About this time of year in 1979, I wrapped up my freshman year in college. It had been an eventful year, as freshman years tend to be. I had made my radio debut on the college station the previous December and snagged a paying job at KDTH in Dubuque in April. The best thing about that radio job was that it meant I wouldn’t have to get a job doing something else for the summer—I could do the only thing I had wanted to do since I was 11 years old.
So my education continued that summer, not only inside the radio station’s building but outside of it as well. I lived an hour from Dubuque, so when I had to work both days of the weekend, I stayed Saturday nights with a couple of older guys I knew from school, both of whom were working radio jobs too. We spent hours talking about radio (and other things), and I learned a lot by observation and osmosis.
But in the middle of May, that was in the future. As final exams wrapped up and I bid most of my friends goodbye until August, here are some of the songs that were on the radio. I went to school in southwestern Wisconsin; the survey for the week of May 20, 1979, is from KORL in Honolulu, just because.
2. “Woman in Love”/Three Degrees (holding at 2). OK, “Woman in Love” wasn’t on the radio in Wisconsin that spring, but it probably should have been. It missed the Hot 100 altogether, but scraped onto the R&B and adult contemporary charts and went to Number 3 in the UK.
9. “Oh Honey”/Delegation (down from 7). This record had been off the Hot 100 for a month after peaking at Number 45, although it went to Number 6 on the R&B chart, and it was still doing big business in Hawaii. When I first got to KDTH in the spring of 1979, the station had yet to fully embrace a country identity, and still played a lot of adult pop including, briefly, “Oh Honey.” It’s kinda tasty, actually.
This post continues on the flip with more toonage via vintage video.
1o. “Georgy Porgy”/Toto (up from 14). We thought we had Toto figured out after two riff-happy singles, “Hold the Line” and “I’ll Supply the Love.” Then came “Georgy Porgy,” on which they sounded like an R&B act, and we realized we had no idea. Here’s a live performance from 1979. It’s kinda tasty too.
11. “Ain’t Love a Bitch”/Rod Stewart (up from 16). This is probably the best song on Rod’s Blondes Have More Fun album—it surely features some of his best singing, as well as a callback to “Maggie May”—but its title was guaranteed to make it a tough add for radio. (If I’m recalling correctly, there was at least one jock on our college station who refused to play it.) Here’s the video, in which Rod seems to be wearing something he’d snagged from Britt Eklund’s closet.
15. “I Never Said I Love You”/Orsa Lia (debut). A few weeks ago I wrote about Billboard‘s Adult Contemporary chart, and mentioned that some of the biggest AC hits failed to get much traction on the Hot 100. “I Never Said I Love You” was one of them. It went all the way to the top on the AC chart while getting only to Number 84 on the Hot 100. How her song (co-written by Hal David) failed to end up in the hands of somebody like Dionne Warwick is a mystery. We played this one at KDTH, too.
The summers of our college years change us. We have experiences that mark us for all time, we learn, we grow. I can never think of the summer of 1979 without thinking of my friends Dean and BC, three college guys in the city, becoming what we were going to be.