Rock it, WMET News!

•  Uriah Heep, John Belushi, the exploding lunch trick and Jesse Helms across ‘Americaland’

•  A relic from another era: a petrified noon newscast

•  A private company launching a rocket into space? Never happen!

Way, way down at the dusty bottom of that milk crate was the last cassette. Krapp’s Last Tape?  No, just the one with the last crap you’re going to hear from me for awhile on this blog. I’m turning my energy toward launching a new, similar project. One that’s kind of like a blog, but with spoken words and music. Like . . like, uh . . like a radio station. But not a radio station.

Why should you listen to this WMET newscast from September 9, 1982? Well, for one thing, it’s got items in it that are the same things that are in today’s news. Only different. You know what I mean. I do this a lot here in the blog: tell you what it was like 30, 40 years ago and how things are different today. Or the same.

Conestoga 1

It also just happens to lead with the first-ever successful launch of a non-NASA spacecraft.

But to me, this newscast is me doing what I loved to do. And doing it the best I could. Sure, later on  there was world travel, splashy assignments, exotic remotes, glittery celebs to interview.

This Chicago radio newscast simply represents what was at the heart of what I always wanted to do. Just use words to paint some pictures, take you to a news event, point out some absurdities, some atrocities, even, maybe update some issues that might affect your life in some way.

It comes complete with the staples of that rock radio convention. The jokey bump-in with the DJ handing off to me in my little newsbooth . . the sports update . . the sangria commercial.

I’m not sure why I saved this particular aircheck, but I’m glad I did:

WMET-FM Noon, September 9, 1982 (5:39)

Airchecks – which were used to find new jobs in radio – are customarily “telescoped” – with sections cut out because they’re not the person who’s after the gig. In this case, I cut short Pat Benkowski’s sports report. Sorry Pat! You were the best. You brought me Chicago Blackhawks and other sports stars for my Sunday night talk show!

But I kept my traffic report intact. Man. I could’ve been a traffic reporter! “Traffic and weather on the eights.”

Pop quiz: What else makes this newscast a unique historical artifact?

Answer: It’s five minutes long!

A full friggin’ five-minute local newscast. Every day at noon. Smack in the middle of a set of Chicago’s Classic Rock. Wait right there, Led Zep, REO Speedwagon, and you, too, Uriah Heep – Mark’s going to hold forth. Yes, he’ll talk for more than five full minutes about things he and his program director and GM think young American rock fans should be interested in.

The audacity.

The public service.

Five-minute newscasts. Probably what killed rock radio. No . . actually that was the mp3. Or corporate greed. Or Napster. Or Burkhardt/Abrams.  Argue amongst yourselves.

I’ve got another launch on the horizon.


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