Today marks 15 years since this website began. Over 2,300 posts later, I have put a second website of mine to sleep, but I have also started a podcast, so I am in no immediate danger of running out of ways to waste time I could be spending on personal enrichment or professional advancement (or just cleaning up my office). In keeping with anniversary custom, here are some of my favorite posts since last July 11:
—I wrote about several 40th anniversaries this past year, none more personally meaningful than my 40th high-school class reunion. (I keep looking for reasons why that post is too revealing, too sappy, too something, but I can’t find any, so it must be OK.) There was also the 40th anniversary of my first real radio show, the 40th anniversary of my first paying radio job (as distinct from college radio), and an incident of radio conflict from the spring of 1979.
—After former Los Angeles DJ Humble Harve Miller died in June, my old posts about the 1971 murder he committed spiked in traffic—the day after his death I got 10 times the visits I usually do. I wrote a new post intended to summarize information from the original posts, and it’s still getting hits.
—Also among the most heavily trafficked posts in the history of this site are the ones about the Iola People’s Fair, a 1970 Wisconsin rock festival (which is one of the subjects of my first podcast episode). Late last winter I found myself in central Wisconsin, so I went looking for the place where it happened.
—There were other radio stories: about the craft of radio news, about disc jockeys who talk too much, about the current state of the AM band, about an absurd job description, and about the birth of the classic-rock radio canon in the late 70s. Last fall, in the runup to a controversial “presidential alert” from the Emergency Alert System, I wrote about the history of early warnings by radio, and the plan to create a network of radio stations immune to apocalypse.
—On the subject of controversy, I waded into last December’s kerfuffle over “Baby It’s Cold Outside,” and started a small amount of ferment amongst the readership with my take on the Eagles’ “Lyin’ Eyes.”
—I like writing deep dives into the history of individual hit songs. Over the past year some of the better ones involved “Moonlight Feels Right,” Ronnie McDowell’s Elvis tribute “The King Is Gone,” Frank Sinatra’s “My Way,” and an obscure oldie from the 50s, in a post that inspired a surprising number of comments.
—Here in Madison, local author, historian, and broadcaster Stu Levitan published the great Madison in the Sixties last fall, and I wrote about it. Part of my radio gig involves producing a talk show that runs on one of the stations in our group; I moved over to the host microphone for two interviews with Stu, one on the book in general and another on Madison’s history of protest. I am not much of a talk-show host, but I had a blast doing them. You can hear them at the latter two links.
—I wrote a bunch of tributes again this year: to Daryl Dragon of the Captain and Tennille; to Dr. Hook’s Ray Sawyer; to the quintessential Man of the 70s, Burt Reynolds; to one of the few real heroes I’ve ever had in my life; and to three stars who passed more-or-less together in May.
—After finishing the second volume of Gary Giddins’ biography of Bing Crosby last spring, I made some notes about Bing’s career.
—In the winter of 1971, the movie Love Story and its theme song dominated popular culture like nothing else. I also wrote about the modern-day reboot of a TV program that first premiered in the same season, and one of its spinoffs.
—We looked into old Billboard magazines several times over the year. In one of them, we found out how jukebox operators were stocking their machines at Christmas 1972.
I thought for a while I was going to get through this post without using the editorial “we,” but nah.
To see more of the best stuff on this site over its many years, click “jb’s greatest hits” at the top of this page.
The readership has commented than 8,000 times since 2007, making me and everybody else who reads this stuff smarter. As always, my thanks to each of you.