Although Edwards and Rust were always sparring, Charlie was Paul's type of newscaster -- he had "pipes." Edwards was a curmudgeon and by stature and voice was the loud and profane "big dog" in the newsroom. In July 1961, on my first day in the newsroom as a $1 an hour news assistant, I had the misfortune a getting caught between the Market Street subway and the WIP studios in the Gimbel Building on 9th Street in one of the standard mid-afternoon Southeastern Pennsylvania thunderstorms and came into the newsroom drenched.
Edwards roared, "Kid, get out of those clothes before you catch your death of cold." I took off my jacket, tie and shirt and placed them over an air conditioning unit to dry off. "Take your pants off too, kid, they're soaked." "But, Mr. Edwards," I replied, "there are women working here." (None in the newsroom of course.) "Kid," he responded, "if you're going to be in radio you need to remember 'It pays to advertise.'" That was Charlie.
This tape (12-2-60) was from the early days of Metropolitan ownership of WIP. The news department was not yet equipped the way Rust would eventually have it; with tape recorders hooked to phone lines so the newsmen could gather the "sound" that Rust insisted be an integral part of every newscast, but the piece from City Hall in this aircheck is a good example of what would come.
The Teletype sound in the background eventually went away and the mix of local and world news would change to a much higher percentage of local stories. The HOTLINE news tip line (HOward-8-5463) had not yet gone into service, but from the beginning of Rust's tenure there was a newstip line (WAlnut 5-9242) that turned the station's vast listenership into reporters.
On next piece of audio comes from a legendary newscaster in the Delaware Valley, John Roberts. He was also a professor of communications at Temple University for a half-century. It's Friday, August 29, 1958. The station is WFIL Radio. The audio in this selection is not as good as we would like. Why? This audio was recorded on an 8 and 3/4 inch green flexible transcription disc. It wasn't meant for broadcast so the quality is not the greatest. However, the original source disc is the only known source in the world. We have removed some of the surface noise and edited out many of the pops and clicks.
According to John, WFIL Radio had a daily evening news broadcast, TONIGHT. It featured John Roberts with the national and international news, the late Jim Felix (a Broadcast Pioneers member) with the local news and Dr. Francis Davis (also a Broadcast Pioneers member) with the weather. While Felix and Davis are on this particular broadcast, they are not heard in this clip.
John Roberts once told us that everyone at WFIL Radio kidded him that he was the original host of the Tonight Show as this broadcast predates the NBC-TV program that was originally called by the same title, TONIGHT.
The broadcast, Robert quipped, started as a 15 minute program and kept expanding as it incorporated ABC Radio features. At its peak, it ran 90 minutes long from 6 pm until 7:30. Regardless of its length, its starting time was always 6 o'clock. Some nights the broadcast went until 8 pm, if there was something special at 8 o'clock like a Presidential address. The program started in 1952, according to Roberts and went into the beginning of Famous 56.
A LITTLE BIT OF BROADCAST HISTORY!
WCAU-FM Disco Cruise
Scott Horner (of WZZD fame) sent us this photo years ago and it has been in our photo archive ever since. It's one of those very popular disco cruises on the Delaware River that basically went nowhere except up and down the waterway. At this time, mid to late seventies, Philadelphia was the nation's second largest disco market (second only to NYC). These cruises ran from 9 pm to 1 am and cost $7.50 per person. One of the most popular of these was the one conducted by WCAU-FM's Program Director Roy Lawrence. Can you believe that the disco era was 40 years ago?
IN TOUCH WITH OUR MEMBERS:
Broadcast Pioneers member Marciarose Shestack was honored on May 3rd by the National Press Club at their spring hoot. At that time they inducted her (and eleven others) into their Golden Owl Club. That's a group of news people who have been members for the last half of a century. Marciarose must have been a toddler when she joined.
Member (and author) Harvey Sheldon has a new book out entitled, "Killing the Jews." This is Sheldon's eleventh book on Jewish history and culture. He has also written quite a few books about Philadelphia broadcasting and area music. Fifteen years ago, Harvey donated three and a half million dollars to the University of Pennsylvania library system. You also may remember Harvey Sheldon dancing on Bob Horn's Bandstand, the Red Buttons Show and with Benny Goodman.
Member Bob Charger produced an episode for TV called, "John Ricciutti Presents." It was constructed in a first person documentary style, driven by Vietnam Veteran James Kirlin. It was directed by member Shawn Swords (Wages of Spin I and II, Charlie Gracie "Fabulous") and shot by Roger Bruce and Art Swanlund. The episode was shown on the last holiday weekend on Radnor Studio 21, which is carried by Comcast and Verizon in certain areas. It is also planned to air on PhillyCam on cable throughout Philadelphia.
Member Harry Hurley was honored a couple of weeks ago at Hofstra University, the largest private college on Long Island in New York. He was honored for outstanding community service by a radio broadcaster. His award says that he is "standing tall as a role model for what the radio industry should be" and "for being the quintessential positive morning personality who shines as a beacon of hope for radio and humanity."
Harry's brother, member Don P. Hurley gives us the word that the New Jersey Broadcasters Association will honor Board Member Emeritus Ed Hurst in June, as one of their inductees into their Hall of Fame. Ed was inducted into our Hall of Fame twenty years ago during 1996. Ed and his radio partner, Joe Grady, were honored as our "Persons of the Year" in 1990. Don is Ed's radio producer for his program, which is heard on Saturdays at 4 pm on WPG, 1450 on AM. Don's twin brother, Harry Hurley nominated Hurst for the honor. Harry said: "Simply put, Ed Hurst is the longest-serving broadcaster in American History, and, he is now serving in his record-setting 75th year of broadcasting. Ed was a full-time announcer and DJ at the age of 16 years old. ...In Dick Clark's own words, he said, 'If there were no Ed Hurst, there never would have been a Dick Clark.'"
Member Vince Leonard holding his cake (and probably eating it too)
on the occasion of Vince's 91st birthday
Las Vegas, Nevada
Thursday, May 19, 2016
We normally don't run birthday photos. We have over 500 members and someone has a birthday every day of the year. However, we just couldn't help ourselves. Member Vince Leonard looked just so wonderful on his 91st birthday that we just had to go with it.
Did you know...
that Philadelphia was the home of the first televised political convention? It's true. It happened right here in Philly during June of 1940. The political party not in power usually holds their convention first. Since Franklin Delano Roosevelt was President, the Republicans had their convention before the Democrats.
W3XE Television Camera
In June of 1940, W3XE (later WPTZ and now known as KYW-TV) televised the entire National Convention of the Republican Party. There were a thousand delegates and an equal amount of alternates attending. The event was held right here in Philly (1940 population was 1,931,334 people) and Channel 3, owned by Philco, broadcast a total of 62 hours of coverage. That was pretty much the entire convention. It was the first television station in the history of the world to televise local, non-network reporting of an United States national political convention. They DID NOT carry the NBC-TV network coverage.
What would eventually become the NBC television network, through its O & O in New York City, 12,000-watt W2XBS, located in midtown Manhattan, operating on Channel One, televised thirty and a quarter hours of coverage. TV listings in the New York Times for that week showed 28 hours of listed coverage. The extra 135 minute of coverage was from the convention running long.
The New York station used a series of relays from Philadelphia to New York and on to upper New York State. The New York City station had its tower on top of the Empire State Building.
General Electric's station, W2XB in the Schenectady-Albany area, picked up the NYC signal and rebroadcast over their facilities. It was, at that point in time, the longest confirmed live remote in history, 250 miles.
There have been unconfirmed reports that the W2XB signal may have been sent on to Massachusetts, which would have been a record 325 miles for the transmission of television at that time. Unconfirmed reports state that W1XAE in Springfield, Massachusetts owned by Westinghouse picked up, off the air of the GE station, and rebroadcast its signal. We have not been able to confirm this but much of our research pointed to the fact that the station may have been dark by that time and therefore could not have broadcast the coverage. So right now, we will say that this was not likely.
Speaking of transmitting a television signal long distances, there have been reports (confirmed) that coverage of the NBC feed from NYC came through at KTUL, Tulsa. Their Chief Engineer Watt Stinson (what a great first name for an engineer) contacted the Chief Engineer and Vice-President of NBC-TV, O.B. Hanson, to report that the telecast of the June 27th balloting was received in Oklahoma every couple of minutes for a few seconds over a two-hour stretch. The audio was listenable about 50% of the time. This was believed to be the longest over-the-land TV reception to that date.
News Reporters at the
On the day of the balloting (there were six ballots that day), NBC aired 9 hours and 23 minutes of continuous coverage. That became the longest network television program in history to that point. However, W3XE had even more airtime that day which made its feed the longest local television program in history up until that point in time. In fact, it was the longest TV program of ANY type in 1940.
Alfred H. Morton, vice president in charge of NBC Television, headed the NBC-TV coverage. Also involved were NBC's TV program manager, Thomas H. Hutchinson and Burke Crotty, who ran the NBC desk in Philadelphia, coordinating transmission back to the Big Apple.
This was the first time in history that a political party had arranged for two platforms for television cameras. There was also a special TV studio for interviews and other events. Some convention delegates complained about the bright lights and wore sunglasses. The television age had arrived.
NBC estimated that 40,000 to 50,000 people saw some part of its coverage on TV. The network based this estimate on their belief that 8 to 10 people would make up their audience in front of each receiver located in various points from up north to points in Pennsylvania. The Pennsylvania viewers that NBC were talking about were watching the New York station, not W3XE in Philadelphia. An NBC spokesman described the W2XBS coverage area as being located in lower New York State, parts of Massachusetts, a large part of Connecticut, a corner of Pennsylvania and into New Jersey.
According to the July 1940 issue of Radio and Television magazine, the NBC relay was made over a coaxial cable installed by Bell Telephone Labs and ATT (the American Telephone and Telegraph Company). Land lines also connected the Convention Center to the Bourse Building at 5th and Market Streets in Center City Philadelphia (a distance of about four miles) where the terminals were connected to the line to NYC. Every five miles, the phone company had to install amplifiers "in manholes" to keep the television signal at the same level of clarity until the New York station received the telecast. It was a total of 108 miles.
Map of transmission
However, for Philadelphia viewers, the route was totally different. It went from the Convention Center direct to the Philco Plant at C & Tioga Streets in Philadelphia via what was considered a microwave transmission (240 MHz) in that era. The 15,000-watt relay station had the call letters of W3XP. Philco used no land lines in their transmission whatsoever. W3XE's 10,000-watt signal covered a 25-mile radius from its 230-foot high transmitting tower, located in 1940 on the top of the Philco plant at C and Tioga.
NBC-TV executives in 1940 said that the GOP convention coverage would constitute the most elaborate television coverage ever given anywhere in the world to a single event. The network sent two complete mobile units to Philadelphia for use in its feeds.
On Friday, June 21, 1940, three days before the start of the convention, a handful of newspaper reporters gathered in the Bourse Building. They saw and heard a demonstration which included Samuel K. Pryor, Jr. of Connecticut, chairman of the Committee on Arrangements for the Convention, tell about the elaborate plans made for the comfort of the delegates. Next Marion Martin, assistant National Republican chairperson, stepped in front of the television camera. Then came the city's leader, Robert Lamberton (the next to the last GOP mayor in the city's history), followed by James H. Malone, Director of Public Safety for the city. He reviewed the work of police assigned to cover the Convention.
Police standing at attention were clearly visible on the television screen as the mayor walked passed. A local reporter, Frank Rosen, said: "Just before the Mayor came in view of the television camera, an airplane could be heard droning overhead. Street noises were clearly audible, especially the honking of horns. Even during daylight hours, the video of the broadcast was quite visible." The size of the receiver screen was seven and a half inches by ten inches. These events, however, were just for the press and not the general public. This was a closed circuit feed and never broadcast over the air. We will conclude this story next month in this column.
This monthly column written and researched by Gerry Wilkinson
Our special thanks go to TUTV - Temple University Television and The Kal & Lucille Rudman Media Production Center.
MORE DIGITAL ARCHIVAL PROJECT NEWS:
(left to right) Member Jerry Blavat, Karen Scioli (as Re Re DiNozzo) and Bob Kelly
Broadcast Pioneers Luncheon
Bala Golf Club, Philadelphia
Wednesday, May 18, 2016
Some of the people having a good time
(Member Leigh Richards is always the life of the party LOL!)
Broadcast Pioneers Luncheon
Bala Golf Club, Philadelphia
Wednesday, May 18, 2016
Our May luncheon was great fun and a big crowd. If you missed it, you missed a great time. However, have no fear, we have fabulous excerpts of the luncheon right here for you to watch. By the way, if you missed this luncheon, you also missed getting a free Mister Softee, courtesy of the national Mister Softee company, in honor of Les Waas who wrote their jingle 56 years ago.
(video courtesy of Broadcast Pioneers VP Brad Seecof and Metramedia Broadcasting & Studios)
Earlier in this newsletter, we had two radio newscasts. Here, we have two interviews. First up is Mister Legend, himself, Ed Hurst. It's Friday, November 21, 2008. It's just before the first show of entertainer Tony Bennett at Harrah's in Atlantic City and Ed is speaking with Tony. Member Don Hurley produced this interview and supplied it to us for our archives.
The actual interview aired in two segments on Ed's Steel Pier Radio program, still heard today at the Jersey shore. It's on Saturdays at 4 pm on WPG, 1450 on AM. We have put both halves together for you as one interview. One of the things you'll find out in this interview is that Hurst's birthday and Bennett's birthday are only a week apart.
Listen to Ed Hurst in Real Audio!
Listen to Ed Hurst in Windows Media Format!
Our last piece of audio this month is an complete interview with Jack Kelly, Jr., from Monday, January 28, 1980. The station is WBUX in Doylestown at 1570 on AM. The lady conducting the interview is member Joan Stack who did a her show live from a local restaurant at noontime. She came to fame by being able to convince national visitors to the Mike Douglas Show (then originating from Philadelphia) to attend her broadcast.
We have several of Joan's programs in our audio section of our archives. Jack Kelly was a four-time Olympian and he had won a medal as a rower. He was the son of Jack Kelly, Sr., also an Olympian Gold Medal athlete. Jack, Jr. was the brother of Princess Grace Kelly. In this interview, Jack talked about the possibility of the Americans not being involved in the 1980 Olympics because of the Soviet Union (host country) and their invasion of Afghanistan. 65 countries boycotted the Summer games in Russia. The winter games took place in Lake Placid, in New York. Hear Jack talk about this and about his sister, the Princess.
Listen to Joan Stack in Real Audio!
Listen to Joan Stack in Windows Mediia Format!
IN TOUCH WITH THE INDUSTRY:
We don't normally report on profits and revenue for companies in our market. However, many have been wondering how Beasley Broadcast Group made out in the October 2014 trade of stations with CBS Radio. Good News for Beasley. Their deal has seemed to work out well for them. Beasley's Interim CEO Caroline Beasley that the company's revenue in the Tampa market (where they gained 6 stations in the exchange) was up over 30%. The entire market was up 12%. Their revenue this first quarter was up 13.2%. In our market, the swap gave CBS Radio WRDW-FM (now WZMP) and WXTU-FM. Beasley got WIP Radio, 610, now WTEL.
Fox 29 is planning to launch an 11 pm nightly newscast. Right now plans are for them to start the new newscast on August 1, 2016. This will be the first time that Fox 29 has tried a nightly cast at 11 pm. They will be going head to head against Action News on WPVI, Eyewitness News on KYW-TV and the evening WCAU 11 pm newscast. Meteorologist Kathy Orr, Sports Guy Howard Eskin and news anchor Lucy Noland are to be featured on the new venture. Noland co-anchors other newscasts with Iain Paige, however, he will not anchor at 11, but will provide features and segments.
Dei Lynam, a winner of multiple broadcasting honors including the Edward R. Murrow award, is the new moderator of the radio show, "Lifestyles" which airs several times a week on WWDB. Lynam also serves as a 76ers reporter, and analyst on Comcast SportsNet. She replaced Brittany O'Rourke, who has joined a communications firm in New York City. Member Joe Ball is executive producer.
Sunday evening on 1210, WPHT has a rather recent addition in the 11 pm to 1 am time slot. It's hosted by Walter Sterling, who in reality is Walter Sabo, broadcast consultant guru. He started the show on a dare from CBS Radio's Chris Oliviero, Executive Vice-President for programming. The program is less politics and more general topics for both men and women. We hear that he's getting decent numbers.
WILM Radio, Newsradio 1450 is getting a new FM translator. The translator is moving from Southampton, New York (94.1) to Wilmington and will broadcast at 92.9. As of press time, the new frequency doesn't seem to be operational yet. The station mainly features telephone talk with member Larry Mendte in morning drive, followed by Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, and Sean Hannity. The station is owned by iHeart.
Last Thursday, Vitttoria (Tori) Woodill kicked off this season's ever-popular news feature,"Tori Down the Shore." It's her second season on this Jersey shore piece. The feature will air during the 5 pm and 6 pm daily newscasts now through Labor Day in September.
Member Sylvia Kauders passed away at the beginning of May. She was an award-winning public relations consultant whose innovative, unique special events enabled her to work with seven Presidents of the United States. She was also a critically acclaimed professional actress who has appeared on Broadway, Off Broadway, in major motion pictures, television series and commercials. We'll miss her and everything she did.
THIS AND THAT! Little Bits of Information....
Catherine Riley (at the piano) with children
Catherine Riley was the host "Fun with Rhythm" for many years. Later, Marguerite Farley took over. The 15 minute program was originally carried on WIP Radio and then moved over to WFIL Radio where in remained into the sixties on WFIL-FM. For quite awhile, the program was also a television show on WFIL-TV, Channel 6 (now WPVI). It was an educational show produced by the Philadelphia Board of Education in cooperation with area broadcasters. In 1947, at the time of the above photo, the broadcast was aired over WIP on Thursday mornings at 9:45 am.
Chief Halftown, a regular television personality in Philadelphia for a half century was quite an avid bowler. In 1952, he was very proud of his 178 bowling average.
Alexander Dannenbaum, Jr. was commercial manager of WPTZ in 1950 where he developed something he called his "new six in one advertising plan." The premise of this is that advertisers got an hour-long identification during Channel 3's "Hollywood Playhouse" daily movie. However, they paid only the cost of one participation. More than half the placements were filled within ten days of its start. FYI, Alexander Dannenbaum, Sr. is where the D in WDAS came from. Dannenbaum and Steppacher were early 20th century silk makers who purchased what would become known as WDAS during the depression.
Jack Steck, a founding member of this organization, was the host of Hayloft Hoedown. The show originated in Philadelphia by WFIL Radio and was broadcast over the ABC Radio Network. On Saturday evening, November 30, 1946, after the program, Jack noticed a "stray" child in the front of Philly's Town Hall. The kid was one of 12 children brought to the live Saturday night broadcast by a local attorney. Steck knew the child from Merchantville and drove him home. Only problem is that the parents already headed to Philly to pick up their missing youth. Jack raced back to Philly and had to head to the local police to explain what happened. In case you didn't know, Jack Steck ended every program with "Be Good to Somebody." That night, it came with more meaning.
In 1957 when Channel 12 was WVUE and owned by Storer Broadcasting, it aired a local program called "Petticoat Partyline" hosted by Bob Marshall. It had a daily live studio audience of 30 to 50 people and aired from its studio in Philadelphia, even though the station was licensed to Wilmington. It was sort of a mix between "Beat the Clock" and "Dialing for Dollars." The show was a huge hit in other Storer markets but never really got a real foot hold here in the Delaware Valley. It aired daily at 3 pm. At 4:30 pm, kids could watch Uncle Pete Boyle. At 5 pm, it was two hours of music for teens with everyone's favorite, Joe Grady and Ed Hurst. The station referred to it as "teenage prancing." At the same time, Storer has taken over WIBG Radio here in Philly. When Storer bought WVUE, WIBG was just thrown in to sweeten the deal. Turned out that WIBG was the big money maker for Storer Broadcasting.
And speaking of WIBG (back in the day before Storer), during 1943, the American Communications Association won a salary increase for its union engineering people. They got a $5 a week increase taking a weekly pay to $40. A starting union technician would make (with the increase) just over $2,000 a year. The station had just jumped to 10,000 watts of power and was broadcasting full-time.
Very few people ever knew that Wayne Cody, one of the more popular (and longer running) Uncle WIPs on WIP Radio, also portrayed Jolly Jack, another kids host, also on WIP during 1942. No one really seemed to notice (or care) that they were the same person, though Jolly Jack never had much popularity. Maybe it was a bad time slot.
Speaking of Uncle WIP, the very first one in 1922 was Harry Ehrhart. He passed away in 1954 at age 58. His success as Uncle WIP (the station was owned by Gimbel Brothers Department Store) encouraged Lit Brothers (another Department store) to offer him a better job (and more money) to move his show to WDAR (later called WLIT). He couldn't be Uncle WIP on WDAR, so they called him "Dream Daddy." In 1927, he moved over to WCAM in Camden and finally ended his broadcast career as an engineer for WCAU Radio. In later years, he worked for Raymond Rosen, the RCA Victor distributor in our area.
At this same time (1954), Wayne Cody (Uncle WIP) was cutting records for a local label Keystone Records, owned by Eddie Wilson. Wayne was the big attraction for the label. At that time, hardly anyone was aware of a young disc jockey on WPWA (Chester) who had three different daily shows and was meeting with local acceptance. This young guy also signed with Keystone and cut four sides with his Saddle Men. The jock's name was Bill Haley.
THANKS FOR THE MEMORIES:
The Miracle on 36th Street, Part 3 of 3!
Member John Carlton & Pilot Dick Scholfield
on the roof of the Normandie Hotel, Philadelphia
Monday, January 8, 1968
We found in our paper archive, this document written by Broadcast Pioneers member John Carlton. We have divided it into three parts. The first two parts ran in our newsletter in April and May. Now we conclude with the third section. This is John Carlton's own account of what happened on the morning of the Normandie Hotel fire. Built in 1901, it was a brick and concrete structure with wooden floors standing seven stories high. First fire alarm sounded at 6:47 am. He concludes the story:
This section clear. Which way to the elevator? Can't see. Can't breathe. Maybe Dick is at the elevator. "Dick" "Over here, John." He followed the voice with three of the residents hanging on. "Gotta check the copter; Lets get some air." "Right."
Outside on the roof, the fresh air was like perfume. They took deep drafts of it. Before realizing it, the wet towels over their faces were frozen to their skin and they were shivering. "Let's go," Again Carlton and Scholfield descended into the burning building. This time down to the fifth floor. The smoke was worse. The heat intense. The parkas, heavier and heavier....
Two firemen had just arrived on the fifth. They needed all the help they could get. They had to stop now at every window for air. Their eyes felt like there was sandpaper in the sockets. Every breath hurt. The pains were so great in the chest that their bodies automatically coughed gasping for air that wasn't there.
They led the occupants to the elevator on their hands and knees. Damn good thing the firemen and cops made it through. An officer from the fire department arrived. "Is everything clear above?" "Yes, Sir." "All right. Everybody down! "We're going up." "What in hell?"
Our airplane's on the roof!" "Oh" His look was, to say the least, quizzical as he disappeared in the smoke. The boys started up the stairs.
"How do we know we hit every room." Dick stopped. We better double check. And so they circled the fifth, sixth, and seventh floors, slowly painfully until every room, bathroom and closet had been checked.
They stayed together on the last two floors for fear one would pass out. Every breath now was agony. The heat tremendous. They crawled up the stairs to the roof! Cold as the air was, it was clean.
The helicopter was still there, humming noisily as it waited. John and Dick dragged themselves to the ship. The radio barked "they have to get out of there. The sixth floor is burning." "OK, “Walt, we're back on the air." "Get out of there." "Yeah."
They waited a few more minutes to clear their eyes and minds. "OK. We're airborne." In spite of the pain in their lungs and the sick feeling in their stomachs, they flew two more hours advising firemen and giving traffic reports.
It was the worst fire in the history of Philadelphia. It might have been the greatest tragedy in the city's history except for the brilliant work and extraordinary bravery of the Philadelphia Fire Department and Police Department.
And the heroism and guts of two guys from the Go Patrol who weren't afraid to get involved. It was the Miracle on 36th Street. "OK, Walt, we've done all we can. We're going home. Why can't we start the week on Tuesday?"
375 residents were rescued. One was badly injured and passed away a few days later. Another resident, a 76 year old man was never found. 42 people were injured including 18 residents. The others (a majority) were Philadelphia fire fighters and police officers. For his actions, John Carlton was awarded the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Heroism, the nation’s highest award for civilians.
Ernie Kovacs in Philadelphia, Part 2 of 3!
One gimmick that Ernie had on his early morning show was "The Early Eyeball Fraternal & Marching Society," or the E.E.F.M.S. The "organization" had a membership card. There were also, possibly, other items.
The password for the club was "It's Been Real." Members had numbers. EEFM-1 was Ernie Kovacs. The flip of the membership card said:
1. An EEFM is A) male or a female; B) or interested in either political party
2. An EEFM never sleeps later than 8:03 A) Unless he or she is deathly ill, B) Unless he or she is deathly...er...dead, that is unless the EEFM is sleepy
3. An EEFM makes less that $987,648,001.23 per annum. (Slightly higher in the South and South West)
4. An EEFM may not raise ostriches or parsley without written permission of EEFM-1.
On "Three to Get Ready," Ernie had a character called "Uncle Gruesome." Ernie played the role, of course. He wore a black cape, a wig and fake fangs. He would use this same character on his later CBS show, "Kovacs Unlimited." Just like Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck had three nephews, so did Uncle Gruesome. They were Loathsome, Cumbersome and Unwholesome.
Ernie did all kinds of bits. He had a paper-mache dog which looked a lot like the RCA Victor pup, Nipper. Sometimes Ernie would set it down next to the fire hydrant. On other occasions, Ernie would drive by in a horse-drawn trash cart. They were digging the area for a new building and the pit was so deep that Ernie looked in and said, "he could see all the way down to China." Next thing you know, a guy in a Chinese coolie outfit crawls out, yells something in Chinese and runs away. On another occasion, they dressed Ernie in a gorilla suit and had him run through a center city food joint. Remember, this was all live and all very much Kovacs.
Edie Adams added much to the program. She would be singing and Ernie would trash her performance. People fell off piano benches. Andy McKay tells the story how one day Ernie mentioned on the air that they had only $15 for props per week. Half kiddingly he quipped, "if you have anything around the house, you don't want send it to Channel 3." The lobby by day's end was filled with items including a life sized doll that Kovacs later called "Gertrude." She became a regular on the show. Hey, "she worked cheap."
Percy Dovetonsils, who was a character on this show, had his glasses purchased at a Philadelphia novelty store for ten cents. The character was based on real-life poet Ted Malone, said Andy McKay. When the show ended at 9 am, WPTZ did news and then ran a test pattern until 10:45 am. The week before "Three to Get Ready" premiered, the station didn't even sign on until 10:45 am.
Three NBC shows starring Ernie Kovacs came out of Channel 3. First was It's Time for Ernie, which aired from May 14, 1951 until June 29, 1951 and was broadcast in the afternoons for 15 minutes. This program was the only Kovacs' network series that did not feature Edie Adams. A staff member saw her on Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts on CBS-TV. Though unsuccessful with Arthur, she wasn't with Ernie. They were married in 1954, after they left Philadelphia.
The next NBC-TV show to come from Philly was "Ernie in Kovacsland, a weekday evening (7 pm) half-hour show as a summer replacement for the ever popular Kukla, Fran and Ollie. That aired from July 2, 1951 until August 24, 1951 and was produced by Ned Cramer. It started the Monday after "It's Time for Ernie" ended. The final series to originate from WPTZ was "Kovacs on the Corner" that aired live from WPTZ from 11 am to 11:30. By the way, its competition on Channel 10, WCAU-TV was a local show called "Home Highlights" hosted by Jean Corbett (Aunt Molly) and a very young fellow named Ed McMahon.
Carl Weger was an engineer at WPTZ and developed much of the "technology" for Ernie. He took an empty Campbell Soup can, removed both ends and added two mirrors at an angle. This was then attached to a three inch television camera lens. By turning it, it could rotate the image and actually turn Kovacs upside down. McKay recalled that one use of this was to have Ernie vacuum the ceiling.
In December of 1951, Harry Harris (a member of the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia) reported in the Evening Bulletin that WPTZ would not carry "The Today Show" (which was starting the next month) in our market. Harry said that a Channel 3 spokesman said that it was the station's policy to foster local shows as much as possible. Dave Garroway (host of "The Today Show") was "due as star of a mammoth 7 to 9 am NBC show," but WPTZ people said that it would not be shown here in Philadelphia. That time belonged to WPTZ's own Ernie Kovacs. By the way, Harris and the Bulletin selected Ernie as the "Best Local Comedian" for 1951.
But the story continues. One day Cal Jones, director for Kovacs (later an executive for Westinghouse Broadcasting, who later owned Channel 3) went over to the Architects' Building. Pat Weaver of NBC was sitting there and read the riot act to Cal and the station manager of WPTZ. Get Kovacs off the air and start carrying the Today show. The future of the program rides on clearing the Philadelphia station. Cal was sure that NBC threatened to pull the station's affiliation if they didn't. It's possible because after Westinghouse purchased WPTZ in 1953, NBC threatened them with lost of NBC affiliation for all their (Westinghouse) owned and & operated stations, if Westinghouse didn't trade the Philadelphia stations for less valuable NBC stations in Cleveland.
At 11 am until 11:30 on NBC-TV "Kovacs on the Corner," originated from WPTZ. The program didn't last long. It aired from January 4, 1952 until March 28th of that same year. Kovacs always denied having any input for the format of the show. It was a program more fitting Fred Allen, not Ernie Kovacs. Shortly into the show, creative control was taken away from Kovacs and given to actress Marge Greene. Ernie went nuts. His heart just wasn't in the show. Without Ernie's input, the show went nowhere. However, it started to affect the morning show also, which Ernie knew was going to be dumped soon from the schedule. WPTZ elected not to renew his contract and "Three to Get Ready" and "Kovacs on the Corner" ended on the same day. The next month, Ernie and Edie (& Andy McKay) turned up on WCBS-TV in New York City with "Kovacs Unlimited."
On the last "Kovacs on the Corner," Marge Greene who also acted on the show teased Ernie about her (Marge) being cheap. Greene mentioned that she was Scottish. She said that she would travel for free in a coffin. Kovacs was supposed to put three nails on the corner, but instead he reached in his pocket and kept pounding nail after nail into the wood. The show never really ended. The last scene was never done because Ernie kept pounding nails into the coffin. The last thing seen on the show was Ernie saying "Have a good time in Scotland."
The Ernie Kovacs Philadelphia saga will conclude next month!
The Back Half of Sonny Fox and Bob Leonard!
(Left to right) Sonny Fox and Bob Leonard
on one of the beaches in Pensacola, Florida
Just so there's no confusion, Sonny's name is first and in the front. Bob's name is in the second half of the name and at the end. No reflection meant for anything else. For those with a short memory, Fox and Leonard blazed through the Philadelphia airways on WYSP in the mid and late seventies. This is Bob Leonard's own story written in his own words. They led the market when two-man disc jockey teams were almost unheard of. Bob now lives in Florida and enjoys the warm sun with his wife, Marina. Here's what he wrote:
Over the course of my career, which spanned nearly a half century, I was involved in a number of “firsts,” none of which paid as well as they did for numbers two and beyond. Of course, doing something that had yet to be done was extremely satisfying and perfecting it so that someone else could come along and parlay it while I looked for another project to give away, always warmed the cockles but, honestly, who the hell needs warm cockles. I actually prefer my cockles a little on the chilled side. Maybe that's just me.
In the mid 1970's, I was working as a disc jockey on what was then, the #2 rock station in Philadelphia, WYSP. Up until that time, morning shows, as well as pretty much all dayparts on FM stations, were whispered. It just sounded cool and laid back and made the DJ sound more like a musicologist. AM radio was king in those days.
It had the credibility and massive listenership of its longevity and FM was new and untested: a bastard stepchild where those who couldn't get jobs on the AM big boys went. That was where all the decent programming and the money were. There was quite a bit of experimentation on FM radio back then. We were all vying for the same ratings as the AM giants but we knew that our audiences would be appreciably smaller and, quite probably, stoned.
I had gotten the job at WYSP because the powers that be at the FM station where I was at the time had told me, in no uncertain terms, that the insulting salary they were paying me was all I would ever see there. I made a couple of phone calls to program directors in town. One to the biggest AM player and the other to a struggling FM station that played the music I liked.
I never heard from the AM station but the program director of the little FM, Sonny Fox, called back and told me to come by. After our initial interview, which consisted of smoking a joint while going for a ride in his Corvette, I was the new morning man at WYSP at a salary that wasn't much better than where I had been but there was room for growth and that, in itself, was a refreshing change, not to mention, the music was a hell of a lot better.
Sonny understood the nature of our uphill battle and was not averse to trying new things. That became evident the morning he called me into his office after my show and asked a simple question that changed my career and, subsequently, my life, “Have you ever heard of Bob & Ray?”
My mouth hit the floor. I loved Bob & Ray and everything they were about. I had listened to the AM radio comedy duo for years on everything from Boston Radio to New York radio to NBC's Monitor and, eventually, Piels Beer commercials.
They were heroes and I would have killed to do what they were doing. Fortunately, no one had to die that day. All I had to do was answer, “Let's do it!” We created a form of theater of the mind that just wasn't being done on the FM airwaves We wrote comedy bits, brought in a cast of characters and became the first comedy morning team in rock & roll radio taking our little wannabe FM station to the top of Philadelphia's ratings.
We have since been referred to as the “precursor to the morning zoo format,” which, of course, made a lot of cash for a lot of people. The Fox & Leonard Morning Show only lasted about 4 years and we had a lot of fun, but nobody ever showed US the money.
After all, WYSP was the #1 rock & roll station in town with a good deal of the credit going to the top rated morning team of “Fox & Leonard.” Two-man morning radio was unheard of on FM back then. FM was still a relative newcomer and most rock & roll disc jockeys whispered. They were just THAT cool. All of the ratings and, subsequently, advertising dollars, went to the big AM stations.
“Nice day for soccer,” I thought as I trotted onto the field at Veteran’s Stadium in Philadelphia on that gorgeous Saturday in 1977. This was going to be a star-studded event and I was asked to be the honorary co-captain of a brand new team for this charity raising game.
That was a time when the words “clear channel” had everything to do with a transmitter. It was not yet the name of a company that would come along later and monopolize the business, contributing to the downfall of all that was entertaining and fun about radio for the listener AND the practitioner.
Next month, we'll conclude the story of Bob Leonard, so be sure to check back with the Broadcast Pioneers July 2016 newsletter for the rest of the story!
A LITTLE BIT OF BROADCAST HISTORY!
(left to right) Jess Schooley and unidentified woman
behind the scenes at the CBS-TV Show "The Big Top"
Jess Schooley worked at WCAU-TV for over three decades. The above photo was sent to us a half dozen years ago by Jess' son, Robert. It was originally taken from a color slide and color corrected by Broadcast Pioneers. Jess is holding a whip for the CBS-TV program "The Big Top" that was originated by WCAU-TV and also drinking a Pepsi-Cola. Schooley worked on the circus television show as a roustabout and then as an Assistant Director. He was an avid golfer and often played with Broadcast Pioneers member Gene Crane. After he retired, he was a volunteer for Meals on Wheels. Jess passed away in August of 1993.
OUR HATS OFF TO YOU FOR GIVING:
We are a federally recognized, state chartered charity with a 501(c)(3) status. Contact us at (856) 365-5600 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for more details. Your gift to Broadcast Pioneers will help us and may lower your federal income tax. That's win-win, isn't it?
Special Thanks (in alphabetical order) for the gift of Appreciated Stock: (a federal tax advantage for the giver)
Member Marc Howard - $3,600 (put into our general fund to be used where needed)
Member Sylvia Kauders - $5,159.45 (used for the scholarships listed below)
Member Dan Lerner - $5,217.80 (used for the scholarships listed below)
Special Thanks (in alphabetical order) for contribution of $1,000 or more to our DAP, Digital Archival Project:
Member Elliot Abrams - $1,000
Member Johnny B. Hall and wife Ginny - $3,000
Member Harry Hurley's Golf Tournament - $1,000
Member Glenn "Hurricane" Schwartz - $1,000
Special Thanks (in alphabetical order) for April 2017 Scholarships:
Member Johnny B. Hall and his wife, Ginny - 6 scholarships
Member Harry Hurley's Golf Tournament - 1 scholarship (for a Stockton University student)
Member Sylvia Kauders - 1 scholarship (from a grant for 5 yearly scholarships running until 2019)
Member Kal Rudman - 5 scholarships (for Temple University students)
Member Marlin Taylor - 1 scholarship
Special Thanks (in alphabetical order) for a contribution of $500 or more to our DAP, Digital Archival Project:
Member Esther Kurtz - $500
Member Marian Lockett-Egan - $500
Member Art Moore - $500
Member Rod "Storm" Phillips - $500
Underwrite a complete scholarship and we'll give you credit in the electronic newsletter until the scholarship is awarded in April of 2017. Give us a donation of appreciated stock of $2,000 or more) and we'll list you in our "Thank You" column for two years. Give us a donation of $1,000 or more and we'll list you in our "Thank You" column for a year. Give us a donation of $500 or more and we'll list you in our "Thank You" column for six months. You can select how we use the money: for our archival project, for scholarships or for our general fund to be used as needed.
We would love to give kudos to those of you who gave an extra contribution to Broadcast Pioneers when you paid for your May luncheon. They include: Norm Donohue, David Virgilio, Keith Cook, Gerry Wilkinson, Eric Address, Steve Tatz, Paul Big Bear, Dorie Lenz, Michael Stairs, Steve Sacks, T. Morgan, Mike Nozilo, Pam and Todd Tuckey and Bill Kelley.
We have already heard from alot of our members on membership renewal. These members included an extra contribution with their renewal. We thank them so very much. They include: Herb Scott, Todd Tuckey, Pam Tuckey, Marc Howard, Frank Krider, Mel Gollub, Daniel Fleishman, Merrill Reese, Lydia Reeves Timmins, Robin Mackintosh, Terry Ruggles, Robert Bocchino, Dave Roberts, Mel Klawansky, Cathy Gandolfo, Sid Mark, Steve Leff, Marlin Taylor, Ray Fiedler, Bill McCloskey, Art Moore, Valerie Morrison, Frank DeAngelo, Alan Boris, David McCrork, Alan Tripp, Donald Bustard, Jim Donovan, Sue Wright, Mike Strug, Richard Troyan, Ed Hurst, Ron Corbin, Irv Grodsky, Kenny Jeremiah, Roger Hendler, Fred Woskoff, Bill Toffel, Bob McCone, Mike Nozilo, Jay Lloyd, Ted Hodgins, Bud Galow and Betty Davis. Also thanks to new member Dan Steele who included an extra contribution with his first year's dues.
A growing portion of the revenues that fund the different activities of the Broadcast Pioneers comes from donations. This includes our archival project and our scholarship program. Now, we are making it even more beneficial for our donors. Broadcast Pioneers is now able to accept gifts of appreciated stock, which provides a significant tax benefit to you. By giving appreciated stock (stock which is worth more now than what it cost when it was purchased), you can get a charitable contribution tax deduction based on the current market value of your stock. At the same time, you avoid the capital gains
tax that would arise if you simply sell the stock. So if you'd like to support our educational mission or our archival project and save money on taxes too, please consider making a gift of appreciated stock. We are a federally recognized, state chartered charity with a 501(c)(3) status. Contact us at (856) 365-5600 or e-mail email@example.com for more details.
Don't be left out. You too can make a pledge. It's never too late. You can earmark it for scholarships, our Digital Archival Project or our general fund. Thanks so much for your support. If you forgot to make an extra contribution (cash or memorabilia) and would like to do so now, you can do so. We would be thrilled to hear from you at: PO Box 2886, Bala Cynwyd, PA 19004, call us at (856) 365-5600 or e-mail us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
A FINAL THOUGHT....
Football - "it starts with a whistle and ends with a gun."
Member John Facenda
"They Call It Pro Football"
Please contact us by e-mail at email@example.com or by mail to: Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia, PO Box 2886, Bala Cynwyd, PA 19004. Your stories are important, to you, to us, and your colleagues. Contact us today and we’ll include your story in the next newsletter!
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