Mirth on Memory Lane
by Kerry Peace (PD, DJ 1979-1981)
Friends, I had some memorable experiences in my WIDB days, triumphs and tragedies alike. The day Slaga handed over the keys to the Program Directorship embodies the former, while the night John Lennon was killed is over-qualified for the latter.
But it’s the silly things I remember best. They just seemed to be in the air at WIDB, ready to ignite at a moment’s notice. Some return in a flash as indelible images (“JOEY RAMONE ATE THIS BREAD!!!”) and some inspire a more substantial reminiscence. Below is one of a handful of my favorite silly WIDB episodes. Fair warning: I don’t swear to recalling events exactly as they happened, etc, disclaimer, fog of war, blah-blah, woof-woof…
SILLY THING #3: TRAPPED LIKE CARELESS RATS
Springtime, 1981. Its Easter break, but we’ve got a staff, so we’re on the air. Wright One is deserted and locked up tight except for the WIDB studios.
Driving to the station one day, I notice dark sky approaching. Heading east on Grand Avenue, I catch something moving out of the corner of my right eye. I turn to look, and the wind is blowing a 55-gallon steel barrel sideways across the field north of Schneider Tower almost as fast as my car is moving. Once at the station, I regale Randy Lynch, John Grayson and Cyril Radwin with my sighting and we all agree that some serious weather is on the way. Then a decision is made to go up the inside stairway of Wright One to the building foyer so we can, you know, “Get a good look.”
So let’s review quickly, shall we? We have the Program Director (Mr. Peace), Music Director (Mr. Lynch), the Chief Engineer (Mr. Grayson) and the News Director (Mr. Radwin), all veteran department heads, all seniors about 60 days from entering the real world, marching up the stairs to a 6’ x 8’ glass enclosure to watch a violent storm blow through. In Tornado Alley. During tornado season. Genius convention.
Chief Genius Grayson Genius Director Lynch
We get up to the foyer and there’s a great view of the gloomy greenish-grey scene, trees waving and bending, cats and dogs lining up to fall from the sky. We point out this particularly volatile gust of wind and that ominous streak of lightning. Chances are good I let fly with a few cries of “Auntie Em! Auntie Em!” All great fun. When various bits of plant life begin blowing into the windows with no small amount of force, reason arrives and we figure it’s time to head back down to the relative safety of the basement. Someone turns to open the door leading downstairs and…it’s locked. It had locked behind us when we entered the foyer.
Just a smidge of panic sets in as all three doors (the one downstairs, the one into the dorm and the one leading outside) are tried over and over to no effect. We were quite trapped. I don’t think anyone seriously feared for their lives, but the desire to leave the glass box did take on a more desperate tone. Vandalism began to look like our only savior and in short time we discovered that the big picture window in the foyer was not glass, but plexi-glass. Some pushing and banging ensued and before long it was dislodged from its frame. We squeezed out of the foyer, scurried around to the station entrance and ran inside, laughing at our adventure and no doubt feeling relieved that no one would ever find out how stupidly careless we had been.