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)

Greatest Misses: The Producers, “She Sheila” (1982)

In early 1990 I was, in a radio sense, homeless. My first full-time gig at KRVR flamed out very quickly.  (Lesson learned: sometimes you're hired to be fired.  The PD was planning to bring in his friends and fire the rest of the staff.  I quit before he got the chance.) Being largely unwilling to … Continue reading Greatest Misses: The Producers, “She Sheila” (1982)