December 11, 1972: Corner of the Sky

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(Pictured: an artist’s conception of an astronaut and the lunar rover on the moon.)

(Correction below.)

December 11, 1972, is a Monday. At 2:55 Eastern time this morning afternoon, Apollo 17 astronauts Gene Cernan and Jack Schmitt land in the Taurus-Littrow valley of the moon. During their first EVA (extra-vehicular activity), Cernan breaks a fender off of the lunar rover the astronauts use to drive on the surface; they improvise a fix with a paper map and some duct tape. The investigation continues into the crash of a United Airlines plane near Midway Airport in Chicago last Friday. Forty-five people died including two on the ground. One of the passengers killed was Dorothy Hunt, wife of E. Howard Hunt, one of the Watergate burglars. Today, President Nixon’s taping system captures a conversation with Chief of Staff H. R. Haldeman in which the president worries that the $10,000 in cash found on Mrs. Hunt’s body might be traced back to the White House as hush money. Nixon and Haldeman also discuss legal and PR strategies to defuse the Watergate scandal, and whether blame could be placed on Attorney General John Mitchell. Funeral services are pending for Louella Parsons, who pioneered the Hollywood gossip column beginning in the 1920s. She died on Saturday at age 91. In Cincinnati, City Hall is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Yesterday, major league baseball owners agreed to adopt the designated-hitter rule starting in 1973. In a compromise move, the DH will be used only in the American League and only on a three-year experimental basis. After three years, the rule will either be adopted by the National League or scrapped entirely. Also yesterday, veteran AWA wrestler George “Scrap Iron” Gadaski appeared on a bill in Rice Lake, Wisconsin. His opponent was 23-year-old Richard Fliehr from Memphis, Tennessee, who made his professional debut, and who wrestles under the name Ric Flair. Today, future professional hockey player Daniel Alfredsson is born.

In today’s Peanuts strip, Sally gives a report on dinosaurs. Tonight’s lineup on CBS includes Gunsmoke, Here’s Lucy, The Doris Day Show, and The New Bill Cosby Show. NBC has Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In and the 1964 theatrical movie A Shot in the Dark starring Peter Sellers as Inspector Clouseau. ABC airs an episode of The Rookies followed by Monday Night Football with the New York Jets at the Oakland Raiders. Despite 403 yards passing by Jets quarterback Joe Namath, the Raiders win 24-16. It’s the final Monday night game of the year; the regular season will conclude this coming Sunday.

Genesis makes its American debut at Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. The Grateful Dead plays Winterland in San Francisco, and Led Zeppelin plays Cardiff, Wales. After a concert in Knoxville, Tennessee, James Brown is arrested on suspicion of starting a riot when he’s actually talking to fans about drug abuse. He is charged with disorderly conduct but swiftly released after threatening to take legal action against the city. At KDNT in Denton, Texas, “Rockin’ Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu” by Johnny Rivers leaps all the way from #14 to #1 on the new survey released today. Last week’s #1, “I’m Still in Love With You” by Al Green falls to #6. Between those two are “Living in the Past” by Jethro Tull, the Stylistics’ “I’m Stone in Love With You,” “Corner of the Sky” by the Jackson Five, and Billy Paul’s “Me and Mrs. Jones,” which makes the biggest move within the survey, from #17 last week to #5 this week. Four songs debut within KDNT’s Top 40: “Been to Canaan” by Carole King at #15, “Sitting” by Cat Stevens and “Your Mama Don’t Dance” by Loggins and Messina at #25 and #26 respectively, and Elton John’s “Crocodile Rock” at #30. The new #1 single on the Hot 100, “I Am Woman” by Helen Reddy, does not appear on the KDNT chart. The #1 album in Denton is Catch Bull at Four by Cat Stevens. Catch Bull at Four has just dropped out of the #1 spot on the Billboard album chart after a three-week run, replaced this week by the Moody Blues’ Seventh Sojourn.

Perspective From the Present: I think I’ve said before, somewhere, that what I remember of certain times or places, apart from songs that call them back, is the light. December 1972 is the warm yellow light filling the junior-high gym during basketball practice, the bluish-white street light harsh against the 6PM darkness outside the back door of the school, where Mother would pick me up after practice, and the dashboard lights of the ’65 Comet—and the AM radio playing Johnny Rivers, Al Green, Billy Paul, and all the rest.


December 7, 1990: Unauthorized Pyrotechnics

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(Pictured: Madonna, in the elaborate getup she wore for the MTV Video Music Awards in September 1990.)

December 7, 1990, was a Friday. The top headline this morning regards Saddam Hussein’s surprise announcement yesterday that he would release more than 2,000 foreigners held hostage in Iraq and Kuwait, one of the objectives set down by the UN for ending the four-month old Persian Gulf crisis. There’s no indication of a timetable, but Iraq’s UN ambassador says he hopes the captives will be home by Christmas. Cable TV mogul Ted Turner and actress Jane Fonda announce their engagement. (They will marry next year and divorce in 2001.) Actress Joan Bennett, best known for her film-noir roles in the 1940s and an Emmy-nominated performance on Dark Shadows, dies at age 80. Soul singer Dee Clark, best known for the 1961 hit “Raindrops,” dies at age 52. Future baseball star Yasiel Puig is born. Six games are played in the National Hockey League tonight; yesterday, the league announced that new franchises, to be named the Tampa Bay Lightning and Ottawa Senators, will begin play in the fall of 1992. Nine games are played in the NBA tonight. The Utah Jazz snap the Los Angeles’ Lakers eight-game winning streak with a 101-79 victory. Karl Malone leads all scorers with 27; Magic Johnson leads the Lakers with 20.

On TV tonight, ABC wins the night with Full House, Family Matters, Perfect Strangers, the sitcom Going Places (about young TV comedy writers in Los Angeles) and the newsmagazine 20/20. CBS counters with a Garfield special, a repeat of A Claymation Christmas Carol, Over My Dead Body (a detective drama starring Edward Woodward and Jessica Lundy), and Dallas. Fox airs America’s Most Wanted and an episode of Against the Law, a legal comedy/drama set in Boston and starring Michael O’Keefe. NBC’s lineup includes Quantum Leap, Night Court, Wings, and a news special following homicide detectives on the job in Houston. Later tonight, Johnny Carson welcomes singer Patti LaBelle. The top new movie this weekend is The Rookie, starring Charlie Sheen and directed by Clint Eastwood; it will place third at the box office behind Home Alone and Misery and ahead of Dances With Wolves and Three Men and a Little Lady.

Fleetwood Mac wraps up its eight-month, worldwide Behind the Mask tour in Inglewood, California. It’s the last show for guitarist Rick Vito, and the last for a while for Christine McVie and Stevie Nicks. Poison and Warrant play the Rosemont Horizon in suburban Chicago. Level 42 plays Hammersmith Odeon in London, and Jane’s Addiction plays the Utah State Fair Coliseum in Salt Lake City. New Kids on the Block wrap up a two-night stand in Providence, and the Go-Gos play Dallas. A death-metal show in Milwaukee comes to an abrupt end when one band’s unauthorized pyrotechnics sets their drums on fire and blows up the drum riser. On the new Billboard Hot 100 to be released tomorrow, “Because I Love You” by Stevie B goes to #1, knocking last week’s #1, “I’m Your Baby Tonight” by Whitney Houston, to #2. “From a Distance” by Bette Midler is up to #3 from #5 last week. Two songs are new in the Top 10: “Tom’s Diner” by DNA with Suzanne Vega and “Justify My Love” by Madonna, which blasts to #10 from #23 on the strength of recent publicity. MTV has already decided not to air its controversial video; earlier in the week, Madonna appeared on ABC’s Nightline, which showed the video and grilled her about it. “Justify My Love” makes the biggest move within the Top 40 by a longshot; the next biggest mover is Janet Jackson’s “Love Will Never Do Without You,” up seven spots to #24. To the Extreme by Vanilla Ice marks its fifth week atop the Billboard 200 album chart.

Perspective From the Present: “Because I Love You” is one of the more inexplicable #1 hits of all time. It’s a generic R&B love ballad with absolutely nothing interesting about it, but it would spend the rest of the holiday season, four weeks in all, at #1. That was my first holiday season at the little AM/FM combo in Clinton, Iowa, which I had joined in March. I don’t know how happy I was to be there at the time; I felt as though I should be further up the market ladder in the year I turned 30. The experience looks better in retrospect, however. I had a good boss committed to doing good radio, and he left me alone to do my job, which was not always my experience.

December 3, 1968: That’s Life

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December 3, 1968, was a Tuesday. Tonight, ABC leads its network newscast with stories about student unrest in San Francisco and New York City. San Francisco State University reopened yesterday with 300 cops on hand to restore order after a student strike. Today, students toss rocks and bottles at police and battle with fellow students opposed to the protests. In New York City, the rioting students are high-schoolers who protest longer school hours imposed due to a teacher’s strike earlier in the year. CBS leads with ongoing trouble in the Middle East, as Israel and Jordan engage in an artillery battle. NBC leads with President-elect Richard Nixon’s appointment of Robert Finch, who had served as senior advisor during Nixon’s campaign, as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. As part of the story, NBC reports that Nixon is considering the appointment of 1948 presidential candidate Thomas E. Dewey as attorney general, or possibly FBI director should J. Edgar Hoover choose to retire. In addition, all three networks cover reaction to this week’s report on the violence at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago that describes it as a “police riot.” Rod Serling speaks at Moorpark College in Moorpark, California. His appearance is briefly in doubt after he refuses to sign a loyalty oath. He speaks about current events, including the violence in Chicago, San Francisco, and in Vietnam. Future actor Brendan Fraser and future singer Montell Jordan are born.

United Press International’s final college football poll makes Ohio State the national champion. The undefeated Buckeyes will meet Southern California in the Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day. USC, ranked #4 in the poll with a record of 9-1-1, is led by running back O. J. Simpson, who is the favorite to win the Heisman Trophy, to be awarded on Thursday. After a year of dominating pitching performances, including Bob Gibson’s 1.12 earned run average and Denny McLain’s 31 wins, Major League Baseball lowers the pitcher’s mound and adjusts the strike zone to give hitters some help.

In primetime tonight, NBC airs Singer Presents . . . Elvis, Elvis Presley’s first TV special and his return to live performance after several years concentrating on movies. It’s sponsored by the Singer Sewing Machine company. The show, which was recorded over several days last June, includes both stand-up and sit-down perfomances and concludes with “If I Can Dream.” It will be the highest-rated program of the week, get mostly positive reviews, and go down in history as the ’68 Comeback Special. Before the Elvis special, NBC airs episodes of The Jerry Lewis Show and Julia. It’s followed by The Unabridged Brigitte Bardot, a variety special produced in France. CBS counterprograms with a National Geographic special titled “Reptiles and Amphibians,” followed by The Red Skelton Show, The Doris Day Show, and a news special in which Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black discusses the Bill of Rights with reporters Eric Sevareid and Martin Agronsky. On ABC, it’s The Mod Squad, It Takes a Thief, N.Y.P.D, and an episode of That’s Life, a musical comedy that stars Robert Morse and E. J. Peaker as a young married couple who have various domestic and workplace adventures and periodically break into song. The Kinks play in Madrid and the Troggs play in Paris. At WABC in New York, “Love Child” by the Supremes is in its second week at #1. “Abraham, Martin and John” by Dion moves to #2 from #5. Other songs on the WABC chart include “Hey Jude,” “Both Sides Now,” “For Once in My Life,” “Magic Carpet Ride,” “Wichita Lineman,” “White Room,” and “I Heard It Through the Grapevine.”

Perspective From the Present: We would not have watched Elvis on this night, because the favorite TV show at our house, the only one I can remember all of us wanting to watch together every week, was The Red Skelton Show. Tuesday was the only night of the week we weren’t required to go to bed at 8:00, since Red’s show lasted until 8:30. Several CBS sitcom themes of the late 60s, including “Que Sera Sera” from The Doris Day Show, come with the strong image of hearing them while lying in bed at the end of the hall while the TV continued to play in the living room, and not being ready to sleep.

November 27, 1977: Heavy Snow

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(Pictured: Linda Ronstadt. As if you needed me to tell you.)

November 27, 1977, was a Sunday. Voters in the African country of Upper Volta approve a new constitution. In the Upper Midwest, heavy snow falls. In Green Bay, weather forecasters predict six inches will fall during the Packers’ game against the Minnesota Vikings. The Vikings win 13-6. Elsewhere in the NFL, the Atlanta Falcons beat Tampa Bay 17-0; it’s the 25th straight loss for the Buccaneers, who have yet to win a regular-season game since joining the NFL the previous season. Canada’s football championship, the Grey Cup game, is played in Montreal; after a Friday snowstorm, groundskeepers put salt on the Olympic Stadium turf to melt it, but plunging temperatures on the weekend turned the field to a sheet of ice. Despite the conditions, Montreal defeats Edmonton 41-6. Future NFL player Adam Archuleta is born. In the Sunday Peanuts strip, Charlie Brown asks Lucy for a great truth.

On TV tonight, CBS presents the theatrical movie Three Days of the Condor. NBC has a musical adaptation of The Hobbit, A Doonesbury Special, and highlights of the Miss World pageant. A Doonesbury Special will be nominated for an Academy Award and win a prize at the Cannes Film Festival. ABC has The Six Million Dollar Man and a special titled Oscar Presents the War Movies and John Wayne. In England, TV viewers are still talking about what happened the night before, when the evening newscast on a regional channel was interrupted by a message from “Vrillon, a representative of the Ashtar Galactic Command,” which advises humanity of “the course you must take to avoid the disaster which threatens your world, and the beings on our worlds around you.” The source of the broadcast will never be identified, although it will be reported that Ashtar’s origins were in an American UFO cult that first appeared during the 1940s.

The top movie at the box office is Star Wars, which has been the weekly champ since late June. Rush continues its A Farewell to Kings tour in Erie, Pennsylvania. The Jerry Garcia Band plays the Palladium in New York City. The Talking Heads play Nashville and KISS plays Kansas City. The Spinners and Dorothy Moore wrap up a weeklong stand at Mill Run Theater in suburban Chicago. At WLS, “Boogie Nights” by Heatwave takes over the #1 spot from Debby Boone’s “You Light Up My Life,” which had held the top spot for seven weeks and is now #2. Crystal Gayle’s “Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue” is at #3. “Come Sail Away” by Styx makes a strong move from #11 to #4; also making a big leap is the Bee Gees’ “How Deep Is Your Love,” moving from #21 to #10. Other big movers include Linda Ronstadt’s “Blue Bayou” and “Isn’t It Time” by the Babys. Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours is the #1 album in Chicago for the 25th week.

Perspective From the Present: This day was the Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend. My family alternated Thanksgivings between sets of grandparents. We’d have dinner with one on Thanksgiving Day and the other on Sunday, and then switch it up the next year. I don’t remember where we went in 1977. Dinner with my mother’s family was a big, noisy event—there were 17 of us if all the cousins showed up, and by 1977 some of the cousins were bringing significant others. Dinner with my father’s family was much quieter; he was an only child, so there was just the five of us plus Grandpa and Grandma. I don’t remember preferring one dinner or the other back then. Today, with all four of my grandparents long gone, I’d be happy to have one more dinner with either set.

November 22, 1963: Can I Get a Witness

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On the 50th anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy, I wrote a post at The Hits Just Keep on Comin’ about what I found in the morning paper on that day, which was just another ordinary day until noontime. This post is based on that one.

November 22, 1963, was a Friday. The weather forecast for Madison, Wisconsin, is for mild weather, occasional rain, and possible thundershowers, with a high around 60. The Wisconsin legislature adjourned last night, although the governor is rumored to be considering a special session to address a controversial highway bill. A state representative is embroiled in scandal over a shady stock transaction. U2 pilot Joe Hyde of LaGrange, Georgia, is missing after wreckage of his plane was found in the Gulf of Mexico, presumably having crashed on a reconnaissance flight over Cuba. President Kennedy and his wife are in Texas. Newspapers report the catcalls he received at some stops, and his wife’s popularity.

Dave Fronek will start at quarterback for the Wisconsin Badgers in their season-ending game against Minnesota tomorrow, and injured quarterback Bart Starr could play for the Packers on Sunday against San Francisco. The high school basketball season is set to begin tonight. The Badger Drive-In theater in Madison is still open despite the lateness of the season and has a quadruple feature tonight: Juvenile Jungle, Young and Wild, Unwed Mothers, and The Wayward Girl. Friday-night diners can enjoy lobster for $2 at Namio’s and the Tiki or pay just $1.75 at Nate’s Place. Those staying in tonight can look forward to episodes of Bob Hope Chrysler Theater, Burke’s Law and The Alfred Hitchcock Hour on TV. At 7:00, Madison radio station WISM-FM (at 98.1) will present The Stereo Demonstration Hour.

On the new Billboard Hot 100 coming out tomorrow, “I’m Leaving It Up to You” by Dale and Grace is the new #1, knocking “Deep Purple” by Nino Tempo and April Stevens to #3. “Washington Square” by the Village Stompers is up to #2 from #4; “Sugar Shack” by Jimmy Gilmer and the Fireballs is down to #4 from #2. The only new song among the Top 10 is “Dominique” by the Singing Nun, up to #9 from #19. Six songs are new among the Top 40, including “Be True to Your School” by the Beach Boys and “Since I Fell for You” by Lenny Welch, which blast to #19 and #20 respectively. Also new in the Top 40: Marvin Gaye’s “Can I Get a Witness,” the followup to his first Top 10 hit, “Pride and Joy,” at #33. Just outside the Top 40: “Louie Louie” by the Kingsmen at #41.

Perspective From the Present: Practically nothing happened that weekend as people expected it might on Friday morning, with one exception: controversially, the NFL played its games as scheduled on Sunday; the Packers won 28-10 in front of 45,000 fans in Milwaukee. Badger fans were en route to Minnesota by train and the players by plane when news of the assassination broke on Friday; although University of Minnesota officials initially wanted to play, the game would eventually be postponed to the next Thursday, Thanksgiving Day. Basketball games were canceled; stores, theaters, and restaurants closed; TV stations carried assassination coverage, and radio stations either reported the news or played somber music. On Friday night, Madison was drenched by cold rain.

At breakfast, Madison had been expecting another ordinary autumn weekend. By shortly after lunchtime, the world was transformed. I quote again the single best thing ever written about the assassination, from essayist Lance Morrow, written for Time magazine on the 20th anniversary: “The real 1960s began on the afternoon of November 22, 1963 . . . . It came to seem that Kennedy’s murder opened some malign trap door in American culture, and the wild bats flapped out.”

November 19, 1985: Star Stealer

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(Pictured: Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev relax by the fire in Geneva on November 19, 1985.)

November 19, 1985, is a Tuesday. Ronald Reagan and Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev are in Geneva, where they will hold their first summit meeting starting today. Other headlines in the morning papers: U.S. Navy intelligence agent Jonathan Pollard was arrested yesterday for passing classified material to Israel, and in the Monday night football game, the Washington Redskins beat the New York Giants 23-21, but lost their quarterback, Joe Theismann, to a gruesomely broken leg suffered when he was tackled by Lawrence Taylor of the Giants. The injury will end the quarterback’s career. Also announced yesterday, winners of the Cy Young Award for best major league pitchers: Dwight Gooden of the New York Mets and Brett Saberhagen of the Kansas City Royals. On the comics page in 35 newspapers across the country today, readers return to a new strip that debuted yesterday: Calvin and Hobbes. Lincoln Perry, better known as Stepin Fetchit, dies at age 83, and future Pittsburgh Steeler Patrick Bailey is born.

Top movie at the box office last weekend: the vampire comedy Once Bitten, starring Lauren Hutton and an unknown named Jim Carrey in his first starring role. The weekend’s other major new release, the animated Rainbow Brite and the Star Stealer, came in at #10 for the weekend. Other top movies include the thrillers Jagged Edge and Target, Death Wish 3, and Back to the Future, still among the nation’s box-office Top 10 after being in theaters since the Fourth of July. TV shows on the air tonight include the detective series Riptide starring Joe Penny and Perry King, The A-Team, Growing Pains, and Moonlighting. The play I’m Not Rappaport opens on Broadway. AC/DC plays Washington, DC, and Dire Straits plays Stuttgart, West Germany. The Charlie Watts band continues a six-night stand at Ronnie Scott’s Club in London. At the China Club in New York City, a birthday party for rock drummer Steve Ferrone turns into a superstar jam when David Bowie, Iggy Pop, and Steve Winwood join Ferrone on stage. Seeing that the band needs a guitarist, Bowie makes a phone call, and 20 minutes later, Rolling Stone Ron Wood shows up to play. In Macomb, Illinois, a local radio announcer and his wife are packing to move from a one-bedroom basement apartment to a big house they’re renting.

Albums released this week include Radio by LL Cool J and Rock a Little by Stevie Nicks. The lead single from Rock a Little, “Talk to Me,” is the highest-debuting single on the latest Cash Box chart, at #48. The hottest record on the chart is “Say You Say Me” by Lionel Richie, moving from #39 to #32 in its second week on; nearly as hot is #60, “That’s What Friends Are For” by Dionne and Friends (Dionne Warwick, Gladys Knight, Stevie Wonder, and Elton John, who sounds in bad need of throat surgery). At the top of the chart, “We Built This City” by Starship jumps from #5 to #1, knocking “Miami Vice Theme” by Jan Hammer to #2. The video for “We Built This City” is a strange one, failing to use the images the song provides (most notably the radio reference in the middle), opting instead for shots of people staring. In years to come, the song will top a couple of lists of the worst records ever made.

November 15, 1995: A Good Idea at the Time

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(Pictured: Monica Lewinsky dodges the paparazzi, 1996.)

November 15, 1995, was a Wednesday. Today is the first full day of a federal government shutdown, necessitated after President Clinton vetoed a Republican spending bill. About 800,000 federal workers are affected. A temporary spending bill will resolve the impasse on November 19, but the dispute between Clinton and House Republicans, led by Speaker Newt Gingrich, will flare up again next month and result in a further shutdown that lasts through the holidays. In Lynnville, Tennessee, a town of about 300 people in the central part of the state 35 miles from the Georgia border, a 17-year-old student at Richland High School kills two people and wounds another with a high-powered rifle. The space shuttle Atlantis docks with the Russian Mir space station. It’s the second shuttle mission to Mir, although no crew members are exchanged this time; the purpose of the link-up is to deliver equipment to Mir. Among the Atlantis crew members is Canadian Chris Hadfield, making his first flight into space. It’s been announced that Princess Diana will discuss her life, including her relationship with estranged husband Prince Charles, in a TV interview to be broadcast in Britain on Monday night. At the White House tonight, an informal birthday party is held for an assistant to the Chief of Staff. At the party, an intern named Monica Lewinsky flirts with the president by showing him the straps of the thong she is wearing. Later that night, he invites her into a study adjacent to the Oval Office, where they have a sexual encounter.

There is no winner in tonight’s Powerball drawing. The estimated jackpot for the next drawing on Saturday is $44 million. Ten games are played in the NBA tonight. The Denver Nuggets beat the Phoenix Suns 137-127 in triple overtime; the Chicago Bulls run their record to 6-and-1 with a 113-94 victory over the winless Cleveland Cavaliers. Scottie Pippen leads all scorers with 27 points. In today’s Calvin and Hobbes strip, Calvin schools his mother on the subject of honesty. In today’s Dilbert, the staff discusses recent accomplishments.

Tonight, ABC’s TV lineup includes Ellen, The Drew Carey Show, and Grace Under Fire, which will be the highest-rated show of the night. Also on ABC tonight: The Naked Truth, a sitcom set at a tabloid newspaper, and the newsmagazine Prime Time Live. NBC airs the adventure series seaQuest DSV, Dateline NBC, and Law and Order. On CBS, it’s Dave’s World starring Harry Anderson as newspaper columnist Dave Barry, and Bless This House, a domestic comedy starring Andrew Dice Clay. Also on CBS tonight are the primetime soap Central Park West and the legal drama Courthouse. Fox has Beverly Hills 90210 and Party of Five; the WB, which went on the air in January and has expanded its schedule this fall, airs episodes of Sister Sister, The Parent ‘Hood, The Wayans Bros., and Unhappily Ever After. ABC announced today that it’s pulling the critically acclaimed Murder One from its schedule after tomorrow night’s broadcast. The show has struggled in the ratings against NBC’s ER, the top-rated show on television. Murder One will return in January in a slot currently occupied by Monday Night Football. An ABC executive says of the original scheduling, “It seemed like a good idea at the time.”

On the Billboard Hot 100, the top six songs are in the same positions as last week: “Fantasy” by Mariah Carey is #1, followed by “Gangsta’s Paradise” by Coolio, “Runaway” by Janet Jackson, “Kiss From a Rose” by Seal, Groove Theory’s “Tell Me,” and “As I Lay Me Down” by Sophie B. Hawkins at #6. There’s not much movement anywhere else in the Top 40 either, although two songs make high Hot 100 debuts: “Bullet With Butterfly Wings” by Smashing Pumpkins at #28 and “Beautiful Life” by Ace of Base at #30. The oldest record on the Hot 100 is “Run-Around” by Blues Traveler, at #17 in its 34th week on. Smashing Pumpkins’ latest album, Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, debuts at #1 on the Billboard 200 album chart, knocking Carey’s Daydream to #2. Two other albums hit the Top 10 in their first week of release: Ozzmosis by Ozzy Osbourne and The Greatest Hits Collection by Alan Jackson.

In Iowa, a guy in his mid-30s commutes from his home just north of Davenport to the University of Iowa in Iowa City, one hour away. He’s in his second semester back at school, pursuing a teaching certificate and enjoying student life immensely. It beats the hell out of going to work every day.

November 9, 1979: Rise

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(Pictured: trumpeter Herb Alpert, on stage in the late 70s.)

November 9, 1979, is a Friday. Although it won’t be widely known until years later, ballistic missile silos in the Great Plains are alerted around 8:50AM that Soviet missiles are in flight and heading for North America, after some sort of malfunction in early warning systems. The mistake is discovered before a massive retaliatory strike can be launched. As part of the alert, the so-called “Doomsday Plane” takes off, although President Carter is not on board. (It is speculated later that Pentagon officials simply couldn’t find him, although his daily schedule shows he was at the White House all morning.) Instead of presiding over the end of the world, Carter meets with several family members of Americans taken hostage in Iran five days earlier. The hostages themselves are put on public display in Tehran. Later in the day, Carter goes jogging, gets a call from his daughter Amy that he doesn’t take, and watches the movie Running.

A plot by four Iranians and a Sudanese to kidnap Minnesota Governor Albert Quie is foiled in St. Paul. The prime interest rate goes up one-quarter of a point to 15.50 percent. Future major league baseball players Dave Bush and Adam Dunn are born. Louise Thaden, who set numerous speed and endurance records as an airplane pilot in the 20s and 30s, dies three days short of her 74th birthday. Robert Taylor of Livingston, Scotland, has his trousers ripped by a spherical object that drops out of a UFO and tries to pick him up. Montgomery Ward recalls 20,000 toy telephones. A new federal law goes into effect that permits the use of metric road signs in Puerto Rico. The body of a homicide victim, a girl aged about eight years, is found in a cornfield in New York State. She will remain unidentified until 2015.

TV shows on the air tonight include The Dukes of Hazzard, Charlie’s Angels, The Incredible Hulk, and The Rockford Files. The Buzzcocks and Joy Division play the Rainbow Theatre in London, the Stranglers play Brussels, Belgium, and the Dead Kennedys play Los Angeles. The Grateful Dead play Buffalo, New York, Bob Dylan continues a two-week stand at the Fox Warfield Theater in San Francisco, and Billy Joel wraps up a two-night stand in Pittsburgh. The Moody Blues play Rotterdam in the Netherlands, the Memphis Blues Caravan plays Grand Forks, North Dakota, Andy Kaufman plays Colorado State University in Greeley, and Henny Youngman plays Norman, Oklahoma.

At WABC in New York City, new overnight jock Mike McKay makes his on-air debut. On the WABC chart this week, Herb Alpert’s “Rise” is in its second week at #1, and “Pop Muzik” by M holds at #2. The fastest mover on the chart is Barry Manilow’s cover of Ian Hunter’s song “Ships,” up to #8 from #21; other strong moves are made by Michael Jackson’s “Rock With You,” “Please Don’t Go” by KC and the Sunshine Band, and “Dreaming” by Blondie. One of the station’s new “hit picks” for the week is a record by J. D. Souther called “You’re Only Lonely,” which sounds a bit like the Eagles doing Roy Orbison. (Jackson Browne sings backup on it; Glenn Frey, Don Henley, and Don Felder play elsewhere on Souther’s album.) KDTH in Dubuque is playing it, too, and at least one of the part-time jocks digs it.

November 4, 1986: Who’s the Boss?

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(Pictured: Bruce Springsteen and Clarence Clemons onstage, 1985.)

November 4, 1986, is a Tuesday. It’s Election Day in the United States. The Democratic Party reclaims control of the United States Senate, picking up eight seats. New senators include John McCain of Arizona and Harry Reid of Nevada. Democrats retained control of the House of Representatives, so for the first time in his presidency, Ronald Reagan faces a Congress entirely controlled by the opposing party. Democrats lost eight governorships, however. In Illinois, Republican governor Jim Thompson is reelected, defeating former senator Adlai Stevenson III. Stevenson ran under the banner of the Illinois Solidarity Party; he had refused the Democratic nomination after several followers of Lyndon LaRouche won primaries for lieutenant governor and secretary of state. Voters in Massachusetts and Nebraska repeal their states’ mandatory seat-belt laws, and Florida voters amend the state constitution to institute a state lottery.

The Federal Trade Commission issues regulations for health warnings on cans of smokeless tobacco. The new Associated Press college football poll is out, and the top four teams are unchanged from the previous week: Miami, Penn State, Michigan, and Oklahoma. Future NFL player Brandon LaFell is born. On TV tonight, CBS fills primetime with election coverage, but ABC and NBC do not. Before its election coverage, ABC airs episodes of Who’s the Boss? and Moonlighting; NBC airs Matlock and Crime Story.

Journey concludes a two-night stand in Hartford, Connecticut. Whitney Houston’s first world tour as a headliner reaches Osaka, Japan. Iron Maiden plays London, Jackson Browne plays in Norway, and Neil Young plays Austin, Texas, with Crazy Horse. R.E.M. plays Portland, Maine. Bruce Springsteen’s Live 1975-1985 album is released. “True Colors” by Cyndi Lauper tops the current Cash Box singles chart, knocking last week’s #1, “Typical Male” by Tina Turner, to second place. Only one song is new in the Top 10: “True Blue” by Madonna. New to the top 20: “Next Time I Fall” by Peter Cetera with Amy Grant, “I’ll Be Over You” by Toto, “Word Up” by Cameo, and “The Rain” by Oran “Juice” Jones. The biggest mover within the Top 40 is “Everybody Have Fun Tonight” by Wang Chung (#38 to #29). In Macomb, Illinois, the local Top 40 morning jock anchors election-night coverage, fueled by Jolt Cola and baked goods. Coverage wraps in the wee hours of Wednesday, and he manages to grab maybe two hours of sleep before going back to work at 5:15.

Perspective From the Present: This was the year my station’s former owner ran for the Illinois legislature as a Democrat. I produced his radio spots. He didn’t win, but he pulled a historically high number of votes in a district that hadn’t elected a Democrat since the 1930s, and two years later, a Democrat won the seat. Anchoring on election night was something I enjoyed immensely, and I think I was good at it. It required a great deal of juggling, filling, ad libbing, and other skills jocks possess but reporters often do not. My show prep included cheat sheets on Senate and governor’s races around the country so I could fill time by talking about them if I had to. As for the music I was playing on my morning shows, I didn’t like much of it. My favorite song of the moment was probably “True Blue.” I bought the live Springsteen album (on five vinyl discs) as soon as I could get it, but I’m pretty sure the only time I listened to it from start to finish was right after I got it home.

October 29, 1971: A Space in Time

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(Pictured: Duane Allman.)

October 29, 1971, was a Friday. News headlines this morning include the British Parliament’s vote yesterday to join the European Common Market. An Associated Press story appearing in newspapers around the country today discusses the political future of Vice President Spiro Agnew. There’s been speculation that President Nixon might want to replace Agnew in 1972 with Treasury Secretary and former Texas governor John Connally. Agnew wants Nixon to decide “in a cold and practical political way” whether to keep him. Agnew also says he believes Nixon can’t make a decision yet. In Macon, Georgia, guitarist Duane Allman of the Allman Brothers Band dies in a motorcycle accident. In Winona, Minnesota, future actress Winona Ryder is born. Seven games are played in the National Basketball Association tonight. After seven straight wins to open the season, the defending champion Milwaukee Bucks lose their first, 125-114 to the Boston Celtics. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the former Lew Alcindor, who has adopted his new name with the new season, leads all scorers with 43 points. Dave Cowens leads the Celtics with 37.

On TV tonight, ABC presents The Brady Bunch, The Partridge Family, Room 222, The Odd Couple, and Love American Style. After the late local news on ABC, guests on The Dick Cavett Show include United Nations ambassador George Bush, U.S. senator Edmund Muskie, and actress Gloria Swanson. CBS starts its night with a sitcom set during Prohibition, The Chicago Teddy Bears, and the crime drama O’Hara: US Treasury starring David Janssen. Also on CBS tonight: the TV movie Murder Once Removed starring John Forsythe and Barbara Bain. NBC’s highlight tonight is a special celebrating the October 1 opening of Walt Disney World in Florida, which stars Julie Andrews, Glen Campbell, Jonathan Winters, and Buddy Hackett, with a special appearance by Bob Hope.

In Orono, Maine, Sampson’s Supermarkets have special prices on ham (58 cents a pound), pork chops (68 cents a pound), and oysters (99 cents a pound. A 50-pound bag of #1 winter keeper potatoes is $1.49. In Bowling Green, Ohio, the Big N department store is having an anniversary sale, with albums priced at $3.99 including A Space in Time by Ten Years After, Master of Reality by Black Sabbath, and Every Good Boy Deserves Favour by the Moody Blues. Sale eight-tracks are priced at $2.27, including Iron Butterfly’s Ball and Cream’s Wheels of Fire. At Discount Records in Carbondale, Illinois, albums priced at $5.99 or higher are one-third off today only, including Chicago at Carnegie Hall, Cahoots by the Band, Steve Miller’s Rock Love, and Meddle by Pink Floyd. Customers can pre-order the forthcoming album by Sly and the Family Stone, There’s a Riot Goin’ On. The student newspaper at the University of Cincinnati reports that fewer rock concerts may be coming to campus in the future due to financial losses at past shows. The university’s cultural events coordinator says, “This whole rock business is not very stable or very ethical.” For example, a Jethro Tull concert scheduled on campus for November 12 had to be rescheduled when a promoter scheduled Three Dog Night for an appearance in town the very same night. The Ike and Tina Turner Revue will play the university’s fieldhouse tonight; Tull plays Portland, Maine.

At WRKO in Boston, “Gypsies Tramps and Thieves” by Cher and “Imagine” by John Lennon hold at #1 and #2. “Theme From Shaft” by Isaac Hayes is up to #3. Chicago’s “Questions 67 and 68” is up to #4 from #10, and two other songs make big moves to reach the Top 10: “Baby I’m-a Want You” by Bread (to #9 from #19) and “Two Divided by Love” by the Grass Roots (to #10 from #17). They take the places of “I’d Love to Change the World” by Ten Years After (down to #17 from #9) and “Yo Yo” by the Osmonds (down to #20 from #7). Two songs debut in the Top 30: “Behind Blue Eyes” by the Who and “Family Affair” by Sly and the Family Stone. WRKO’s top albums are John Lennon’s Imagine, Santana III, and Cat Stevens’ Teaser and the Firecat.

Perspective From the Present: I was two months into the sixth grade at Northside School, in Mr. Schilling’s class. He was a very large, very loud, and—I am guessing now—very young man. Academic subjects are pretty easy for me; I get all A’s in the first quarter of the year except in math. I do less well in art, music, and physical education, and a note on my report card says I need to improve my self-control.

I already know I want to be on the radio someday.