Radio Days — Then and Now: Retro College Countdown from June 1989

This series of posts covers my long, beloved history interacting with the medium of radio, including the music that flowed through the airwaves.

As I am occasionally privileged to do, I returned to my college radio alma mater last night to guest host Then and Now, the program that’s been a mainstay of the Sunday night schedule for well over twenty years. And as I did a couple years ago, I took the occasion to revive another show that once occupied the same time slot, including during much of the time I was a student. The College Countdown followed the model set by Casey Kasem and others to provide an overview of the most popular music in the nation at that point in time. Rather than a chart that might have, oh say, New Kids on the Block at the top, we used the Top 40 Cuts tally included in issues of CMJ, the trade publication that served college radio.

Partially in tribute to happy memories of my first summer at college radio station WWSP-FM, I excavated a chart from this week in 1989 and plugged away, counting down from #40 in the customary manner. This list — this Top 15 in particular — is a fairly accurate representation of the sounds I associate with that summer. I didn’t do as much research as the previous iteration of the Retro Countdown, but I’m very pleased to note that I discovered members of the Pixies derisively referred to “Here Comes Your Man” as “the Tom Petty song” and used that factoid accordingly as I segued from #30 to #29 during the Countdown. I’m going to refrain from further commentary for now, but watch this space for more reminiscing later this week.

For my own-record-keeping as much as anything else, here’s what I played last night:

CMJ Top 40 Cuts for the issue dated June 16, 1989

40. The Sidewinders, “Witchdoctor”
39. Joe Jackson, “Nineteen Forever”
38. Simple Minds, “This Is Your Land”
37. Love and Rockets, “Motorcycle”
36. The Trilobites, “I Can’t Wait for Summer to End”
35. Todd Rundgren, “The Want of a Nail”
34. XTC, “King for a Day”
33. Drivin N Cryin, “Honeysuckle Blue”
32. Tom Tom Club, “Suboceana”
31. Front 242, “Never Stop”
30. Pixies, “Here Comes Your Man”
29. Tom Petty, “Runnin’ Down a Dream”
28. 24-7 Spyz, “Jungle Boogie”
27. The Cure, “Lullaby”
26. The B-52’s, “Cosmic Thing”
25. Stevie Nicks, “Rooms on Fire”
24. Caterwaul, “The Sheep’s a Wolf”
23. Bob Mould, “Wishing Well”
22. Stan Ridgway, “Goin’ Southbound”
21. Pixies, “Debaser”
20. Swans, “Saved”
19. Xymox, “Obsession”
18. Love and Rockets, “No Big Deal”
17. Naked Raygun, “Treason”
16. Pixies, “Monkey Gone to Heaven”
15. Tin Machine, “Under the God”
14. The The, “The Beat(en) Generation”
13. Concrete Blonde, “God Is a Bullet”
12. Wire, “Eardrum Buzz”
11. Pere Ubu, “Waiting for Mary”
10. The Cult, “Fire Woman”
9. Adrian Belew, “Oh Daddy”
8. Ramones, “Pet Sematary”
7. The Godfathers, “She Gives Me Love”
6. Dinosaur Jr, “Just Like Heaven”
5. The Cure, “Fascination Street”
4. Public Image Limited, “Disappointed”
3. Love and Rockets, “So Alive”
2. 10,000 Maniacs, “Trouble Me”
1. Bob Mould, “See a Little Light”

Previous entries in this series can be found by clicking on the “Radio Days” tag.

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