Laughter, it is said, is good medicine.
I am convinced being with people you enjoy, with whom you have a common bond, can lead to the best kind of laughter. Laughter that you don’t even know is coming, that brings smiles from all on hand. Laughter that leaves you feeling good when you part company.
I had that kind of experience last weekend.
It all started 25 years ago, the first week of May, 1994, in Crawfordsville.
I had just been named news director for WCVL-WIMC radio. I had worked for the station part time as a disc jockey for a few months before the news director left and I got the nod.
I soon became acquainted with a bunch of people who were the wackiest and at the same time some of the best people I would meet.
Dangerous Dan taught me to run the control board. When he realized our family was starting over, financially, with me in a new career and my wife working fast food, he went out of his way to befriend me.
One day, we showed up wearing identical sweaters.
Dan is a good 5 inches taller than me (but, then, who isn’t?)
He threw his arm around my shoulders and said, “Hey, look, twin brothers!” I have tried to pass that kind of friendship on to others but I always seem to receive more than I can give.
Dan was one of those radio personalities who was funnier off the air than on. I understand Will Rogers was that way, too.
Then there was Whitey. Whitey had long, blond hair. Whitey was an athlete. He played softball for the city league. They took the game seriously and you had to be good to play so he gained my respect quickly.
Whitey also had a wicked sense of humor.
I will never know if he did it because he liked me or because he couldn’t stand me but each day he recorded “Paul Harvey News and Comment.” Each day he looked for bits of sound he could cobble together. Each day, he listened for Paul Harvey to say “Frank” or “Phillips.”
Months later, to his dismay, Paul Harvey said my name on his network broadcast.
I had sent in a funny story and Paul Harvey gave me credit on the air!
Whitey just shook his head but he didn’t give up.
On my last day before going to work for the Journal Review in Crawfordsville, Whitey burst into the control room during the last commercial break in my last local newscast before our station aired “Paul Harvey News and Comment.”
“Here, you have to play this between news and Paul Harvey,” he told me, handing me a cartridge filled with recording tape.
That was not an unusual occurrence. Last-minute ads are just as common in radio as they are in newspapers.
So, I played the cartridge after my local newscast before starting the tape with Paul Harvey.
Out of the speakers overhead in the studio I heard Paul Harvey say, “Frank chokes chickens... Frank, I love you! Paul Harvey, good day!”
I was on the floor in laughter. Whitey and Dan were watching through the studio window, enjoying my reaction.
Greg (no nickname, just Greg) did play-by-play of high school football and basketball with Harvo the Marvo and Jeff (also no nickname.)
Harvo also did the morning show after Dan left for greener pastures. Harvo called me Frank the Knife because I wore a small leather holster and carried a Swiss Army Knife on my belt.
Our general manager encouraged creativity. I took sound clips from movies and made 20 second promos for our DJs.
Harvo was easy. Jimmy Stewart introduced his rabbit friend, Harvey.
One DJ hated it when he thought anyone touched items on his desk so a line from “Stripes” seemed appropriate, “Touch my stuff and I’ll kill ya!.” And so on.
We had some talented people.
Today, Dan works for a TV station in Indianapolis running master control.
Nelson works for Fox Sports, traveling all over the country, and his name is on an Emmy award. He sits just to the side of the person doing play-by-play, giving him notes of interest that makes the announcer sound like he is carrying an amazing amount of trivia in his head.
In spite of the fact we were all under paid, we had great fun.
So, when some of us got together for dinner recently, there was a lot of laughter and a lot of stories, most of which I could repeat and some shouldn’t. Dan and I do lunch about once a month.
I hope you have friends like that.
Laughter is good medicine, indeed.
• • •
Congratulations to Clay City High School.
Principal Jeff Bell writes, “We again earned and are being awarded the I.H.S.A.A. Sportsmanship Award! Only 17 schools in the State of Indiana (out of 410) received this – this is our 5th straight year – as the letter mentions, “This distinction is much more than just a school award. This honor extends to your entire community.”
Clay Community Schools has much to be proud of, as Superintendent Jeff Fritz told the Chamber of Commerce last week.