What was it like to set sail on The 80s Cruise? I virtually “sat down” with Stuck in the ’80s podcast co-host Steve Spears to find out. He and Brad Williams have a podcast devoted to our favorite decade’s movies, music and pop culture. Read on to hear how they celebrated their 500th episode on The 80s Cruise!
Erin: Your podcast just celebrated 15 years! What do you hope it’s accomplishing?
Steve: It's really amazing that we've made it to 15 years. I honestly never expected this show to last more than a year. Once we started hearing from people who were listening from so many places - Russia, the South Pole, Korea, New Zealand, you name it - we wouldn't dare stop. I hope the show reconnects Gen X people with the pop culture of our youth. Some people say it's dangerous to look back, but I think appreciating the music, movies and culture of the years that formed us is a good thing. We get emails all the time from people who have used the podcast to help get them through tough times. It's satisfying being able to help.
Erin: In 2019, you celebrated your 500th episode with a special podcast on board The 80s Cruise. Can you share a few highlights of that experience?
Steve: Oh, that 500th episode was a real trip! We had asked The 80s Cruise if we could possibly interview the original MTV veejays in front of a live audience on the ship, and they made it happen. I remember being backstage when Mark Goodman, Nina Blackwood and Alan Hunter each walked in, and it was one of the most surreal moments of my life. Here were three of my biggest heroes - there to talk to us! I was struck by the relationship between them - it was like a family. Two mischievous brothers and their sister. Our chat was the first time any of them had seen each other since the last cruise, so it felt like a mini family reunion. Their role in the '80s can't be overstated.
Erin: You’ve also co-hosted Big 80s Trivia events on the cruise. Can you give us a question as a test?
Steve: Try naming all the ghosts in Pac-Man for starters. If you get that right, then name all the members of New Kids on the Block!
Erin: I can’t do either.
Erin: What’s a tidbit Gen X Girls would be surprised to learn?
Steve: Sadly, we learned the hard way that our trivia questions were way too tough for the first year of the cruise. We figured all the passengers would be experts - nope. And that's okay. We've adjusted the questions to singalongs to TV theme songs, funny music challenges. We also realized that not enough of our questions appealed to the female passengers, so for the last few cruises, we reached out to our female listeners for question suggestions.
Erin: What is the big attraction of the 80s? Steve: There was still a feeling of hopefulness then. Sure, there was a Cold War, but I don't think anyone really thought a nuclear war would happen. Go back and watch the TV shows and movies that we remember so well - they all had messages of love, hope and triumph. "X" really does define us - in the sense that nobody gets us but ourselves. I'm proud of our generation. I like that we have a healthy sense of curiosity but also a strong work ethic and a sense of romanticism.
Erin: What do you wish Gen Z kids could experience the way we did?
I wish younger generations would get a taste of the '80s. In many ways, they do thanks to all the movie reboots and the enduring nostalgia for '80s music. But they'll never understand the joys - and pains - of doing a book report by combing through an Encyclopedia Britannica. They'll never be able to experience what MTV did to pop culture. They don't race home after school to watch reruns of "The Monkees" and "Gilligan's Island." It's sad. But that's the way the world works. Things evolve - for better or for worse. That's why I like to say that I'll remain hopelessly stuck in the '80s.
Erin: Are you stuck in the 80s? In what ways? (And isn’t it a great place to be?)
Steve: I'm probably not as stuck in the '80s as people imagine - except when it comes to music. I seriously do not listen to anything beyond the late '80s - unless it's new music by a band I loved in the '80s. I couldn't name a single song by Kanye or Beyonce! But aside from about 100 T-shirts that have '80s designs sitting in my closet, I don't particularly dress or look like I did in the '80s! I don't sport a mustache anymore or feather my hair! Thankfully, modern TV and movies are obsessed with the '80s too.
Photo Credit: The 80s Cruise