Tuesday, December 8, 2020


It's been 40 years,  and it still seems like yesterday.

Like most of America, I was watching Monday Night Football, on this day, when Howard Cosell announced John Lennon was shot to death in front of his New York apartment building.  Dead on arrival.

And the world changed, at least a little.  I grew up with the Beatles.  I loved most of Lennon's solo material.  And now, it was over.

I vividly remember the next day.  I only had a couple of morning classes at Marywood, so I picked up my friend Markie, on a brief break from the Army, and we went on a long drive through the Poconos in the afternoon.  We caught up, talking about college, the military, and what happened the night before.

One of our stops was the Stroud Mall.  Hess's was one of the anchor stores back then,  and it had a decent record department.  It was mobbed by people buying Lennon and Beatles music.  You really didn't need the cassettes and lp's.  The music was all over the radio.

Speaking of radio, I was on the college station later that week.  I adopted the philosophy I still have today:  If someone else can do it better, be my guest.  Have at it.  I knew a fair amount about Lennon the Beatles.  Some of my classmates and fellow dj's knew much more.  They could do the tributes and handle them with skill.  I played some Lennon and Beatles music during my shift, as I always did.  I didn't go wall to wall.  I also felt that, perhaps, listeners needed a little break.

There really is no major moral to the story today.  It was one of the first times in my life when the "adult" feeling set in.  My wiffle ball buddy Markie wasn't a kid.  He was defending our freedom.  Someone I spent hours listening to, John Lennon, was gone.  That Beatles reunion we all hoped for was never happening.  Never ever.  I guess it was similar to the feeling the slightly older crowd experienced when Elvis Presley died in '77.

In an odd way, I'm glad I had the opportunity to experience some things that week.  Fame is not a lifetime pass.  People experiencing loss really fought to cling to something-- even if it was a big disc of vinyl.  Being a broadcaster is a privilege, and people look us to make sense of things, even if we can't.

Above is the relatively new John Lennon mural on the side of a building along Lackawanna Avenue in downtown Scranton.