Rocking Through The ’80s in Athens

The ‘80s was more than big hair. Coke and Pepsi held a challenge before it was cool, and Madonna stirred controversy when she performed “Like a Virgin” at the 1984  MTV Video Music Awards. On the more serious front, the government launched  a “War on Drugs”,  and the AIDS crisis loomed.   

Southeast Ohio magazine remained politically active, but instead of Vietnam, students protested U.S. involvement in Iran. Activist groups percolated, such as the Athens Food Co-Op, the Birth Center, the Coalition Against World Hunger, and the Gay People’s Alliance.   

The role of women evolved as they continued to enter male-dominated job markets––government, journalism, law, business and ministry. An article in the Spring 1984 edition reported that one woman served on the Athens police force. The gender wage gap and “pink-collar” jobs, referring to office and clerical jobs for women, were of concern.   

Madonna preforms at the 1984 MTV Video Music Awards. Photo by Frank Micelotta/Getty Images.

No one can talk about the ’80s without mentioning legwarmers and Richard Simmons. SEO reported on fitness and aerobic workout videos—leotards, tights, and legwarmers for all. One story highlighted the increase in gym memberships and personal fitness.   

The Athens farmers market, local produce and beekeeping remained in high rotation coverage. Although there was a national wave in commercialism with the credit card, the trend in our area was shopping local, ahead of the trend.   

Favorite Stories   

Dungeons and Dragons (Winter 1982)  

Reflects the increasing popularity of the fantasy tabletop role-playing game.  

Halloween Beat (Fall 1984)   

In which we learn arrests made during the Athens Halloween Block Party are nothing new.    

Overcoming the Nightmare (Winter 1985)   

SEO talks to local Vietnam veterans about post-war trauma.   

The Writing’s on the Wall (Winter 1986)   

Students begin painting the now iconic graffiti wall on Mulberry Street at Ohio University (Athens).   

Court Street (Spring 1987)   

Breaks down the culture of Court Street in Uptown Athens.   

In Defense of Brick Streets (Fall 1988)   

Protests a movement to pave the historic brick streets of Athens.  

Important Dates 

  • 1984: OHIO celebrates 180 years  
  • 1985: Cooperatively-owned Mexican Restaurant Casa Nueva opens in Athens  
  • 1987:  Athens magazine becomes Southeast Ohio, and begins to cover the 21 counties of the region