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Posts Tagged ‘radio history

“Numbers constitute the only universal language”*…

 

… or they could.

 xkcd

With 10-digit strings we can distinguish roughly 10,000,000,000 phones from each other. That assumes someone can have the number 000-000-0000, which is probably God’s number; and sure, maybe Satan has laid claim to 666-666-6666, so it’s not available; but we’re only being approximate here. The bottom line is that there’s enough space in principle for everyone in the USA to have 20 or 30 different cell phone numbers, if we use it efficiently.

But we don’t…

Read Geoffrey K. Pullam‘s thoughts on making more sensible use of our phone numbering system, in the always-illuminating Language Log.

* Nathaniel West

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As we subscribe to sensible semiotics, we might recall that it was on this date in 1905 that the first U.S. advertisement for a radio receiver– the “Telimco Wireless Telegraph Outfit”– appeared in Scientific American.

 source

 

Written by LW

November 25, 2012 at 1:01 am

What’s in a name?…

 

What is the “7” in 7UP? We’ll never know for sure. The soft drink’s creator, Charles Leiper Grigg, went to the grave without ever revealing where he got the name. But there several interesting rumors regarding its origin.

When Grigg introduced his drink in October 1929, it had neither a “7” nor an “UP” in its name. He called it “Bib-label Lithiated Lemon-lime Soda.” Imagine trying to order that bad boy from a Taco Bell drive-through! Bib-label Lithiated Lemon-lime Soda is perhaps the single worst name for a soft drink in soda history. How did he come up with this extraordinarily crummy name?..

Besides having a very bizarre name, Grigg’s concoction hit stores just two weeks before the 1929 stock market crash. It also faced competition from about 600 other lemon-lime sodas. Despite all of these daunting factors, the new drink actually sold pretty well. Chalk it up to the cool, refreshing taste of lithium.

But even with its success, Griggs soon realized that Bib-label Lithiated Lemon-lime Soda was a little tricky to remember (you think?) or maybe he just got sick of saying it himself. Griggs changed the name of his drink to “7UP.”…

Eddie Deezen explores the possibilities at Neatorama

Here’s the most persuasive (and logical) explanation for the name: The “7” refers to the drink’s seven ingredients, and the “UP” has to do with the soda’s rising bubbles. This version is supported by an early 7UP tagline: “Seven natural flavors blended into a savory, flavory drink with a real wallop.”…

But as Deezen observes, there could be other explanations, among them:

Is 7UP an aphrodisiac? Remember Wilt Chamberlain, the great basketball player who claimed he had made love to 20,000 women in his lifetime? Well, Wilt the Stilt’s favorite drink was 7UP. According to Wilt, “I used to drink the stuff all the time.”…

Consider the other possibilities at “What is the 7 in 7UP?

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As we wonder if Mayor Bloomberg knows the answer, we might send melodious birthday greetings to Harold Baron “Hal” Jackson; he was born on this date in 1914. An avid sports fan and music lover who wanted to share his passions, Jackson broke one color barrier after another in the radio and music businesses.

While studying at Howard University, Jackson…

… approached the management of WINX, owned by The Washington Post, in 1939 about covering black sports events for the station. Told that station policy prohibited hiring black announcers, he took a different tack: he persuaded a white-owned advertising agency to buy time on WINX for a 15-minute interview and entertainment show, without revealing that he was involved. As he recalled, he showed up in the studio at the last possible moment and was on the air with “The Bronze Review” before management could stop him.

“When I started, the business was so segregated,” Mr. Jackson said in 2008. “Fortunately, that didn’t last long.”

Indeed, once the station’s color line had been broken, Mr. Jackson went on to host a music show there and to broadcast Howard University football and Negro league baseball. He also became a sports entrepreneur, assembling an all-black basketball team, the Washington Bears, which won the invitational World Professional Basketball Tournament in 1943.  [New York Times]

He began to broadcast as a disk jockey as well, and was instrumental in bringing “black” music to audiences of every race.  Jackson continued to host “Sunday Classics,” a program on WBLS in New York (one of a chain of stations he co-owned) until near his death earlier this year.

In 1990, Hal Jackson was the first minority broadcaster inducted into the National Association of Broadcaster’s Hall of Fame; in 1995, he became the first African-American inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame; he was given a Pioneer Award by the Rhythm and Blues Foundation in 2003; in October 2010, he was named a “Giant in Broadcasting” by the Library of American Broadcasting– and (your correspondent can attest) he was a genuinely nice guy.

Hal Jackson in 1993

 source

 

Written by LW

November 3, 2012 at 1:01 am

What’s Past is Prologue: The Future of the Book…

A guest post from Scenarios and Strategy (almanac entry added)…

“Special Glasses for Reading in Bed” source: Nationaal Archief

Much breath is being spent by the Chattering Classes predicting, debating, and otherwise worrying over the fates of the book, journalism, and publishing at large– broadly speaking: the creation, dissemination, storage, and use of knowledge itself.  Lots of jargon, a wealth of acronyms, and liberal use of facile analogies and constructs– it’s all a little dizzying.

Happily, Tim Carmody has ridden to the rescue. While he has mooted his own manifesto for the future of the book (eminently worth a read), his most recent contribution to the Science and Technology section of The Atlantic blog, is just what one needs in a Babel-like time such as this– some context.  In “10 Reading Revolutions Before E-Books,” that’s precisely what he provides as he recounts, for example, the move from rolled scroll to folded codex, the replacement of papyrus by parchment (and then paper), the shift from vertical to horizontal writing/reading, back to vertical…

It’s fascinating; it’s illuminating… and it’s a terrifically useful reminder that writing, reading– communicating– and the forms in which they’re done have always been in flux: “10 Reading Revolutions Before E-Books.”

As we pine for those iPads, we might recall that it was on this date in 1920 that radio station 8MK (later WBL, then WWJ) in Detroit became the first U.S. broadcaster to air regularly-scheduled newscasts.  The station, founded by the Scripps family and housed in their Detroit News headquarters, had gone on air 11 days earlier; then, after a period of testing, inaugurated its service with election returns.

Memoir of 8MK’s first employee (source)

Say what?…

source

Trying to master a role in a Tennessee Williams play?  Place someone by their accent?  Steven Weinberger, a linguist at George Mason University can help.  He’s created The Speech Accent Archive, where one can click on a map to hear some native, some non-native English speakers from all over the world– but in each case reciting the same short English paragraph, crafted to contain every sound in the Queen’s Language.

(C.F. also the previously-reported British Library Map of Accents and Dialects.)

As we smooth our sibilants, we might recall that it was on this date in 1938 that Northwestern University conferred an honorary degree on ventriloquist’s dummy Charlie McCarthy (whose “partner,” Edgar Bergen, had attended Northwestern, but never graduated).

Lest we doubt that Bergen and his wooden friend were worthy of the academic accolade, we might note that they have been credited by some with “saving the world”: later that same year, on the night of October 30, 1938, when Orson Welles performed his War of the Worlds radio play, panicking many listeners, most of the American public had tuned instead to Bergen and McCarthy on another station.   (Dissenters note that Bergen may inadvertently have contributed to the hysteria: when the musical portion of Bergen’s show [The Chase and Sanborn Hour] aired about twelve minutes into the show, many listeners switched stations– to discover War of the Worlds in progress, with an all-too-authentic-sounding reporter detailing a horrific alien invasion.

Charlie McCarthy, BA (left), with his friend Edgar Bergen (source)

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