I recently learned of the passing of a former colleague of mine, Tom Girocco. Tom had a distinguished broadcast career that included the General Manager position of WOOD-TV in Grand Rapids. Tom was sent by Time Life to run the newly created HBO in New York. What a gig! When WOOD Broadcasting purchased WSPD in Toledo, Tom was brought in as the company president. I got to know him fairly well while I was in both Toledo and Grand Rapids. He was a cool guy. I used to marvel at Tom’s gift of smart investing. In fact, some of the guys called him Tommy Timing because no matter what the situation, Girocco timed it well. I hadn’t seen him in years and just learned that he passed away of complications from a stroked at the age of 80. 80!!! I remember him when he was in his 40’s. I remember when Girocco first came to Toledo. He lived on his 40 foot yacht moored in North Toledo in the Maumee Bay of Lake Erie. Tom had piloted the craft from New York, through the St. Lawrence Seaway, into Lake Ontario, and then into Lake Erie and, finally, Toledo. Who does that? I miss people like that.
I miss my radio buddies in Grand Rapids. Oh, I have lots of radio friends in Lousiville, Detroit, Toledo, hometown Lima, Ohio, and Fresno. But Grand Rapids, Michigan is where I really cut my teeth in both on air, programming, and upper management. I miss Grand Rapids. I miss going over to the West Side and getting some polish kielbasa at Lewendowskis Market. I miss driving down Plymouth wishing I could afford one of those magnificent homes between Lake Drive and Argentina. I miss the fish ladder, the Cottage Bar, Reeds Lake. As it happened, I was in Grand Rapids last week visiting the family. I really miss them. The radio business is kind of unsettling for kids. My two, Cara and Eric, both handled moves to Toledo, Lousiville, and Detroit quite well. But in between those radio stops, there was always the inevitable return to Grand Rapids. Cara followed dad’s footsteps for awhile and got into the radio business at a competitor. And soon after that, without any interference from me, she got a job working at Clear Channel in GR. She and her husband Jose now run a very successful Civil Processing company called JACO. Eric, on the other hand, decided to become a college professor. Not sure where he got those smarts but after graduating from Aquinas in Grand Rapids, he went on to the University of Lousiville and post doc work at Boston U. Dr. Eric now is a tenured prof at the University of St. Francis in Joliet, Illinois. I’m very proud of them. Who wouldn’t be? And I believe I owe Grand Rapids big time because the city afforded both of my children enormous opportunities. Just like it did for me. I miss Grand Rapids. I don’t miss the winters.
I’m writing this at Los Angeles International Airport and I have to sign off for now..before I miss my plane.