Of Popes, miracles (on ice) and nuclear meltdowns. All in Part 2 of the Philadelphia story.
Among the stories I covered in Philly was Three Mile Island, the nuke plant that nearly melted down just a hundred miles upwind from the radio station. It was a scary night when I had to come into the newsroom and do live updates from the wire services. A few days later I drove up to the site near Harrisburg to look around.
In the aftermath, I went to Washington DC for a No Nukes rally that brought Jackson Browne, Jane Fonda and others to the steps of the Capitol.
When I wasn’t reporting, I was snapping shots of the entertainers joining the protest.
I also reported on the New York No Nukes protest and the concert at Madison Square Garden where Bruce Springsteen got angry at his onetime girlfriend Lynn Goldsmith for taking unauthorized photos from the floor.
Pope John Paul II visited Philly and honored WMMR with a drive-by down Walnut Street past our studios where I was waiting with my camera. Apparently, his advance team didn’t brief him about looking up and waving to us.
In the winter of 1980, the radio station received ticket and hotel packages for the Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, NY. They were given away to listeners as an on-air promotion. Somehow, one of the packages wasn’t doled out. So the program director said I should go up there and do a few days of reporting from the Games.
My brother-in-law came down from Massachusetts to use the other ticket. We saw Eric Hayden win one of his 5 speedskating medals. We tramped up a mountain in the rain only to have a ski event cancelled on us. And we saw the USA hockey team trounce Germany on a Wednesday night. I took some photos from the stands.
Our three days up, I boarded a flight back to Philadelphia Friday afternoon, just as the underdog Team USA and Herb Brooks were to face the powerful, heavily-favored Soviet Union. In mid-flight, the pilot announced the shocking result and the passengers went bonkers. ABC broadcast the game on a delay, and it was airing as I deplaned in Philly. I went to an airport bar to watch, resisting the temptation to find traveling suckers who wanted to bet on the outcome!
Speak-ing of spawts, as Howard Cosell would say, I played softball one summer at a park down the street from my apartment. I was on a team sponsored by the Hot Club, the city’s premier punk venue. We were…well…a pretty hot club.
We played at a field in a playground off Lombard Street near the Schuylkill River. Taney Park was where, years later, a local girl named Mo’ne Davis played baseball and went on to became the first girl to pitch a victory in the Little League World Series. I like to think we’d left some mojo behind.