Above: A clinic in how not to design a business card, in terms of readability.
Monday, November 14, 1988 was an overcast day around much of Chicagoland. The snows of winter weren’t falling yet, and on the campus of Lewis University thoughts were beginning to turn to the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday. The Chicago Bears had just raised their record to 9-2, and many thought that a march back to the Super Bowl was possible. The week before, the country had elected Vice-President George H. W. Bush to succeed Ronald Reagan as the nation’s 41st President. (The morning after the election, we gleefully kept playing a sound bite from “Revenge of the Nerds” on the radio station: “We’ve got bush! We’ve got bush!”)
I was back in the chair at WLRA, having successfully (?) survived my first weekend of working midnight to 6am at my new job at WJTW in Joliet. It was to be my triumphant return back into the realm of my college morning show. In many ways it was the beginning of the end for my college radio career. Within a few months I’d be spending less and less time around the college station and finding more and more ways to spend time around the “real” one. In hindsight, I should have done both, separating them like business and pleasure, like church and state.
All of the hallmarks of the usual show were present, except that this episode seems to swing a lot older in terms of music, and I didn’t fully wake up until about 9. It’s a tale of two radio shows: the first hour is a lot of segues and music, and the second hour is a little more of the usual Captain Happyass that burst out of campus radios like some sort of hurricane.
I’m listening to the program in real-time as I compose today’s piece, and a few things jump out (as a few really great songs come on as well):
-The radio station sign-on opens the recording. Apparently the transmitter had been off when I got there. This is the Fall 1988 sign-on, in my voice, over an instrumental version of Michael Jackson’s “Dirty Diana.” Circular polarization never sounded so sexy.
-The show opens with “Good Lovin‘” by the Rascals. Odd choice for a college show. It’s even more odd to hear the song without some sort of sound effect in the false ending. Bobby McPherrin had done a cover that year – perhaps I was trying to be “ironical.”
-After the big show open, I clearly forget which radio station I am working for. I start giving the WJTW slogan “The only station for light hits,” but catch myself, and change it to “The only station… you’re listening to right now.” We ended up using that slogan for a while.
-“I’m Sorry” by Hothouse Flowers opens the show. This is a great record.
-As I am talking up “Driver 8” by R.E.M., the record starts to skip, and I still hit the post on the vocal. That’s not a bad trick.
-There’s a lot of lost 80s pop here. “In Your Room” by the Bangles and “Pop Goes The World” by Men Without Hats are back-to back. It’s followed by U2 performing “Jesus Christ” from the Folkways LP, which makes for an interesting segue.
-The cover of “Only the Young” by Patty Smyth of Scandal (who I think I played on the show because I had a crush on her) is actually decent.
-I don’t hear “The Dead Heart” by Midnight Oil on the radio nearly enough. Just saying. The same for “America” by the KBC Band, which follows it. (Playing a song about revolution and young people getting involved in the political process? Agitator.)
-My new favorite segue might be Bob Dylan’s “Leopard-Skin Pill Box Hat” into Sebastian Cabot’s dramatic reading of “The Times They Are a Changin’.”
-Favorite line from the birthday/almanac feature: “On this date Moby Dick was published, and if you’re familiar with Moby Dick, you know just how painful it can be.” No rimshot.
-Nice touch finishing up the small college sports report with the Madonna score over the intro of Madonna’s “Dress You Up.” This indicates that show prep was done, which was rare.
-Something frightening happens at the end of “Sweet Child O Mine” by Guns N Roses – I start singing along in a falsetto and may have sort of hit the notes, pointing out that “that has got to hurt.” If I tried it today, it would. Thank goodness for late voice changes.
-The show ends with an amazing track called “Dear Friends” by Fatal Flowers. I cannot seem to find this track anywhere and am going to have to upload it. The vocal is a guy singing about his future funeral, and how he expects few of his friends to attend or show respect. The chorus is “say goodbye, dear friends/’cause today the story ends.” In many ways, as I indicated in the first part of the piece, it’s an appropriate ending for this show, since after “turning pro,” I never really looked at the college show the same way again. The story did end, in a very real sense.
I did a full restoration on the tapes from this show and uploaded them to Mixcloud, which is a site that typically deals with podcasts and the like. The full two hours, with all of the songs intact, is available here.