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Local News / Entertainment

Saturday, 12 April, 2008 1:07 AM

'Detroit's Classic Radio Voices' and 'Tiger Stadium Artifacts' are now on display at the Detroit Historical Museum

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

"Detroit's Classic Radio Voices" is now on view through August 24, 2008.

by Jason Rzucidlo
americajr@americajr.com

DETROIT -- Two new exhibits have opened at the Detroit Historical Museum just in time for the warm water. The first features artifacts, photos and audio from six of the Motor City's most famous radio personalities. The second features artifacts salvaged from the old Tiger Stadium. Both exhibits will be on display all summer long at the museum in the city's cultural center.

Detroit's Classic Radio Voices features memorabilia from Bob Allison, Sonny Eliot, Ernie Harwell, J.P. McCarthy, Dick Purtan and Martha Jean "The Queen" Steinberg. Four of the personalities are still alive while two of them have past.

"It has proven to be very popular," said Bob Sadler, Public Relations Director at the Detroit Historical Museum. "It's in place through August 24. A wide variety of things. Some materials were given to us, in our collection or were picked up. You can hear a sound program constantly looping.

"They all became Detroit institutions. They each have made an impact on the city. Each one was on the air 40 years or more."

One of the most notable artifacts within the exhibit is the dress that was worn by Martha Jean "The Queen". It is very shiny and sparkly and pink in color. The dress is the very first thing that your eyes will see upon reaching the exhibit.

"It made a statement when she showed up," Sadler said.

Bob Allison was the host of "Ash Your Neighbor" since 1962. It was aired first on WWJ-AM and is now being broadcast on WNZK-AM. He also became gamous as host of "Bowling for Dollars" on Channel 4 which was WWJ-TV at the time.

Within his section of the exhibit, we see a volunteer award from the Alzheimer's Association, an award from the Boys Club of Royal Oak and other memorabilia.

Sonny Eliot is the funny weatherman from WWJ Newsradio 950. He as been doing forecasts at the station since 1950. He also did weather at Channel 4 (which was WWJ-TV at the time) and WJBK-TV Channel 2. He also hosted "At the Zoo", a popular television show for 17 years.

Within his section of the exhibit, we see an award from WWJ, an award from the Society of Professor Journalists and an award from the Department of Transportation Federal Aviation Administration. Sonny Eliot's Emmy award is also being shown in the exhibit.

Ernie Harwell is the broadcasting legend known for calling Detroit Tigers' games. He is a member of both the Radio and the Baseball Halls of Fame. Harwell was a radio commentator from 1960 through 2002 when he retired. He is known for saying "LOOOOONG GONE.”

Within his section of the exhibit, we see an autographed microphone, a bobblehead, a copy of TV Guide with Ernie Harwell on the cover, a book called Ernie Harwell: Life After Baseball and another book titled Ernie Harwell: Tuned to Baseball. There is a Detroit Tigers yearbook from 1988, a photo of Ernie Harwell with headphones and a microphone on, a copy of the Detroit Free Press with the lead story "Signing Off".

J.P. McCarthy was the morning show host at News/Talk 760 WJR. He woke up the city with conversational style and talent from the 1960s until 1995 when he past away.

Dick Purtan is the morning show radio host that has been on the air for more than 40 years in the Detroit market. He is a Radio Hall of Famer that has worked at WKNR-AM in 1965 through his current home of Oldies 104.3 WOMC-FM.

Within his section of the exhibit, we see a 2002 Salt Lake Olympic torch, an Emmy Award, an award from the Michigan Broadcasting Hall of Fame, a model of a billboard for Purtan's Salvation Army radiothon and much more. We see a coffee mug from Oldies 104.3 and a t-shirt from Purtan's Comedy Night Out, an event hosted on July 13, 2007. Three classic microphones are also being shown off. Two of them are RCA microphones and the other is an Altec microphone.

The last radio personality featured in the exhibit is the late Martha Jean "The Queen" Steinberg. She was an activist for African Americans and women in broadcasting. She arrived in the Motor City from Memphis in 1963 and became an R&B disc jockey. She worked at WCHB-AM and WJLB-FM until she bought her own radio station and called it WQBH-AM where she worked until she died in 2000.

Within her section of the exhibit, we see a pink dress that she worn, a book called She Made It and an announcement for WQBH's 10th annual "King of Kings" event. Steinberg was named 1995 Michiganian of the Year by The Detroit News.

New Tiger Stadium exhibit featured within "New to the Collection"

The Detroit Historical Museum is showing off memorabilia from the old Tiger Stadium, which is slated for demolition. Items include a plaque from the entrance to the business office, pitching rubber from the visitor's bullpen, a chalk line machine from the 1920's, a stadium entrance turnstile from 1950, a row of four orange seats from the 1980s and a brass ticket window.

"We've got bricks for sale," Sadler said. "We ran out of our initial inventory of bricks and had to ask the city of Detroit for permission to go into Tiger Stadium and get some more."

Bricks and seatbacks from the former Tiger Stadium are available for $25 at the giftshop inside the Detroit Historical Museum.

"Bring in a ticketstub from a 2008 game and we'll give them half off," Sadler said.

Additional items available at the giftshop include Detroit Tigers drinking cups, polo shirts, water bottles and uniform jackets. Ernie Harwell recordings are available for $5. Other items available for purchase include a 2000 Comerica Park inaugural season guide, a 1996 program with score card, a 1993 booklet with baseball cards and a 1994 booklet with baseball cards.

The Detroit Historical Museum, located at 5401 Woodward Ave. (NW corner of Kirby) in Detroit’s Cultural Center area, is open to the public Wednesday through Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday from Noon to 5 p.m. On Mondays and Tuesdays, the Museum is not open to the public but available for group tours by calling (313) 833-7979. Adult admission is $6. Seniors (60+), college students with valid college ID, and youth ages 5-18 pay $4. Admission for children ages four and under is free. For more information, call the Museum at (313) 833-1805 or check out our website at www.detroithistorical.org.

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

Memorabilia from Dick Purtan within Detroit's Classic Radio Voices exhibit.

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

Three classic microphones: RCA, RCA and Altec.

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

A 2002 Olympic torch donated to the exhibit by Dick Purtan.

 

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