Thursday, January 7, 2021

A Short Story Long


This all started just before Christmas 2019.  I received a message from Nikki Walton Stone at WILK.  She was filling in on the station's morning show, and she needed a guest co-host for the day.  I jumped at the opportunity, but there was a complication.  I needed permission from WNEP management and the people who could give the green light were on vacation.  I had to pass.

Nikki made another offer in the late winter, but the timing was bad.  WNEP was going through a fairly massive newsroom software and video system upgrade.  I was in training sessions on my usual days off.  I had to pass-- again.

The third time was the charm.  I had some free time in the days leading up to Christmas.  Nikki said I could have Tuesday or Thursday.  I selected Thursday, forgetting it was Christmas Eve.  As you know, I'm not a Christmas person and I feared I would be a wet blanket on the WILK Morning News.

The appointed day arrived, and I showed up at the WILK studio a half hour early to get a feel for the operation and talk with Nikki, who I had never met.  There was surprisingly little "show prep" as we say in the business.  Nikki and her producer, John, handed me a stack of potential topics.  As it turned out, we didn't use any of it.  Nikki had some things planned, and a few things that weren't on paper.  I just went with the flow.

The first half hour flew by, and I began to relax a little.  It was mostly easy conversation, sprinkled in between news, commercials, phone calls, and texts from listeners.  The rest of the broadcast also passed quickly.  The next thing I knew, it was 9 AM and time to leave.

I had several concerns going in.  One of the biggest was if there would be any chemistry with Nikki, a total stranger before 5:30 AM on Christmas Eve.  There is good news to report there.  Nikki was very easy to work with.  I was also worried about political and controversial topics coming up.  I'm still in the news business, not the opinion business.  Nikki wisely deflected any of that stuff, and I didn't even have to ask.  That's professionalism on her part, and I thank her for that.

Some might remember that I spent 12 years in radio.  I love what I'm doing now and radio will also have a special place in my heart.  In fact, I spend more time listening to radio than I do watching television.  It was nice to exercise that radio skill.

It was also a strange experience because, in my day, WILK was the despised enemy and my chief competition.  Even though those days are long gone, it was still a tad uncomfortable setting up in the opposing camp.

Feedback has been positive.  Thanks for listening.  Thanks to the people at WILK and WNEP who made it happen.