John Lennon's Death

Journal Entry. Edmonton.
Sunday, December 14th, 1980.

It's been almost a week since John Lennon was murdered on a New York street; shot in the back four times by a madman. Here's how we covered the story.

[EDITOR'S NOTE: I was always a Lennon guy. As working class Glaswegians we thought McCartney was "shite".]

10:00pm. Don and his room mate Spud are drinking beer while watching the Dolphins on Monday night football. Howard Cosell suddenly says: "I can't believe what I've just been handed..."

10:01. Don and Spud stare at each other in disbelief. Get into long discussion about how big a story this really is.

11:00. Don decides he'd better get into work. Drinks lots of coffee. No Drambuie.

00:30am. Don is the only person in the entire CBC plant.

00:45 Don rips through five-part canary wire copy looking for a name -- any name, he can call to book for an interview. No luck. Decides to sleep under his desk.

04:00. Calls New York Post editorial desk and speaks to reporter who's just returned from the Dakota where he watched fire department hose John's blood into the gutter. Book reporter for interview.

05:00. Call hosts at usual numbers. Find Gail. No Vicki. Tell Gail to get in ASAP.

05:15. Throw out entire show line-up. This is not a morning for federal-provincial politics. My plan to do a Beatles tribute show is thwarted by the fact that our record library is locked and I have no key. Drive home like a maniac and get personal Double White album.

06:07. Do live-to-air interview with New York Post reporter. A fantastic, sad, emotional, heart-breaking, eye witness account of the mood on the street outside Lennon's apartment.

Let interview run TWELVE minutes.

06:23. Do live-to-air with Professor of Music from University of Alberta. Interview stinks - too cerebral for this day.

06:30. Local newscast. Get into argument with Joe Greene who "writes" the early morning news as there is NO MENTION of the murder. Joe says it's not a local story.

06:37. Our show tech, Dean Hocheit has INSPIRED idea to re-run the New York Post phoner. It was just as powerful the second time.

06:51. Decide to open the phones after 07:00 news cast.

07:00. The World At Seven leads with Lennon's death.

For the rest of the show we took phoners; and - as they say, the switchboard was swamped. We aired memory after memory; anecdote after anecdote - which spoke to the fact that this was indeed a local story.

And every half hour or so .... we RE-RAN that original interview with the Post reporter.

When it was all over I thought we'd done a pretty good job. But truth be told it was Dean's idea to repeat that first interview; something which went against every instinct I had, that saved the day.

The lesson learned ? There's nothing wrong with a good repeat.

09:30. Tired and stressed I decided to go home and have a bath. As I was driving I flipped on the radio to check out Morningside.

They were playing "Yesterday" ... a Paul McCartney song.

1 comment:

adam said...

Great story - and of all the ironies, "Yesterday" playing on the radio. He was used to it, though, being serenaded in public and in media by the song of which he said: "I never wished I'd written it."