November 4, 1986, is a Tuesday. It’s Election Day in the United States. The Democratic Party reclaims control of the United States Senate, picking up eight seats. New senators include John McCain of Arizona and Harry Reid of Nevada. Democrats retained control of the House of Representatives, so for the first time in his presidency, Ronald Reagan faces a Congress entirely controlled by the opposing party. Democrats lost eight governorships, however. In Illinois, Republican governor Jim Thompson is reelected, defeating former senator Adlai Stevenson III. Stevenson ran under the banner of the Illinois Solidarity Party; he had refused the Democratic nomination after several followers of Lyndon LaRouche won primaries for lieutenant governor and secretary of state. Voters in Massachusetts and Nebraska repeal their states’ mandatory seat-belt laws, and Florida voters amend the state constitution to institute a state lottery.
The Federal Trade Commission issues regulations for health warnings on cans of smokeless tobacco. The new Associated Press college football poll is out, and the top four teams are unchanged from the previous week: Miami, Penn State, Michigan, and Oklahoma. Future NFL player Brandon LaFell is born. On TV tonight, CBS fills primetime with election coverage, but ABC and NBC do not. Before its election coverage, ABC airs episodes of Who’s the Boss? and Moonlighting; NBC airs Matlock and Crime Story.
Journey concludes a two-night stand in Hartford, Connecticut. Whitney Houston’s first world tour as a headliner reaches Osaka, Japan. Iron Maiden plays London, Jackson Browne plays in Norway. and Neil Young plays Austin, Texas, with Crazy Horse. R.E.M. plays Portland, Maine. Bruce Springsteen’s Live 1975-1985 album is released. “True Colors” by Cyndi Lauper tops the current Cash Box singles chart, knocking last week’s #1, “Typical Male” by Tina Turner, to second place. Only one song is new in the Top 10: “True Blue” by Madonna. New to the top 20: “Next Time I Fall” by Peter Cetera with Amy Grant, “I’ll Be Over You” by Toto, “Word Up” by Cameo, and “The Rain” by Oran “Juice” Jones. The biggest mover within the top 40 is “Everybody Have Fun Tonight” by Wang Chung (38 to 29). In Macomb, Illinois, the local top 40 morning jock anchors election night coverage, fueled by Jolt Cola and baked goods. Coverage wraps in the wee hours of Wednesday, and he manages to grab maybe two hours of sleep before going back to play the hits at 5:15.
Perspective From the Present: This was the year the station’s former owner ran for the Illinois legislature as a Democrat. I produced his radio spots. He didn’t win, but he pulled a historically high number of votes in a district that hadn’t elected a Democrat since the 1930s. Anchoring on election night was something I enjoyed immensely, and I think I was good at it. It required a great deal of juggling, filling, ad libbing, and others skills jocks possess but reporters often do not. As for the music I was playing on my morning shows, the Top 40 was as weak as it had been since maybe 1981; I count only a bare handful of songs that still find their way onto the radio regularly today. I hated “True Colors” back then, although it sounds little better to me now. (My favorite song of the moment was probably “True Blue.”) I bought the live Springsteen album (on five vinyl discs) as soon as I could get it, but I’m pretty sure the only time I listened to it from start to finish was right after I got it home. Here’s a TV spot for the album.
One More Thing: FEMA and the FCC announced yesterday that the nationwide EAS test scheduled for Wednesday, November 9, will be shortened to between 30 and 60 seconds. The original plan was three minutes. No reason was given for the change, which strikes me as a wise one, if the goal is to test the system without freaking people out.