December 30, 1979: One Day at a Time

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(Pictured: the Knack, 1979.)

December 30, 1979, was a Sunday. It is the 57th day in captivity for American hostages in Iran. UN Secretary-General Kurt Waldheim plans to travel to Tehran in hopes of mediating the crisis, but the Ayatollah Khomeini is expected to refuse to see him. Today, Time magazine selects Khomeini as its Man of the Year. On another front, Secretary of State Warren Christopher is on his way to meet with NATO allies regarding the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, which began on Christmas Eve.

The NFL playoffs continue today. The Pittsburgh Steelers jump out to a 20-0 first-quarter lead and cruise past the Miami Dolphins 34-14; the Los Angeles Rams beat the Dallas Cowboys 21-19. After the game, it’s revealed that Rams linebacker Jack Youngblood broke his leg in the first quarter but played the remainder of the game with his leg in a brace. Conference championship matchups are set for next Sunday: the Steelers will entertain the Houston Oilers and the Rams will travel to Tampa Bay to face the Buccaneers, who won their first-ever playoff game yesterday. The college bowl season resumes tomorrow with the Peach and Bluebonnet Bowls; on Tuesday, college football’s national championship will be decided with #1 Ohio State facing #3 USC in the Rose Bowl and #2 Alabama meeting #6 Arkansas in the Sugar Bowl.

Richard Rodgers, who wrote music for Oklahoma, South Pacific, and The Sound of Music, and who was the first to win an Oscar, Grammy, Emmy, and Tony Award, dies at the age of 77. In theaters this weekend, the top movie is Superman, which will eventually become 1979’s highest-grossing release. The list of most-popular films released earlier in the year includes The Amityville Horror, Rocky II, and Alien. On TV tonight, CBS airs 60 Minutes, Archie Bunker’s Place, One Day at a Time, Alice, The Jeffersons, and Trapper John MD. NBC presents The Wonderful World of Disney and the TV movie Goldie and the Boxer, which stars O. J. Simpson and a cast of familiar TV faces including Vincent Gardenia, Phil Silvers, Ned Glass, Gordon Jump, Judy Landers, Madlyn Rhue, and Fran Ryan. NBC’s night ends with an episode of the detective series Eischeid starring Joe Don Baker. ABC airs an episode of the sci-fi series Salvage 1 starring Andy Griffith, a repeat of the Mork and Mindy series pilot, and a repeat of the TV movie Superdome. The Grateful Dead plays Oakland and Jefferson Starship plays San Francisco. The Allman Brothers play Nassau Coliseum on Long Island with Pure Prairie League opening. Cheap Trick plays Wheeling, West Virginia.

Radio stations around the country get ready to count down their top songs of 1979. “My Sharona” is #1 for the year in Billboard and will be at WLS in Chicago, at CKLW Windsor/Detroit, at WICC in Bridgeport, Connecticut, at KLWW in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and at KGB in San Diego. In Cash Box, the top song of 1979 is “Le Freak” by Chic. At KIIS-FM in Los Angeles, which runs a dance format, Donna Summer has the top two songs of the year, “Hot Stuff” and “Bad Girls.” “Hot Stuff” is #2 at WNBC in New York behind “What a Fool Believes” by the Doobie Brothers. At WABC, “Bad Girls” and “Hot Stuff” are at #2 and #3 behind “I Will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor. At KTSA in San Antonio, “Still” by the Commodores is #1 for the year. Los Angeles country station KLAC ranks Charlie Daniels’ “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” as the year’s #1 song.

Billboard names Billy Joel’s 52nd Street as the top album of 1979. In Cash Box, it’s Supertramp’s Breakfast in America. In Boston, WBCN ranks its most-played albums of the year. The top three are the Cars’ Candy-O, Breakfast in America, and Outlandos d’Amour by the Police. Supertramp and the Cars are #1 and #3 at WPLJ in New York with Cheap Trick at Budokan between them.

Perspective From the Present: I don’t recall specifics, but I saw in 1980 with the group of high-school friends known as the Crew, at a cottage on Yellowstone Lake in rural Wisconsin. I was the incoming program director at my college radio station, and not long after New Year’s, I went back to Platteville, staying at a borrowed apartment and plotting world domination.

I remember looking at the calendar on January days and thinking how odd the number 1980 seemed. I think I knew even then that the 1970s were the country I grew up in, and that forever after, I would wander foreign lands in search of home.

5 thoughts on “December 30, 1979: One Day at a Time

  1. For some reason I can still tell you that the Rams beat the Bucs 9-0 on three field goals from Frank Corral. No idea why I remember that.

    There’s a well-circulated Cheap Trick boot of a concert from the LA Forum the following night. A lot of people seem to like it but it’s always had a noisy, tired, going-through-the-motions feel to me. Maybe I should cut them some slack now that I know they had to fly from Wheeling, West Virginia, to LA to make the gig.

  2. I listened to the Big 89 Countdown on WLS that New Years Eve night in 1979. Jeff Davis counted down the top songs, broadcasting live from Navy Pier. After playing the #1 song, “My Sharona” by The Knack, Davis exclaimed, “rock and WLS rules!” I have say, it was a great year. 1979 was the year I worked at my first paid radio job.

  3. Bobby R

    I was in a melancholy, subdued mood as the 1970s wrapped up. The last new songs I heard for the first time included Dan Fogelberg’s “Longer” and Anne Murray’s “Daydream Believer.” A week later, I was very unhappy to discover that The Police’s “Message in a Bottle” plunged from its deplorable No. 74 peak on the Hot 100 to No. 100. I was very uneasy about the Iran hostage crisis and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. I was age 18 at the time.

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