Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Jacob's Ladder and The South

Somewhere along NC Route 210 this morning.
Greetings from lovely Stedman, NC.

Charming town, this is. The people are pleasant in this (as of this writing) small suburb of Fayetteville.

It's growing, of course, as so many areas do, and given the way North Carolina is increasing in population, it's no surprise.

According to the 2010 census, Stedman had a population of 1,028 and that has gone up quite a bit since then.

I'm here to take care of family for the week, including driving two great nieces to and from school every day. Exhausting, but fun also.

So this morning, we listened to some tunes (overall kids just aren't interested in the stuff I listen to) as we drove. They headed off to embrace learning, and I returned to the road. As always, morning radio leaned towards blabber, so I passed*.

*There's a classic rock station, and it's not bad, but they need to be convinced that it's OK to play something other than Aerosmith. No, really. It will be OK. I'll spare you the usual "Mellencamp rant."

So I motored along, making my way to Interstate 95**.

** If my niece Kristy reads this, I have yet to take the same route to drive your daughters to school. I know you don't take 95 but, well, you know me. Your girls think I'm nuts (and I am), but there's something really cool about jumping on 95 to take them to school.

I decided I was in the mood for...wait for it...Huey Lewis and the News. The greatest hits would do.

That's when it came on: Jacob's Ladder. The song, penned by Bruce and John Hornsby, speaks of the daily struggles of life and the rejection of a lot of the hard-charging organized religion.

I don't think the Hornsby's wrote it about me (not that I'm aware of), but my God (see what I did there?) did it strike me in 1986 as I played side one, track one of Fore.

I had reasons it did so then, and I still do.

Anyway, it probably isn't a surprise that there are plenty of God-fearing types around Fayetteville. We'll not pass judgement but I couldn't help to chuckle at the juxtaposition of yours truly -- heathen am I -- in the south, in a town with a "24-Hour Prayer Marathon" sign (scheduled for next week!), blasting Jacob's Ladder.

If I could have gotten the stereo on the nifty Nissan Altima I'm driving to go to the proverbial (again, see what I did?) eleven (This is Spinal Tap reference), I would have.

It's been a mantra for a long time:
"All I want from tomorrow is to get it better than today."
It still rings true.

Incidentally, if you're going to to go all-in on such, then give me a fiery Baptist preacher, like the one I was listening to the other morning on the radio. The brimstone and organ was a nice touch.
"Sing along, send some money. Join the chosen few."

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Ludlowe/Greenwich Baseball



So here's what we discovered yesterday at the GHS baseball field (aka, "Cardinal Yard"): the wifi and cell service are both unreliable.

As a result, we had a frustrating broadcast with a lot of drops, but fear not! The game has been uploaded to Archive.org (you can download it there) and will be played back in an edited form (think Cardinals in 60...well, more like 49:20) today at 3pm on WGCH (and wgch.com...anywhere).

My great friend Mick McGowan and I had the call yesterday, with the always-legendary Shawn Sailer nearby.

Oh, and here's the game in an embedded form.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Baseball Today: GHS/Ludlowe

Last Monday at GHS.
We're back at it today for baseball, as Greenwich High hosts Fairfield Ludlowe at 4pm.

Mick McGowan and I will have the call, with the broadcast starting in the 3:55 range (if all goes well).

The Cardinals won their first game last week, while the Falcons are coming off their first loss of 2017.

To listen to the game, visit wgch.com and select the sports button. If that doesn't work, visit this link: http://64.78.234.165:8000/index.html?sid=38 (or this one: http://64.78.234.165:8000/WGCH_SPORTS)

The game will air (in an edited form) tomorrow at 3pm on Greenwich Sentinel Doubleheader.

Friday, April 07, 2017

Roxy



It's been a few weeks, and it's still something that's hard to process.

"Dog" is gone. Roxy. Lady.

Dog.

I have to clear something up: Just like my beloved pal Scrappy, Roxy was never my dog. One difference with Roxy was that she did live with me for roughly a year. I walked her (though one didn't really "walk" her), fed her, and did lots of dog-related things with her.

From across the house, I could yell, "DOG!" and the doggy toenails could be heard on the hardwood floor.

But the truth was she wasn't my dog. She initially belonged to my niece Laura, and when Laura moved from Pennsylvania to live with me in New York, I got to hang with Roxy. Eventually, Laura would move, and soon Roxy stayed with Laura's sister Kristy in Fayetteville, NC.

To be fair, Sean and I were just as excited to see Roxy when we would visit as we were to see Kristy, husband Hector, and daughters Evelyn, Eleanor, and Izzy. Yes, even seeing cats Ghost and Crow were exciting.

Plus we'd get to see Laura, her boyfriend Kelly, and my goddaughter Emma, along with Kendall as well. Plus various other cats, dogs, and a bigass lizard.

But it was Dog who greeted us in Fayetteville.


We knew the drill. Sean and I would both talk about it in the car. It would play out like this:

Scene: House, Fayetteville, NC. A car pulls into the driveway and three people get out of it. Rob, the father, followed by Sean, devoted son, and Nancy, Rob's mother. Rob knocks on the door. It opens with Kristy (or Hector or a child) visible.

"How was the trip?"

A dog soon appears. Barking commences.

Dog: "BARK BARK BARK BARK BARK"

Rob: "Oh calm down!"

Dog: "Oh, it's you."

Every. Time. Without. Fail.


We lost Roxy in March, and we had a feeling it was coming. Kristy gave me the heads-up that the next appointment was March 17.

Yes. St. Patrick's Day. MothereffingSteffingPatricksday.

My first reaction, and I have witnesses to it, was utter dismay. Why the everloving bleep did it have to be St. Patrick's Day?

Then I thought about it a bit and realized that this is how it should be. It actually comforted me, but my initial reaction was visceral.

I wanted no part of St. Patrick's Day, 2017. While I used to do anything to celebrate it, recent years have had me wanting to find the nearest rock to hide under. I had no interest in being a part of anything that day (for those who are new here, my dad passed while watching The Quiet Man on St. Patrick's Day, 1989).

My efforts to take the day off fell apart, and so it was when my phone buzzed with the text that Roxy -- our Roxy -- the lady who I named "America's Dog," had gone to sleep.


My next move was to tell Sean, and I actually left the radio show to make sure that I told him personally. His sadness was profound.

Sean hasn't been back to North Carolina since she passed. I was there last weekend, to share in the joy of moving Kristy and Hector to a wonderful new house.

I found myself wanting to hug Kristy to thank her for taking care of our dog. I saw the kind trinkets that the vet provided, including a box that her ashes are in. I did hug Evelyn, the oldest of the children, who wrote a note, in Roxy's "voice," that was meant to provide comfort to her sisters.

Being out of the house was actually comforting in the end.


We're supposed to outlive our pets, but that doesn't make it any easier. Gone is that first reaction of the barking and the realization that it was just us, ready to pet her, hug her, run with her, and play ball with her. Gone are the moments of just looking at her. She truly was a beautiful dog. Gone is...everything.

Except for the memories, and the stories.

One to go out on: According to Laura, by definition, Roxy was a partial Red Heeler breed (to my knowledge, not a true breed). Sean and I -- ever the conspiring wise guys -- decided that a new breed be created. Thus Roxy became a "Red Heeler Hipadooda." It stuck and never left.

As Kristy would say, "Go be a dog."

As we would say, "Run free Dog."

This dog, this lady, was truly America's Dog. Tough, but tender. Sweet-natured but protective.

The sadness is strong but the memories will always bring a smile.



Thursday, April 06, 2017

Twenty Years at WGCH

Sean Kilkelly, me, and Bob Small. Cardinal Stadium, Greenwich, 2000.

Twenty years ago today, I woke up on the floor of the Liberty Science Center in New Jersey. I was there for a boy scout sleepover with my nephew, Michael, and I had to leave him there.

I had a new job. It was only a part-time job (basically a freelance gig), and I didn't want to be late.

Michael would be safe with friends from his scout troop, and another family would get him home.

I had to fly to Greenwich, and fly I did.

The radio gods smiled at me as I whizzed across the George Washington Bridge and the Cross Bronx Expressway (these are words that never get uttered). Radio station WGCH awaited, and I got there in time for my first shift.

It would not be a day of commentary, but of running the controls for church services and religious programming and so on. But it was a gig. A paycheck.

Most of all, I was right back in radio.

It was only a few months prior, in the fall of 1996, that I had come to work at WREF in Ridgefield, and despite having been laid off from Kraft Foods at the end of '96, I felt like things were looking up at REF.

Then they were sold, and I was (essentially) turning out the lights, as the last live on-air host at 850 am in Ridgefield.

Fortunately, I had made two friends there -- Steve Goodwin and Luke Michaels -- who both spoke highly of WGCH, and recommended me for some board work. I did my training on March 30 and my first shift a week later: April 6, 1997.

Steve would move on, and Luke? Well, rest his soul. He was a good man who I had many good times with on the air. I'm thinking of him a lot this week. I recall when he called me, still suffering from cancer, but hopeful to return to the airwaves, and with me as a side kick. That was our last conversation.

Cancer sucks.

*****
WGCH has been my main broadcasting home ever since that fateful day in '97. I would become a larger presence on the station (and our-then sister station, WVIP*) in 1998 as the board-op du jour for whatever they needed.

* WVIP-AM was the first station I ever heard my name said on. I won a trivia contest in 1984 because nobody (except me) knew who the first teams were to play on Monday Night Football. They asked the question while I was in the car with my mom, and the question went unanswered, for probably a good half-hour. That is...until I got home. (It was Jets/Browns, by the way).

The sports director at the time, John Connelly, liked me enough to create a model in which I was the studio host for sports, and not just a board-op. So I did all of the pregame and postgame segments, along with intermission/halftime reports and more. Plus I introduced them coming out of each commercial break.

By 2000, John had stepped away, and I became sports director. I still hold that title.

We've done it all since then. You know about the football games, plus baseball, basketball, hockey, softball, lacrosse, and so on. There have been the talk shows: The Press Box, Coach's Corner, Spotlight on Sports, Doubleheader, Tee Time, The Clubhouse, The Rob Adams Show, and more. There have been 2am wakeup calls for the morning shift, and 3am departures because I had finished up whatever I was doing.

There were nights -- lots of them -- when I simply didn't want to leave. Sure, they old Dayton Ave building could be creepy (believe me, I slept there one night) but I was still in heaven.

There were conversations. Lots of them. Simply talking about the joy of the business, or debating sports. They weren't, despite assumptions, gripe sessions. It was something I would do after a lot of games just because my adrenaline had run out and I didn't want to drive home.

Those chat sessions evolved from Sean Kilkelly and Mark Rosen to Dave Rothenberg to Chris Erway, Chris Kaelin, and Ryan DeMaria to Shawn Sailer and AJ Szymanowski, and a whole lot of others.

I carry 20 years of stories with me. Of election nights, early morning newscasts, technical issues, equipment failures, and laughter.

Oh my, the laughter.

I carry with me the memory of finishing a Bluefish game, driving back to GCH, and the crew spontaneously going on the air to do a sports talk show -- at midnight.

Would we have been in trouble? Perhaps, though I don't think many people missed whatever show we pre-empted.

But we had listeners!

And we still do.

I know. Two politicians both recently said they're "WGCH junkies" who know my voice and listen to Doubleheader.

Two of many.

I can't name everyone who has passed through the doors with me, but I'm so grateful for the efforts of every single one.

I'm so grateful for the athletes, coaches, newsmakers, celebrities, and everyday people who have joined me on the air.

I'm beyond grateful for the listeners. I'm pleased with the comments (even the negative ones). I still remember the email that bluntly told me to "STEP DOWN."

No dice. For even when I wasn't "Voice of the Cardinals," I was still around WGCH. I still did my Friday morning visit (6:50 am) with Tony Savino.

I'm thrilled that WGCH didn't send me packing. I've always felt a loyalty to the little radio station at the corner of Lewis and Mason Streets.

We'll keep laughing and doing it "my way." I'll keep driving management crazy with my ideas and passion for doing right for the listeners (and always wanting more games on the air).

I thank all of my colleagues, the ownership, and my Greenwich Sentinel family. I realize I'm just a small cog in this machine, but I'm proud to still be doing this.

I'm still around.

I owe you a very heartfelt "Goodnight from Greenwich."

And thank you.

Saturday, April 01, 2017

Babbling Part 2

Hopefully tomorrow?
As things will go bump in the night, so will I.

I don't really know what that means, but it seemed apropos. So. Yeah.

The other night, while struggling to sleep, I wrote a (typically) snarky piece about looking for quotes, playing for second place, etc.

And I'll leave it up. I've only deleted a few posts over time, and I really can't remember many at that.

But I guess I was wrong. That's what I'm trying to say.

Oh I should write -- always write, and write more. There's an inherent down side of writing (or talking or broadcasting or simply breathing) but so it goes.

You might not understand any of this, and that's good. On occasion, being vague is best and a worthwhile weapon in the arsenal of a writer. I mean, go figure out what "I Am The Walrus" is about.*

*Trick question. It's about nothing. That's the entire point.

So there you have it.

I have to help family move in North Carolina. It's really early.

I need Waffle House.

And coffee.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Babbling and Looking For Quotes

I Googled "babbling" and this came up. OK then.
It's early.

I'm awake. I don't want to be awake.

But I can't sleep either. Therefore we have an issue.

I'm looking for a quote about knowing you're always going to be playing for second place, and I can't find it.

Maybe that is my quote: "I'll always be playing for second place." -- Adams (hardly a philosopher or one worth quoting)

There are often times I'm looking for a quote for -- something...anything -- and I can't find it.

And thus here we are.

The vicious cycle goes on.

But let's spin it positive.

Always.

I'm babbling.

And wide awake.

I'm going to get coffee.