You live in L.A. and it’s January; the first month of a new year and a new decade. You have also left your twenties, and the only thing more precarious than Eight-oh is turning Three-oh. Hangovers suddenly last for days, your metabolism has slowed to a crawl – the size 32’s you used to wear have now ballooned to 38’s, and you have no idea how that happened. You notice your hair is thinning – you still have it, but you can see your scalp all the way to the back of your head when the light is right and you have counted exactly 237 grey hairs in the last month. People are telling you to quit smoking.
You aren’t crazy about New Wave, never really got Punk – Disco made you gag; music is kind of a big Question Mark with you. You know what you used to like, but you don’t hear it that much any more. Radio just isn’t the way it used to be – there’s still The Mighty Met and KLOS is your go-to station more lately, but you admit you really didn’t know what to do when The Beatles broke up, ten years earlier. And you’ve never quite gotten over KFWB becoming an all-news station in 1968.
You’re stuck in limbo – not really sure where to go or what it’s all about. But this is l.A., So you decide to go dial hopping, just like you did when you were fifteen, hit the buttons on the car radio until something turned up you liked.
It feels strange doing that now – you wonder if anyone notices. You don’t care.
Here is a two hour uninterrupted slice of Gary Owens exactly as he was heard on January 26, 1980, before it changed formats and became and all-talk station. This is what mainstream music sounded like, and what mainstream radio was playing in 1980.
Special thanks to John Brian King for letting me use his photo – it’s part of a book called LAX: Photographs of Los Angeles 1980-1984