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First Mention: Donald Trump Unveils Trump Tower In 1983


Let's take a look into NPR's audio archives. It is where we go for something we like to call...

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: First mention.


That's when we locate, to the best of our ability, the moment when a well-known thing or person first showed up on NPR. Lately, we've been discovering when the current presidential candidates appeared. Today, it's Donald Trump.



MCEVERS: On NPR's MORNING EDITION on April 25, 1983 - yes, that was the 1983 version of the theme song - reporter Todd Shapira was covering the opening of a skyscraper in New York City.

TODD SHAPIRA, BYLINE: When you enter Trump Tower under the bronze portal on 5th Avenue, you're greeted by a polished doorman.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: Good morning, dear lady.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: Very lovely lady there, isn't she?

SHAPIRA: The lavish shopping atrium inside will feature expensive boutiques from international designers.

MCEVERS: Our reporter got a tour. He did not get to speak to Donald Trump, but he did talk at length about him.


SHAPIRA: Also moving in is the building's namesake, 37-year-old whiz kid developer Donald Trump. Trump is on his way to building himself a real estate empire in New York, but not without controversy. In 1973, the developer was sued by the Justice Department for refusing to rent to blacks. Trump is also known for making lucrative deals with New York state and for making massive political contribution. Now, Trump is fighting the city for a $50 million tax abatement for his tower, saying this Kasbah for sheiks and movie stars will provide a public benefit because it's a mixed-use building with boutiques and office space. The city has twice ruled against tax abatements for Trump Tower. Trump responded by suing the housing commissioner for $138 million.

MCEVERS: By the way, Trump did settle that racial bias case brought by the Justice Department, but did not admit any wrongdoing.

CORNISH: NPR listeners would then have to wait two years before they got to hear directly from the future reality show star and presidential candidate. It came in a story about quarterback Doug Flutie joining the New Jersey Generals.

MCEVERS: The Generals were a short-lived team for a short-lived league called the United States Football League. It was like an alternative to the NFL. Trump used to own the Generals. And when he hired Flutie, MORNING EDITION aired this story by reporter Jon Kalish on February 6, 1985.


JON KALISH, BYLINE: It was Donald Trump, the wealthy New York builder and owner of the Generals, who first compared Flutie to Joe Namath. There are some who believe Trump has acquired players like Flutie and running back Hershel Walker to aid the USFL's anti-trust suit against the NFL. One sports columnist described Trump's motivation this way - Donald Trump knows the only way for the NFL to accept Donald Trump is for the Generals to have players the NFL needs. In any event, Trump says Flutie is good for his team and the league.

DONALD TRUMP: Doug gives tremendous credibility to the league. Ticket sales are going through the roof, and I'm not only talking about our team. I'm talking about many of the teams. Most of the teams were way up, and that's great. And that's largely attributable to Doug and to the league itself.

CORNISH: Donald Trump in 1985, being heard on NPR for the first time.

MCEVERS: Incidentally, the New Jersey Generals only played three seasons. And the whole United States Football League fell apart a year after that story. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.