Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Me...on CKNW and Sandy

Greenwich, CT - October 30, 2012 (RA Photo)
The past 36 hours (and some more) have been pretty wild.  I guess I can say that I served as the anchor for WGCH's live Hurricane/Tropical Storm Sandy coverage, manning the controls for nearly eight hours until power wiped us out at 10:30 last night.

Just after I got to the station, our true News Anchor (and News Director) Tony Savino took a phone call from a Canadian-based radio station, looking for an interview regarding the storm.  Tony asked if I would like to do it and I was pleased.  I enjoy doing such things, and would step away from the WGCH microphone at 3:35 (our time) to take the call.

From what Tony heard on the phone, I would be appearing on CKLW, a legendary 50,000-watt station based in Windsor, Ontario, and booming into Detroit.  I thought of perhaps talking about the Tigers' loss in the World Series.  Excitedly I posted the information on Facebook.

Then I took the call and heard a traffic report discussing CKNW (980 AM), not CKLW (800 AM).  OK, so no Tigers talk!  Still, the thought of going on a highly-rated (and regarded) station in Vancouver sounded pretty cool to me.

I spoke with Simi Sara, who peppered me with questions in a professional, yet breezy way that allowed me to stay loose and still be a reporter. 

I must have done something right, because Simi suggested that they might call on me again.

After I tried to catch up on some sleep this morning, I checked my phone to discover that I missed three phone calls from a strange number.  Sure enough, Simi's producer, Claire Allen, had called to ask if I could appear on the show again.

You probably know I don't take these things lightly.  I truly consider them a privilege.  I made sure to charge my phone up enough so that I had power to do the interview when they called again.

If they ever need me again, I'm there.  Maybe next time we can really talk sports.  We could discuss the NHL and, as ace "Exit 55" reader Harold said, "tell them the Canucks are a bunch of divers!"

I found out that Simi does podcasts of her shows and, indeed, the past two days are online.  So if you want to hear how I sounded, you can check them out for yourself (look for the shows of 10/29/12 and 10/30/12).

Home Sweet Home.  I had no other choice!
As for our WGCH experience, well, it was, um, an experience.  The wind was incredible and the storm surge intense.  Despite our best-intentioned plans, it wound up being "The Rob and Jim Show", with Jim Fischer and I making it up as we went along, with an assist from Darby, hosting her one-hour show.  Otherwise, it was Jim and I.  We talked about the weather.  We talked about the news.  We interviewed a few guests.  We handled roughly two hours of phone calls from listeners about the power and the storm.  We even took a few sports phone calls.  The "Press Box Playmakers", Chris Kaelin and Chris Erway called in to give us the perspective from their towns and talked just a little sports.  Online, Kato, CJ, and Ryan DeMaria kept me laughing with our ongoing conversation.

Tony Savino and Bob Small also worked extraordinarily hard from multiple angles, with Tony stationed at Police Headquarters (before returning in the storm to the studio) and Bob trying to engineer and problem-solve.
The night reminded me of why I love radio so much.  People needed us.  People were listening.  People were responding.  It was awesome.

After the power went out, we were faced with the inevitable: sleeping at the station.  No problem, though, as I brought my trusty air mattress, "Brenda" (yes, it has a name - long story).  But...I didn't inflate it when we still had electricity and my battery-powered air pump didn't work.  So I jumped into my sleeping bag on the floor and made the best of it as the wind howled.

The corner of Lewis and Mason Streets in Greenwich - October 30, 2012 (RA Photo)

After a largely restless night, Jim, Tony and I (joined eventually by Bob, who had gone home) gathered in the studio and talked for a bit before I decided to try to venture home.  The drive, to be honest, was largely uneventful.  I returned home to a powerless house.  We had no flooding or down trees (a few limbs and branches).  Being without power was a small price to pay.

Power returned about 90 minutes ago.  I hope for everyone else to get theirs back soon, and feel for those who have suffered and lost so much.

It was a remarkable stretch.  Another story in my radio life that I won't soon forget.

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