Announcer Martin Block was the first radio disc jockey to become
a star in his own right.
Born in Los Angeles, Block began his career reading commercials
on a station in Tijuana, Mexico. He later returned to Los Angeles
and became a junior assistant at KFWB, where a disc jockey named
Al Jarvis hosted a popular local show called Make Believe Ballroom.
Late in 1934, Block was hired by WNEW/New York, where he played
music while the station awaited developments in the trial of accused
kidnapper Bruno Richard Hauptmann. Block created the illusion that
he was broadcasting from a ballroom with the nations top dance
bands performing live. Block appropriated the name Make Believe
Ballroom and the show was an instant hit.
Make Believe Ballroom became so popular that when WNEW moved
to a new studio on Fifth Avenue, they constructed a simulated ballroomcomplete
with chandelier and black linoleumfor Blocks broadcasts.
Block left Make Believe Ballroom on January 1, 1954 to host
The Martin Block Show for ABC Radio. Towards the end of his
career, he was heard on WOR/New York.
Martin Block died September 18, 1967.
Martin Block was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame in 1988.
courtesy of Photofest.
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