Can you tell me the first sports “personality” show that set the standard?

"Inside The NFL" with Jimmy The Greek, Irv Cross, Jayne Kennedy and Brent Musberger

“Inside The NFL” with Jimmy The Greek, Irv Cross, Jayne Kennedy and Brent Musberger

From Len G – Mr. Pop – With so many sports shows on ESPN, the Bob Costas NFL program on HBO and all the networks, can you tell me the first sports “personality’ show that set the standard?

Mr. Pop History – I don’t think there’s any doubt it was “The NFL Today” on CBS, back during the 1970’s and into the 1980’s. Brent Musberger and Jimmy the Greek were just terrific. There was such a give and take energy and I’m not sure if these two got along off camera. Jimmy the Greek Snyder once punched Musberger in a bar. On the following program, they broke out an oversize boxing glove and laughed about it.

You get the picture – those dynamics made for a great sports show. Other members of the program included Irv Cross and over the years, folks such as Phyllis George and Jayne Kennedy. As good as some of these shows are today – and I love the Costas HBO program myself, I can’t help think it all began with the original “NFL Today.” It set the standard.

I just heard that Neil McIntyre passed away September 11. I can’t find his obit anywhere.

Radio Programmer Neil McIntyre During The 1970's

Radio Programmer Neil McIntyre During The 1970′s

From Christy – I hope you can help me. I just heard that Neil McIntyre passed away September 11. I can’t find his obit anywhere. Do you know more about his life?  I was an old friend from the 1960′s at 1010 WINS NY: a teenager trying to break into rock. We would practice with my girl group at WINS. Murray the K’s friend was our manager. We kept rehearsing so that we could meet Phil Spector but we never perfected ourselves to that degree… circa 1964.

Mr. Pop History – Radio programmer Neil McIntyre was indeed at 1010 WINS in 1964 during their last gasp at top-40 and WINS sounded great that year with DJ’s such as Ed Hider, Jack Lacy, Johnny Holiday and Murray the K. The problem was, WINS had WMCA and WABC breathing down their backs and there just wasn’t room for 3 top-40 stations. McIntyre had come from WHK Cleveland and brought WHK DJ Johnny Holiday with him to New York. WINS decided to go full-blast top-40 (again) and hired him during the fall of 1963. WINS scooped the world after all the Beatles came to New York in February, 1964, when John, Paul George and Ringo gave WINS all kinds of promos: “This is Paul McCartney and You’re Listening to 1010 WINS.”  (Ringo and John Lennon did the same for WMCA).

1964 was such a great year to be in top-40 radio with the British invasion of the Beatles, Stones, Kinks and so many others. Murray the K’s exclusive Beatle interviews were tops. WINS and WMCA tried to scoop each other with “firsts” in New York and it made for exciting radio. It was music competition at its best. The WINS sound in 1964 was exciting and highly produced. If a record was in the WINS top-10, it was in the “WINS Winners Circle.” You gotta love it.

Group W transferred McIntyre to KDKA  Pittsburgh in 1965 after the WINS all-news change. Later, Neil McIntyre programmed WPIX-FM (New York) during the early and mid-1970’s and was it my favorite choice for top-40. Like WINS, the station was loaded with personality DJ”s like Dennis Quinn, Les Marshak, Alex Hayes, Ted David and Jerry Carrol.

He was 68 and passed away from cancer. I’m told McIntyre was one of the nicest in the business. I’ve sent you his obit and thanks for a great e-mail.

When did Mr. Microphone come out?

From Rich C. – When did Mr. Microphone come out?

Mr. Pop History – Sometime around late 1978, but the TV airwaves came alive with Ronco’s Mr. Microphone in 1979. Click here for 1970′s technology timeline.

Who could forget that 70′s guy exclaiming “Hey good looking, we’ll be back to pick you up later.” Mr. Microphone was actually a low-power FM modulator, but through the magic of Ronco advertising, the device was turned into a hip tool to pick-up girls. The only problem with this commercial: you had to know what station the receiving FM radio was tuned to, so you could infiltrate their radio. Getting the frequency just right would have taken much insight and tuning time. Oh well, it’s only TV. It’s one of the classic commercials of the 1970′s.

I never ever remember red M&M candies when I was growing up

Red M&Ms

Red M&Ms

From David G – Mr. Pop – Is my memory correct in that, I never ever remember red M&M candies when I was growing up, but I see “red” today. Didn’t Mars discontinue the little red candies, then, bring them back?

Mr. Pop History – You have a good memory, Mars discontinued red M&M’s in 1976 because its dye was considered a health risk. But, they were brought back in 1987. Here’s something from the files from January 15, 1987:

Mars announces that red M&M’s are coming back after an absence of 11 years. The return of the little candy was prompted by a national outcry that included thousands of letters to the manufacturer and the formation of college campus societies. Red M&M’s were discontinued in 1976 because of “confusion and concern” over Red Dye No. 2, which was banned by federal regulators as a health risk. Red M&M’s were always safe though, as they contained Red Dye Nos. 3 and 40. Mars always sold a limited number of packages of green and red candies for the holidays.

Who was Larry Kings worst guest ever? Has he ever mentioned it?

Demond Wilson

Demond Wilson

From Diana G – Hello Mr. Pop. What a fantastic site. I’m finding the search engine now works great. Did you do some tweaking?

Also, Larry King, who never seems to have a bad guest. My question: who was his worst ever? Has he ever mentioned it?

Mr. Pop History – My apologies. Up until recently, the search on this site stunk. It was bad. One of the problems is the size of Mrpophistory. It’s probably the largest accessible (privately-owned and produced) content website in the world – now at 13,000 pages.  What I mean by accessible is that, you can get anywhere on this site without a fee or as much as a password.

Now, part 2 of your question… Larry King once said his absolute low-point came back in the 1970’s, with his overnight national radio show. The guest was actor Demond Wilson, who many remember as the son in “Sanford and Son.” According to Larry King – during that live interview – Wilson answered questions with either a yes or no. He refused to elaborate when King wanted to know. At one point,  Wilson blurted out – “When Am I Going To Get Paid?” And lastly, he refused to take telephone calls. It must have been a nightmare for King.

You state the Whopper came out from Burger King in 1970. From what I knew, that couldn’t be accurate



From Fred W – First off, I regularly visit your website, and enjoy it immensely- I adore pop culture trivia, and you are definitely an authority.

You state the Whopper came out from Burger King in 1970. From what I knew, that couldn’t be accurate- I was personally eating them before then. Not too long ago, Burger King did a commercial about the Whopper- where the original Whopper (a father figure) berating the Whopper Jr. (the son) for selling himself for a dollar- and the son coming up with an old ad where the Whopper was selling for 37 cents!

In checking Wikipedia- it indicates that the Whopper came out in 1957 (as did I) and sold for 37 cents!

So, the Whopper was far earlier to the market than the Big Mac, and although I do like the Big Mac, the Whopper is far superior.

Just my two cents

Mr. Pop History – 
Fred – Thanks so much for the kind words. Really appreciate it!

I’m sticking to the February 1970 date for the national BK Whopper introduction. On Wiki, someone copied the info on Burger King’s website, which says, something called a Whopper came out – in 1957.

One of the problems with this kind of information is – that very little can be verified from the 1957 info. It probably wasn’t much of a burger and was available on a limited basis. IOW – it wasn’t anything special.  In fact, most people don’t remember a BK Whopper before 1970. That’s just a fact. In 1969 – Whopper commercials were introduced, but on a regional basis. The most important point – there was no trademark on “Whopper” until 1968. Hmmm…

I do know when the McDonald’s Big Mac was introduced nationally in 1968, BK took out a trademark for the Whopper. This was September of 1968. Burger King knew that – whatever they had – they weren’t doing it right.

It clearly needed a big burger to compete with the Big Mac nationally.  Had they’d been serious, “the Whopper” would have been given the credit earlier – but – McDonald’s gets the credit for rolling out a big burger nationally – first.

And, you can bet BK was testing a version that was much different what was being offered.

Not Quit Forgotten – Olivia Newton John Use To Be So Popular. Music.

Debuting on the U.S. charts back in 1971, Olivia Newton John was everywhere – or it seemed. During the 1970′s she was rarely off pop and country radio.  Her hits included the Grammy-winning “I Honestly Love You” in 1974 and of course, she was a big part of the “Grease” movie and soundtrack in 1978. She held her own with (Sir Dance-a-Lot) John Travolta.

Olivia Newton John began to pull back during the mid-1980′s, after “Physical.” She wanted to spend more time with her newborn – Chloe.

In 1992, she was diagnosed with breast cancer, fought the good fight, then formally returned to music in 1998 with “Back With a Heart” – but never regained her former chart status.

If you keep your eye out, you can catch her touring today, still sounding as good as she did.

Dedicate A Week To Someone Special And… See Video Below For Today’s Question

From Joseph O – Looking at their hit records a supergroup of the 1970′s, and I mean supergroup, had a problem with time/keeping a clock. Who was the group?

Mr. Pop History – You gave it away when you said hits. Has to be Chicago, with hits such as “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is” and “25 or 6 to 4.”