I would be remiss if I didn’t include a posting on Road Shows. Of course, for decades radio stations did (and still do) remote broadcasts from different retail locations. Many stations including WOOD Radio did full length programs from places like downtown department stores. One of the more popular shows from the late 40’s and early 50’s was WOOD Radio’s Glenn and Lenore. Art Berry did a remote broadcast every day for years on WSPD at Tiedtke’s Department Store in downtown Toledo. So, while road shows were nothing really new, local radio stations originating broadcasts from places like Dublin, London, Australia, and even Disney World were quite novel.
I’m not exactly sure where we did our first long distance remote but Ireland was one of the first. In 1986 we originated a special Bruce Grant Broadcast on St. Patricks Day in Dublin. There was Bruce Grant, broadcasting live on the streets of Dublin during the annual Dublin St. Patrick’s Day parade. Of course I accompanied Bruce on this journey which essentially began my love affair with the Emerald Isle. Hey, it was a tough job but somebody had to do it. Over the years, including my time in Lousiville at WHAS, I originated St. Patrick’s Day shows in Dublin..and took close to 1000 listeners with us over a 10 year period. In fact in 1991 I was given an award by the city of Dublin for promoting tourism. They made me an official citizen!!! I still travel to Ireland and always make it a point of visiting my favorite place – Dublin.
WOOD Radio also originated broadcasts in London, Rome, and Australia. Plus a multitude of broadcasts at Walt Disney World. As I look back on all of that, it may have been a bit self serving. I love to travel which is why Wayne Perkey at WHAS called me “take a trip Skip”. But I didn’t go on all the roadshows. One year we sent Gary Allen to Munich for the big Oktoberfest Celebration. Gary was accompanied by staff engineer John Kaiser. I had arranged for Gary to be located in one of the more popular beer halls. But something got short circuited in the communication. Turns out Gary’s broadcast booth was set up smack dab in the middle of a gay convention venue.
The world is a small place. I recall walking with Bruce Grant through Heathrow Airport in London when someone shouted “Hey..there’s Bruce Grant”! Another time, while riding with WHAS Farm Director Fred Wiche on London’s Underground, the train came to a stop..the doors opened, and a lady stepped on saying in her charming Kentucky drawl “why Fred Wiche..what are you doing here”?
My favorite story. While doing prep work for a show from the Vatican, Cardinal John Foley, who was my host, was taking me on a tour of St. Peter’s Basilica. He asked me to wait in the sacristy while he met with some priests from America. I could hear him address the group of priests who were around the corner from the sacristy near the main alter. He said he was working with “an The American Journalist Skip Essick on a documentary” when all of the sudden I heard a man shout “Skip Essick?” Around the corner came the pastor of my home parish in Lima, Ohio..Father Lamantia. The world is, indeed, a very small place.
Coming up in my next blog, I’ll talk about WOOD FM and the demise of the beautiful music format. Many have asked for me to write about my time at WJR in Detroit. That’s coming up too. But for now, this is Skip Essick, signing off.