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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.