Daily Archives: July 16, 2009

My favorite newspaper headline ever

Because I am, first and foremost, a newspaper junkie, I’ve always had a thing for great headlines. I remember them, savor them, tell other people about them … you name it.

Although I completely despise what they stand for, I’ve joked to people that the best job in the world for me would be headline writer at the New York Post, because, basically, you get to say absolutely anything in the headline.

They did a book of Post headlines, which I refuse to buy because I don’t want to support Rupert Murdoch and his right-wing nutjob publication, but it’s a hoot to look at. My favorite one is still a headline they did when the U.S. started bombing Afghanistan, “Kabul-sye.”

Anyway, I love headlines. I love the famous N.Y. Daily News one “Ford to City, Drop Dead.” For its pure crassness and unbelievable insensitivity, I marvel at the Trentonian’s “Roasted Nuts” headline over a story about a fire at a psychiatric facility.

But my favorite headline is much simpler and pure, and with this being the big 40th anniversary of the Neil Armstrong spacewalk, I was thinking about it today.

Armstrong is from a small town in Ohio called Wapakoneta, and the daily paper there is the Wapakoneta Daily News.

This was their front-page headline on July 21, 1969:

neilarmstrongheadlineI just LOVE that. It’s like he’s just another kid from the neighborhood who did something great, like “Joey hits home run to win Little League title,” or “Steve wins national science fair.”

To the whole world, this was one of the most incredible moments in human history, a man stepping on the moon.

To the readers of the Wapakoneta Daily News, it was just, you know, Neil. Doing something nice.

It’s a great reminder of how small the world really is.

P.S. If you have any suggestions for your favorite headline ever, let me know, and if I get enough responses I’ll run a compilation or a collage or something.

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Casey Kasem and the end of an era

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You probably haven’t thought about Casey Kasem in a while, until last week.

I know I hadn’t. I believe the last time I thought of Casey was about a year ago, when on a road trip I stumbled across “American Top 10,” which is kind of a slimmed-down version of his old great “American Top 40” show.

Before that, I think I last stumbled across Casey on that classic “Saved by the Bell episode (then again, aren’t they all classic?) when he did a behind-the-scenes documentary on Zack Attack, the fake band on the show.

Thought about him again, though, when I heard that after 39 years, the 77-year-old Arab-American with the golden pipes was retiring from radio.

Don’t know about you, but for a long time through my childhood, and maybe yours, Casey was THE MAN on radio. Whenever my family would take  long car trips on the weekend, piling into my mom’s Toyota Camry or my dad’s Toyota Tercel, we’d find a station and there was Casey.

Of course, his requests and dedications were treacly, but every once in a while he had a great story and it got to me.

“For Sarah in Santa Fe, here’s Whitney Houston’s “Greatest Love of All,” Casey would intone. Maybe Sarah’s best friend was dying of cancer, or her mom and Dad got divorced and Sarah had nowhere else to turn.

I always loved how seriously Casey seemed to take every letter, even if there was some element of showbiz mock-seriousness to it.

Of course, there was always the greatest request and dedication ever, when Casey went on a profanity-laced rant about a letter (and God bless YouTube for preserving this).

His retirement news got me thinking about whether anyone on radio in the future will ever have the same impact as he did. Howard Stern is on satellite radio now, and I don’t think he ever got ratings that “American Top 40” did. Music listening is so fractured these days, with iPods, MP3 players, satellite radio, that I wonder if anyone could ever reach the heights, nationally, that he did.

Are families all listening to the same radio voice, year after year, for three hours on road trips? I doubt it.

So long Casey, and just so you know, my feet were always on the ground, and even at my short stature, I always reached for the stars.