Turn Up The Radio

One thing Kevin, the manager at WTLX, secured decently early in his tenure was a cassette deck for the station. Of course we used it to play songs over the air, but I leveraged it to record mix tapes several times, especially over my final twelve months at Transy.  I think there was just one time I actually used it to record myself on the air.

I’m reasonably certain that this happened in January or February 85. I don’t have the tape; I recorded it for and mailed it to my cousin in Massachusetts. I did make (and keep) notes, though!

We scheduled two-hour shifts at TLX. My title was programming director but really, that only meant I recruited DJs and made the schedule each semester based on their availability—what got played was entirely up to the individual.  My weekly show was invariably a mix of pop hits and cuts from my album collection. I’d say that what you see below is representative of Harris On The Air.  Just to show you how set-in-my-ways I am/was, four of the songs have already made an appearance in some fashion here on ye olde blog!

Let’s fire this thing up.

Side 1

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, “Here Comes My Girl”
Damn the Torpedoes was from my stash. No disrespect intended to Petty’s earlier stuff, but this album has his best singles (yes, “American Girl” is definitely in the conversation). This isn’t up there with “Don’t Do Me Like That” or “Refugee,” but it’s awfully good.

Paul McCartney, “No More Lonely Nights”
This was on the Top 40 until mid-January, so it was maybe barely recurrent at the time of taping. Hate to say it, but it’s the last single from Sir Paul that I actively enjoyed.

Journey, “Send Her My Love”
One from the TLX 45s collection. While this wasn’t a huge favorite with me, you can sub in ‘Journey’ for ‘Sir Paul’ in the second sentence of the previous entry and get something akin to another true statement (“Girl Can’t Help It” isn’t bad, but it’s actually difficult to regret not liking any number of Journey songs).

U2, “Two Hearts Beat as One”
War had been on my turntable repeatedly for about a year at this point. I’m pretty certain I played songs from it, as well as the recently-released The Unforgettable Fire, on my shows with alarming frequency.

Beatles, “I Saw Her Standing There”
On this particular week I featured an “Oldie of the Hour,” at roughly 20 minutes past. I don’t think I kept that practice going for terribly long, however.

“I Want to Hold Your Hand” was #1 the week I was born. It and its B-side were #4 and #3, respectively, on my father’s all-time favorite rock and roll songs list. I agree with him as to which is the better cut.

Guess I’d never realized before I had McCartney singing twice in a four-song span…

Christine McVie, “Got a Hold on Me”
I always thought this was an intelligent and tasteful pop song. It’s no “You Make Lovin’ Fun,” but it should get more love these days than it does.

Motels, “Only the Lonely”
A big favorite from the summer of 82.  I like “Remember the Nights” quite a bit, but not as much as I do this. I’ll bet I plucked it off of my copy of K-Tel’s Starlite to play.

Foreigner, “Reaction to Action”
I’d gotten Agent Provocateur over Christmas break and was on a bit of a kick with this song for a while. It was eventually released as the third single but made it only to #54. I haven’t heard it in forever, and that’s okay.

Talking Heads, “Once in a Lifetime”
Remain in Light was in my collection by this point. This is a fabulous song but I’d give myself bonus points if I’d played “Crosseyed and Painless” or “Born Under Punches” here instead.

Moody Blues, “The Voice”
I bought Long Distance Voyager sometime close to the beginning of my senior year in high school, and probably played it as much as anything that year. I loved “Gemini Dream,” but this one has a very special place in my pantheon of 80s tunes.

Bram Tchaikovsky, “Girl of My Dreams”
Strange Man, Changed Man came to me from a cutout bin at the mall; clearly that had happened by this point. I wrote a little about this tune almost a year ago. It’s one that’s been regularly hanging out on the periphery of my consciousness since August 79.

I have no recollection how smoothly the transition from Side 1 to Side 2 went in the studio, but it’s time for us to flip the tape over.

Side 2

Styx, “Mr. Roboto”
Don’t hate on me. I’d still listen to this.

Huey Lewis and the News, “The Heart of Rock & Roll”
I’ll admit it—I think Sports is a pretty good album. I like it less now than I did back in the mid-80s, but it’s mighty fine for what it is, a bar band displaying some chops and having a good time doing it.

Bryan Adams, “Run to You”
I don’t know if anyone had an idea of how successful Reckless would turn out to be when I was making this tape. “Run to You” was one of my favorite songs at the time, and it still completely rocks.

Klaatu, “Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft”
I wonder how much my song selection that day was influenced by the knowledge I was sending the recording on to someone else.  I may have played this one specifically to share, as Klaatu’s debut LP had made it into my hands not too long before. This also wound up as the first song on the second mix tape I made for myself at the end of May.

REO Speedwagon, “Thru the Window”
Wheels Are Turnin’ was another Christmas break purchase. I hadn’t heard this song in a long time before getting ready to write this up. It’s fine enough but it would’ve been a better tape had I played “I Do’ Wanna Know” instead.

Queen, “Bohemian Rhapsody”
I won Queen’s Greatest Hits while I was in high school, I believe at a dance during my senior year that was being DJ’ed by a local radio station. Because I listened to it plenty the first couple of years I had it, I’m always expecting the jangle of the intro to “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” to play right after that final sound of the gong.  In 85 I’m guessing this song didn’t have quite the cachet it did post-Wayne’s World.

Marshall Crenshaw, “Someday, Someway”
If you’ve learned anything about my musical tastes in following this blog, it’s that Marshall Crenshaw is one of my all-time favorite acts.

Turtles, “Happy Together”
The second hour’s Oldie. I think this came from a 60s compilation album I’d borrowed from my father. Dynamite song; “Elenore” is just about as groovy.

Al Stewart, “If It Doesn’t Come Naturally, Leave It”
Year of the Cat and Time Passages were regularly sampled on my shows. This week it was the closing song from side 1 of Cat, one of his more up-tempo pieces.  Impossible to go wrong with any cut from either.

Honeydrippers, “Rockin’ at Midnight”
I wouldn’t be surprised if the station had bought Volume One, as this single would have only been on the cusp of the Top 40. It’d been getting airplay on the local AOR station for quite a while, so I was already pretty familiar with it.

And there it ends. Longer songs on the second side meant one fewer track. It didn’t occur to me to write down what I played over my final 30 minutes that afternoon, but you can bet that it rocked and you would no doubt have approved of all the selections. There are surprisingly few female voices present, but I was a few years away from really moving that way. Feel free to critique my sequencing as you see fit.

I’d love to get hold of the tape, even though I know I’d cringe listening to my on-air patter. Doubt my cousin still has it, but perhaps I should ask.

Oh, and sorry if the title of the post led you to think you’d be getting Autograph somewhere along the way (I expect I would have known about them at this point)…

As a bonus, here’s a copy of an article I wrote about the station for the school newspaper in October 85.


That’s Kevin, the manager. Being carrier-current meant you had to be within about 100 feet of one of the dorms to pick up a signal.  Having a half-dozen listeners was probably a good day!

Oh, and can anyone ID the poster on the left edge of the picture, visible through the studio window? The one on the right is for Amy Grant’s Unguarded. My long-lasting thanks to anyone who can help!

I think it’s a good day to listen to the Turtles.

4 thoughts on “Turn Up The Radio”

  1. Great show. I’d listen to that station.

    As far as I’m concerned, “American Girl” IS the conversation.

    “Two Hearts Beat as One” is a top 5 U2 song in my book. Maybe third after “Pride (In the Name of Love)” and “Sunday Bloody Sunday”


    1. Thanks.

      I figured that my ruling on “American Girl” might stir up some resistance! I may well have been too quick in my dismissal of it as THE Petty single.

      I might have 10 songs in my U2 top 5, at least three of which would come from War (including the two you mention).


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