ROCK RADIO SCRAPBOOK
MEMORIES OF THE NIGHT LENNON DIED...
I was at home and had just crawled into bed and turned on the telly. Soon the story came across about that assassination.
Climbing from my bed I knew exactly where I had to be. Grabbing some clothes I headed to my car and off the the station.
When I arrived at CFNY 102.1 I joined with the announcer and we began playing Beatle music. In particular Lennon/Beatle music. I stayed all night talking with callers and telling stories I had collected from the mid-sixties when I had spent time with those Beatles.
I remembered being at the Bed in for Peace in Montreal and be a hand clapper on the Give Peace A Chance song. I remembered meeting Timothy Leary, a Smothers Brother, Al Capp and more.
The next day Don Shafer called from Vancouver wondering how we could hook up all the stations in Canada for a tribute.
Since hooking up a 'network' system in Canada at that time took permission from the CRTC we decided it was near impossible. But we knew we could find a way.
The Dream Network was the answer. Shafer and I went about the business of getting as many stations as possible involved. The idea was that all the stations along the Dream Network would play and say the exact same thing at the exact same time.
Soon we had thirty some stations in the Dream Network. Then all Hell BROKE LOOSE.
UPN got wind of the story and put it on the American wire services. Within minutes the phones at CFNY started to ring. The story had carried the radio station main phone line number.
It took some 10 people working round the clock to handle the non-stop calls from American stations wanting to be part of the Dream Network.
By the cut-off time of 11 AM EST on that Sunday we had over 800 American stations and our Canadian group had risen to over 80.
At noon that day the little yellow house in Brampton was swamped with TV cameras - including all the Canadian networks plus CBS and ABC.
As we read out the prepared script there was no doubt a powerful radio moment was materializing all across North America. The feeling in that tiny little control room was overwhelming. The script was followed by the playing of Lennon's Dream #9.
Shafe and I chose that over Imagine as Dream #9 was much more meaningful for John Lennon.
A great song - Imagine is iconic but it is about the world and that Sunday deserved to belong only to John.
Yes we had managed much more than we ever thought and it truly was the Dream Network. It was a huge story and it was about John Lennon.
Still today when I play Dream #9 I flashback to that moment in the tiny studio in the famous little yellow house.
It was a weekend that belonged to all of us but we should never be so selfish as to not recognize that all our memories of this terrible event were made available because of Lennon.
He had golden wings but he put them on way to early.
December 8, 1980....my wife Sandi and I were in our first home in
Pointe-Claire Qc, logs crackling in the fireplace, watching CFCF 12's Late
Evening Pulse Newscast with Bill Haugland when he broke into a Special Bulletin
to announce John had been shot in NYC. Details were sketchy. We both looked at
each other thinking....''This can't be true...if so, he's going to be OK...he's
gotta be alright''.....shockingly, Bill confirmed before the newscast ended that
a hero of ours had indeed succumbed. We both cried like young kids...I
remember there was a pain deep inside my gut, as if a member of the family had been lost, as if a little bit of every baby boomer's inner soul had been brutally robbed and silenced. I still feel that pain today
whenever I think of that night. Following an overnight of little sleep, I got up to the phone ringing incessantly. Family, friends, relatives, media colleagues...all incredulous and in shock, many breaking down on the phone, some openly venting their anger towards the killer.
I remember the following morning of the 9th in Montréal as a gloomy & dreary freezing rain kind-of-day, completely glazing over the foot or two of snow we had received days before. I took my dog for his usual run in an adjacent cross-country ski forest near our house. While he was scurrying about and with no one else around, I sat on a big rock overlooking the babbling brook below....and I cried again...a lot. My dog (God bless his soul !) must have sensed that something wasn't right as I didn't have to call him back insistently from his usual squirrel-chasing forays into the wooded paths. He returned back after only a minute or so and sat next to me as if to say with his big Airedale stare: ''Something's not right with you today, boss''. He was so right. As I finally regained some kind of composure many minutes later, I got up and we slowly walked back out of the woods and towards the house. I reached into my ski jacket pocket and put on my sunglasses. It surely wasn't because of a bright sun that morning...
....I then wondered how I was going to get through my radio shift that afternoon with a huge knot in my throat (by then, I was hosting PM drive at CJFM, 95.9 in Montréal). I thought the only way to go would be to open up the phone lines now and then and to share the grief, the testimonials and the tributes collectively, interspersed with some of John's music, Beatles and solo. ''Come Together''...and we did.
Question remains every Dec 8th: might someone give peace a chance some day?
Dreamin'...but not the only one.
I was watching a MASH rerun on CH 4 in Buffalo. Around 11:45 the crawl that John Lennon had been shot ran across the screen.
I started pulling together all my Beatles interviews. I'd produced several Beatles specials at the point. Within 15 minutes, my phone rang. It was Dan Plouffe, Marketing Manager of CFTR at the time. He said can you bring your interviews and Bill Gable (CFTR's then PD) and I will meet you at the station in half an hour.
We were in the CFTR Production studios for the next two days. I made some phone calls to people I'd interviewed before, like Alan Williams in Liverpool, the Beatles first manager and Hal Blaine, drummer on Lennons' "Rock'N'Roll album". Newsman and jocks popped in with new interview clips that had just come in over the wire or from BN.
Overnight, we put together a one-hour special that ran Dec. 9 on CFTR, then without even a coffee break, immediately started assembling a 2-hour tribute that Bill wrote and voiced and I produced that aired on some 65 stations across the country that weekend.
We literally lost all track of time. The 3 of us probably didn't smell too great at the end of those two days, but we had a program to be proud of, even if it something that we'd rather not have had to put together.
I had just got in to CFBK Huntsville for my regular overnight shift when I heard the alarm ring on the BN machine. I went into the newsroom to investigate and was shocked to learn the news. John was not reported dead at that point. Checked the TV in the newsroom and there were bulletins. I called my roomie Steve Ward (Midday announcer. I was a HUGE Beatles fan and he was a HUGE Lennon fan. He came into the station, went right into production and started putting together a special feature for later in the day.
I had to report the news at midnight at the start of my shift. Played a lot of Beatles/Lennon tunes overnight. Talked to a lot of listeners on the phone (not on the air though).
When I got home just after 6 a.m., I started running tape and getting all I could from WABC, WNBC, WCBS, WLS, WCFL, CHUM, CFTR, CFRB, CBC, CFBK, and so on. I still get goose bumps when I hear this material all these years later. It was a shocking and sad time.
Days later, I remember CHUM-AM-FM and CITY-TV holding a special public vigil and I recall that hundreds of radio stations across North America held a minute of silence at a particular time...on a Sunday I think. It was my day off, but I know CFBK participated....
It was a Monday night and CITY was simulcasting Monday Night Football. Our control room talked directly with ABC master control to coordinate commercial breaks etc. and our guy told me that the director in NYC mentioned that they had heard Lennon had been shot. I knew a cop in that area and called the precinct and got it confirmed. We did a bulletin on City during the game and were the first to report...long before BN etc.
WABX (legendary Detroit album rock station, hi) was airing the King Biscuit Flower Hour when the story broke. Hard rockers Hall and Oates were featured. I usually taped it and, had there been some actual rock and roll on the bill, I would have caught the first bulletins.
In 1980, Detroit had four stations that called themselves album rock: WABX, WWWW, WRIF, and WLLZ. All played Beatles music through the night and well into the next day.
ABX did broadcast the ten minutes of silence requested by Yoko as a radio memorial to John at 2 PM the next Sunday. An outdoor memorial service/tribute/vigil was held in downtown Detroit, and I remember that Sunday being bitterly cold. Lots of folks were there, though.
Okay, for once, I'll admit it: I was in my parent's basement at the time.
That's where my room was. I was 15 and I was listening to Larry King on KSTP 1500 from St. Paul/Minneapolis - it comes in consistently clear - almost like a local - at night in that area of northern Saskatchewan. Can't remember much else save running upstairs and telling Mom and Dad. I don't think I got much sleep that night, as the radio coverage of it was compelling and I was, like everyone else, shocked.
CRAIG M. SMITH
To that time it was the worst night in my life, only to be eclipsed by the individual passing of my parents.
I was working as a DJ at the Squires Tavern on Lawrence, west of Victoria Park. It was a slow night. A person came up, while watching the football game and said that he saw a news report that John had been shot.
I went straight to the radio that we had in the booth to confirm and started to play Beatle music. Then I plugged in the radio feed to the system. I remember going to the Mac's Milk next door and picking up the current issue of Playboy that had an interview with John, as well as a photo shoot with the future Mrs. Ringo Starr. When I got home I listened to the radio all night played records and cried. I have an air check of .. well I can't remember now I'd have to search for it, but it was from that overnight.
The next day I went to work at the Sam's franchise at Thorncliffe (now the East York Town Centre). We were sold out of John Lennon/Beatles records and tapes in about 6 hours.
The very strange thing is that I can't directly remember anything after that day, Oh sure I know the rememberances after, but that overnight of December 8th/9th ... that's what will forever be in my memory.
I was in bed...my brother came home and started watching Monday Night Football...it was just after 11...Howard Cosell announced it...next thing I remembered was my brother bursting into my room to tell me.
I immediately turned on CHUM-FM and heard Larry Wilson saying it again that John Lennon had been shot and by this time was pronounced dead. Listening to Wilson play cut after cut until I fell asleep waking up the next morning in a complete funk...it lasted days.
I went down to City Hall on the Wednesday in the freezing cold to the tribute organized by CHUM and listened to speaker after speaker while music was being played between...Donabie, Ronnie Hawkins, the rest I can't remember. Anyone shed some info on who was there that night? Lucked out because someone I knew taped the broadcast and made a copy...unfortunately, over the years it disappeared...it would be nice to hear it again. It was cold and we were holding candles and singing and feeling a great loss... I still feel that today.
I had just cracked the seal of the 'Double Fantasy' album I had purchased. Sounds like a cornball coincidence but indeed it is true -- I think it had just been released maybe one or two weeks prior and I finally got my mitts onto a copy. My sister, who was old enough to actually have attended the Beatle shows at MLG in 64 was over visiting at the time and was listening to 1050 in the other room when the announcement broke. I was unaware until she burst in with the news. We then listened to the album in its entirety, stunned that we would never have the opportunity to see it performed live, and worse that we would never see its composer again -- concert or otherwise.
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