January 15, 1991: In the Heat of the Night

Embed from Getty Images

(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.

Advertisements

January 7, 1983: What About Me

Embed from Getty Images

(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

Embed from Getty Images

(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

Embed from Getty Images

(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 21, 1981: Overtime

Embed from Getty Images

(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

Embed from Getty Images

(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.

December 17, 1960: I Gotta Know

Embed from Getty Images

(Pictured: Charles Brown asks that you please come home for Christmas.)

(There will be a new post here every other day through Christmas Day because why not.)

December 17, 1960, was a Saturday. The top headline this morning concerns the mid-air collision of two passenger planes over New York City yesterday. A total of 136 people died, including 128 passengers and crew on the planes and eight people in the ground in Brooklyn. This afternoon, a U.S. Air Force plane crashes into a crowded street in Munich, West Germany. Fifty-two people die, 20 on the plane and 32 on the ground. Twelve of the dead on the plane were students at a University of Maryland satellite campus located on a U.S. Army base in Munich; they were headed home for Christmas. Also today, the prime minister of Ethiopia, Abebe Aregai, is shot to death when Ethiopian troops storm the palace where rebels have been holding him hostage after a coup attempt earlier in the week. A more peaceful transition of power will occur in the United States on Monday, when the Electoral College confirms the November election of John F. Kennedy to the presidency. Earlier in the week, the state board of elections in Illinois certified Kennedy as the winner of the state’s 27 electoral votes after several weeks of Republican vote-fraud accusations.

The British medical journal The Lancet publishes a story about the risks of lead poisoning from drinking homemade wine. In today’s Peanuts strip, Charlie Brown is awakened by a sound in the night. The NFL regular season ends this weekend. Tonight, the Green Bay Packers clinch the Western Conference championship with a 35-21 win over the Rams in Los Angeles. The Packers will play for the NFL championship on the day after Christmas against the Philadelphia Eagles, who have already wrapped up the Eastern Conference championship regardless of the outcome of their game tomorrow. The first regular season of the new American Football League also ends this weekend. The Houston Oilers have already won the Eastern Conference; the Los Angeles Chargers can win the West by beating the New York Titans tomorrow. The NFL championship game will be played at Franklin Field in Philadelphia on the day after Christmas; the AFL championship game will be played on New Year’s Day in Houston. They will not be the final games of pro football’s postseason, however. In addition to the NFL Pro Bowl all-star game on January 15, the NFL will hold its first Playoff Bowl on January 7 in Miami. Second-place finishers in each conference, Detroit and Cleveland, will meet in a game whose proceeds will benefit the players’ pension fund.

Sebastian Cabot, Anthony George, and Doug McClure, stars of the CBS-TV detective series Checkmate, are on the cover of TV Guide. Checkmate is part of the CBS lineup tonight, along with Perry Mason, Have Gun Will Travel, and Gunsmoke. NBC airs three westerns tonight: Bonanza, The Tall Man (about the adventures of sheriff Pat Garrett and outlaw Billy the Kid), and The Deputy, starring Henry Fonda as an Arizona marshal who doesn’t like to use his gun. ABC starts its night with The Roaring 20s, which follows a newspaper reporter and gangsters in 1920s Chicago, and an episode of Leave It to Beaver.

At WOKY in Milwaukee, Elvis Presley’s double-sided hit, “Are You Lonesome Tonight” and “I Gotta Know” stays at #1 on the new Hit Parader survey released today. Two versions of “Wonderland by Night” are shown tied at #2: a vocal by Anita Bryant and an instrumental by Bert Kaempfert. “He Will Break Your Heart” by Jerry Butler, “Lonely Teenager” by Dion, and “Fools Rush In” by Brook Benton make strong moves into the station’s Top 10. Other major movers in Milwaukee include the Shirelles’ “Soldier Boy,” “Exodus” by Ferrante and Teicher, and “Corrina Corrina” by Ray Peterson. WOKY charts several holiday-themed records on its Top 60, including the double-sided “Christmas Auld Lang Syne” and “Child of God” by Bobby Darin at #16, “Please Come Home for Christmas” by Charles Brown at #33, “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” by David Seville and the Chipmunks at #43, and “The Little Drummer Boy” by the Harry Simeone Chorale at #54.

Perspective From the Present: December 17, 1960, may not be one day in your life, but it’s one day in mine. This blog and the other place are both vanity projects at heart, and I wanted to write about the week of my first Christmas, and a few more Christmas weeks to come in future days.

December 11, 1972: Corner of the Sky

Embed from Getty Images

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

(Correction below.)

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

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

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

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

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

December 7, 1990: Unauthorized Pyrotechnics

Embed from Getty Images

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

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

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

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

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

December 3, 1968: That’s Life

Embed from Getty Images

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

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

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

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