February 4, 1975: Be Not Proud

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(Pictured: President Ford roughhouses with his new golden retriever, Liberty, on February 2, 1975.)

February 4, 1975, was a Tuesday. Headlines this morning include President Ford’s budget for fiscal year 1976, which was released yesterday. Despite drastic curbs on goverment spending, the budget runs the largest peacetime deficit in history. Democratic leaders in Congress say they have no intention of going along with cuts to popular spending programs. Today, Ford is in Atlanta to give a speech, and he also holds an afternoon press conference. The majority of the questions involve what can be done to boost the weak American economy. Ford is also asked about a report that Republican senator Howard Baker is considering a run for the 1976 Republican presidential nomination, and whether Ford will run for a full term. He says it is his intention to do so, and that other people may run if they choose. In a political upset, Margaret Thatcher is elected leader of Britain’s Conservative Party, defeating former prime minister Edward Heath in an election he called and was expected to win. For the last several weeks, officials in China have recommended the evacuation of people from Liaoning province, believing that an earthquake is imminent. Early this evening, a magnitude 7.3 earthquake strikes the city of Haicheng, killing 2,000 and injuring over 27,000. Later estimates will claim that the number of dead and injured could have been 150,000 without the warnings. Jump blues artist Louis Jordan dies at age 66. Future singer Natalie Imbruglia is born. In Ann Arbor, Michigan, you can buy a half-gallon of milk at VIP Discount Center for 66 cents or three packs of cigarettes for $1.28 with no limits.

On TV tonight, CBS airs Good Times, M*A*S*H, Hawaii Five-O, and Barnaby Jones. ABC counters with the TV movie premiere Death Be Not Proud starring Arthur Hill, Jane Alexander, and Robby Benson, followed by Marcus Welby, MD. NBC’s lineup includes Adam-12, a Hallmark Hall of Fame presentation of All Creatures Great and Small starring Michael Caine, and an episode of Police Story. Later tonight, Johnny Carson’s guests include Fernando Lamas, Susan Sarandon, and singer Roger Miller.

Genesis plays Chicago and Lynryd Skynyrd plays Rochester, New York. Led Zeppelin plays on Long Island. When Zeppelin’s 1975 American tour was announced, the band had a date in Boston scheduled for tonight. Tickets were to go on sale at 10AM on January 7. On the night of the 6th, officials at Boston Garden opened the doors at 11PM so those in line for tickets could wait inside. A riot ensued, doing up to $75,000 in damage to the arena. To pacify the crowd, the Garden began selling tickets at 2:30AM—but when it became clear that some of the same people who had rioted now had tickets to the February 4 show, city officials feared a repeat of the violence and canceled it.

At KHJ in Los Angeles, “Please Mr. Postman” by the Carpenters goes to #1. Last week’s #1, “Laughter in the Rain” by Neil Sedaka, falls all the way to #13. The rest of the KHJ Top Five: “Mandy” by Barry Manilow, “Best of My Love” by the Eagles, “Pick Up the Pieces” by AWB, and the Ohio Players’ “Fire.” Two songs are new in the Top 10: “Black Water” by the Doobie Brothers and “One Man Woman, One Woman Man” by Paul Anka. Three new songs debut on the station’s survey: “#9 Dream” by John Lennon, “The No-No Song” by Ringo Starr, and “Lovin’ You” by Minnie Riperton. The oldest song on the survey is “When Will I See You Again” by the Three Degrees, which is still at #20 in its 20th week on the chart. The new #1 album in Los Angeles is Linda Ronstadt’s Heart Like a Wheel, which knocks Elton John’s Greatest Hits to #2. Elton’s 1969 debut album, Empty Sky, reissued last month, is up to #11. The hottest album on the KHJ chart is Bob Dylan’s Blood on the Tracks, which jumps to #7 from #20.

Perspective From the Present: I had just started the second semester of my freshman year in high school, and I was taking a course called Personal Typing. I expect I would have learned how to type eventually, even if it was some sort of do-it-yourself hunt-and-peck method. But I am not sure that I would have become the writer I am today if it wasn’t for the speed of touch-typing, which allowed the words to hit the page almost as fast as I thought them up, and still does.

I had begun to notice a girl in typing class, and after asking around, it turned out that she had noticed me, too. And on Valentine’s Day, we verified our mutual attraction.

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January 31, 1994: Below Zero

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(Pictured: Dallas Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman celebrates victory in Super Bowl XXVIII.)

January 31, 1994, was a Monday. It is extremely cold in much of the United States. Nighttime temperatures have been in the 20s and 30s below zero from the upper Mississippi Valley to northern New England, and sub-freezing temperatures have been recorded in the Gulf Coast states. The countdown begins today for Thursday’s launch of the space shuttle Discovery. It will be the first shuttle mission with a Russian cosmonaut aboard, and the first joint U.S-Russian space mission since the Apollo/Soyuz flights in 1975. Secretary of State Warren Christopher says the United States supports a UN proposal for air strikes in Bosnia to punish Serbian guerillas who are holding an airport in Tuzla and refusing to allow Canadian troops in Srebrenica to be rotated home. The lawyer for figure skater Tonya Harding’s ex-husband, Jeff Gilooly, says Harding helped plan the attack on rival Nancy Kerrigan earlier this month. Harding has said she became aware of the attack plot only after it happened. The Los Angeles Times publishes an extensive series of articles about the aftermath of the Northridge earthquake, which hit southern California two weeks ago today. Fifty-seven people died and thousands were injured. The Times also headlines a report about the Arkansas land deal known as Whitewater, which has threatened to ensnare President and Mrs. Clinton in scandal. Novelist Pierre Boulle, who wrote several novels including Planet of the Apes and Bridge Over the River Kwai, dies at age 71.

Yesterday in Atlanta, the Dallas Cowboys defeated the Buffalo Bills in Super Bowl XXVIII by a score of 30 to 13. It was the fourth straight Super Bowl defeat for the Bills and the second consecutive championship for the Cowboys. The halftime show featured country stars Clint Black, Tanya Tucker, Travis Tritt, and the Judds. Tonight in the NBA, Dominique Wilkins of the Atlanta Hawks becomes the 11th player to score 24,000 points in a career, getting 24 points to help the Hawks beat Dallas, 90-85. The win pulls the Hawks into a flat-footed tie with the idle New York Knicks for the best record in the Eastern Conference. Both have marks of 30-and-11. Duke is the new #1 in the AP men’s college basketball poll. It’s the fifth straight poll with a different #1 team. Last week’s #1, UCLA, lost to California yesterday.

The top movies at the box office this past weekend were Mrs. Doubtfire, Philadelphia, and Grumpy Old Men. On TV tonight, ABC starts the night with the newsmagazine show Day One, followed by the TV movie Lies of the Heart: The Story of Laurie Kellogg, a fact-based tale about a woman who contracts the murder of her abusive husband, starring Jennie Garth and Gregory Harrison. NBC airs The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Blossom, and an episode of The Cosby Mysteries. On CBS, it’s Evening Shade, Dave’s World, Murphy Brown, Love and War (a sitcom created by Murphy Brown creator Diane English and starring Annie Potts and Jay Thomas), and Northern Exposure. Fox devotes all of its primetime to a repeat of the theatrical movie Working Girl starring Melanie Griffith. Rush plays Las Cruces, New Mexico; Janet Jackson plays Philadelphia; Fairport Convention plays Yeovil in the UK. INXS plays Brisbane, Australia, and Bryan Adams plays Sydney.

Bryan Adams is atop the Billboard Hot 100 again this week with “All for Love,” his hit with Rod Stewart and Sting. Holding this week at #2 and #3 are “Hero” by Mariah Carey and “Breathe Again” by Toni Braxton. Celine Dion’s “The Power of Love” moves from #10 to #4. Two songs make monster debuts: “Whatta Man” by Salt ‘n’ Pepa with En Vogue is new in the Top 40 at #22, zooming in from #69 the week before; Janet Jackson’s “Because of You” is at #29 in its first week on the Hot 100. On the Billboard 200 album chart, Music Box by Mariah Carey is in its sixth week at #1; Doggy Style by Snoop Doggy Dogg is #2. Greatest Hits by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers is #5; Vs. by Pearl Jam is #7; the highest debut is Antenna by ZZ Top at #14.

Perspective From the Present: My radio career had ended with a thud on the first working day of January. I had since found a job teaching prep classes for high-school students getting ready to take their ACTs, and by the end of January, I was on the road. My first trip was a bizarre week in Oklahoma City; in all the teaching trips I’ve taken over all the years since, I never had a weirder one—but that story will have to wait.

January 24, 1984: That’s All

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(Pictured: the original Apple Macintosh.)

January 24, 1984, was a Tuesday. Two days after it was introduced with a memorable TV commercial during the Super Bowl (a game in which the the Oakland Los Angeles Raiders blew out the Washington Redskins 38-9), Steve Jobs of Apple unveils the new Macintosh personal computer. Headlines on the morning papers include President Reagan’s nomination yesterday of White House councilor Ed Meese to be attorney general, replacing William French Smith. Today, Reagan arrives in the Oval Office a little after 9AM and spends the morning in a national security briefing. He travels to the Capitol for lunch with Republican senators and then returns to the White House, wrapping up his working day by 3:00. With less than four weeks to go before the Iowa caucuses, Democratic presidential candidates George McGovern, Alan Cranston, and Reubin Askew are among those criss-crossing the state. The price of gold falls 10 cents today, to $365.10 per ounce. Silver is down 28 cents to $7.98 per ounce. Tonight, the Washington Press Club hosts its annual Salute Congress dinner featuring lighthearted banter between reporters and members of Congress.

Eleven games are played in the NBA tonight, with 22 of the league’s 23 teams in action. The league-leading Boston Celtics beat Cleveland 118-97 behind 24 points from Larry Bird. The Philadelphia 76ers have the league’s second-best record, even after a 111-102 loss to the Knicks in New York. The best game of the night is in Washington, where the last-place Bullets beat the division-leading Milwaukee Bucks 123-117 in double overtime. Four games are played in the National Hockey League tonight, including a wild 7-7 tie between the Hartford Whalers and the Canadiens in Montreal. Future major league baseball player Scott Kazmir is born. ABC’s TV lineup tonight starts with Foul-Ups, Bleeps and Blunders, followed by Happy Days, Three’s Company, Oh Madeline starring Madeline Kahn, and Hart to Hart. CBS airs an episode of The Mississippi, which stars Ralph Waite as a lawyer practicing from a boat on the Mississippi River, and the TV movie The Lost Honor of Kathryn Beck, a thriller starring Marlo Thomas and Kris Kristofferson. NBC’s lineup includes repeats of The A-Team and a two-hour Remington Steele.

Def Leppard plays Tokyo and the Clash plays Long Beach, California. Robert Plant plays Melbourne, Australia, Genesis plays Austin, Texas, and Van Halen plays Little Rock, Arkansas. Genesis (“That’s All”) and Van Halen (“Jump”) are new in the Top 10 at KRTH in Los Angeles, where “Owner of a Lonely Heart” by Yes holds at #1 and “Let the Music Play” by Shannon is #2. “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” by Cyndi Lauper takes a mighty leap from #13 to #3 this week. Also charted at K-Earth: the Pretenders’ “Middle of the Road,” Elton John’s “I Guess That’s Why They Call it the Blues,” “Wrapped Around Your Finger” by the Police, Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” “An Innocent Man” by Billy Joel, and “Let’s Pretend We’re Married” by Prince. Debuts on the station’s Top 30 include “I Want a New Drug” by Huey Lewis and the News, “Let’s Stay Together” by Tina Turner, Christine McVie’s “Got a Hold on Me” and “Somebody’s Watching Me” by Rockwell.

Perspective From the Present: On this day, The Mrs. and I were living in our little one-bedroom basement apartment in small-town Illinois. We’d received a microwave oven as a wedding present the previous year, and for the Super Bowl in January 1984, I whipped up a batch of chili in it. Super Bowl chili of some sort, made in the microwave or some other way, became a tradition with us; I have made it for every Super Bowl since. The streak will end this year, however, after 35 Super Bowls in a row, because I will be traveling on gameday (Sunday, February 3) and unable to cook. I could make some on Saturday, I guess, but it won’t be quite the same.

January 15, 1991: In the Heat of the Night

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(Pictured: An American family watches war news from the Persian Gulf.)

January 15, 1991, was a Tuesday. Today, Iraq fails to meet a UN-mandated deadline for withdrawing 545,000 troops from Kuwait. They’re faced by over 800,000 international coalition forces, the majority of which are from the United States. Yesterday, UN Secretary General Javier Perez de Cuellar returned from meetings with Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein and told reporters he sees little hope that war in the Persian Gulf can be averted. Pope John Paul II sends Saddam a letter urging him to “take courageous steps which can be the beginning of a true journey towards peace.” A partial eclipse of the sun is visible in parts of Australia, New Zealand, and the South Pacific. In Texas, Democrat Ann Richards takes the oath of office as governor.

Today’s Dilbert strip features an appearance by Dan Quayle’s brain. ABC’s primetime lineup includes Who’s the Boss?, Head of the Class, Roseanne (which wins the ratings race for the night), Coach, and thirtysomething. CBS airs Rescue 911 and the theatrical movie The Presidio. NBC’s lineup includes Matlock, In the Heat of the Night, and Law and Order. At the movies Home Alone continues to dominate the box office along with Awakenings starring Robert DeNiro and Robin Williams. Pairings are set for the NFC and AFC championship games this weekend: the Los Angeles Raiders will play at Buffalo and the New York Giants will play at San Francisco. The NBA’s top team, the Boston Celtics, are 29-and-6 and have the night off. Among the eight games played tonight, the Portland Trail Blazers beat Minnesota 132-117, running their second-best record to 32-and-7. Clyde Drexler leads Portland with 32 points. The league’s third-best team, San Antonio, loses to Utah 124-102. The league’s worst team, the Denver Nuggets, drops to 7-and-29 after getting hammered by Seattle, 146-99.

A new version of John Lennon’s “Give Peace a Chance,” recorded with war in the Persian Gulf looming, is officially released. Lennon’s son Sean and Lenny Kravitz rewrote the original lyrics, which are sung by artists recording as the Peace Choir. They include Yoko Ono, Peter Gabriel, Bruce Hornsby, Al Jarreau, Cyndi Lauper, Little Richard, LL Cool J, MC Hammer, Michael McDonald, Bonnie Raitt, Terence Trent D’Arby, Tom Petty, Adam Ant, and others. On the Billboard Hot 100, “Justify My Love” by Madonna is in its second week at #1. “Because I Love You” by Stevie B holds at #2. Only one song is new in the Top 10: “Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)” by C&C Music Factory. “I’m Your Baby Tonight” by Whitney Houston falls out of the Top 10. There’s practically no movement anywhere: Janet Jackson’s “Love Will Never Do (Without You)” and “I’m Not in Love” by Will to Power make the biggest jumps in the Top 20, three places each (#7 to #4 and #20 to #17 respectively). There’s only one new song in the Top 40: “Love Makes Things Happen” by Pebbles at #40. Only three new songs debut on the Hot 100; the highest is “Iesha” by Another Bad Creation at #78. AC/DC plays Portland, Oregon, Guns ‘n’ Roses plays Rio de Janeiro, and Anthrax plays Montreal.

Perspective From the Present: On this day, The Mrs. and I had a new arrival in the house. We had adopted Abby, our first cat, shortly after the holidays. For a while, we left the radio on and tuned to my station while we were gone so she would hear my voice throughout the day. Like most Americans, we went to bed on the night of the 15th figuring we’d be at war pretty soon, maybe before we got up Wednesday morning. That day, I went to work as usual, doing my afternoon show at the little station in Clinton, Iowa. The bombing started in the Gulf a little before 6:00 that night, and what had been called Operation Desert Shield turned into Operation Desert Storm. After I read the first couple of bulletins, we joined network news coverage and let it roll for the next 18 hours or so. Although there wasn’t much for me to do, I remember staying at the station until midnight, partly because we needed to have an operator there, but partly because I didn’t want to be anywhere else while history was being made.

January 7, 1983: What About Me

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(Pictured: Stevie Wonder appears at an event promoting the Martin Luther King holiday with Gil Scott-Heron, Jesse Jackson, and Gladys Knight.)

January 7, 1983, was a Friday. The ongoing weakness of the US economy is all over the news. Retailers are disappointed with December sales figures, although analysts disagree about the likely impact of the slow holiday season. New forecasts indicate the economy may grow at a rate of only 1.4 percent this year, down from last fall’s forecast of 3.1 percent. The administration is considering spending freezes to offset record deficits, but ecomomists fear that even if the economy begins growing again, deficits will remain a persistent problem. Unemployment remains high; the administration hopes the unemployment rate, currently 10.8 percent, can be cut to nine percent by the end of 1984. Yesterday, President Reagan signed a bill increasing the federal gas tax for the first time in 23 years. A report issued today by the Centers for Disease Control reports evidence that AIDS can be transmitted between heterosexuals; new research involving infected prison inmates also indicates that it can be spread through exposure to blood or blood products.

Future pro golfer Natalie Gulbis and future major leaguer Edwin Encarnacion are born. Four games are played in the National Hockey League tonight. The Edmonton Oilers get a hat trick from Glenn Anderson and two goals from Wayne Gretzky to beat Pittsburgh 7-2. Eight games are played in the NBA. The Philadelphia 76ers run their league-best record to 26-and-5 with a 106-89 win over the Washington Bullets. It’s the sixth straight win for the Sixers, who are led by Andrew Toney with 28 points. Julius Erving adds 23 and Moses Malone scores 22. The NFL playoffs begin this weekend with a special 16-team format necessitated by the players’ strike that reduced the regular season to nine games. Four games will be played tomorrow and four more on Sunday. The two top-seeded teams in what’s been dubbed the Super Bowl Tournament are the Los Angeles Raiders and Washington Redskins. Other top teams playing include Miami, Cincinnati, Dallas, Green Bay, Pittsburgh, and Minnesota.

Popular options for weekend moviegoers include Tootsie, 48 Hours, and The Verdict. On TV tonight, CBS wins the ratings race with its Friday-night lineup of The Dukes of Hazzard, Dallas, and Falcon Crest. ABC’s lineup includes Benson, The New Odd Couple (which stars Ron Glass of Barney Miller as Felix and Demond Wilson of Sanford and Son as Oscar), and an ABC News Closeup special about the massacre of Palestinians and Lebanese in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in Lebanon last September. NBC presents a two-hour episode of Knight Rider followed by Remington Steele. Later, Johnny Carson welcomes Jack Lemmon and Tanya Tucker, and Andy Kaufman brings his parents to an appearance on Late Night With David Letterman.

Yesterday, Stevie Wonder appeared at a Capitol Hill press conference to discuss ongoing efforts to make Martin Luther King’s birthday a national holiday. Tonight, Aerosmith continues its “Right in the Nuts” tour at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, and KISS plays Saginaw, Michigan. One of two competing editions of Badfinger, led by Tom Evans, plays Atlanta. (The other Badfinger is led by Evans’ former bandmate Joey Molland.) Ron Wood of the Rolling Stones plays and speaks at an educational event held at the Town Hall Theater in New York City.

At WLOL in Minneapolis, “You Can’t Hurry Love” by Phil Collins is the new #1 song, dropping “What About Me” by Moving Pictures to #3. “You Got Lucky” by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers is up to #2. “Baby Come to Me” by Patti Austin and James Ingram, “On the Loose” by Saga, and “Heart to Heart” by Kenny Loggins are new in the Top 10, replacing Men at Work’s “Down Under,” “Southern Cross” by Crosby Stills and Nash, and Toto’s “Africa.” Songs moving up outside the Top 10 include “Back on the Chain Gang” by the Pretenders, “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me” by Culture Club, “Beat It” by Michael Jackson, and “Hungry Like the Wolf” by Duran Duran.

Perspective From the Present: “What About Me,” which sounds as 80s as 80s can be, was an enormous hit in Australia during 1982, and would make #29 on the American Hot 100 in February 1983. The very same version would hit in America for a second time in 1989, peaking at #46. You don’t hear it on the radio anymore, but several other popular songs of the moment have never been off the air since.

December 31, 1993: I Will Always Love You

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(Pictured: Whitney Houston.)

December 31, 1993, was a Friday. Eastern states from the Great Lakes to New England are digging out after a snowstorm yesterday. Erie, Pennsylvania, got 10 inches, and some locations in Maine recorded over a foot. Funeral services are pending for Irving “Swifty” Lazar, a Hollywood agent who represented stars from Humphrey Bogart to Madonna, who died yesterday at age 86. On Christmas Eve, in Humboldt, Nebraska, transgender teen Brandon Teena was raped by two men angry to learn he was born female. He reported the crime to police, who released his assailants without charges. Tonight, Teena and a friend are murdered by the two men. The case will inspire the 1999 movie Boys Don’t Cry. ABC airs its usual Friday night lineup: Family Matters (which tops the evening’s ratings), Boy Meets World, Step by Step, Hangin’ With Mr. Cooper, and 20/20. CBS sandwiches a clip show titled Great TV Moments between repeats of Diagnosis Murder and Picket Fences. NBC opens the night with a broadcast of the annual Orange Bowl parade and follows it with the TV movie Love Can Be Murder, starring Jaclyn Smith as a private detective who has to solve the murder of the ghost (Corbin Bernsen) who haunts her office. Fox airs repeats of The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr., and The X-Files.

Four college football bowl games are played today, including California’s 37-3 Alamo Bowl win over Iowa in San Antonio. Eight games will be played tomorrow, including a showdown between Florida State and Nebraska in the Orange Bowl. Florida State is #1 in the Associated Press poll; Nebraska is #1 in the coaches’ poll. The winner will have the inside track on the undisputed national championship. (FSU will win the game 18-16.) Also tomorrow: the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California. Wisconsin makes its first trip to the game since 1963 to meet UCLA. Demand from Wisconsin fans has ticket prices soaring: tickets with a face value of $46 have been selling for $300.

Barbra Streisand opens a two-night stand at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. It is the first stop on a 26-date concert tour, and her first live performance in 20 years. Weird Al Yankovic plays Disney World and Phish plays the Centrum in Worcester, Massachusetts. Billy Joel plays Nassau Coliseum on Long Island and the Grateful Dead plays Oakland. Radio stations around the country count down the top hits of 1993. Billboard magazine’s chart is topped by “I Will Always Love You” by Whitney Houston, which did 14 weeks at #1 from late November 1992 through this past February. It’s from the year’s #1 album, the soundtrack from the movie The Bodyguard. Breathless by Kenny G is #2 on the year-end album chart; Unplugged by Eric Clapton is #3. The #1 country single of the year is “Chattahoochee” by Alan Jackson. The top adult-contemporary hit of 1993 is by Vanessa Williams and Brian McKnight: “Love Is.”

Perspective From the Present: December 31, 1993, was the final day of my full-time career in radio. I did my station’s year-end countdown that afternoon without thinking anything was out of the ordinary, but on Monday, January 3, wearing my Wisconsin Rose Bowl sweatshirt, I showed up for work and got fired. My boss had decided to start the new year by getting rid of the burnout case—which I definitely was. As it turned out, he did me a favor, forcing me into decisions that ended up changing my life for the better. Although I would take two other full-time jobs, one at the end of 1994 and another one in 2013, neither one of them was meant to be, so I gave them back. After this day, I would never be a radio guy in quite the same way again.

Programming Announcement: When I started this blog in January 2017, I thought it had a shelf-life of two years. I figured that was how long it would take to repeat all of the One Day in Your Life posts I’d written at my other blog, and after I’d done that, I’d stop posting here. But as the second year draws to a close, I find that I have a few old posts left over, and new One Day in Your Life posts are my favorite thing to write. So this blog will remain a going concern at least through the end of 2019, as long as I’m still here to write and you’re still there to read. 

Thank you for reading and happy new year.

December 25, 1989: Storm Front

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(Pictured: Billy Martin and George Steinbrenner, together again.)

December 25, 1989, was a Monday. Much of the United States is gripped by record cold. Fifty-six cities have set low temperature records in recent days. Temperatures between 20 and 40 below were recorded across the Midwest late last week, although they moderated a little in time for Christmas. Parts of the South are experiencing their first white Christmas in 100 years. Tallahassee, Florida, gets a trace of snow today, and in Miami, for the second day in a row, the mercury falls below freezing. Citrus crops have been largely wiped out across the South. Yesterday, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, got 14 inches of snow, and elsewhere in the state, snowdrifts are as much as eight feet high. At least 77 deaths have been blamed on the cold since December 15, including that of New Orleans mayor Ernest “Dutch” Morial, who suffered cardiac arrest last night after an asthma attack induced by the cold. Newspapers around the country this weekend carried a review of a new book by climatologist Stephen Schneider titled Global Warming: Are We Entering the Greenhouse Century?

Since the opening of the Berlin Wall in November, Communist governments in eastern Europe have been reforming and/or falling. In Romania, revolution against the government of Nicolae Ceausescu began eight days ago. On Friday, Ceausescu was deposed as president, and he fled his palace after it was invaded by protesters. On Saturday, he was captured in the Romanian city of Targoviste. Today, after being convicted of illegal gathering of wealth and genocide by a revolutionary court, Ceausescu and his wife are executed by firing squad. Last Wednesday, a United States force of 28,000 troops and 300 military aircraft invaded Panama. The goal of Operation Just Cause is to capture Panamanian president Manuel Noriega, neutralize military units loyal to him, and protect American lives and property. Today, many of the military objectives have been accomplished, although fighting continues. Noriega has yet to be nabbed; yesterday he sought asylum at the Vatican Embassy in Panama City.

Billy Martin, who had five different stints managing the New York Yankees between 1975 and 1988, dies in a traffic accident at age 61. The college bowl season continues today; 16 games will be played between now and New Year’s Day. Michigan State beats Hawaii 33-13 in the Aloha Bowl in Honolulu. In the annual Christmas Day Blue/Gray college all-star game in Montgomery, Alabama, the Gray team, made up of players from southern colleges, beats the Blue, 28-10. The National Football League regular season ends tonight. The Minnesota Vikings beat the Cincinnati Bengals 29-21, knocking them out of the AFC playoffs and taking the last available NFC playoff spot from the Green Bay Packers. Yesterday, the Packers beat the Dallas Cowboys 20-10, ending the Cowboys’ dismal 1-and-15 season. The San Francisco 49ers and Denver Broncos are the top seeds in the playoffs, which will begin with wild-card games on New Year’s Eve.

ABC’s Monday Night Football (which is preceded by an episode of MacGyver) is the only program on network TV tonight that isn’t a repeat, and it wins the night. CBS airs six sitcoms in a row: Major Dad, The Famous Teddy Z, Murphy Brown, Designing Women, Newhart, and Doctor Doctor. NBC fills primetime with the 1965 movie The Sound of Music. Fox presents 21 Jump Street and Alien Nation. At Z100 in New York, “Pump Up the Jam” by Technotronic is the new #1 song, knocking Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire” to #3. “Another Day in Paradise” by Phil Collins is #2. Also in the Top 10: Michael Bolton, New Kids on the Block, and Milli Vanilli. There’s little movement on the chart: Rod Stewart’s “Downtown Train” makes the biggest move, up four spots to #17. “Janie’s Got a Gun” by Aerosmith debuts in the Top 30 at #25. The #1 album in New York again this week is Billy Joel’s Storm Front.

Perspective From the Present: On Christmas Eve 1989, my wife and sister-in-law and I sat in my parents’ living room reading, as Mother made dinner in the kitchen while Dad was out milking his cows. Christmas music played softly on the radio. After a while my sister-in-law piped up, “It’s too quiet. In my family, there’s always an argument or a fight on Christmas.” So—of course—Ann and I pretended to have one to make her feel more at home. I hope that your Christmas has been quiet. Or noisy, whichever you prefer.

December 23, 1976: Christmas Spirit

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(Pictured: the cast of Barney Miller from the episode airing on December 23, 1976.)

December 23, 1976, was a Thursday. It’s a cold day in the Midwest, with temperatures in the single digits above zero in many places and strong winds driving wind-chills near 40 below. The forecast for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day contains a slight chance for snow. Today, president-elect Jimmy Carter completes his cabinet selections by naming Joseph Califano to be Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare. While appointing a special energy adviser, Carter says he may consider creating a cabinet-level Department of Energy. All three network newscasts lead with news of Carter’s appointments. Other stories covered tonight include new cases of paralysis linked to the swine-flu vaccine, and the conviction of Watergate bagman Tony Ulasewicz for tax evasion. He failed to report as income payoffs he received personally. President and Mrs. Ford are spending the holiday in Vail, Colorado. The president spends the morning in meetings but goes Christmas shopping in the afternoon. In the evening, the Fords attend a cocktail party and a dinner at Sheika’s Discotheque. U.S. marshals in four cities seize 4,500 square yards of carpeting manufactured by a Georgia company because it does not comply with federal flammability standards. The New York Times reports on Wednesday’s 41st annual Debutante Cotillion and Christmas Ball at the Waldorf Astoria, at which 76 debs made what the Times calls “their formal bows to society.” Also yesterday, Monty Hall taped his last episode of Let’s Make a Deal.

Future major league pitcher Brad Lidge, future NHL star Scott Gomez, and future NFL kicker Kris Brown are born. Five games are scheduled in the National Hockey League; the Chicago Blackhawks have the night off after losing to Buffalo 4-2 last night. Before the game, the team fired Billy Reay, who had coached the Hawks since 1963. In Philadelphia, the Flyers beat Washington 5-2. Flyer Mel Bridgman, the first player taken in the 1975 NHL draft, records what is known as a Gordie Howe hat trick: a goal, an assist, and a fight. Hit movies in theaters include King Kong, The Enforcer, The Pink Panther Strikes Again, Silver Streak, and Andy Warhol’s Frankenstein. Car buyers in Madison, Wisconsin, can get an Oldsmobile Omega Brougham, loaded, for $5188, then drive it to Fuzzy Thurston’s Left Guard restaurant for the Thursday night filet special, which costs $3.95. On ABC tonight, the Sweathogs get the Christmas spirit on Welcome Back, Kotter, and it’s Christmas Eve in the 12th Precinct on Barney Miller. ABC also airs the final episode of canceled sitcom The Nancy Walker Show, created by Norman Lear. The CBS lineup includes The Waltons, Hawaii Five-O, and Barnaby Jones. NBC starts its night with Doug Henning’s World of Magic, a live show on which the magician makes an elephant disappear. The Henning special is followed by part 4 of the miniseries Once an Eagle. Later, on Tomorrow, Tom Snyder welcomes musician Van McCoy and DJ Norm N. Nite to discuss disco music.

The Beach Boys play Portland, Oregon, Blondie plays CBGB and Barry Manilow plays the Uris Theater, both in New York City, and AC/DC plays at a high school in Australia. At WLS in Chicago, “Tonight’s the Night” by Rod Stewart is #1 for a fifth straight week. “Nadia’s Theme” by Barry DeVorzon and Perry Botkin Jr. makes a strong move from #8 to #3, as does “Blinded by the Light” by Manfred Mann’s Earth Band, which goes from #20 to #13. The two biggest movers on the chart are both up 12: a live and edited version of “Free Bird” by Lynryd Skynryd (#30 to #18) and “Weekend in New England” by Barry Manilow (#42 to #30). The new #1 album in Chicago is the debut album by Boston, taking over the top spot from Frampton Comes Alive!

A young radio geek in southern Wisconsin listens to all these songs and more, sometimes on WLS but more often on FM stations from Madison, Dubuque, or Freeport, Illinois, and he looks forward to what turns out to be a most memorable Christmas, the echoes of which he will still be able to hear many years in the future.

December 21, 1981: Overtime

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(Pictured: Jane Fonda at the premiere of On Golden Pond, 1981.)

December 21, 1981, was a Monday. Poland’s crackdown on political opposition continues after martial law was declared on December 13. Yesterday, Polish ambassador Ronauld Spasowski reportedly defected to the United States. Today, there are reports of militiamen attacking Catholic priests in Wroclaw and Gdansk. Shipyards at Gdansk have been ground zero for a series of strikes by the Solidarity labor union and its leader, Lech Walesa. President Reagan meets with top advisors regarding the situation in Poland and the federal budget for the forthcoming fiscal year. The New York Times reports today that the budget may include $45 billion in tax increases over the next two fiscal years. Reagan’s working day ends with a brief appearance at a surprise party for a departing presidential assistant. Many retailers are disappointed with sales figures for the weekend before Christmas. Shoppers are favoring larger stores and cheaper gifts as inflation continues higher than predicted.

Yesterday, the Minnesota Vikings played their final NFL game at Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington, Minnesota, losing to Kansas City 10-6. It was their fifth straight loss, ending their season with a record of 7-and-9. In the postgame rush for souvenirs—seats, bleachers, goal posts, and chunks of sod—dozens of fans were injured. Tonight, in college basketball, Cincinnati defeats Bradley 75-73 in seven overtimes. The game was tied at 61 following 40 minutes of regulation play. Through 35 minutes of extra time, both teams play keepaway. Only one overtime period (the fourth) features more than one basket each, after neither team scored in the third overtime. The game is decided on a last-second shot by Cincinnati’s Doug Schloemer, who scores the only points in the seventh overtime.

Top box-office draws over the past weekend included Reds, On Golden Pond,and Porky’s, and new releases Sharky’s Machine starring Burt Reynolds, Neighbors starring Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi, the re-release of Walt Disney’s Cinderella, and Absence of Malice starring Paul Newman and Sally Field. Tonight, Field stars with William Hurt in a live NBC presentation of the Pulitzer Prize-winning play All the Way Home, which follows an episode of Little House on the Prairie. The CBS lineup features four sitcoms: Private Benjamin, The Two of Us (starring Mimi Kennedy as a single mom and Peter Cook as her English butler), a Christmas-themed episode of M*A*S*H, and former M*A*S*H star Wayne Rogers in House Calls, plus Lou Grant. An ABC News Closeup investigation of possible Soviet “yellow rain” chemical warfare in southeast Asia precedes the Oakland Raiders and San Diego Chargers on Monday Night Football. The Chargers win 23-10 to capture the AFC West and knock the Denver Broncos out of the playoffs. San Diego has a bye in the opening round, which will begin with two wild-card games next Sunday.

AC/DC plays Landover, Maryland, and Black Sabbath plays Chicago. Rush plays the first of two shows at Brendan Byrne Arena in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Duran Duran plays Birmingham, England, and U2 wraps up a two-night stand at the Lyceum Ballroom in London. Journey opens a two-night stand in Honolulu, the last dates of their Escape tour until April. At KFXM in San Bernardino, California, “Young Turks” by Rod Stewart is the new #1 song; last week’s #1, “Waiting for a Girl Like You” by Foreigner, falls to #4. (On the Billboard Hot 100, “Waiting for a Girl Like You” is in its fourth of what will eventually be 10 straight weeks at #2.) In between Rod Stewart and Foreigner are “Leather and Lace” by Stevie Nicks and Don Henley and “Trouble” by Lindsey Buckingham. Three songs are new in the Top 10: “Heart Like a Wheel” by Steve Miller, “I Can’t Go for That” by Hall and Oates, and “Yesterday’s Songs” by Neil Diamond. Those three take the places of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing,” “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic” by the Police, and “Oh No” by the Commodores.

Perspective From the Present: The first semester of my senior year in college was over, and I had just completed a third semester as program director of the campus radio station. Come spring, I would take 13 credits, most of which was independent study or internship, because in February I would start my first full-time radio job at KDTH in Dubuque. In early January, a fire in my college apartment would accelerate my timetable for moving to Dubuque, but on this day, I was merely looking forward to Christmas.

December 19, 1974: Movin’ On

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(Pictured: the 1975 Ford Thunderbird, which would be made in smaller numbers by fewer workers in that year.)

December 19, 1974, was a Thursday. A devastating week for auto workers continues as Ford Motor Company announces more layoffs for the first quarter of 1975, bringing the total number to 90,000. Yesterday, GM announced layoffs that will total 132,000. On Tuesday, American Motors announced that it would lay off more than 15,000 workers in January. President Ford has a day of meetings, but he also makes an hour-long visit to Alexandria, Virginia, to present George Washington’s copy of the Constitution to organizers of the Freedom Train, which will tour the country as part of the Bicentennial celebration. Tonight, he swears in New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller as Vice President of the United States. The ceremony is the first broadcast from the Senate chambers over a TV system that had been quietly installed during the summer in anticipation of President Nixon’s trial on impeachment charges.

In today’s Doonesbury strip, presidential press secretary Ron Nessen continues his week-long joust with the White House press corps. Future NFL players Jake Plummer, Bryant Westbrook, and Joe Jurevicius are born. Four games are played in the National Hockey League tonight, four in the NBA, and three in the ABA. The NFL playoffs begin on Saturday with the St. Louis Cardinals at Minnesota and the Miami Dolphins at Oakland. On Sunday, Buffalo plays at Pittsburgh and Washington travels to Los Angeles to play the Rams. The Green Bay Packers, who finished with a record of 6-and-8, need a new coach. Dan Devine resigned on Monday after three seasons to take the head coaching job at Notre Dame. On TV tonight, NBC leads off with The Mac Davis Show, returning to the air after a summer run, followed by Ironside and Movin’ On. CBS starts with The Waltons, followed by the 1971 theatrical movie Catlow, a western starring Yul Brynner, Richard Crenna, and Leonard Nimoy. ABC’s lineup includes The Odd Couple and Paper Moon, a sitcom adaptation of the popular movie, which stars Jodie Foster in the Tatum O’Neal role. Also tonight: The Streets of San Francisco.

Rush plays New Orleans and Led Zeppelin plays the Rainbow in London. Barry Manilow plays Washington, DC. George Harrison plays Madison Square Garden in New York with Ravi Shankar. Harrison’s band includes Billy Preston and Tom Scott, each of whom gets a solo spot. Before the show, rumors flew that John Lennon, who had recently played the Garden stage with Elton John, would appear with George, but he does not. Paul and Linda McCartney are there, but strictly as spectators and in disguise, although Paul is quickly recognized. Earlier today, he and George met to sign legal documents officially dissolving the Beatles, a meeting at which John failed to show.

On the Billboard 200 album chart, Greatest Hits by Elton John is at #1 for a third week. On the Hot 100, “Kung Fu Fighting” by Carl Douglas is #1 for a second week. Billboard has discontinued its special Christmas chart this year, but holiday music plays on in its current edition. WMEX in Boston is reporting Elton John’s “Step Into Christmas” as one of its playlist adds this week. Bibo Music Publishers has taken a full-page ad touting the many versions of its property “Blue Christmas” that have been recorded over the years, including new-for-’74 versions by Charlie McCoy, Don Tweedy, and the Magic Organ. A BBC Radio executive says he’d like to see a new Christmas standard emerge this year, since “it’s been years since we had one.” The Hits of the World section reports that in Britain, the new “Hey Mr. Christmas” by Showaddywaddy is up to #33; “Father Christmas Do Not Touch Me” by the Goodies is #41, and “Wombling Merry Christmas” by the Wombles is #47. Under “Recommended LPs,” the magazine touts a new holiday release, the debut album by the Rhodes Kids, titled Rock ‘N’ Rhodes Christmas.

Perspective From the Present: The three UK Christmas hits are intolerable—I couldn’t get through 30 seconds of any of them. The Rhodes Kids sound just a bit better, but only just. They were a show band that played around their hometown of Houston before being discovered in 1972 by a guy named Michael Thevis. Over the next several years, Thevis got them into big-time hotel showrooms and on TV, and they made several more albums. It turned out, however, that he was using them to launder money he earned as one of the biggest pornographers in the country, and he eventually ended up in prison, convicted of murder. The whole wild tale is here.