November 1, 1983: Total Eclipse

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(Pictured: Bonnie Tyler performs on American Bandstand, 1983.)

November 1, 1983, is a Tuesday. One day after another Senate vote refusing to raise the debt ceiling, and after a contentious White House meeting today, President Reagan criticizes recalcitrant Republican senators in his diary. The New York Times publishes an interview with House Speaker Tip O’Neill, who blasts Reagan: ”He only works three to three-and-a-half hours a day. He doesn’t do his homework. He doesn’t read briefing papers. It’s sinful that this man is president.” Secretary of State George Shultz receives a memo stating that Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein has chemical weapons capability, possibly acquired from the United States. Twenty-one year old Kimberly Nelson disappears in Seattle; in 1986, her body will be found, another one of the 49 confirmed victims of the Green River Killer. The Texas Department of State Health Services begins screening all newborns for sickle-cell traits. Former major league outfielder Art Ruble, who played in 56 games with the 1927 Detroit Tigers and 19 with the 1934 Philadelphia Phillies and recorded a lifetime batting average of .207, dies at age 80, and John Alexander, who will catch eight games and pinch-hit in three others for the 2006 GCL Braves of the Gulf Coast League during his only season of professional baseball, is born.

CBS airs four soaps and four game shows during the day today, including The Price Is Right, The New $25,000 Pyramid, Press Your Luck, and Tattletales. In prime time, ABC airs new episodes of Just Our Luck (soon to be canceled), Happy Days, Oh Madeline (starring Madeline Kahn as a bored suburban housewife married to a romance novelist), and Hart to Hart. NBC’s lineup includes The A Team and Remington Steele.

Tina Turner plays Lund, Sweden, and Queensryche plays the Ritz in New York City. Stevie Ray Vaughan plays Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and ZZ Top plays Hamburg, Germany. AC/DC plays Memphis. At B96 in Chicago, “Total Eclipse of the Heart” by Bonnie Tyler and “Islands in the Stream” by Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton hold the top two spots on the survey again this week. Moving up within the top 10 are “True” by Spandau Ballet and “All Night Long” by Lionel Richie. “Say Say Say” by Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney is new in the top 10. “Church of the Poison Mind” by Culture Club, “Heart and Soul” by Huey Lewis and the News, and “Suddenly Last Summer” by the Motels are the chart’s biggest movers. About 250 highway miles southwest of Chicago, at WJEQ in Macomb, Illinois, it’s the new guy’s first day. He and his wife, married six months, moved to town yesterday. He’s on the air from 5 until 8 in the evening, which is not exactly the afternoon show he thought he would be doing.

Perspective From the Present: I needed a job that fall, but Macomb was not my first choice. I’d been chasing a job in Madison, at a new station that was assembling its first staff—Magic 98. But when they never called and the offer from Macomb came in ($200 a week!), I took it. From the jump, I was not happy there. After four years part-time and full-time at KDTH, which was (unlike WJEQ) fabulously well equipped and efficiently run, I felt as though I had taken a step backward with this new job. And given the size of my ego at the age of 23, that I was too good for it.

That, of course, was probably not true. A few years ago, I found an old aircheck that must have been from my first week down there. It was terrible. I was terrible. And probably exactly where I should have been.

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4 thoughts on “November 1, 1983: Total Eclipse

  1. Maybe this is a sidenote, but: I’m curious as to whether you wanted the afternoon show b/c it was higher-profile or more desirable, or whether you just wanted it b/c that’s what you were told you’d be doing.
    To expand the question a bit: In the world of radio jocks, are certain shifts especially sought-after? Does everyone push and shove to do drive time? Or do the most desirable shifts really depend on the spirit and sound of the DJ — since a guy with a mellow, laid-back baritone delivery is unlikely to work 5-8 a.m. anyway?

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  2. Afternoon drive-time (3-7 generally, but maybe 2-6, 3-6, 2-7, or 4-7) is generally the second-most-listened-to daypart, and I’d done afternoons at the station I came from. When this station hired me, they told me I’d be doing afternoons. It wasn’t until the first day I showed up for work that I learned my shift would be 5 til 8, which didn’t seem like the same thing to me at all. I was too green and dumb to ask beforehand, but they probably should have been more specific than they were.

    Back in the day you wanted to be on drive-time, either morning or afternoon. Evenings could be a desirable shift depending on the format, but today live evening shifts are a rarity. Midday shifts meant you worked something close to normal 8-5 or 9-5 day, which is still what recommends them today.

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  3. In November 1983, I joined a new station. I was working in the Fox Valley area of Wisconsin and went from working at WNAM-WAHC Neenah-Menasha to WKAU/Appleton-Oshkosh-Green Bay. WNAM was an all-over-the-road Adult Contemporary station and WAHC had just gone to a “Hot Hits” format, playing just 25 songs over and over. Although my hours were shitty – I worked the overnight shift, midnight to 6am – WKAU was a much better Top 40 station. I guess there’s a specialfeeling one gets when they have the entire radio station all themselves at 2am on a hot mid-summer night in the middle of nowhere. At least, it was MY nowhere.

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  4. In November 1983, I joined a new station. I was working in the Fox Valley area of Wisconsin and went from working at WNAM-WAHC Neenah-Menasha to WKAU/Appleton-Oshkosh-Green Bay. WNAM was an all-over-the-road Adult Contemporary station and WAHC had just gone to a “Hot Hits” format, playing just 25 songs over and over. Although my hours were shitty – I worked the overnight shift, midnight to 6am – WKAU was a much better Top 40 station. I guess there’s a special feeling one gets when they have the entire radio station all themselves at 2am on a hot mid-summer night in the middle of nowhere. At least, it was MY nowhere.

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