(Above: Screen shot from Lewis University’s “Network Video Hour,” fall, 1988. No, I really dressed like that.)
September 19, 1988 was a Monday morning. I had just settled into my regular schedule as “every day” morning host on Lewis University’s WLRA-FM. There’s a show from a week earlier that exists, but I chose this one for a few reasons: the music is better (at least to me), the humor is actually intentional in some parts, and it – dare I say it – actually showcases a young disk jockey working to get better at his craft.
As I have done with the other college morning show entries (WLRA shows from October, November, and December 1988, and a WIUS show from March 1990), I’ve annotated this one along the way. Here we go:
-The show starts with the theme song for the show, “I Like Bananas (Because They Have No Bones)” by the Hoosier Hot Shots. I grabbed it from one of the Dr. Demento LPs and used it often that semester. I’m explaining that Mondays are awful, but “it could be worse, you could be a Chicago Bear.” Apparently they got killed yesterday, but no score is given – just a remark that “William The Refrigerator Perry has broken a handle.”
-Since it’s Monday, the tradition of opening up with “I Don’t Like Mondays” by the Boomtown Rats begins here. In-between songs on this show we’re hearing station IDs and random sound effects. Before the semester started I got my hands on some of the Kermit Schafer Blooper LPs and carted up a variety of bits. Unfortunately, I learned later that most of them were staged, but they were still funny in context.
-“Whirlygirl” by Oxo was the second song. Great record. Hey, Sirius XM 80s on 8: When you give us one of the special “lost auditory artifacts” of yours, how about something like this instead of the crappy Don Johnson record you gave us the other day? Thanks in advance. At the end of this song we hear what might be the only boardwork error in the program: the next song on the Oxo LP begins over the top of “Twistin’ By the Pool” by Dire Straits, which is another great record. Unfortunately, it ends cold, catching the host off guard.
-Here’s the first jock banter about being sluggish on a Monday, the fact that the sports news is depressing (local boxer Kelsey Banks failed in a bid for an Olympic medal at the hands of a Dutchman, and the Bears again), the fact that the rain is making it depressing, and a borderline-racist remark about the height of the Japanese Olympic basketball team in advance of tonight’s game vs. the US. Back to music with “Walk Away” by the James Gang.
-The music set includes Bon Jovi’s “Edge of a Broken Heart,” Thin Lizzy’s “The Boys are Back In Town” (a disappointing single edit), and Van Halen’s “Source of Infection,” a screamer from the OU812 LP. (There’s a great use of a Woody Woodpecker drop over the guitar intro: as it gets loud, he says “Say, what’s going on here?” Good question.) Recorded sounds are appearing all over the place. Between Bon Jovi and Thin Lizzy there’s a recording of the prize rundown from Wheel of Fortune with random laughter playing over it. That fall I stumbled upon a collection of sound effects that John Strolia, a former student at Lewis, stacked up, and I decided to exercise no restraint in using them.
-We break for PSAs. There’s one of the worst ever in this block: it’s McGruff the Crime Dog… rapping. That just made saving this tape worth it. It’s followed with more random sound effects and then back to music.
-Music set includes a true “oh, wow”: “It Could Be We’re In Love” by the Cryan Shames from 1967. This is the LP version that stops for the bell ringing in the middle. It’s followed by “Peek-a-Boo” by Siouxsie and the Banshees as the tape runs out. The set concludes with “Hotel California,” which indicates that there’s no real plan to the music this morning.
-Witty jock banter includes poorly cued sound effects, problems with the equipment, a tease of a newscast “if we can fix the equipment,” pointing out that Andrew HS beat Lockport the weekend before, and a PSA break that starts with messages for East Side Video and Italian Express Pizza that sound an awful lot like commercials, save the “this message in exchange for promotional consideration” tag. (I’m playing the dad in the Italian Express ad, so I’m being typecast already.) We get the “I’m the only guy you can wake up with and not feel guilty about it” line, and it’s back to music.
-Music includes The We Five’s “You Were On My Mind” and The Left Banke’s “Walk Away Renee.” Perhaps this is an oldies station? (There’s a long clip from Bewitched in between the two records.)
-The top of the 9am hour starts with Bob and Doug McKenzie’s “Take Off,” and I talk in the part “where the DJ talks,” give a legal ID, and hit the post. The show is starting to sound solid. Sweeper into “Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby, Standing In the Shadows?” by the Rolling Stones, hitting the post on Jane Wiedlin’s “Rush Hour,” and then a break.
-More jokes about “the goofy guy who comes into your bedroom each morning.” Clearly this is how we’re marketing this show, which – for a Catholic school – is a little edgy. PSAs for high blood pressure, a weird one about teenage girls not getting enough calcium (followed with remark about same, less the word “calcium”), and the weather.
-Music includes Poison’s “Fallen Angel,” Big Audio Dynamite’s “Rock Non Stop,” and Sammy Davis, Jr.’s “Talk To the Animals.” Musical gold.
-There’s no news. I suspect the student responsible didn’t show up. Music continues with a request for The Band’s “Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” followed by Don Henley’s “Dirty Laundry” as the tape ends. Henley segues into REO Speedwagon’s “Roll With the Changes” into a positively scratchy copy of David Bowie’s “Changes.”
-Birthday list. Adam West turns 60, which is depressing to think about. Birthdays are read over “A Man and a Woman” by Francis Lai, which was a music bed used often on this show. There’s a remark about how the Bears should bounce back next week against Green Bay, since “I could get a bunch of guys from campus and we could beat Green Bay.” How times have changed.
-Last songs are John Mellencamp’s version of “Do Re Mi” from Folkways, and the Escape Club’s “Wild Wild West,” which had just come out. This is the LP version, which I have not heard in years. (Are you still listening, Sirius XM? You play this a lot. Would the long version kill you?)
-The last jock set opens with the sounds of cows, makes reference to the fact that the Escape Club song is pushing safe sex, which “I’m not sure we can do,” a sign-off, and Soft Cell’s “Tainted Love.” “See you tomorrow.”
It’s not a finely-tuned morning show by any means. But, as I have seen in the other ones, there’s potential here. I’d love a chance to work with 19-year-old me and hone this show a bit. (There, in one sentence, is why I became a college media adviser.)
You can hear the whole thing if you dare by clicking here.
3 thoughts on “One morning in college radio: WLRA-FM, September 19, 1988”
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The Bears lost to the Viqueens the day before, 31-7. They bounced back and beat the Slackers, 24-6, the next week.
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