August 1 in history:
A new London Bridge over the Thames opened on August 1st, 1831. The 900-foot bridge replaced another span that had been used for about 600 years. When this London Bridge was being replaced in the 1960’s, the city of London sold it to businessman Robert McCulloch, who partially rebuilt the bridge in Lake Havasu City, Arizona.
“The Bridges of Madison County” was a best-selling book by author Robert James Waller, set in his home state of Iowa. Waller was born on this day in 1939.
A big-city bridge disaster occurred on August 1st, 2007, when a bridge on Interstate 35-W in Minneapolis collapsed into the Mississippi River during evening rush hour. Thirteen people died, and more than 100 others were injured. The bridge had been used for 40 years. A design flaw and excess weight on the span were blamed for the collapse.
Major TV networks and cable channels sent their top anchors to Minneapolis to cover the I-35-W collapse, including Brian Williams of “NBC Nightly News.” “The Huntley-Brinkley Report” changed its name to “NBC Nightly News” on August 1st, 1970, a day after the retirement of co-anchor Chet Huntley.
A pioneering cable TV channel made its debut on August 1st, 1981, when MTV (Music Television) signed on in the U.S. At the start, MTV mostly played music videos. The very first video shown on MTV was “Video Killed the Radio Star,” and the first hour of programming also featured songs by Pat Benatar, the Who, and the Pretenders.
The Pretenders song “My City Was Gone” introduced America to a new radio star on August 1st, 1988, when “The Rush Limbaugh Show” debuted as a nationwide program. The success of Limbaugh’s program led to a resurgence in national talk shows on AM radio, especially politically-oriented shows with conservative hosts.
July 14th in history:
France had a new king on this date in 1223: Louis VIII. He was 35 years old, and became king upon the death of his father, Philip II, who had reigned for 42 years. Louis only held the throne for three years before he became ill and died.
A “King” who would rule the United States was born in Nebraska on this day in 1913. He was born Leslie King Jr., but when his parents divorced and his mother remarried, Leslie was renamed after his stepfather: Gerald Ford. Mr. Ford had the shortest term of any U.S. president who did not die in office (less than three years), but he lived longer than any other president (age 93) until being passed by George H.W. Bush in 2017.
July 14th is also the birthday of a Chancellor: long-time NBC News anchor John Chancellor, born in 1927. Chancellor began anchoring “NBC Nightly News” in 1970, when Chet Huntley retired from “The Huntley-Brinkley Report.” He’s credited with originating the idea of using color-coded maps on network news coverage of presidential elections, starting in 1976, when NBC used blue to mark states won by Gerald Ford, and red for states won by Jimmy Carter.