The Billy Joel song Pressure is on the radio right now. It reminds me of when this song was in the top 40 on the radio. My friends and I used to love this song because it spoke to us, how we felt and thought, and the pressure we felt in everyday life. Screaming the chorus together was a means of venting our anger and anxiety.
We were eleven.
I canʼt remember what pressure we thought we were under at that age, but how awful is it that at age 11 we even had a concept of pressure and sought coping mechanisms.
If your radio station is actually an analog signal at 87.75 Mhz, muxed with a low-power ATSC 3.0 digital TV channel at the ass-end of the FM dial, and you still manage to come in #13 in the ratings, youʼre doing something right.
I found the record The Sound of Houston at the record store today.
In the early 1980ʼs, KRBE Radio held a contest where its listeners were asked to compose a theme song for the city. The winning entries were then pressed into a record, and 40 years later here they are today — in the value bin, priced at 99¢.
The songs are very very 1980ʼs. Lots of power ballads with saxophones, clarinets, and chimes. Surprisingly few have much of a country twang, but many would fit in with the local TV news themes of the era.
It seems sad that the heartfelt work of a dozen recording hopefuls has been reduced to just 8¼¢ a piece.
Listening with 2022 ears, none of them are very good. But they are an audio time capsule of a certain era, and a certain place.
Itʼs nice to see a TV station with a streetfront studio. They were in fashion in the 1990ʼs, and most large markets had at least one. They were a way to showcase the station in high-traffic areas, similar to the way big consumer brands like Starbucks, Hershey, and Nokia build flagship stores on busy tourist streets to serve as 3D interactive billboards.
The first one I saw was at KSDK/Saint Louis in 1994. Chicago is a walking town, so by the early 2000ʼs, several radio and television stations built their own. WLS-TV, WMAQ-TV, WBBM-TV, and WGN radio all had them. WKQX radio had one in the Merchandise Mart, but since the Mart doesnʼt have much of a street-level presence, it faced inside, where all the office workers could see it. WLUP radio and WFLD television each did something similar at Michigan Plaza, but while the radio stationʼs version was well done, it was hard to find. The TV station never really pulled it off. Even Loyola Universityʼs WULW/Chicago, and its student TV station had a streetfront studio.
The last time I checked, both WLS-TV and WBBM-TV have let their former showcase spaces deteriorate, and theyʼre not much of a draw anymore. WGN radio was still using its space in Tribune Tower extensively, but no longer 24 hours a day. WGN had an interesting gimmick where a microphone was suspended outside of the studio, and the talk show hosts would occasionally engage members of the public.
A similar setup was featured in a Tony Hillerman book, outside of KNDN/Farmington. Itʼs possible that it was real, since the Hillerman books tend to be more fact than fiction.
When I was at WGN-TV we longed for a streetfront studio, like the big stations downtown. But we were way out in North Central, pretty much half-way out of town. When WGN radio opened its showcase studio, we were jealous, since the space next to WGNʼs studio was originally designed to be a TV studio, and itʼs where WGN-TV was located until it moved out of downtown in the 1960ʼs. We always thought that space should rightly be a TV studio again, especially with all of our competitors opening shiny new studios all over downtown.
That never happened, because the people who owned the TV station at the time thought the prime downtown location was better used as retail space, then a museum, then retail space, and then left empty.
The picture above is KHOU/Houstonʼs downtown streetfront studio, and the woman in front of it is anchor Shern-Min Chow. We worked together for about five years, and she was always nice to me, but I donʼt think sheʼd remember me, so I didnʼt say hi.
When I was at KHOU, we prided ourselves on the fact that we were the only TV station downtown. All the others were half-way out of town, and when important things happened, we were usually better positioned to get to the news before everyone else.
Since then, KHOU has moved even farther away from downtown than the other stations. Its main studio is in the Galleria Area, but at least this satellite studio gets daily use. The only TV station that does local news thatʼs farther away is KIAH/Houston, but its news product is a very faded shadow of what it was when I was there.
I can finally play Zork on my TRS-80 Model 100. Sort of.
Iʼm actually using the Model 100ʼs terminal program to connect to a wifi dongle on the back of the machine which connects to my wifi router, which connects to my Mac Mini, where the game is actually running.
Some day Iʼd like to run Zork on this actual machine, but that would entail installing CP/M on the 100, which is still a very experimental process, and more complicated than I have time for.
We decorated for Halloween already this year. Itʼs early, even for us.
Sirius has been playing the occasional Christmas song on the 40ʼs and Sinatra channels, so I think a lot of people would just like to get into a happy place in their minds these days.
So, up went the die cuts, the blow molds, the melty popcorn plastic crinkle characters, and the ceramic jack-o-lanterns. You can see it all very clearly from the other buildings in the apartment complex. I donʼt have the energy to care what the neighbors think.
I just came across this article about the then-new AT&T 6300 in the September, 1984 issue of Microsystems magazine.
This is the computer that West Virginia Radio Corporation made five of us share in the newsroom at WCHS/Charleston in 1995 because the company didnʼt have money for a second computer. The same machine also had to ingest the Associated Press wire feeds in the background.
This was eleven years after the computer was introduced.