Who was Walter Winchell?

I added this poll after hearing a radio show (I’m pretty sure it was John Batchelor) on how one of the “Tokyo Rose” radio broadcasters was actually working to help the US military, but was pursued for war crimes, mainly led by the Broadway and Hollywood gossip columnist and WABC personality Walter Winchell (who has no connection with Winchell Donuts).

After reading up on this to see if this “Tokyo Rose was a victim” narrative might be true – Walter Winchell was my grandparent’s generation and only a fuzzy memory of mine – I discovered the little factoid that Larry King took over for Winchell at the Miami Herald in 1965 when Winchell stopped being carried by newspapers.

Based on the poll results, I’m not the only one that didn’t know that.

If you haven’t heard it yet, Larry King has started doing 1 minute commentaries for Cumulus Radio.

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11 Responses to Who was Walter Winchell?

  1. CC1s121LrBGT says:

    Do you remember the details of Larry’s Miami “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” story? If memory serves, he got a call from a hot female caller near by while a DJ in Miami. He played the song while carefully looking at the song time and his watch so that he could be back after a “quickie” and no one would be the wiser.

    If memory serves, he got back to the station and there was a big fuss – it turned out the record “skipped” just a few seconds into the song, but Larry was in too much of a hurry out that door, that he didn’t notice.

    He told the story at least once on the Westwood One Radio Network show back in the 1980s.

  2. CC1s121LrBGT says:

    Wikipedia has an interesting line: “He made his radio debut over WABC in New York, a CBS affiliate, on May 12, 1930. (John Dunning, Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio, p. 708)”

    I remember when ABC actually owned WABC. 😉

    • Art Stone says:

      The history of New York Call signs can be hard to follow, but that’s accurate. ABC didn’t exist until the 1940s when FDR forced NBC to divest its Blue network because NBC refused to sell blocks of time to labor unions.

      • CC1s121LrBGT says:

        FDR also messed with RCA. Here are two lines from the RCA wiki page:

        “By 1926 the market for commercial radio had expanded, and RCA purchased the WEAF and WCAP radio stations and networks from AT&T, merged them with its WJZ (the predecessor of WABC) New York to WRC (presently WTEM) Washington chain, and formed the National Broadcasting Company (NBC).”

        “In 1930, the U.S. Department of Justice brought antitrust charges against RCA, General Electric and Westinghouse. As a result, GE and Westinghouse gave up their ownership interests in RCA. RCA was allowed to keep its radio factories, and GE and Westinghouse were allowed to compete in that business after 30 months.”

  3. HPaws says:

    The voice of the Untouchables………

  4. There was a great HBO movie made about Winchell a few decades ago with Stanley Tucci. Winchell was a powerful newsman but became full of himself and made so many enemies that literally no one went to his funeral when he died in the early ’70s. Matt Drudge idolizes him for some reason.

    • Art Stone says:

      Winchell was a strong anti-communist and backer of Joe McCartthy who was trying to smoke out the communists working in Hollywood. That being the case, a film made about his life by Hollywood is probably not likely to have been flattering.

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