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.

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July 27, 1986: Somebody Like You

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(Pictured: Nancy Wilson of Heart with then-husband Cameron Crowe, David Furnish, and Elton John, 2006.)

July 27, 1986, is a Sunday. Greg LeMond becomes the first American to win the Tour de France. Investors in a potential NBA franchise in Orlando, Florida, announce that if they are granted the franchise, the team will be called the Magic. For only the third time in baseball history, two pitchers who have won 300 games face each other in the same game. Don Sutton and the California Angels beat Tom Seaver and the Boston Red Sox, 3-0. Several people in Malaysia report seeing a red sphere hovering over a field. A three-foot-tall humanoid gets out of it and walks around, leaving footprints behind. In Texas, the Clear Lake High School Class of 1976 holds its 10-year reunion. By presidential proclamation, it’s the first day of National Nuclear Medicine Week. President Reagan also signs the Commercial Vehicle Motor Safety Act, which tightens the licensing requirement for commercial drivers. For the fifth time since they were adopted in 1970, the University of Michigan Gilbert and Sullivan Society amends its bylaws.

Rock critic Cameron Crowe and Heart co-leader Nancy Wilson get married. (They will divorce in 2010.) Queen plays in Budapest, and Stevie Nicks plays in Portland, Maine. Miles Davis plays in Italy. The Ramones play in Minneapolis, and Lou Reed plays in Philadelphia. The Cure plays in San Francisco. During the show, a fan climbs on stage and repeatedly stabs himself in the chest; the crowd cheers, believing it’s part of the show. Richie Havens plays Santa Cruz, California. Bob Dylan plays Denver. Howie Mandel guests on Dr. Demento’s syndicated radio show. On the Billboard Hot 100, with the new #1 hit “Sledgehammer,” Peter Gabriel dethrones his old bandmates, Genesis, whose “Invisible Touch” had topped the listing the previous week and is now at #3. Kenny Loggins’ “Danger Zone,” from the soundtrack of the movie Top Gun, sits between them at #2. New entries in the Top 10 are “Papa Don’t Preach” by Madonna at #6, “Mad About You” by Belinda Carlisle at #9, and “Modern Woman” by Billy Joel at #10. The biggest move within the Top 40 is made by Bananarama’s cover of “Venus,” up to #23 from #34. Only two songs are new in the Top 40: “Words Get in the Way” by the Miami Sound Machine at #37 and “Yankee Rose” by David Lee Roth at #40. The single biggest mover within the Hot 100 is “Somebody Like You” by .38 Special, up 23 places to #66, although Billy Ocean’s “Love Zone” is at #65 in its first week on.

Perspective From the Present: In 2007, I was invited to write a guest post about the life of a radio DJ at Got the Fever, a site maintained by longtime blog friend Kevin, and I chose to write about 1986, and especially that summer. I think I have probably rehashed a lot of it at my other blog in more recent times, but if you’d like to read that original post, it’s right here.

April 22, 1986: Abuzz

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(Pictured: Prince appears at the American Music Awards in January 1986.)

April 22, 1986, is a Tuesday. The nation is abuzz this morning over last night’s syndicated TV special The Mystery of Al Capone’s Vaults, hosted by Geraldo Rivera, during which a chamber below the Lexington Hotel in Chicago, where Capone had once lived, was opened on live TV. It did not contain cars, bodies, or money as hoped, only dirt and old empty bottles. Thirty-five percent of TV homes in America watched. In Madison, Wisconsin, just after 4AM, 20-year-old convenience store clerk Andrew Nehmer is murdered. Decades from now, a possible suspect will be identified, but the murder will remain unsolved. Western diplomats continue discussions about a further crackdown on Libya, one week after retaliatory American bombing raids on Tripoli and Benghazi. The Libyan government is accused of sponsoring the April 5 terrorist bombing of a Berlin disco frequented by American soldiers, in which two Americans were killed and 79 wounded. President Reagan notifies Congress that the national security emergency regarding Nicaragua, in place since the previous May, will be continued. Tonight, Reagan gives a speech at the Heritage Foundation anniversary dinner. Several states get snow with record cold.

In today’s Peanuts strip, Lucy tells Linus about their sister-brother dynamic. Future football player Marshawn Lynch and future actress Amber Heard are born. Cliff Finch, who served as governor of Mississippi from 1976 to 1980, dies of a heart attack at age 59. On TV tonight, ABC’s lineup features Who’s the Boss, Perfect Strangers, Moonlighting and Spenser: For Hire. CBS airs the new family drama Morningstar/Eveningstar, Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer, and The Equalizer. NBC counters with The A-Team, Hunter, and an NBC White Paper news special titled The Japan They Don’t Talk About, which shows how some Japanese manufacturing differs from the industrial powerhouse portrayed in media reports. The Boston Celtics beat the Chicago Bulls 122-104 to win their first-round NBA playoff series three games to none. After scoring 63 points in the previous game, Bulls star Michael Jordan scores 19. The Milwaukee Bucks and Houston Rockets also complete first-round sweeps.

The Los Angeles Times carries a feature story on prolific session guitarist Tommy Tedesco. The Grateful Dead play Berkeley, California, and Rush brings the Power Windows tour to Greensboro, South Carolina. Van Halen plays the Rosemont Horizon in suburban Chicago, Stevie Nicks plays Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky, and Neil Diamond plays the Spectrum in Philadelphia. Van Halen’s “Why Can’t This Be Love” is new in the Billboard Top 10; Stevie’s “I Can’t Wait” holds at #16. Prince tops the Hot 100 with “Kiss”; a song he wrote under an assumed name for the Bangles, “Manic Monday,” is #2. At #99, on its way out of the Hot 100, is “A Love Bizarre” by Sheila E, co-written by Prince. In Macomb, Illinois, the local Top 40 morning-show host plays all of these songs, although his favorites at the moment are “Your Love” by the Outfield and “R. O. C. K. in the U. S. A.” by John Cougar Mellencamp, both of which sound great blasting in the car on warm spring days. Or they will, if spring ever comes to western Illinois.

January 23, 1986: When the Going Gets Tough

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(Pictured: the space shuttle Challenger peers through the fog as it crawls toward the launch pad.)

January 23, 1986, is a Thursday. In men’s college basketball, Minnesota beats Wisconsin 67-65 in Madison. Tomorrow, three Minnesota players will be arrested for sexually assaulting an 18-year-old woman at a hotel after the game. Minnesota will forfeit its scheduled game against Northwestern on Sunday, and coach Jim Dutcher will resign over the incident. Scientists examining photos of Uranus taken by the Voyager II spacecraft discover a new moon orbiting the planet, which will be named Bianca. The launch of the space shuttle Challenger is postponed for a second straight day. It will be postponed three more times before being launched on Tuesday, when it will explode 73 seconds into its flight, killing the crew. The New York Times reports that claims by Philippine president Ferdinand Marcos that he was a guerrilla resistance leader during the World War II Japanese occupation of the Philippines are false. The federal government reported yesterday that the economy grew in 1985 at the slowest rate since the recession year of 1982. In Gainesville, Florida, police dog Gero is killed in the line of duty while attempting to apprehend an armed robbery suspect. In today’s Calvin and Hobbes, Calvin tries a new plan to get out of going to school.

In Los Angeles, Luther Vandross has been charged with vehicular manslaughter and reckless driving after a crash earlier this month that killed one person and injured four others. In December, he will plead no contest and get probation. The first class is inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, Fats Domino, James Brown, Jerry Lee Lewis, Sam Cooke, Ray Charles, the Everly Brothers, Little Richard, Alan Freed, Sam Phillips, Jimmie Rodgers, Jimmy Yancey, Robert Johnson, and John Hammond. The Beatles are ineligible because by rule, inductees must be at least 25 years removed from their first hit record. Three days before the Super Bowl, the opposing quarterbacks, Jim McMahon of the Chicago Bears and Tony Eason of the New England Patriots, appear on the Today Show along with NFL wives and NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle. On TV tonight, ABC airs the movie Grease 2 and 20/20; NBC’s lineup includes The Cosby Show, Family Ties, Cheers, Night Court, and Hill Street Blues; CBS airs Magnum P. I., Simon and Simon, and Knots Landing.

AC/DC plays Edinburgh, Scotland, and Hot Tuna plays Boston. Motley Crue plays Essen, Germany, and KISS plays St. Louis. Aerosmith plays Reno, Nevada, and Stevie Ray Vaughan plays Utica, New York. At WKTI in Milwaukee, the station’s new music survey comes out tomorrow. “Burning Heart” by Survivor leaps to #1, displacing “Goodbye” by Night Ranger. The biggest mover in the Top 10 is “How Will I Know” by Whitney Houston, moving from #7 to #2. New in the Top 10 are “When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get Going” by Billy Ocean at #8 and “Kyrie” by Mr. Mister at #9. The biggest mover within the station’s Top 30 is “These Dreams” by Heart (#26 to #19). Also moving up big are “Life in a Northern Town” by Dream Academy (to #12 from #18) and “Nikita” by Elton John (to #23 from #29). The highest debuting new song of the week is “The Sweetest Taboo” by Sade at #26.

Perspective From the Present: In January 1986, I had just begun doing the morning show on WKAI in Macomb, Illinois. My partner and I weren’t being coached by anybody, and whatever entertaining stuff we came up with was mostly by accident. My working day was usually over between 12:30 and 1:00. The Mrs. was selling advertising for a regional magazine, so I’d get home in the afternoon to a quiet house and usually take a nap. Eventually, I started taking my phone off the hook in the afternoons. In later years I’ve realized that my career was never the same after deciding to do that.

January 14, 1986: Party All the Time

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(Pictured: Moonlighting stars Bruce Willis and Cybill Shepherd.)

January 14, 1986, is a Tuesday. President Reagan issues proclamations for Save Your Vision Week, National Poison Prevention Week, and a National Day of Prayer, issues an executive order extending the deadline for the final reports of the National Committee on Space, and hosts a state dinner for the president of Ecuador. The Voyager II spacecraft sends back more pictures from its flyby of the planet Uranus. The New York Times quotes AIDS researcher Anthony Fauci as saying that by 1996, three to five million Americans will be HIV positive and a million will have died of AIDS. (In 1996, the actual number of deaths is estimated at 362,000.) Actress Donna Reed dies of cancer at age 64.

Running back Craig James is on the cover of Sports Illustrated, after the New England Patriots qualified for the AFC championship game against the Miami Dolphins. Last Sunday, the Patriots beat Miami and the Chicago Bears beat Los Angeles to qualify for the Super Bowl, which will be played on January 26. The first player taken in today’s baseball amateur draft is pitcher Jeff Shaw by the Cleveland Indians; the second player taken is outfielder Moises Alou by the Pittsburgh Pirates. Pitcher Curt Schilling is chosen in the second round by the Boston Red Sox. He will be traded while still in the minors, and will not pitch for the Red Sox until 2004. On TV tonight: Growing Pains, Moonlighting, the detective show Riptide, and the Bugs Bunny/Looney Tunes All-Star 50th Anniversary Celebration, produced by Lorne Michaels.

AC/DC plays Whitley Bay, England and Reba McEntire joins the Grand Ole Opry. Smokey Robinson releases the album Smoke Signals. KISS plays Norfolk, Virginia, with opening act W.A.S.P. Lionel Richie’s “Say You Say Me” continues to top the Billboard Hot 100; “Party All the Time” by Eddie Murphy holds at #2. New in the Top 10 are “Talk to Me” by Stevie Nicks and “Walk of Life” by Dire Straits.” Wham’s “I’m Your Man” jumps from #20 to #14. New in the Top 40 are “Living in America” by James Brown, “The Sun Always Shines on TV” by a-ha, Dream Academy’s “Life in a Northern Town,” “Kyrie” by Mr. Mister, and “Tarzan Boy” by Baltimora. A Top-40 station in western Illinois is playing all of them, although the morning jock wonders precisely why anybody thought “Party All the Time” was a good idea.