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Any Questions #508: "1981"

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WAMC's Ian Pickus and resident quizzer Mike Nothnagel look back 40 years.

Last week's challenge: Start with the phrase THE OLYMPICS. Change one letter to an S and you can rearrange the result to spell a five-letter word that names small things seen in Las Vegas and a six-letter word that names large things seen in Las Vegas. What are the words?

Answer: If you change the Y to an S, you can spell CHIPS and MOTELS.

On-air questions: You may have heard us celebrating an important milestone on the radio today. Saturday marks the 40th anniversary of the modern iteration of WAMC as an independent entity, and we got to hear some vintage clips from the archive this morning on the Roundtable. In honor of this milestone, today I’ll ask you about other things that happened in 1981.

1. The first few minutes of what new network featured “You Better Run” by Pat Benetar, “Brass in Pocket” by The Pretenders, “History Never Repeats” by Split Enz and “I Wanna Be A Lifeguard” by Albany’s own Blotto?
2. Speaking on January 20th, who said “the business of our nation goes forward, later adding, “In the days ahead I will propose removing the roadblocks that have slowed our economy and reduced productivity. Steps will be taken aimed at restoring the balance between the various levels of government.”
3. Although his total of 56 stolen bases was about half his total from the year before due to the strike-shortened season, what then-Oakland Athletics outfielder led the league in steals for the second of 12 times in a playing career that lasted until 2003?
4. Nominated for Best Picture at the 1981 Academy Awards, where it lost to “Ordinary People,” what black and white biopic marked the first of four films by Martin Scorsese teaming Robert de Niro and Joe Pesci?
5. Run for the first time in 1981, what road race route now passes The Shard, Tower Bridge, and Elizabeth Tower?

Extra credit
1. A woman who had formerly been an Arizona state senator and a Maricopa County Superior Court judge was named to what federal position in July 1981?
2. Whose July 1981 wedding at St. Paul’s Cathedral attracted 3,500 guests and more than half a million spectators?

This week's challenge
Start with the name of a car first introduced in 1981 and closely associated with the 1980s. Rearrange the letters and you can spell the name of an evergreen shrub. What are the words?

On-air questions

1. MTV signed on Aug. 1981 with “Video Killed the Radio Star” by The Buggles; about 800,000 had access to MTV at the outset
2. Those lines are from Ronald Reagan’s first inaugural address
3. Rickey Henderson (Henderson retired as the all-time leader in runs scored and stolen bases while playing for, in order, the A’s, Yankees, A’s, Blue Jays, A’s, Padres, Angels, A’s, Mets, Mariners, Padres, Red Sox and Dodgers)
4. “Raging Bull” (other films on the list: “Goodfellas,” “Casino” and “The Irishman” from 2019)
5. The London Marathon

Extra credit
1. Supreme Court justice (Sandra Day O’Connor, the first woman on the high court, served until 2005)
2. Prince Charles and Diana


A lifelong resident of the Capital Region, Ian joined WAMC in late 2008 and became news director in 2013. He began working on Morning Edition and has produced The Capitol Connection, Congressional Corner, and several other WAMC programs. Ian can also be heard as the host of the WAMC News Podcast and on The Roundtable and various newscasts. Ian holds a BA in English and journalism and an MA in English, both from the University at Albany, where he has taught journalism since 2013.
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