September 1, 2007: Don’t Cry

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(Pictured: Fergie onstage in 2007.)

September 1, 2007, was a Saturday. It is Labor Day weekend. Skies are sunny in the eastern and central United States, although rain is possible in the South from Texas to Mississippi, and in the Dakotas. Rain and snow are possible in the Mountain West. U.S. Senator Larry Craig, an Idaho Republican, resigns from office today in the wake of his arrest last June for soliciting gay sex in a Minnesota airport bathroom. Craig, who has already been removed from leadership posts by the Senate GOP, insists he is not homosexual and never has been. Also in the news today, the search for six missing coal miners trapped three miles underground in eastern Utah has ended with no hope that the men will be found alive. Two weeks ago, three men died and six were injured attempting to rescue the missing miners.

On TV tonight, CBS presents NCIS, Cold Case, and 48 Hours Mystery. ABC presents live college football; the main national game features #12 California defeating #15 Tennessee 45-31. On FOX, it’s Cops and America’s Most Wanted. The CW shows the 1999 theatrical movie Wing Commander starring Freddie Prinze Jr. NBC airs three episodes of Friday Night Lights. Later on NBC, Scarlett Johansson hosts Saturday Night Live. It’s a repeat from January with musical guest Death Cab for Cutie.

It’s the first big Saturday of college football for 2007. The game of the day is Appalachian State’s unlikely 34-32 upset of fifth-ranked Michigan in Ann Arbor. Elsewhere, #1 USC beats Idaho 35-10 and #7 Wisconsin defeats Washington State, 42-21. Major League Baseball enters the month of September with competitive races in all six divisions; the largest lead belongs to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, who lead Seattle by six-and-a-half games in the American League West; in the National League West, San Diego leads Arizona by a single percentage point. The NFL preseason concluded with 14 games on Thursday and two yesterday; this coming week, the regular season begins with the third annual Thursday night opener, featuring the defending Super Bowl champion Indianapolis Colts hosting New Orleans. This year’s NFL schedule will include an additional five Thursday night games, in November and December.

On this week’s Billboard Hot 100, “Beautiful Girls” by Sean Kingston is #1 for a fourth consecutive week. Holding their positions this week are “Big Girls Don’t Cry” by Fergie at #2, “The Way I Are” by Timbaland featuring Keri Hilson at #3, and “Hey There Delilah” by the Plain White T’s at #4. Kanye West moves from #6 to #5 with “Stronger.” Only one song is new in the Top 10: “Crank That (Soulja Boy)” by Soulja Boy Tell ‘Em is at #6. It replaces “Shawty” by Plies featuring T-Pain, which falls from #10 to #11. The highest debut in the Top 40 is the highest on the Hot 100, “Misery Business” by Paramore at #34. The record had a four-week run earlier this year and has re-entered the chart. The new #1 on the Billboard 200 album chart is High School Musical 2, from the Disney Channel movie franchise.

Perspective From the Present: The Mrs. and I attended the Washington State-Wisconsin game with a couple of friends, although we had a hard time connecting with them in the pregame rush. We saw the end of the App State-Michigan game on the Jumbotron. The next day, we attended the annual Taste of Madison, where my radio station was hosting a stage. At one point, I think there were six jocks on stage with one microphone between us. (I wrote about the day here.)

Until I was researching this post (which is by reader request), I had never heard  “Beautiful Girls,” which is fetchingly arranged and produced, although Sean Kingston’s voice is awful. The Hot 100 was populated with grotesque titles (“Ayo Technology,” the remarkably stupid “Thnks fr th Mmrs,” “Wipe Me Down,” “Get Me Bodied”) and lame artist names (Plies, Soulja Boy Tell ‘Em—which was quickly truncated to the vastly superior Soulja Boy—Baby Bash, Gorilla Zoe). If this was art that spoke to people, then good for it, and good for them. I’ll be over here listening to something that is capable of speaking to me.

August 2, 1996: Let It Flow

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(Pictured: Jackie Joyner-Kersee gets airborne at the Olympics on August 2, 1996.)

August 2, 1996, is a Friday. The Deep South will see highs in the 90s today, with triple-digit temperatures forecast for south Texas, the Desert Southwest, and southern California. The Northeast, Midwest, and Pacific Northwest remain unseasonably cool. West Virginia governor Gaston Caperton has declared a state of emergency in nine counties after up to five inches of rain caused widespread flooding this week. Headlines in the newspapers this morning include the passage of a health care reform bill by a margin of 421-2 in the House of Representatives. Senate approval is expected today. Amid protests from the visitors’ gallery, the Senate approved a welfare reform bill backed by Republicans, one that some Democrats say will harm the poor. President Clinton, who has vetoed two previous welfare reform bills, is expected to sign this one, as well as the health-care bill. In positive news for Clinton, a pair of Arkansas bankers have been acquitted of conspiracy in the Whitewater case. The investigation continues into last week’s bombing at the Summer Olympics in Atlanta. One spectator was killed and 111 were injured, but the toll might have been higher if a security guard hadn’t spotted the bomb and notified police.

In the American League, Dwight Gooden of the New York Yankees and Kevin Appier of the Kansas City Royals throw nine-inning shutouts, but each is lifted for the 10th. The Yankees take a 3-0 lead in the top of the inning but Mariano Rivera blows the save in the bottom of the 10th and the Royals win 4-3. The Yankees maintain their 10-game lead in the AL East with the best record in baseball. In the AL Central, Cleveland has a six-game lead on the Chicago White Sox, and in the AL West, Texas leads Seattle by a game-and-a-half. In the National League, two tight races stay tight. The St. Louis Cardinals and Houston Astros both win, so the Cards maintain their half-game lead over Houston in the Central; in the West, San Diego and Los Angeles both win, so the Padres continue to hold their half-game lead over the Dodgers. The Dodgers beat the Atlanta Braves 2-1, but the Braves continue to lead the NL East over the Montreal Expos by seven games.

Among the medalists on a busy day of Olympic competition today is American Jackie Joyner-Kersee, who wins bronze in the long jump. Joyner-Kersee had been forced to withdraw from the heptathlon earlier in the Olympics due to an injury. She has now won three gold, one silver, and two bronze medals competing in three Olympics. NBC’s coverage of the Olympics dominates TV viewership tonight, more than doubling the ratings of its competitors. ABC counterprograms with its TGIF lineup: Family Matters, Boy Meets World, Step by Step, and Hangin’ With Mr. Cooper, followed by 20/20. CBS presents a two-hour Diagnosis Murder and Nash Bridges. FOX has episodes of Sliders and The X-Files.

The traveling music festival Lollapalooza plays San Jose, California. Headliners include Metallica, Soundgarden, and the Ramones. The festival will conclude its 1996 run with shows in Irvine, California, tomorrow and Sunday. Today, in the same arena, Irvine hosts the Furthur Festival, which is headlined by members of the Grateful Dead as well as Hot Tuna and Bruce Hornsby. Tina Turner plays the second of four nights in Berlin, Germany. Phish plays Wolf Mountain, Utah, and the Eagles play Manchester, England. On the new Billboard Hot 100 that will come out tomorrow, “The Macarena” by Los Del Rio takes over the #1 spot. (The version at #1 is the Bayside Boys Mix; the original version is also on the chart this week at #53.) The double-sided hit “You’re Makin’ Me High” and “Let It Flow” by Toni Braxton falls to #2 (but it stays at #1 in Cash Box for a fourth straight week). “I Love You Always Forever” by Donna Lewis leaps from #23 to #13; the two new songs in the Top 40, “Where Do You Go” by No Mercy and “Stupid Girl” by Garbage, are up 10 and 11 spots from last week. But apart from those three records, there’s not much action in the Top 40. The highest debut on the Hot 100 is “Why Does It Hurt So Bad” by Whitney Houston at #60.

Perspective From the Present: I spent the summer of 1996 attending the University of Iowa. I can’t find my grade reports or transcript to say exactly what I took; there was one political science course in there, I think, but the rest of it is gone. It’s entirely possible that August 2 was the last day of the summer session.

July 4, 1974: Stars and Stripes

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(Pictured: ABBA, 1974.)

July 4, 1974, was a Thursday. Americans are able to celebrate Independence Day as usual because a federal ban on consumer fireworks, announced by the Consumer Product Safety Commission in May, was delayed last month. Americans enjoying holiday cookouts learn that the federal government has spent nearly a half-million dollars buying meat as part of a new program designed to help livestock producers struggling with depressed prices. Embattled President Nixon, facing an impeachment vote later this month, spends the day in Florida with his friend Bebe Rebozo. Last night, Nixon returned home after a lengthy diplomatic trip to the Middle East and the Soviet Union. Tonight, news reports reveal that during Nixon’s trip, doctors diagnosed a potentially fatal blood clot in the president’s leg, but Nixon rejected their advice to rest and continued his trip. Nixon’s phlebitis was reported in the media last week, but the blood clot is a new development. A new Gallup poll says that 72 percent of Americans favor the new 55MPH national speed limit, which Congress instituted earlier this year to save energy and lower highway fatalities. At Kendall Ford in Eugene, Oregon, you can get a new 1974 Mustang II with four-speed floor shift, whitewall tires, vinyl bucket seats, and woodgrain dash for $69.98 a month for 42 months, with trade-in. Interest rate on the loan amount is 12.75 percent. Seven major banks raised the prime interest rate to 12 percent yesterday. Real estate developer and former New York Yankees co-owner Del Webb dies at age 75. Future NFL player La’Roi Glover is born.

NFL players are on strike over a number of issues including free agency. Veteran players have begun picketing training camps. David Pearson wins his third straight NASCAR Firecracker 400; Richard Petty finishes second for the fourth year in a row. The tightest race in baseball is in the American League East, where Boston takes over first place by one-half game with a 10-6 win over Baltimore while second-place Cleveland loses at Milwaukee 15-3. Mike Hegan hits two home runs for the Brewers and 19-year-old rookie shortstop Robin Yount goes 3-for-4. The women’s final at Wimbledon is tomorrow and the men’s on Saturday. On Sunday, the World Cup final matches West Germany against the Netherlands in Munich.

On TV tonight, NBC presents an episode of the summer replacement series Dean Martin’s Comedy World with Jackie Cooper, Barbara Feldon, Nipsey Russell, Freddie Prinze, and Rodney Dangerfield. Also on NBC tonight is an episode of Ironside plus Stars and Stripes, a special hosted by Tennessee Ernie Ford with appearances by Bob Hope, Dionne Warwick, and Miss America 1974, Rebecca King. ABC presents episodes of two half-hour adventure series, Firehouse and Chopper One, followed by Kung Fu and Streets of San Francisco. CBS airs The Waltons and a repeat of Applause, a made-for-TV adaptation of a Broadway musical based on the movie All About Eve. The film stars Lauren Bacall, Penny Fuller, Larry Hagman, and Robert Mandan. Between The Waltons and Applause, CBS airs the first of a series of Bicentennial Minutes, spotlighting important moments in history “200 years ago today.”

At WCFL in Chicago, “Sundown” by Gordon Lightfoot is #1 on the latest survey, dated June 29. “La Grange” by ZZ Top is #2, and last week’s #1, “Band on the Run” by Paul McCartney and Wings, is #3. New songs in the Top 10 are “Waterloo” by ABBA at #8 and “I’m the Leader of the Gang” by Brownsville Station at #10. The biggest mover is “Annie’s Song” by John Denver, up 11 spots to #17. “Rock Your Baby” by George McCrae is up to #24 from #33, and “Radar Love” by Golden Earring debuts at #30. The top five albums in Chicago are Band on the Run, Sundown, ZZ Top’s Tres Hombres, the soundtrack of The Sting, and Bachman-Turner Overdrive II.

Perspective From the Present: July 4, 1974, was a warm and breezy day in southern Wisconsin, with high temperatures pushing 90. Holiday or not, there was probably hay to be made on the farm; if so, I spent the morning driving the hay rake, one of the rare farm jobs I did not dislike. That night, we probably blew off a few firecrackers and cherry bombs before or after the fireworks in town. Dad liked to put them under tin cans and blow the cans into the air. One year, our dog ran away to escape the noise, and it was days before he came home. It might have been 1974, or some other, earlier year. All those years are now very long ago.

My thanks to all who voted in the poll choosing which decade to write about today. A writer should know his audience, but clearly my audience knows its writer. 

July 1, 1987: The Facts of Life

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(Pictured: Steve Carlton deals during the 1983 World Series.)

July 1, 1987, was a Wednesday. President Reagan nominates U.S. Court of Appeals judge Robert Bork to the Supreme Court, to fill the seat left by the retirement of Justice Lewis Powell. Within an hour, Senator Ted Kennedy blasts the nominee in a fiery speech on the Senate floor: “Robert Bork’s America is a land in which women would be forced into back-alley abortions, blacks would sit at segregated lunch counters, rogue police could break down citizens’ doors in midnight raids, and schoolchildren could not be taught about evolution.” Also today, Reagan aide Oliver North is grilled about the Iran-Contra affair by House and Senate investigators; his private meeting with them is prelude to public testimony next week. Seventeen months after the Challenger explosion, NASA has devised a rocket-assisted ejection system for future shuttles but has yet to make it work. NASA administrator James Fletcher admits that such a system would not have saved the Challenger crew. Michigan governor James Blanchard has vetoed a bill raising Michigan’s speed limit on rural interstates to 65. At least 34 states have raised limits this year after Congress ended the national limit of 55.

The Green Bay Packers say they traded for quarterback David Woodley earlier this week because they were unable to make any headway with free agent Ron Jaworski. The New York Yankees have the best record in baseball, 49-and-29, after a 6-1, 12-inning win over Toronto tonight. The top record in the National League belongs to the St. Louis Cardinals, even after they drop a 9-6 decision to Montreal. In Cleveland, a couple of relative graybeards square off on the pitcher’s mound: 42-year-old Steve Carlton gets the start for the Indians against 38-year-old Jerry Reuss of the California Angels. Both are gone after the fifth inning, but each gets a decision as the Angels win 10-5. The game attracts a crowd of 5,005 at Cleveland Municipal Stadium, capacity 81,000. The Indians have the worst record in baseball.

At 3:00 this afternoon, New York City country radio station WHN becomes WFAN, the first all-sports radio station in America. On TV tonight, CBS presents Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer, Magnum P.I., and the night’s top-rated show, The Equalizer. On ABC, it’s Perfect Strangers, Head of the Class, MacGyver, and Hotel. NBC airs Highway to Heaven, The Facts of Life, Night Court, and a news special, Six Days Plus 20 Years: A Dream Is Dying, about Israel’s ongoing occupation of the West Bank after the Six-Day War of 1967. Although it is the only first-run program on the network schedule, it is also the lowest-rated one.

On the current Cash Box chart, “Head to Toe” by Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam is in its second week at #1. “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” by Whitney Houston is #2. Also in the Top 10: Heart (“Alone”), Kenny G (“Songbird”), Genesis (“In Too Deep”), Bob Seger (“Shakedown”), Herb Alpert (with Janet Jackson on “Diamonds”), and Smokey Robinson (“Just to See Her”). The biggest mover is “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” by U2, up from #39 to #28. Seven songs are new among the 40. “Wot’s It to Ya” by Robbie Nevil is the highest at #34. Among the other debuts is Fleetwood Mac’s “Seven Wonders” at #38. The highest debut on the Top 100 is “It’s Not Over (Til It’s Over)” by Starship at #66. The oldest record on the chart is Paul Simon’s “You Can Call Me Al,” hanging on at #93 in its 28th week on the chart.

Perspective From the Present: It was another summer weekday in Quad Cities, USA, as I continued my job at the elevator-music station, but the details, not just of  that day but of that summer, at work and at home, are mostly lost in the fog of time. Eighty-seven was a good year for Smokey Robinson, with two Top-10 hits (“Just to See Her” and “One Heartbeat”), his first since 1981 and his last to date. David Woodley never took a snap for the Packers; he was released in August; Jaworski signed with the Miami Dolphins. Steve Carlton would be traded from Cleveland to Minnesota later in July and earn a World Series ring, although he was not on the Twins’ postseason roster. In 1987, some observers considered Ted Kennedy’s Bork speech to be hyperbole at best and slander at worst, but today the Supreme Court has a majority of Borks, and Kennedy’s nightmare vision turns out to have been prescient.

Note to Patrons: If you have not done so already, vote for the decade you’d like to read about on July 4 here. Poll closes tomorrow morning. 

June 1, 1982: Visiting Hours

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(Pictured: Joan Jett on stage in Chicago, 1982.)

June 1, 1982, was a Tuesday. Britain has taken control of an area near the Falkland Islands capital city of Stanley, and is demanding Argentina surrender or face a full-scale assault on the city. President Reagan meets with top advisers in advance of his first major European trip as president, which will begin tomorrow. He will visit France, Britain, and Germany for discussions on economic, political, and military issues. In Washington, the trial of John Hinckley continues. Hinckley, who turned 27 over the weekend, is accused of shooting Reagan and three others last year. The United States Supreme Court has overturned its own 1981 ruling and expanded the right of law enforcement officials to search vehicles without a warrant if they suspect contraband is present. Severe thunderstorms and tornadoes have been thrashing the nation’s midsection since last Thursday. In Marion, Illinois, 10 people died in a tornado and over 100 were injured over the weekend, and cleanup yesterday was interrupted by severe thunderstorms with heavy rain. Fourteen more tornadoes were reported across the Midwest and South yesterday. In Harrisburg, Illinois, shoppers at Food Park can get USDA choice boneless chuck roast for $1.59 a pound, a 10-pound bag of red potatoes for $1.39, and an eight-pack of Coca-Cola in 16-ounce returnable bottles for $1.59 plus deposit.

The NBA Finals continue tonight. The Los Angeles Lakers take a 2-1 lead over the Philadelphia 76ers with a 129-108 win in Los Angeles. Lakers star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was in danger of missing the game due to a migraine, but he plays 28 minutes and scores 16 points. Andrew Toney of the Sixers leads all scorers with 36 points. The two best teams in baseball at the moment are the Detroit Tigers and Boston Red Sox. They are separated by one-half game atop the American League East after Detroit beats the West-leading California Angels and the Red Sox lose to Oakland. In the National League, East leader St. Louis loses to San Francisco in extra innings and West leader Atlanta beats the New York Mets.

Midweek moviegoers can see Memorial Day weekend’s big release, Rocky III, or the new slasher movie Visiting Hours. Other movies popular at the box office right now include Conan the Barbarian, Steve Martin’s Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid, Mad Max II: the Road Warrior, Porky’s, and Chariots of Fire. On TV tonight, CBS airs Game 3 of the NBA Finals live, preceded by a repeat of the 1979 special Hanna-Barbera Hall of Fame: Yabba Dabba Doo II, which goes behind the scenes with some of Hanna-Barbera’s most famous characters and their creators. NBC airs a repeat episode of the recently canceled Bret Maverick, starring James Garner, and the second-season premiere episodes of the primetime soap Flamingo Road. ABC presents Happy Days, Laverne and Shirley, Three’s Company, Too Close for Comfort starring Ted Knight, and Hart to Hart.

At WLS in Chicago, “Ebony and Ivory” by Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder and “Titles” by Vangelis from Chariots of Fire hold at #1 and #2 on the current station survey. “’65 Love Affair” by Paul Davis and Joan Jett’s “I Love Rock and Roll” are #3 and #4. Only one song is new in the Top 10 this week: “I’ve Never Been to Me” by Charlene, at #10. “Rosanna” by Toto is up 10 spots from #24 to #14; “The Other Woman” by Ray Parker Jr. makes a nine-place move from #21 to #12. The highest debut on the chart this week is Joan Jett’s “Crimson and Clover” at #29. The #1 album in Chicago is the self-titled debut by Asia.

In Dubuque, Iowa, a young radio DJ spends the first part of his afternoon as board operator for the station’s broadcast of the Chicago Cubs. Their 9-1 shellacking at the hands of the San Diego Padres is over early after the Padres get four in the second inning and four more in the third. The game takes only two hours and 14 minutes to play, so there’s time after the post-game show for the young DJ to do a bit of his show. Afterward, he will go home to an empty apartment, empty by choice, as he lives alone and on his own for the first and only time in his life. Although he’s not a big basketball fan, he probably watches the NBA Finals on this night, although on many nights he listens to the radio, stretched out on the couch the way people do in front of the TV.

This post is by reader request. If there’s a date you’d like to get the ODIYL treatment, even if it’s several months in the future, get in touch

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May 11, 1997: Deep Blue

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(Pictured: Garry Kasparov makes a move against computer opponent Deep Blue.)

May 11, 1997, was a Sunday.  It is Mother’s Day. Rain is forecast for the Northeast and Midwest, but the southern United States and Pacific Coast are mostly dry. Headlines on the Sunday papers include an earthquake in Iran that killed 2,000 people; more legal wrangling over the Whitewater real estate scandal involving Bill and Hillary Clinton; the agreement between NBC and the cast of Seinfeld to continue the top-rated show; and the ongoing match between Russian world chess champion Garry Kasparov and IBM’s Deep Blue supercomputer, which is tied going into today’s final match. Today, Deep Blue wins.

At Radio Shack, you can get a new IBM Aptiva home computer with 3.1GB of memory, 16MB of RAM, a fast 33.6Kbps modem with fax, and a 166Mhz Pentium processor for $1999. If you’re in the market for a car, the Cherry Burrell Employees Credit Union of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, is offering a 7.4 percent/60-month auto loan for 1996 or 1997 models, with higher rates and shorter terms for older models.

In the NBA, the Chicago Bulls, going for their fifth title in seven years, take a 3-1 lead in their Eastern Conference semifinal series with an 89-80 win over the Hawks in Atlanta. Also today, the New York Knicks go up 2-1 on Miami with a 77-73 win. In the Western Conference semifinals, the Houston Rockets beat the Seattle SuperSonics 110-106 in overtime and lead 3-1. The other Western semifinal has the day off; the Utah Jazz lead the Los Angeles Lakers three games to one. Game five is tomorrow night in Salt Lake City. In the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs, three series are decided today: the New York Rangers, Philadelphia, and Edmonton join Detroit in the conference finals. The Red Wings swept their semifinal series over Anaheim last week; game two of the series went 91 seconds into the third overtime before the Red Wings won it, five hours and 40 minutes after the game began. In Major League Baseball, the best record belongs to the Atlanta Braves, who beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 8-2 today.

Two new movies top the box office this weekend: The Fifth Element, a science-fiction thriller starring Bruce Willis, and Father’s Day, a comedy starring Robin Williams and Billy Crystal. Other top movies include Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery and Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion. On TV tonight, CBS wins the night with part 1 of The Last Don, a miniseries based on the novel by Godfather author Mario Puzo, which stars Danny Aiello and Joe Mantegna. ABC airs the first episode of its own novel-based miniseries tonight, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. NBC Sunday Night at the Movies presents the theatrical release Timecop. Fox presents its regular Sunday-night lineup, which includes The Simpsons, King of the Hill, and The X-Files. Shows on the WB tonight include The Parent ‘Hood, The Steve Harvey Show, and The Jamie Foxx Show.

On this week’s Billboard Hot 100, “Hypnotize” by Notorious B. I. G. is #1 again this week, two months after Biggie’s death in a drive-by shooting. “You Were Meant for Me” by Jewel is #2. “Mmm Bop” by Hanson makes a big leap to #6 from #16. “Wannabe,” the first hit by the Spice Girls, is down to #10 from #6. Only three songs are new in the Top 40 this week: “G.H.E.T.T.O.U.T” by Changing Faces makes its Hot 100 debut at #28; “Don’t Wanna Be a Player” by Joe is at #34, and “Bitch” by Meredith Brooks debuts in the 40 at #37. Michael Jackson’s new song, “Blood on the Dance Floor,” makes its Hot 100 debut at #42. The #1 spot on the Billboard 200 album chart belongs to Share My World by Mary J. Blige. The #1 adult contemporary song is “For the First Time” by Kenny Loggins; #1 country is “One Night at a Time” by George Strait.

Perspective From the Present: I finished my teacher-ed program at the University of Iowa during the previous week, although I would take one additional course during the summer while hunting for a job. The lone offer I received was from a Catholic school in Illinois where I would have made as much money as I did on my last radio job. A couple of weeks later, I was offered a job by an educational publishing firm, which I took. I regret, a little bit, that I never taught beyond my student-teacher semester to see if I could do it without a net. But going into publishing was the right choice, and I’ve never regretted that.