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April 16, 1981, was a Thursday. The nation’s front pages detail the story of Washington Post reporter Janet Cooke, who admitted yesterday that her Pulitzer Prize-winning series featuring an eight-year-old heroin addict was fiction. President Reagan pardons two FBI officials who had been convicted of illegally breaking into the homes of suspected anti-Vietnam radicals. (One of them, Mark Felt, will be revealed years hence as having been the Watergate informant Deep Throat.) In Canada, controversy over Quebec’s status as a province continues to rage as eight other provinces sign an agreement stating that Quebec does not have any special veto power over a proposed new constitution.

The final episode of the revived game show To Tell the Truth is taped. The final episode of Buck Rogers in the 25th Century airs after two seasons on NBC. Other shows on TV include Magnum P.I., Taxi, and the made-for-TV movie Midnight Lace. A life-size statue of Charlie Chaplin is unveiled in London’s Leicester Square on what would have been Chaplin’s 92nd birthday. The Oakland A’s (8-and-0) and Los Angeles Dodgers (6-and-0) are off to hot starts in the new baseball season; the Dodgers are led by rooking pitching sensation Fernando Valenzuela. Effa Manley, the last surviving owner of a franchise in the old Negro baseball leagues, dies at age 81. Future NFL offensive tackle Jake Scott is born.

Jack Nicholson is on the cover of Rolling Stone. Inside, the magazine publishes a review of Boy, “the debut album by Irish whiz kids U2.” U2 is touring the States at the moment; last night they played the Palms in Milwaukee; tomorrow night (which is Good Friday), they’ll be at Bogart’s in Cincinnati. Bruce Springsteen plays Munich, Germany, Rush plays Memphis, and Barry Manilow plays Vegas. At WLS in Chicago, the top three are Dolly Parton’s “9 to 5,” “Celebration” by Kool and the Gang, and Blondie’s “Rapture.” Depending on when you listen, WLS can sound like two different radio stations—one that rocks hard in morning drive and at night, and one that’s more housewifey through the middle of the day. It’s how they can play both tasteful adult fodder by Neil Diamond (“Hello Again”), ABBA (“The Winner Takes it All”), and Barbra Streisand (“Guilty) and singles by XTC (“Generals and Majors”), AC/DC (“Back in Black” and “You Shook Me All Night Long”), Devo (“Whip It”), and Yoko Ono (“Walking on Thin Ice”).

It’s clear that the pop-music delivery system is ready for a shakeup. It’s why MTV will be born later this year, to provide a more congenial home for stuff like this:

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About the Author

J.A. Bartlett

Writer, raconteur, radio geek, beer snob. There's more of this pondwater at http://jabartlett.wordpress.com.

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