Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Vintage Publication Spotlight #9

The latest entry in an ongoing series devoted to magazines of the past.

These days, if you want to read about WXRT air personality Terri Hemmert being invited to the White House to see Paul McCartney receive a major honor, you can go to the station’s website and check out her blog entry. Chicago’s Finest Rock did things differently 22 years ago, when its DJ’s had their say in a printed publication called INSIDE WXRT.

Initially edited by veteran music critic Jack Hafferkamp, the first edition of this glossy four-page newsletter came out in January, 1988. I don’t have all the issues, but the name had changed to INSIDE XRT by September 1989, and to XPRESS by the Spring of 1991. The last copy of XPRESS I have is from Fall, 1995, when it was edited by Julie Boyle and Lyon H. Reedy, and printed on recycled, chlorine-free paper. There were never any ads; just a lot of information about WXRT sponsored concerts, as well as its air staff, programs, and promotions.

This particular issue came out in June, 1989 and features a front page article by current morning man Lin Brehmer, who served as Music Director back then. He gave a rundown on new releases, including one by Jon Anderson, Steve Howe, Rick Wakeman, and Bill Buford, who could not call themselves Yes because non-participant Chris Squire legally owned the name. Brehmer praised Tom Petty’s Full Moon Fever solo effort, and well as Elvis Costello’s Spike, and XTC’s Oranges and Lemons. He also liked The Replacements’ Don’t Tell A Soul and described the Minnesota band as having a reputation for “devastating live performances.” Two years later, WXRT would see just how devastating The Replacements could be when the band broke up in the middle of the station’s Fourth Of July Concert as it was being broadcast live.

The back page was devoted to photos from a Little Rockers contest, and one of the contestants looks like she could be a pint-sized Crystal Bowersox, who was born in 1985. A feature called Upcoming Programs listed The King Biscuit Flower Hour, which WXRT no longer airs, and Saturday Morning Flashback and Rampant Beatlemania, which, thankfully, are still carried by the station.

It’s a fun nostalgia trip glancing through issues of INSIDE WXRT, and I wonder if maybe we aren’t sacrificing some valuable memories in this digital age. Looking at all the Black Hawks souvenir inserts the Chicago Tribune and The Chicago Sun-Times have been stuffing into their newspapers these days, it’s hard to think of an online equivalent that would satisfy fans’ need to savor the Stanley Cup victory.

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