Sunday, January 05, 2014

Hersam Acorn Radio Under the Weather

That's my car straight ahead, past the streetlight. The snow is falling in Ridgefield at 4am.
Today has been a day to catch up with myself.

Thursday and Friday were, well, fun.

I was supposed to be at the desk of the Wilton Bulletin for one last day, but we decided on Wednesday that I would also be covering the impending snow storm on Thursday. So, for one more day, I expected to do the balancing act.

I got to the Ridgefield office and immediately began putting radio equipment together. My now former editor, Jeannette Ross, stopped into say hello, wondering where I was. We exchanged greetings, and I asked what she wanted me to do, but in reality, I no longer worked for her. She didn't need me at that point.

I was now, officially, the General Manager of Hersam Acorn Radio. Or Radio Rob. Or whatever.

To that end, while my radams@wiltonbulletin email address is still working, I can also be contacted at

So the day turned into planning. I used our conference room in Ridgefield as the "studio" for the storm coverage, and got to work on creating music for the broadcast, editing promos, lining up guests and so on. Josh Fisher, editor of the New Canaan Advertiser, soon joined me. Josh would play a big role in the coverage.

Knowing that this storm had the chance to be nasty, I packed two air mattresses and a sleeping bag. Something told me Josh might be sticking around that night also.

We got on the air at 4:00 on Thursday afternoon, with John Kovach playing a big role via Skype. Ken Borsuk would also Skype his way in as well. I can't name everyone (I'll forget a name), but Jeannette, Kim Donnelly, all of the great web/technical people, and many others, made the next 18 hours (give or take) a wild ride.

Each of these people made sure that we had guests to talk to, kept us on the "air," and helped me retain my sanity.

We cranked out three hours of "pre-storm" coverage, and headed out into the teeth of a cold, blowing snow to grab a quick dinner at Fifty Coins, a nearby Ridgefield restaurant (and pretty good, I might add).

Around 9:00, Josh and I walked back into the Bailey Ave. building, ready for the long winter's night.

Marty Hersam, Executive Producer (and my boss), said he would be back to us around 4:45, with Josh and I hitting the airwaves at Five.

In the morning.

I still had some work to do for WGCH/Business Talk Radio Network to finish out the night before I went to bed. Josh, in the meantime, decided to occupy a downstairs office, while I took over Publisher Tom Nash's corner space.

Josh found me upstairs to tell me he had spoken with Marty, who said that the alarm company could not turn off the system in the building.

I thought I heard Josh say that the system armed itself at 1:00, but would give us a warning alarm.

Either way, he said, unless we caught the warning, we'd be setting off the alarm.

I'm still not clear why an alarm company CAN'T turn off their system, but at least they made it so that the cops wouldn't visit us when the inevitable happened.

Radio work done, I tried to get some sleep.

Not. Happening.

I suppose I got a little - half-hour or so. At least it felt that way. At first, it was devices that were going off. Texts. Tweets. Retweets. People were raving about our coverage, and my buddy Fia in Seattle was texting me a greeting via iMessage.

No harm, so I tuned the volume off on the devices.

But one thing Josh mentioned stuck out: if we missed the alarm warning, the system would arm. So, say, if I needed the men's room, for instance, I would trip it. Or if I rolled over in bed, as I believed a sensor was right over my head, well, then, good times.

I was awake at 12:57 (remember, I thought the warning would go at 1). One o'clock came...nothing. I dozed. At 2:00, I heard a sound. Yup. The warning.

I shot downstairs to the control panel to discover a message that said, in essence, "Get out now." Thankfully, I remembered the code to first arm the system, and then disarm it.

I'm still stunned that the alarm company couldn't just shut it off, but whatever.

In the meantime, we were running a loop of the rebroadcast of the earlier three-hour show, but of course, that was just running off my computer in the conference room. So, yeah, that continued to run.

But sleeping was not happening. I tossed. I turned. I relaxed. But I didn't sleep. A little after 3:00, I gave up. I replied to some emails, and even responded to the late texts that I received. I even went on the air, at 3:37, to just say hello, give a quick update, and remind those listening (from what I could tell, there were a few) that this was a rebroadcast.

Eventually, I packed the air mattress and sleeping bag back up and walked out to my car.

It was basically zero outside. Or colder.

I stood at my car and loaded up the trunk, when I heard voices. Wanting to see who else was crazy enough to be outside, I turned to look, but could see no one. Then again, the wind was blowing snow into my face.

I wanted to take a walk up Bailey Ave. to Main St. (that's Connecticut Route 35 to me - which goes from US Route 7 in Ridgefield, into New York, ending in Peekskill...and there's more I could tell but I'll stop). However, it was so...freaking...cold that my face was hurting.

I was back inside within five minutes. It was a little after four in the morning.

A few brave souls were ready to go. John Kovach and I found each other on instant messenger. Josh and I microwaved some leftover coffee (yeah, we either need a Keurig brewer or, you know, a coffee maker in the office).

By 5:00, after I played both Simon and Garfunkel and The Bangles' version of "A Hazy Shade of Winter," we were off and running again.

Despite my occasional protests that we didn't sound as coherent as I wanted us to (largely because I was on about two hours sleep and delirious), we stayed on until 10. Again, reviews seem to be positive, and everyone did a phenomenal job of getting us guests, feeding us bits of information, and keeping us on point.

We mixed in news notes, kept it light at times (a little humor goes a long way where appropriate), and mixed things up.

I broke the equipment down, talked with my colleagues (including the few that were actually in), moved my stuff out of my Wilton Bulletin desk, and hit the road. They weren't great, but I was soon visiting Lisa (remember her? I do!) before picking Sean up and going home.

We took the weekend off (I almost ran and called a basketball game tonight, but decided it was best not to), and will hit the ground running on Monday.

But now, I'm going to sleep. I hear we could have another storm later in this week (that's courtesy of @SWCTtweather, whom you really should be following on Twitter. The guy is great, and totally accurate.).

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