I am a Northeast Ohio native. I grew up here, and have spent most of my life here. I love the fact that I have been on WQMX 94.9 in Akron since 2001. I love co-hosting Wynn And Wilson In The Morning along with the terrific Sue Wilson every morning 530-10AM. Life is good.
But I did have a 18-year run in this business away from Ohio before returning 11 years ago this month to work for WQMX. For 10 of those 18 years I was the morning man at WPCV in Lakeland, Florida. A huge country station for many years, and it still is today. I will always remember the first day I hosted that show on WPCV, August 24, 1992, 20 years ago today.
Spending most of my life here, I never really gave hurricanes much thought. They're not really part of the landscape in Akron. But that morning, I learned a bunch in a hurry. I went on the air at 5AM that morning, and at 505 AM Hurricane Andrew hit Florida City/Homestead. It turned out of course, to be one of the worst hurricanes ever. Any time I see hurricanes bearing down on Florida it does take me back to that day. And now the huge focus for many reasons on what will soon be Hurricane Isaac, I am thinking about my many great friends still there.
When you live there, hurricanes are a way of life for a few months a year. Hurricane Erin rode over my house in Lakeland as a tropical storm in the mid-1990's and it rained incredibly hard for 2 straight days. Floyd, in 1999 I was convinced was going to be the one I couldn't dodge from a direct hit, but it veered off and went into the Atlantic and the Carolinas at the last minute. Still thankful to this day - for that, but sad for those people on the coast.
That morning I learned so much about hurricanes, the state of Florida and the people of Lakeland. And more importantly I learned about the new company I was going to work for. It was, and still is a family owned company (Hall Communications) , just like the company I work for today in Akron (Rubber City Radio). And that morning, we acted like one. Everyone showed up on time, and even the management team came in very early to make sure we were all ready to go, and were there to help. We band together the same way here when conditions are tough. Maybe they were there that day to make sure I was going to be OK, or didn't blow it, as we were getting to know each other. Lakeland had a bunch of rain and wind that day, but no direct hit, it all stayed south of us.
But what I took away from it was this. They were there to support the morning teams on all of our stations and that was a great gift to me as the newbie. I came to learn that hurricane coverage is a HUGE deal. And that I had chosen wisely in coming to Lakeland. We even had cake and ice cream that afternoon about 2pm after all had passed with the staff to welcome me to town.
It was the beginning of a great 10 year run I had there with my first on-air partner, the huge-voiced John Bond, and eventually with my talented co-host Tom O'Brien. Tom and I had an award winning stint there, and still have a great friendship today. Even though we don't talk near as much as we should.
Now every year when Sue and I hosting a blizzard show, or at least a huge snow storm show here, tons of my Lakeland friends Facebook me, e-mail me or call me asking how we are getting through it all as they are basking away in 80 degree winter temps. And I say, the same way we all pulled together back then on that day. I still work for a family company that cares, and that goes the miles we have to, to make sure all are safe and informed. I loved that job then, and I love this job now. I have learned that storms will follow you.
And that - no matter where you are. On the air, or in everyday life, you can't out run the storm. You just hunker down with family and ride it out.