Rest in peace, Charlie Watts: The Rolling Stones, “Mixed Emotions” (1989)

Charlie Watts, the drummer for the greatest rock and roll band ever, has died at the age of 80. Just last week Watts decided that he would not be taking part in the Rolling Stones' tour this fall. He had beaten cancer once, but decided that the rigors of the road - and his ongoing … Continue reading Rest in peace, Charlie Watts: The Rolling Stones, “Mixed Emotions” (1989)

Sailing and stunting: The Little River Band, “Cool Change” (1980)

(Above: The peace of having the water all to yourself.) I was off the grid for the past week. My wife and I made it a habit for many years to take a week, rent a cottage, and extricate ourselves from all media. The first year we tried it, it went well - except for … Continue reading Sailing and stunting: The Little River Band, “Cool Change” (1980)

Happy birthday, Pet Sounds: The Beach Boys, “I Just Wasn’t Made For These Times” (1966)

(Above: Brian Wilson and a goat, from the album cover.) One day last semester during a lecture on the Sixties, I made an offhanded comment that 1966 may have been the greatest year ever in popular music.  As I would hope that they would, students respectfully challenged me to defend my position. "Simple," I said.  … Continue reading Happy birthday, Pet Sounds: The Beach Boys, “I Just Wasn’t Made For These Times” (1966)

The Spirit of Western Illinois: WJEQ, Macomb (May 1990)

(Above: The WJEQ Morning Mug from my collection.) Over the course of almost 30 years in radio I was associated with some outstanding radio stations - and some not-so-good ones. If you were to look over my resume and try to guess which ones were the great ones, you'd probably guess the major-market ones and … Continue reading The Spirit of Western Illinois: WJEQ, Macomb (May 1990)

But if you try sometimes: The Rolling Stones, “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” (1968)

(Above: Alex's funeral in The Big Chill, which many people picture when they hear this song.) I was fifteen years old in 1984 when my family rented a copy of The Big Chill. We loaded it into the ginormous VCR that sat atop the television, dragged the cable for its remote to the couch, and … Continue reading But if you try sometimes: The Rolling Stones, “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” (1968)

Hitting the big time: The Isley Brothers, “Shout (Parts 1 and 2)” (1959)

(Above: Rock, brother.) "Dude - you made it!" The first phone call I got on my first shift at WJMK in Chicago - 21 years ago today - was shortly after the start of the first song that I played on the station. It was from my friend Dave. Dave had been there since the … Continue reading Hitting the big time: The Isley Brothers, “Shout (Parts 1 and 2)” (1959)

The big on-air farewell: Peter, Paul, and Mary, “Leaving On a Jet Plane” (1969)

(Above: Some of the trucks I've rented over the years.) One of the rarest things in radio is a planned, scheduled last show.  I've had more than my share of them, across almost 30 years on the air. Usually, an air personality doesn't get a last show.  It can be risky: a story that I … Continue reading The big on-air farewell: Peter, Paul, and Mary, “Leaving On a Jet Plane” (1969)

New year’s resolutions: Dramarama, “Last Cigarette” (1989)

(Above: Cover art for Stuck in Wonderamaland, 1990) I was never really a smoker. I was in the habit of buying cigarettes only when working at my first job, which I fondly think back on as "petroleum distributor."  To be correct, I had exactly three jobs that were not in radio: -Gas pump jockey, Brian's … Continue reading New year’s resolutions: Dramarama, “Last Cigarette” (1989)

Light and easy: Sergio Mendes and Brasil ’66, “One Note Samba/Spanish Flea” (1966)

(Above: 1706 Brady Street used to be the launch pad for flamethrowin' beautiful music.) In the fall of 1989 I moved away from home to take my first full-time job in radio at KRVR in Davenport, Iowa. Earlier that year I had decided to spend more time at my radio job and less time in … Continue reading Light and easy: Sergio Mendes and Brasil ’66, “One Note Samba/Spanish Flea” (1966)