Bob Horn (broadcaster)
Donald Loyd "Bob" Horn (born in Pine Grove, Pennsylvania; February 20, 1916 – July 31, 1966) was an American radio and television personality in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, best known for being the original host of Bandstand (which later became American Bandstand.)
According to academic records from his youth, Horn sometimes spelled his surname Horne. In addition, Horn initially replaced his first name with "Robert"; after landing a disk jockey job at Houston's KILT, Horn became known as Bob Adams.
In the late 1940s, Horn was hired by Jack Steck, Program Manager for Philadelphia's WFIL radio station, to be a daytime announcer and late night DJ for Walter Annenberg's Triangle Publications' WFIL-AM.
After several years in Philadelphia (and a brief stint in Los Angeles), Horn had a popular show as a DJ on WIP called C'mon and Dance. Since Horn wanted to appear on television, WFIL was able to woo him to its station, to create a daytime radio show, Bob Horn's Bandstand, and a TV version of the show. Bob Horn's Bandstand premiered on WFIL-TV (Channel 6) in late September 1952 as a replacement for a weekday movie. Originally, Bob Horn's Bandstand was mostly short musical films (the ancestors of music videos); there also were studio guests.
Horn was disenchanted with the film-based program and sought to have it changed to teens dancing along, live on camera - live - as popular records played, based on an idea from WPEN's 950 Club, hosted by Joe Grady and Ed Hurst. Since the film idea was going nowhere, WFIL began advertising for dancers. The Bandstand makeover debuted on October 7, 1952, with hundreds dancing on live TV. Bandstand sometimes drew over 60 percent of the daytime audience, making Horn wealthy.
On July 9, 1956, Horn, fired after a drunk driving arrest, was replaced by Dick Clark after a period of on-air tryouts from various DJs. (Horn also had been charged with statutory rape, and was acquitted.) Clark had shared afternoon DJ duties with Horn on WFIL-AM (Horn had been working radio and TV simultaneously, and wasn't happy about it.) Bandstand was picked up by ABC (becoming American Bandstand) on August 5, 1957 and went on to great success with Dick Clark as host.
Horn, then known as Bob Adams, was heard from 9pm to midnight on KILT, a station owned by the man who invented Top 40 radio, Gordon McLendon. Horn had worked for McLendon in the mid-1940s. McLendon knew of Horn's Philadelphia troubles and called Horn to offer him a chance to get back on radio. When he went to Houston, Horn had little money, but much heart. Horn purchased the Town & Country lounge in Bellaire, a suburb of Houston. With the support of his wife Ann, and son Peter, Horn was back in business. At KILT, Horn soon went into advertising for the station. He became the best salesperson on the staff, and Houston advertisers took great delight in hearing Bob talk of his (initially) very successful career in Philadelphia. Horn eventually started an advertising agency, called Bob Adams Advertising, which also was successful. Horn eventually bought a small ranch in the Houston suburbs.
Horn died of a heat stroke-induced heart attack while mowing his lawn in Houston on July 31, 1966 at the age of 50. He's buried in Forest Park Cemetery in that city with the epitaph, "Bandstand".
- History of Rock, Bob Horn
- Scott Bruce, It Happened in Philadelphia. Globe Pequot, 2008, p.87. ISBN 0-7627-3989-4
- Penn State Center for the Book, Philadelphia’s Teens Take a “Stand”
- Ben Fong-Torres, Not fade away: a backstage pass to 20 years of rock & roll. Hal Leonard Corporation, 1999, p.152. ISBN 0-87930-590-8
Recollections of Dick Clark
- Scott Bruce, p.89.
- Peter M. Horn, March 9, 2009