January 19, 1974: Gap and Fizzle

Embed from Getty Images

(Pictured: the Queen.)

January 19, 1974, was a Saturday. The morning papers headline the decision to send the controversy over the 18-1/2 minute gap in one of the Watergate tapes to a grand jury for investigation. Today, President Nixon gives a noontime radio address on the energy crisis, and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger prepares for another round of shuttle diplomacy in the Middle East. South Vietnam and China battle in the South China Sea over some disputed islands. Hewlett-Packard introduces its first programmable calculator, the HP-65, nicknamed the Superstar; list price $225. NASA takes a photograph of Comet Kohoutek, which was hyped as the Comet of the Century when it was discovered last year. Although still visible to the naked eye through the end of this month, it is a fizzle, not nearly the spectacle it was made out to be. In college basketball, Notre Dame snaps UCLA’s record-setting 88-game winning streak. Trailing 70-59 with 3:30 to go, Notre Dame scores the last 12 points to win 71-70.

Future comedian Frank Caliendo and future NFL player Walter Jones are born. Future hockey Hall-of-Famer Jacques Laperriere of the Montreal Canadiens suffers an injury that ends his career. The current edition of TV Guide features an article about celebrity homes, with a photo of actor Paul Lynde in his mirrored dining room. On TV tonight, new episodes of M*A*S*H, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Bob Newhart Show, and The Carol Burnett Show air on CBS; shows on NBC include Emergency; on ABC, The Partridge Family and Owen Marshall, Counselor at Law. Later tonight, many stations around the country will air an edition of Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert starring the Steve Miller Band and the Raspberries. Bob Dylan plays two shows in Hollywood, Florida, Wishbone Ash plays Passaic, New Jersey, and Charles Mingus plays Carnegie Hall.

At WCFL in Chicago, “The Joker” by the Steve Miller Band holds at #1, and “Sister Mary Elephant” by Cheech and Chong climbs to #2. “One Tin Soldier” by Coven, which is #1 across town at WLS, sits at #3. New in the Top 10 are “Let Me Be There” by Olivia Newton-John, “You’re Sixteen” by Ringo Starr, and “Living for the City” by Stevie Wonder. Tops on the album chart are Jim Croce’s You Don’t Mess Around With Jim, the Carpenters’ compilation The Singles, and Elton John’s Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. Northwest of Chicago, in the farm country of southern Wisconsin, a radio-crazed eighth-grader listens every minute he can and shares his obsession with his friends, most of whom are not nearly as obsessed as he is.

Perspective From the Present: The fall of 1973 and winter of 1974 are among the bleakest seasons of the 1970s for the Top 40. Lots of bland pop music and funkless R&B (“Living for the City” excepted, which is one of the deepest grooves ever to hit AM radio), although there are some gems to be found: “Rockin’ Roll Baby,” “Love’s Theme,” the Staple Singers’ “If You’re Ready,” and “Hello It’s Me” by Todd Rundgren, although the bubblegum geek in me also digs the DeFranco Family’s “Abracadabra.” The best record of the season is probably “Until You Come Back to Me” by Aretha Franklin, although it’s a song I probably didn’t hear much back then. I was still listening to WLS in the winter of 1974, and they charted it for just three weeks. But I would discover it years later, and it would eventually earn a spot on my Desert Island list.

Advertisements

January 13, 1968: Am I That Easy to Forget

Embed from Getty Images

(Pictured: Johnny Cash and June Carter leave Folsom Prison on January 13, 1968.)

January 13, 1968, was a Saturday. On this day, 34 American servicemen are killed in Vietnam, including 19-year-old Marine Lance Corporal Jackie Ray McElwee of Sidney, Illinois. Today’s edition of the Daily Egyptian, the student newspaper at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, carries a front-page review of Make Her Wilderness Like Eden, a student-written play documenting Illinois’ history, presented in celebration of the sesquicentennial of the state’s 1818 admission to the Union. Upcoming campus events include a production of Death of a Salesman, qualifying tests for the Peace Corps and the Air Force, and a speech by comedian Dick Gregory, the school’s outstanding athlete of 1953, sponsored by the Southern Illinois Peace Committee. Elsewhere in the paper, an article discusses how historians have begun to use computers to “test generalizations concerning social and economic characteristics of group and political leaders.”

The second NFL-AFL World Championship Game will be played tomorrow in Miami between the Green Bay Packers and the Oakland Raiders. The Packers, three-time NFL champs, are looking for their second straight win in the game some call the Super Bowl. Tonight, five games are played in the National Hockey League. In one of them, the Oakland Seals and Minnesota North Stars play to a 2-2 tie. Early in the game, North Stars center Bill Masterson is knocked to the ice and suffers a serious head injury; two days from now, he will die. In college basketball, top-ranked UCLA wins its 46th consecutive game, 75-63 over Stanford. The streak will reach 47 after an easy win over Portland this Thursday night; the Bruins will meet second-ranked Houston at the Astrodome next Saturday. The winning streak will end that night in what will come to be called college basketball’s Game of the Century.

Today’s Peanuts strip introduces the Creature From the Sea. Bob Hope is on the cover of this week’s TV Guide. A feature inside discusses how Soviet TV describes life in America. On daytime TV today, ABC airs the second episode of Happening ’68, hosted by Paul Revere and the Raiders. Leonard Nimoy guest stars. Tonight, ABC’s lineup includes The Dating Game, The Newlywed Game, and The Lawrence Welk Show. Welk also appears on tonight’s fourth-anniversary broadcast of ABC’s Hollywood Palace, hosted by Bing Crosby and also starring Peggy Lee, Milton Berle, and Jimmy Durante. On CBS, viewers can see The Jackie Gleason Show, My Three Sons, Hogan’s Heroes, Petticoat Junction, and Mannix. On NBC, prime-time begins with the adventure series Maya starring former Dennis the Menace kid Jay North, followed by Get Smart and NBC Saturday Night at the Movies featuring Gary Cooper and Ingrid Bergman in the 1945 film Saratoga Trunk.

Johnny Cash and the Tennessee Three, June Carter, the Statler Brothers, and Carl Perkins play Folsom Prison in California. The show is being recorded, and Cash opens with “Folsom Prison Blues”; it will spend a month at #1 on the country chart this summer and hit #32 on the Hot 100. Jimmy Page and the Yardbirds play the Corn Exchange in Chelmsford, England, Ten Years After plays London, the Who plays Margate, England, and Gordon Lightfoot plays Waterloo, Ontario. On the new Sound of Music survey at WDLB in Marshfield, Wisconsin, “Judy in Disguise” by John Fred and the Playboy Band leaps to #1 from #12 last week. It’s not the only record to make a major move: “Am I That Easy to Forget” by Engelbert Humperdinck zooms to #3 from #25, and “Green Tambourine” by the Lemon Pipers is up to #15 from #33. Several songs plunge a fair distance, including last week’s #1 and #2 hits, “Hello Goodbye” by the Beatles and “In and Out of Love” by the Supremes, which are #16 and #17 respectively this week. “Summer Rain” by Johnny Rivers and “Woman Woman” by Gary Puckett and the Union Gap fall from #4 to #22 and #5 to #21.

Perspective From the Present: I couldn’t tell you what I was doing on this particular day, but the next day, the day of Super Bowl II, I went to a first-grade classmate’s birthday party. (I think I can remember a football game on TV in another room.) He was one of my best friends at the time, although we’d go our separate ways when I started going to a different school in second grade. When we met again in junior high, he’d become a poor student who was always in trouble, and I was neither. We had quite literally nothing in common anymore, except perhaps the occasional thought about the way it takes nothing more than time to change people.

January 8, 1992: Nuts

Embed from Getty Images

(Pictured: Whitney Houston, onstage during her 1991 tour.)

January 8, 1992, is a Wednesday. The weather forecast for Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota, is for another cloudy day. It will be the 12th straight day without sun in the Twin Cities, the longest such streak in 19 years. At a dinner hosted by Japanese prime minister Kiichi Miyazawa, President George H. W. Bush becomes ill, barfs in the prime minister’s lap, and then faints. A man claiming to be Bush’s physician calls CNN and says that Bush has died; CNN Headline News nearly reports the hoax as fact. Earlier that day in Japan, a homemade bomb is found and disarmed in the residence of American embassy staff. Art Agnos spends his last day as mayor of San Francisco; tomorrow he’ll be replaced by the man who defeated him for reelection last month, former police chief Frank Jordan. The Maryland General Assembly presents a redistricting plan to the governor; it will be challenged in court as a violation of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, and new districts will be drawn for the 1994 elections. A U.S. government commission publishes public notice of an upcoming investigation into competitive practices in the international macadamia nut industry. A fire destroys the main lodge and conference center at Eagle Ridge Resort in Galena, Illinois. Among the big league baseball players signing free-agent deals today: Jamie Moyer with the Cubs, Steve Lyons with the Braves, and Tim Teufel with the Padres. Kathlyn Beatty is born. The first child of actors Warren Beatty and Annette Bening will come out as transgender at age 14 and in 2018, will be known as Stephen. French visual artist Nicolas Schoffer dies at age 79.

On TV tonight, ABC airs Dinosaurs, The Wonder Years, Doogie Howser MD, Anything But Love, and the dramatic series Civil Wars. CBS primetime starts with the sitcoms Davis Rules (starring Randy Quaid and Jonathan Winters) and Brooklyn Bridge and continues with Jake and the Fatman and the news magazine 48 Hours. On NBC, Unsolved Mysteries is followed by Seinfeld, Night Court, and Quantum Leap. The top movies at the box office last weekend were Hook, Father of the Bride, Beauty and the Beast, and The Prince of Tides. The Washington Post reports that 1991 was the worst year in history for the concert industry with ticket sales down 25 percent. Touring acts with disappointing results include Whitney Houston, Huey Lewis and the News, Diana Ross, Steve Winwood, and Amy Grant. The highest-grossing tours of the year belonged to the Grateful Dead, ZZ Top, and the Judds, whose farewell tour grossed $22.7 million. Metallica plays the Forum in Los Angeles and John Mellencamp plays the Omni in Atlanta. Lenny Kravitz plays Edmonton and Vanessa Williams appears on Soul Train.

On the current Billboard Hot 100, Michael Jackson’s “Black and White” is in its second week at #1. “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday” by Boyz II Men and “All 4 Love” by Color Me Badd hold at #2 and #3. The former MC Hammer, who started calling himself just Hammer last year, has two hits riding high: “Too Legit to Quit” is at #8 and “Addams Groove,” from the soundtrack of the movie The Addams Family, is at #11. The hottest song within the Top 40 is “Diamonds and Pearls” by Prince and the NPG, up to #19 from #30.

Perspective From the Present: In January 1992, I was working in Clinton, Iowa, a town about 30 miles from where we lived. I was program director of the AM/FM combo and I did the afternoon show on the adult contemporary FM. I’d been working there nearly two years, and would have settled into a comfortable routine. I’d last almost exactly two more years, the last few months of which were anything but comfortable and anything but routine, but that’s a story for another day.

January 1, 1982: Start Me Up

Embed from Getty Images

(Pictured: the Stones onstage in Chicago, November 1981.)

January 1, 1982, is a Friday. At midnight, CNN launches a second channel known as CNN2, later to be renamed Headline News. The top story in the news regards the ongoing unrest in Poland and resistance to martial law, which was declared on December 13. Solidarity labor union chief Lech Walesa has been detained by Polish authorities, and American officials don’t know if he’s negotiating with those authorities. Peruvian diplomat Javier Perez de Cuellar takes over as Secretary-General of the United Nations, succeeding Kurt Waldheim. He will serve until 1991. The Justice Department announces that it will resume negotiations with AT&T in hopes of resolving its seven-year attempt to break up the company without going to court. Air-traffic controllers’ union chief Robert Poli has resigned, in hopes it might help persuade President Reagan to rehire the 11,500 striking controllers fired last August, but a spokesman says the president will not change his position. The Reagans welcomed the New Year at a party in Palm Springs, California. The 17-game college football bowl season ends with five games today. Clemson, ranked #1 in the latest poll, claims the national championship with a 22-15 win over #4 Nebraska in the Orange Bowl. Sixth-ranked Texas will be named national runner-up after beating #3 Alabama 14-12 in the Cotton Bowl. In the Sugar Bowl, Pittsburgh is a 24-20 winner over #2 Georgia. Penn State wins the Fiesta Bowl over USC 26-10; in the Rose Bowl, Washington shuts down Iowa 28-0.

In today’s Peanuts strip, Charlie Brown philosophizes about new years. The top movie at the box office is Sharkey’s Machine starring Burt Reynolds. Other big hits include Modern Problems starring Chevy Chase, Absence of Malice starring Paul Newman and Sally Field, the Warren Beatty film Reds, and Raiders of the Lost Ark, which has been out since last June. Victor Buono, famed for playing King Tut in the 1960s Batman TV series, dies at 43. On TV tonight, the first episode of The McLaughlin Group airs on PBS. With ABC and NBC carrying bowl games, CBS counters with episodes of The Dukes of Hazzard, Dallas, and Falcon Crest. McLean Stevenson and Eddie Murphy are Johnny’s guests on the Tonight Show. Billy Idol plays a Boston club called the Channel, and Chuck Berry plays the Roxy in West Hollywood with Tina Turner. The show is filmed and broadcast in November 1982. Ozzy Osbourne plays Phoenix. The Michael Stanley Band concludes a two-night stand at Richfield Coliseum in Cleveland; the hometown heroes set an attendance record at the venue, drawing in excess of 40,000 people over the two nights.

In Chicago, WLS has seen out the old year by counting down the Big 89 of 1981, topped by the Rolling Stones’ “Start Me Up.” “I Love You” by the Climax Blues Band ranked #2, and “Hold On Loosely” by .38 Special came in at #3. The year’s top album was Hi Infidelity by REO Speedwagon; three singles from the album were among the Big 89: “Keep On Lovin’ You (#21), “Take It on the Run” (#27), and “Don’t Let Him Go” (#77). Paradise Theater by Styx is was the #2 album for the year. “Don’t Let It End” and “Too Much Time on My Hands” both made the Big 89, at #9 and #33 respectively. On the regular weekly chart at WLS, Olivia Newton-John’s “Physical” and “Private Eyes” by Hall and Oates hold at #1 and #2. “Centerfold” by the J. Geils Band takes a big leap from #8 to #3. The hottest record on the chart is “I Can’t Go for That” by Hall and Oates, blasting from #36 to #13 this week. The highest debut of the week is “Oh No” by the Commodores at #28. The #1 album, for the eighth week, is IV by Foreigner.

Perspective From the Present: On New Year’s Day 1982, I board-opped the radio broadcast of the Rose Bowl on KDTH in Dubuque. The night before, I’d done the New Year’s Eve countdown, but I don’t remember much about it, apart from having shared an illicit split of champagne at midnight with the guy board-opping the New Year’s Eve countdown on the FM station. After work, I must have gone home to my college apartment in Platteville, where I would have been alone. The Mrs., who was not yet The Mrs., was at the annual New Year’s Eve overnight bacchanal with the rest of the group of my friends known as the Crew. A New Year never comes in that I don’t think of those parties, and those people. All these years later, we still see each other now and then.

December 25, 1969: Family Affair

Embed from Getty Images

(Pictured: two soldiers decorate a trench for Christmas in Duc Lap, South Vietnam, December 1969.)

December 25, 1969, is a Thursday. In Vermilion Parish, Louisiana, a tornado kills one person and injures eight. Nine other tornadoes are reported today in Louisiana, Florida, and Georgia. In Portville, New York, the Portville Star has a front-page story in which a Cornell University economist predicts that the 1970s will begin with a period of slow economic growth but no prolonged or serious recession. President Nixon issues a Christmas message to American armed forces around the world. Three games are played in the National Hockey League: the Philadelphia Flyers beat the Oakland Seals 3-1; the Boston Bruins blast the Los Angeles Kings 7-1; the Chicago Black Hawks and Minnesota North Stars play to a 4-4 tie. In the National Basketball Association, four games are played. The league-leading New York Knicks run their record to 30-and-6 with a 112-111 win over the Detroit Pistons. Willis Reed of the Knicks leads all scorers with 33 points. In the American Basketball Association, the Los Angeles Stars beat the Kentucky Colonels 105-101 and the Washington Capitols beat the Pittsburgh Pipers 131-112. Future comedian Costaki Economopolous is born. The top movie at the box office is the James Bond film On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Also packing them in, as it has since its release in September: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance KidThe Reivers, starring Steve McQueen, opens today.

The federal government issues a regulation requiring all TV sets manufactured after January 15, 1970, to conform to new standards designed to make sure sets do not pose a radiation hazard. On today’s Merv Griffin Show, guests include Carol Burnett, Danny Thomas, and Green Acres stars Eddie Albert and Eva Gabor. Shows on TV tonight include This Is Tom Jones, with guests Judy Collins and David Frye, Daniel Boone, Ironside, That Girl, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, Family Affair, Kraft Music Hall with guests the Cowsills, and It Takes a Thief. Florence Henderson fills in for Johnny on the Tonight Show. Jazz saxophonist Ornette Coleman is on the cover of the current edition of Down Beat. The Velvet Underground open a holiday run at the Second Fret in Philadelphia.

At WKNR in Detroit, known as Keener 13, the new music guide shows “Venus” by the Shocking Blue at #1, knocking last week’s #1, “Leaving on a Jet Plane” by Peter Paul and Mary to #2. “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head” by B. J. Thomas is #3 and “Don’t Cry Daddy” by Elvis is #4. “Midnight Cowboy” by Ferrante and Teicher, Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love” and “Jingle Jangle” by the Archies are next at #5 through #7. The biggest mover on the survey is “Fancy” by Bobbie Gentry, up 10 spots to #18; Dionne Warwick’s “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again” is up nine to #19. Topping the album chart are Led Zeppelin II and Abbey Road. The main page of the WKNR survey plugs the game at Detroit’s Olympic Stadium between the Keener Cagers and the Harlem Globetrotters, coming up on Saturday night.

Perspective From the Present: As I have written many times in other places, our family Christmas routine was very much the same for as long as I lived at home. On this day, my brothers and I (ages 9, 7, and 3) would be positively vibrating with anticipation on Christmas morning, waiting to see what Santa had brought, but we weren’t allowed out of our bedrooms until Dad could finish the milking and come in from the barn. That period of time, from Mother’s signal to his footsteps up the basement stairs, however long it may actually have been, represented the longest minutes of each year. All these years alter, I marvel at the sheer amount of stuff we got every year, things we’d asked for and things we had not (which often turned out to be even greater than what we had asked for). Dad and Mother weren’t rich, but we never wanted for a single thing, not just on Christmas but the other 364 days of the year. Whatever I’ve been able to do for them in adulthood will never come close to paying what they’re owed.

I owe each of you reading a debt of gratitude as well, that you have found your way to this lightly traveled corner of the Internet and the other corner on which I do business. Thank you, and a merry Christmas to all, wherever you are.

December 23, 1970: Remember Me

Embed from Getty Images

(Pictured: the Everly Brothers on The Johnny Cash Show, 1970.)

(Programming note: entirely new day posts will appear here on both Christmas Day and New Year’s Day, so stop back.)

December 23, 1970, is a Wednesday. The weather forecast for Madison, Wisconsin, includes a cold wave warning with a predicted low of five below for Thursday morning. The morning papers headline a government shakeup in Poland that replaced the country’s prime minister. Today, construction continues on the World Trade Center complex in New York City, with the topping-out ceremony for the north tower at a height of 1,368 feet. Black militant Angela Davis is arraigned on charges of conspiracy, kidnapping, and murder for a courthouse shooting earlier in the year. The Green Bay Packers must find a new coach and general manager to replace Phil Bengtson, who resigned yesterday. In college basketball, Iowa defeats Iowa State 87-68. Outside Nashville, Willie Nelson’s house burns down. The Associated Press reports on a Connecticut state police list of expired driver’s licenses that includes a man named Santa M. Claus.

Comic actor Charlie Ruggles, who appeared in 100 movies including Ruggles of Red Gap and Bringing Up Baby, and also provided the voice of Aesop on the “Aesop and Son” segments of the Rocky and Bullwinkle show, dies at age 84. Robert Burck, who will grow up to be the Times Square street performer known as the Naked Cowboy, is born. Tonight’s TV listings include a Christmas episode of The Johnny Cash Show on ABC featuring the Everly Brothers, Roy Orbison, the Statler Brothers, and the Carter Family. NBC counter-programs with an episode of Kraft Music Hall titled “The Eve Before Christmas Eve,” hosted by country singer Eddy Arnold and starring Brenda Lee, Charley Pride, and the Klowns. CBS airs Medical Center and Hawaii Five-O.

The Grateful Dead plays Winterland in San Francisco. Laura Nyro opens a two-night stand at the Fillmore East in New York City, where her opening act is an unknown singer/songwriter named Jackson Browne. At KHJ in Los Angeles, the top three songs on the new Boss 30 survey are unchanged from the week before: George Harrison’s “My Sweet Lord,” “One Less Bell to Answer” by the Fifth Dimension, and “Knock Three Times” by Dawn. Biggest movers on the chart are “Merry Christmas Darling” by the Carpenters, moving from 21 to 9, and “Stoney End” by Barbra Streisand, moving from 29 to 21. New songs on the survey this week include “Remember Me by Diana Ross and “Let Your Love Go” by Bread.

Halfway across the country, a 10-year-old boy in Wisconsin and his two brothers, aged 8 and 4, are geeked up for Christmas. The 10-year-old is similarly geeked up by the radio. Tomorrow, he will hear something that will shape what his life will become, and make him what he will remain, for as long as life lasts.

December 15, 1978: Sweet Life

Embed from Getty Images

(Pictured: Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman.)

December 15, 1978, was a Friday. President Jimmy Carter gives a televised address to the nation announcing the reestablishment of diplomatic relations between the United States and the People’s Republic of China, and explains America’s new relationship with Taiwan. After the speech, President and Mrs. Carter fly to Camp David for the weekend. The city of Cleveland, Ohio, defaults on $15.5 million in short-term loans it had received to meet its financial obligations. It’s the first major American city to go broke since the Great Depression. Today is the last day of manufacture for aerosol products containing ozone-destroying fluorocarbons, following a federal government order last spring. The exhibit of treasures from the tomb of King Tut, which has been touring the country for over a year, opens at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

Nine games are played in the NBA tonight. In a battle of top teams, the Los Angeles Lakers edge the Seattle Supersonics 100-98. Dennis Johnson of the Sonics leads all scorers with 28 points; Norm Nixon leads the Lakers with 26. New movies at the box office this weekend include Superman starring Christopher Reeve and California Suite starring Jane Fonda, Walter Matthau, Michael Caine, and Richard Pryor. The Deer Hunter opens in New York after its Los Angeles premiere last Friday. It will go into wide release in February. Philips/MCA puts laserdisc technology on the market under the name MCA Discovision. A laserdisc edition of Jaws comes out today. Actor Chill Wills, famed as the movie voice of Francis the Talking Mule and for many western roles, dies of cancer at age 76. Carter’s China speech preempts or delays scheduled network TV programming. NBC has Diff’rent Strokes, the final episode of the soon-to-be-cancelled Who’s Watching the Kids, and a two-hour episode of The Eddie Capra Mysteries. On CBS, it’s Wonder Woman, The Incredible Hulk, and Flying High, a comedy/drama about flight attendants starring Connie Sellecca. On ABC, it’s a Christmas episode of Donny and Marie followed by the TV movie Long Journey Back starring Mike Connors and Cloris Leachman.

In The Crusader, the campus newspaper at Susquehanna University in Pennsylvania, music critic Tim Brough names his top albums of 1978. Billy Joel plays Madison Square Garden in New York City, the Grateful Dead plays Birmingham, Alabama, Bob Dylan plays Lakeland, Florida, and Cheap Trick plays Boston. Bruce Springsteen plays San Francisco in a show broadcast on KSAN. Across town at KFRC, “Le Freak” by Chic and “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers” by Barbra Streisand and Neil Diamond continue at #1 and #2 on the new survey out today. There’s little movement among the top 11 songs on the survey. Al Stewart’s “Time Passages” makes the biggest move of any song among the Top 30, moving from #19 to #12. There’s one new song in the Top 20, “Sweet Life” by Paul Davis, at #18. The highest debut on the chart is Cheryl Lynn’s “Got to Be Real” at #22. The top albums on KFRC are Barbra Streisand’s Greatest Hits Volume 2, Let’s Get Small by Steve Martin, and The Best of Earth Wind and Fire, Volume 1. At WSUP, the campus station at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, final exams mean some changes in the regular Friday DJ lineup. A freshman who did his first-ever live radio show yesterday will be on the air today from noon til 6.

Perspective From the Present: The freshman was, of course, me. My six-hour Friday show was supposed to be my debut, but I got asked at the last minute to fill in on the morning show the previous day. I was too busy to think much about it on Thursday, but that Friday show was the most exhilarating experience of my life. That afternoon represented the single biggest dream of my life coming true. It’s no exaggeration when I say that nothing else in my life since then—nothing else—has ever come close to the thrill of it.

December 12, 1988: The Best That I Got

Embed from Getty Images

(Pictured: kicker Max Zendejas tees it up for the Green Bay Packers early in the 1988 season. He wouldn’t be around for long.)

December 12, 1988, was a Monday. Indiana representative Dan Coats is appointed to the United States Senate by governor Robert Orr. He replaces Dan Quayle, who was elected vice-president with George Bush last month. At the White House, Nancy Reagan leads reporters on a tour of the Christmas decorations for a final time, telling them, “It’s very sentimental.” The Supreme Court rules that the NCAA can suspend University of Nevada-Las Vegas basketball coach Jerry Tarkanian for recruiting violations and other irrregularities. The decision is expected to increase the NCAA’s enforcement power. Texas A&M football coach Jackie Sherrill, under suspicion of paying a player to keep quiet about rules violations, resigns from his position. In the NFL yesterday, the Dallas Cowboys broke an 11-game losing streak with a 24-17 win over Washington. Also breaking a losing streak: the Green Bay Packers, who had lost seven in a row. They beat the playoff-bound Minnesota Vikings, 18-6. Newspapers around the country carry an Associated Press story about a man and woman in Puerto Rico, aged 90 and 70, who were arrested over the weekend for possessing a $45,000 stash of cocaine and heroin. In Mountain View, California, a couple is arrested after their 17-year-old daughter complains to her school counselor that her parents were teaching her how to use cocaine. The girl’s parents believe they’ve done nothing wrong, police say. They believe their daughter would be exposed to cocaine eventually, and they wanted her to learn about it at home.

The movie Rain Man, starring Dustin Hoffman and Tom Cruise, has its New York premiere. The film will be officially released on Friday. At the box office this past weekend, the top film was the new release Twins, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito. Other popular movies over the weekend were The Naked Gun, Scrooged, Tequila Sunrise starring Mel Gibson, and the animated Disney film Oliver and Company. The death of actor Richard Castellano is announced. Best known for playing Clemenza in The Godfather and for an Oscar-nomimated role in Lovers and Other Strangers, he died on Saturday at age 55. Organized-crime figure Anthony Provenzano, known as Tony Pro, dies in prison at age 71. On TV tonight, ABC presents MacGyver and Monday Night Football, where the Miami Dolphins beat the Cleveland Browns 38-31. CBS airs Newhart, Kate & Allie, Murphy Brown, Designing Women, and a Christmas episode of Almost Grown, a new dramatic series exploring the life of a married couple during three different periods in their lives, which is co-created by former Rockford Files writer David Chase. NBC’s lineup includes ALF, The Hogan Family, and the made-for-TV movie I’ll Be Home for Christmas starring Hal Holbrook, Nancy Travis, and Eva Marie Saint, which scores the night’s highest rating.

At Z100 in New York City, “Giving You the Best That I Got” by Anita Baker is the #1 song on the new survey out today. Last week’s #1, “Kokomo” by the Beach Boys, falls to #4. In between the two are “Free Bird/Baby I Love Your Way” by Will to Power and “My Prerogative” by Bobby Brown. New songs in the Top 10 are “How Can I Fall” by Breathe and “Look Away” by Chicago. “I Wanna Have Some Fun” by Samantha Fox and “Two Hearts” by Phil Collins are the hottest songs on the survey, both up seven spots from the previous week. The station’s top three albums are unchanged from the previous week: U2’s Rattle and Hum, Giving You the Best That I Got by Anita Baker, and New Jersey by Bon Jovi.

Perspective From the Present: The Packers were struggling through a season that would see them finish 4-and-12. Despite beating the Vikings on Sunday, they released their kicker, Dean Dorsey, on Tuesday. He had missed an extra point in the game. He was the Packers’ third kicker of the season; they signed a guy named Curtis Burrow for the final game of the season, who promptly missed two of four extra points in a 26-17 win over the Phoenix Cardinals. It was the only NFL game Burrow ever appeared in. I was listening to the game, and one of the misses inspired a favorite radio moment of mine: Packers color commentator Max McGee remarked to his play-by-play partner Jim Irwin, “You know, Jim, they’re running a damn punt-pass-and-kick contest up here every week and they keep bringing the losers in!”

December 7, 1981: Let’s Get Physical

Embed from Getty Images

(Pictured: Olivia Newton-John.)

December 7, 1981, was a Monday. President Reagan tells reporters that Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi has sent assassination teams to murder top U.S. officials, after an American official is killed by suspected Libyan gunmen in Paris yesterday. (Later in the week, Reagan will call on Americans in Libya to leave, and forbid any other Americans to enter.) Reagan also meets Colonel Joseph Engel and Captain Richard Truly, the astronauts who flew the space shuttle Columbia on its second mission last month, and nominates Robert Bork to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. Seven coal miners are killed in an explosion in Knott County, Kentucky. Spain officially joins NATO. The Finnish-American Chamber of Commerce of the Northwest holds its first meeting in Seattle. Joe’s Pizzeria and Vittoria opens in Summit, New Jersey.

The Oakland Raiders score 16 points in the fourth quarter to beat the Pittsburgh Steelers, 30-27, on Monday Night Football. At baseball’s annual winter meetings, the Chicago Cubs trade pitcher Doug Capilla to the San Francisco Giants in exchange for pitcher Allen Ripley. (Tomorrow, they will make a major trade, acquiring three players from the Philadelphia Phillies, including infielder Keith Moreland and pitcher Dickie Noles, for pitcher Mike Krukow.) Future NFL defensive lineman Tank Johnson is born. William Edmunds, who played minor roles in Casablanca and It’s a Wonderful Life, dies at age 95.

The cover story in Time magazine is “Crazy Over Cats,” inspired by the proliferation of cat-related popular culture, including Garfield, the musical Cats, and the book 101 Uses for a Dead Cat. People‘s cover story is about Johnny Carson’s return to his hometown to film a documentary. Dallas Cowboys running back Tony Dorsett is on the cover of Sports Illustrated. TV shows on the air tonight include M*A*S*H, That’s Incredible!, Lou Grant, Knots Landing, and Little House on the Prairie. The Grateful Dead plays Des Moines. Badfinger plays Cleveland. Eric Clapton plays Budokan in Tokyo. Frank Zappa plays Salt Lake City. The Rolling Stones play suburban Washington, D.C.

At WLS in Chicago, “Physical” by Olivia Newton-John takes over the #1 slot from “Private Eyes” by Hall and Oates, which slips to #2. Among the biggest movers on the chart are “Young Turks” by Rod Stewart (#26 to #14), “Under Pressure” by Queen and David Bowie (#45 to #24), and a live version of “Closer to the Heart” by Rush (#44 to #30). These records indicate the hard-rockin’ direction the station has taken in 1981, particularly in morning drive and at night. The station is still playing Air Supply, Christopher Cross, Sheena Easton, Kenny Rogers, Barry Manilow, and “Endless Love,” but also Triumph’s “Magic Power,” “Nicole” by Point Blank, “Heavy Metal” by Don Felder, and Diesel’s “Sausalito Summernight.”

December 4, 1972: Winter Show

Embed from Getty Images

(Pictured: Elizabeth Montgomery, at center, plays Password.)

December 4, 1972, is a Monday. Time magazine reports on the opening of the SALT II arms limitation talks. At the Vietnam peace talks in Paris, North Vietnamese negotiator Le Duc Tho tells Henry Kissinger that even if the United States were to use nuclear weapons against his country, “our children will continue the struggle.” Five mice are selected to fly aboard Apollo 17, the final mission to the moon, which will be launched on Wednesday—if mission controllers don’t go on strike as they are threatening to do. Future porn star Nikki Tyler, future NBA player Howard Eisley, and future NFL linebackers Ted Johnson and Damien Covington are born. An executive at Motorola tells the company’s lead designer, “We have to build a portable telephone.” Less than four months later, Motorola will unveil the predecessor of the cellular phone at a press conference. In Merced, California, seven-year-old Steven Stayner is kidnapped. He will be held for nearly eight years; in 1989, his story will be told in the TV miniseries I Know My Name Is Steven.

Guest celebrities on Password this week are Elizabeth Montgomery and Bert Convy. Stars on Hollywood Squares are Wally Cox, Nanette Fabray, Jan Murray, John Davidson, Paul Lynde, Marilyn Michaels, Don Rickles, Della Reese, and Vincent Price. On NBC tonight, Jack Klugman, Rich Little, and Henny Youngman appear on Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In. Also on NBC, it’s The Perry Como Winter Show, a Christmas special with guest stars Joey Heatherton, Art Carney, and the Muppets. In tonight’s NFL game, the Los Angeles Rams beat the San Francisco 49ers 26-16. Roman Gabriel throws two touchdown passes for the Rams and David Ray kicks four field goals. At the 92nd Street Y in New York, author Erica Jong reads from her current bestseller Fear of Flying.

In a courtroom in Nice, France, Mick Jagger, Charlie Watts, Bill Wyman, and Mick Taylor are cleared of drug charges. Led Zeppelin plays Glasgow, Scotland, the Velvet Underground plays Reading, England, and Lynryd Skynyrd plays Atlanta. Disc jockey Don Imus celebrates his first anniversary on the air at WNBC in New York. At WCOL in Columbus, Ohio, it’s a glorious week for soul music: “Papa Was a Rolling Stone” by the Temptations knocks “I’m Stone in Love With You” by the Stylistics from #1 to #5 on the new music survey out today; “Me and Mrs. Jones” by Billy Paul is at #7, “If You Don’t Know Me By Now” by Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes is at #9, and Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition” is at #11. Also on the chart is a cover of “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes” by a British group called Blue Haze, at #12. In a small Wisconsin town without a single black resident, the manager of the seventh-grade basketball team is deeply into soul music nevertheless.

Perspective From the Present: “I’m Stone in Love With You” is a wonder. It makes me feel stupidly happy whenever I hear it, and nobody made prettier records than producer Thom Bell did. He and his songwriting partner, Linda Creed, were responsible for some of the most glorious confections of the 1970s, including all of the Stylistics’ signature hits and “Rubberband Man” by the Spinners. Bell and Creed (who died in 1986) are both in the Songwriters Hall of Fame. As for “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes,” I knew neither the song nor the Blue Haze version of it back then, although I have since come to adore the Platters’ version.