It was 30 years ago today that fans worldwide were saddened by the news of John Lennon's assassination. The former Beatle was 40 years old. Your editor was a bit too young at the time to remember and understand the news right when it happened. But one CNYRadio.com reader from Auburn shared his memories of how various local radio stations reported on and reacted to the tragedy.
Here's what he wrote; feel free to add your own memories by posting a comment at the bottom of the article. If you don't have a CNYRadio.com account (required to post comments) registration is fast and free.
The first bulletin about Lennon I heard on WLS Chicago. I thought the first report said he was unhurt after the shooting but that quickly changed.
I believe it was just before Midnight when the news broke that Lennon had, in fact, died. I remember hearing the news from Uncle Roger on WCMF Rochester who went out of his way to stress that it was "not a joke" (likely eluding to the "Paul Is Dead" rumor that circulated in the late 60s).
I believe it was "Louise" who had the all-night shift on 94 Rock WSYR-FM; she had begun playing the scheduled Midnight Feature Album which was the new Blues Brothers LP. She stopped it after two or three songs and was openly weeping on the air for several minutes. 94 Rock also had frequent reports from Bill Vidka on the NBC Source network as the non-stop Beatles music was underway.
WHEN was into all Beatles shortly after their Midnight newscast. I remember they had done a few Beatles Weekends earlier that year and as the week progressed, they were running a special promo (done by either Bob Carolin or Tom Owens) for another Beatles feature the next weekend.
Here in Auburn I could not get the nighttime signal from WOLF but I've heard that they promptly aired some of the 1972 interview when John and Yoko were at the Everson. (Ever seen the video for "Borrowed Time" with a brief clip of Lennon talking into the mic with the WOLF flag on it?)
95X took several listener calls between Beatles sets. Some listeners expressed their grief in a few radio-unfriendly terms. (Apparently no delay.) At one point they did play Lennon's "Working Class Hero" which does drop a couple F-bombs.
The next Sunday, the 14th, was the day of the public tribute and many of the local stations (including then-Country formatted WSEN) took part in the 10 minutes of silence at the appointed time.
Again, feel free to add your own memories by posting a comment below.
Wow-thanks for the mention of WHEN! I was the overnight jock that night...having learned about Lennon's death just before driving into work! I don't remember a lot about that night...mostly playing a lot of Beatles records and taking some phone calls...mostly being absolutely stunned beyond belief. the promo was actually produced by Bruce Siegel, our Production guru. he and I assembled all the music for the tribute weekend.
Peter King(WHEN 1980-1990)