Aircheck: ABC/NBC, 8/30/1983

The last man to date to set foot on the moon, Gene Cernan, passed away on Monday at age 82. I’ve personally read his book, and seen his documentary on Netflix, and was stunned to hear the news on FNC that afternoon. Hearing him eulogize John Glenn a few months ago, I thought “Geno” was still in good health, hence the shock.

The logical piece of tape (as they used to say in the old days) would be to show you footage of his last mission, Apollo 17 in 1972. That was the first night launch in the history of American manned space flight, and the only one up until 1983. Then, along came the night of August 30th of that year, and the flight of the Space Shuttle Challenger.

The footage shifts between ABC and NBC. Lynn Sherr and the aforementioned Gene Cernan call the action on ABC (which uses the polygonal superimposed countdown clock), while Linda Ellerbee and Don Lind did likewise on NBC (using the clock chroma-keyed in).

Lynn wrote a beautiful piece that covered her experiences on the Alphabet Network with Gene covering the various aspects of the shuttle missions. Worth reading if you have a moment. Sadly, I never met Gene, but he always seemed to carry himself well, and represented the fraternity of the 12 man to land on the moon with aplomb. 

Flashback: “It’s A Heartache” by Bonnie Tyler

This is one of the first songs I could remember word for word when I was 6, and this year marks the 40th anniversary of its first release in late 1977.

The one thing that drew me back to the song many years later is the drum track, performed by the late Mike Gibbins of the group Badfinger. Try and listen to that “boomp, boomp, boomp, ba-boomp” sound as Bonnie lays down the vocal.

While this song put Bonnie (born Gaynor Hopkins) on the global radar (she already had two hits in Europe in late ’76 and early ’77: Lost In France and More Than A Lover), her voice is much more huskier than it was on her debut album, The World Starts Tonight. That was due to damaged vocal cords, requiring surgery to remove nodules in the cords. It gave her that vocal delivery that often reminded me of a left-handed baseball pitcher that just so happens to throw knuckleballs.

In the US, the song went to #3 on the pop charts and #10 on the country charts in the spring of 1978. The song has been covered scores of times, from everyone to David Johansen (anyone have that track?) to Gene Pitney to the country group Trick Pony, and still holds up well today. In the here and now, Bonnie is still at it at 66 years of age come June, with an album slated for release late in 2017 produced by John Carter Cash. Yep, June Carter and Johnny Cash’s son.

Looking forward to how that one sounds…

Aircheck: WLS AM (Chicago), 12/21/1990

Here’s a look at the late “Mad Dog” Bob Lassiter, back when he was on WLS in Chicago near Christmas time of 1990.

Lassiter was better known for being a ratings winner for various stations in the Tampa-St. Petersburg market in the late 80’s and mid-to-late 90’s. He seems out of place in Chicago, as executives for the ABC station did all they could to rein him in, with Lassiter retorting by being in a state of denial that he ever worked at Tampa station WFLA.

Bob and WLS would part ways in 1991, with Lassiter reappearing in the Tampa Bay market at WSUN in early 1993.

I always enjoyed Bob’s shows. The difference between his work and what you hear on talk radio these days is a simple one. Now, you’re told what to think by these robotic hosts, outside of a few. Back in the heyday of talk radio (which I consider the 80’s and 90’s), you were taught HOW to think. A significant difference.

Flashback: “El Paso” by Marty Robbins

For the relatively new viewers of this blog, I should probably explain the Flashback segment every week I’ve been doing since 2013.

Every Friday (occasionally late on a Thursday night, rarely a Saturday) I post a YouTube clip from a song from pop or country history. Usually a different song every week (although twice I’ve erroneously put up the same song on two separate occasions), and the song it’s always at least 10 years old. Thus with the passing of a new year, everything from 2007 and older is currently eligible.

I thought “El Paso” would be a good start to the year, as this Marty Robbins epic tells quite a good yarn. It spent two weeks at #1 in late 1959 and early 1960, straddling not only two years but two decades.