(Above: Some of the WLRA airstaff, Spring 1988. Yours truly is in the mismatched Hawaiian clothing at the left of the frame.)
Monday, December 5, 1988 was a chilly day in Chicagoland. In the news, PTL Ministries head Jim Bakker was indicted on charges that he defrauded his flock. (The various Bakker scandals would introduce us to Jessica Hahn, who in 1988 appeared in the video for Sam Kinison’s version of “Wild Thing.”) The Chicago Bears would be on Monday Night Football that evening, where they would lose to the Los Angeles Rams 23-3, dropping their record to 11-3. Finals week was approaching at Lewis University, and, had I been paying attention to such things, I’d have been studying for them. Instead, I was on the air doing what may have been the last of my morning shows at WLRA.
I say “may have been” because this is the last recording that I have from that show. I was typically on Monday through Wednesday, but not all of the recordings have survived. To be honest, recordings depended on either a) having money to purchase blank tape, or b) being lucky enough to find tape that could be re-used. Given that this was right before I moved into my first apartment, I’m guessing that the cassette money was tied up in the office of the hovel in Lockport in which I was about to live.
In a way, it’s too bad – this show is slightly more polished than the others. By now I was almost a month into my first real job at WJTW, and I was becoming even more comfortable in a radio station than before. This show gives the impression that some actual preparation was done for it. Musically, it remains as eclectic as the others, with a couple of genuine “what the hell is he doing?” moments. Among the gems:
-The Pursuit of Happiness, “I’m An Adult Now.” A very misguided tune for a college DJ to be playing, but then again not: at 19, you’re pretty sure you have it all figured out, until you realize that you don’t. What a great record this is, and meets the station’s non-existent Canadian Content regulation.
-Star Turn On 45 Pints, “Pump Up The Bitter.” Holy crap. This is so stupid it’s hilarious. This is a Scottish parody of M/A/R/R/S’ “Pump Up The Volume,” which immediately precedes it in the show. Had I done more shows, the drop of the guy saying “OK gang, what do you think – is this a load of garbage?” would have been played to death.
-Utter Confusion, “Beer Goggles.” I wrote about this one earlier, and here it is, in all its inappropriate glory. Quite a music set going on here. (The drop before it – “A buffoon, as we all know, is one who makes merry and jest” – is appropriate.)
-Stryper, “Winter Wonderland.” It’s almost Christmas. Get in the spirit, will you?
-Bob & Doug McKenzie, “Take Off.” Who hasn’t wanted to play this, wait until they say “This is where the DJ talks,” and then talk? Of course I did it. I loved SCTV, and any excuse to reference it, I’d take.
-Elvis Presley, “Slicin’ Sand.” There’s a difference between doing things because you can and doing things because you should. Clearly I hadn’t learned this yet. Although it could have been “Clambake.”
-Tom Petty, “Jammin’ Me.” This is a song that should get more airplay, although the pop culture references in it are now terribly dated. The video was, at the time, pretty cutting-edge.
-Living Colour, “Cult of Personality.” The next year these guys would be opening up for the Rolling Stones at Alpine Valley, and I’d get to see them. The album is worth seeking out.
-Oingo Boingo, “Goodbye Goodbye.” If it’s good enough to close out Fast Times at Ridgemont High, it’s good enough to close out my morning show. Danny Elfman, of course, would go on to create some amazing movie scores. Before that, though, he was in the same group that gave us the theme to Weird Science.
Goodbye, goodbye, indeed. By the next semester I’d be spending much more time at WJTW (and working at Radio Shack, of all places) and a lot less time around WLRA. The decision to forego my college eligibility and turn pro loomed. But this particular morning, I was still in the thick of it, waiting for the great leap forwards…
You can hear the whole show – songs, terrible bits, PSAs, and all – by clicking here.