I guess this is as good a time as any to wrap up this initiative, which began nearly 3 years ago. Rush Limbaugh signed off for good yesterday, passing away at the age of 70 following a diagnosis of lung cancer. A lot has been said about Limbaugh in the last 24 hours and I guess I’ll add my thoughts.

In an earlier blog, I wrote about Limbaugh. I always considered him a brilliant entertainer. Rush understood the radio business – get ratings. When Rush’s show started catching fire nationwide, program directors across the country – including me – tripped over our tongues dashing to the phone to try and secure the show. I was willing to sell my soul to put the Limbaugh show on WHAS in Louisville. And I damn near did. I gave el Rushbo 3 hours a day on the biggest signal (50 thousand watts) in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. I also threw in a lucrative $100K a year rights fee deal. I remember the sage of WHAS, Milton Metz, coming into my office protesting the addition of Limbaugh. “..but he’s a demeagogue, booby”. Demagogue Shmemagogue! I didn’t care about any of that. I only cared about RATINGS. And, the Limbaugh show turned out to be a ratings success. That was nearly 25 years ago.

In his early days on radio, Rush was always getting in trouble with management for doing things on the air that pissed them off. Mostly, breaking format rules that program directors foolishly tried to impose on very talented people. But when Limbaugh was given carte blanche to do a talk show in Sacramento, it took off. Rush used good old Americana ideals he grew up with in Huck Finn’s Missouri. He would remind listeners of the good old days, before blacks, latinos, Muslims, and gays started becoming a bigger part of the American landscape. He did it by using skits, humor, song parodies and insults. His listeners were mostly paranoid people, scared to death that their way of life was fading away. They would gather daily, sometimes over lunch in “Rush Rooms” provided by some restaurants, to listen for 3 full hours. And that is how you build ratings. I used to tell my staff that their job was just get the listener to stick around an extra 15 minutes each day. “Do that..and we win”.

I never thought of Limbaugh as a political force much less a demagogue until recent years. Enter stage right – Trump. When Trump began his bid for the White House in 2015, I don’t think Limbaugh took it seriously. But as Trumpism came over the GOP like a tidal wave, Limbaugh jumped on board bigly, offering his imprimatur to Trump. Rush always had a keen sense of what his listeners wanted. And he gave it to them.

I think Rush could have been president, but he was smart enough to know what he didn’t know. And I think I’m smart enough to shut up. And so, this is Skip Essick signing off.

#49 All Covid, All the Time

I’m an old newsman by profession.  It began early in my career at WCIT Radio when I was asked to cover a press conference in Lima, Ohio’s south end.  It was in Victory Village, so named as a World War II housing area.  Victory Village had seen better days in the 40’s, but in 1970 this would be the one place in Lima that a white guy really didn’t belong.  The very thought of stepping one foot south of 4th Street was terrifying.

Like many cities, Lima too had it’s share of civil unrest but none as bad as that early August evening in 1970  It all stemmed following an officer involved shooting which resulted in the loss of life of an African American woman.  Things were tense in Lima.  Mayor Christian Morris signed an executive order calling for assistance from the National Guard.  I was one of the witnesses to the signing of that order in the city’s Hall of Justice Building.  Police Chief Bill Davenport was also on hand.  Mayor Morris also had ordered a city wide curfew.  A very eerie pall was cast over downtown Lima as the haze of tear gas blanketed Main Street in an effort to parry a group of black panthers and their followers.   As they retreated to the South End, a press conference was called for later in the evening at the Mizpah Community Center.  WCIT Radio’s news and operations director, Don Sherwood asked if I would cover the story.  I would be accompanied by another reporter from WIMA TV.  As I left the station, Sherwood jokingly said “nice knowing you pal” and away I went.

The TV reporter (whose name I can’t remember) and I showed up at the King Kennedy Center.  The place was packed.  We were the only two white guys there.  A black nationalist from Detroit, festooned with a beret and bullet belt angled across his chest, stood up before the crowd and proclaimed “I have something to say but I’m not going to say it as long as the press is here”. GULP.  Wait wait wait..that’s us!!!  The next thing I knew, I felt a large hand clutching the back of my shirt, yanking me up saying “we gotta get you outta here now”.  Turns out he was a body guard assigned to protect us.  We got outside the building but as I turned around to see how many people were spilling out into the parking lot to do who knows what, I got a pair of brass knuckles in the jaw.  I woke up in St. Rita’s Hospital.  Fractured jaw.  Funny thing is, with the exception of the lady who lost her life, the only person injured during this three day melee was me.  There was a side benefit though.  Dick Riggs, who owned the radio station, also owned the Baskin Robbins Ice Cream Shop at the American Mall.  I had unlimited milk shakes..which was all I could eat.

So what does this have to do with Covid 19?  Nothing.  Absolutely nothing.  I’m looking forward to the day when we can get back to reporting about other stuff.  Aren’t you?

#48 – The Pandemic

This past week a former associate of mine posted a thought provoking article about the Pandemic.  It included some interesting comments about gas lighting and how certain political persuasions, in and out of media, use the tactic to discredit what is in fact the truth.  This should worry all of us.  In recent years we’ve been witness to an ongoing assault on the nation’s news media.  It’s no wonder the number of print and broadcast journalists on the nations unemployment rolls has soared in recent months.  And who cares anyhow?  After all,  they, and their work have been denounced as fake.  The gas lighting tactic has been around for a long long time.  The big lie…just keep repeating it and people will start believing it.   It was very effective in 1930’s Europe.

I’m paying very close attention to what’s going on out there.  For me, mass gatherings are a no no.  Hanging out with a bunch of friends isn’t in the cards right now.  But a trip to the grocery store,  a walk into town, picking up some take out at a favorite restaurant, all while maintaining a safe distance and wearing face masks, is actually enjoyable (well, except for the face masks).  I never thought I’d go to the bank wearing a face mask to withdraw money.  We’ve been given an opportunity of a lifetime to see the world as if God hit the pause button.  Everything has come to a stop.  Interestingly, smog choked cities are seeing blue sky again.  With people-less national parks, the wildlife is having a holiday.  Black bears now spotted frolicking all over Yosemite.    People are doing things again that they haven’t done in decades.  Playing board games, working on jigsaw puzzles, cooking at home.  Families eating together at the dinner table.  And listening to the sounds of silence (sorry Simon and Garfunkel).

For most of us, this will be the biggest story of our lives.  As a broadcaster, and as a news person, the thirst for information is almost unquenchable.  Kudos to the broadcast executives who have made the tough decision to not layoff on air staff.  Now, more than ever, local news, local information, a local “friend” coming out of the radio or on TV is essential.  In our lifetimes, it’s never been more important.  Everybody is impacted.  Nobody is left behind on this story, which by the way will be continued long after the pandemic.

It’s amazing what we take for granted.  This episode in our lives will end one of these days in the not too distant future and our lives will begin to return to a new normal.  I wonder if we’re smart enough to have learned anything from all of this or, as the philosopher George Santayana put it, are we condemned to repeat it? I sure as hell hope not.


Hello! Long time no write. I hit a dry patch recently and couldn’t get my brain in action to put something out there that you might find readable. And then came the bombshell last week that Rush Limbaugh was battling advanced lung cancer. This is a shocker to his fans, and a serious problem for the radio stations that broadcast his show. The reality is there is only one Rush Limbaugh. There’s never been anyone that could knock him off his golden throne although there have been a lot of wannabes. Nobody can bring in the ratings like Rush. He was/is a game changer.

I lobbied hard to put The Rush Limbaugh show on WHAS in Louisville, where I was program director. Convincing management wasn’t nearly as hard as convincing the Limbaugh syndicator that the move from 5000 Watt WWKY (where the Limbaugh show aired) to the 50000 Watt blowtorch signal of WHAS was a no brainer. Rush’s affiliate guy in New York was Lee Vandenhandle. Lee already was familiar with me from my Grand Rapids days at WOOD Radio. Lee was a West Michigander, where they say “if you ain’t dutch, you ain’t much. Vandenhandle played me like a Stratavarius. He knew that Rush was gaining on WHAS in the ratings. He also knew that eventually he would have to give me the show. Oh, wait. Did I say give? There would be no giving. The show would come with a hefty rights fee price tag. It took months of negotiations and two trips to Lee’s office in Manhattan before I got the deal done. And that was the easy part.

Putting the show on the air was gut wrenching. It meant the beginning of transitioning WHAS from a full service Adult Contemporary station to a News/Talk franchise. When we announced that the Rush Limbaugh show was coming to WHAS, the staff reaction was a big fat thud. Milton Metz, who hosted the long running “Metz Here” evening talk show came into my office and, in his inimitable way of talking said “ are you fucking nuts! Listen booby, Limbaugh is a demagogue “. Nobody could say fuck like Metz. He gave the word real class. Wayne Perkey was much more animated. He just yelled at me. Tom Dorsey, entertainment writer for the Louisville Courier Journal gave me some great publicity: WHAS Making Big Mistake with Limbaugh? In the process, one of the nicest people I’ve ever met in the business, Jack Fox, lost his midday program when I brought in talk show host Jane Norris to follow Rush. The rest is pretty much history. Nasty calls to the switchboard and some of the most vile letters landed on my desk. The ratings took off.

So let’s wrap this up. I don’t particularly care for Rush Limbaugh’s shtick. It’s not where I am politically these days. But let’s face it, his contribution to AM radio was immense. I’ll give him that and, of course, wish him well.

#46 MOL

A little over a year ago I posted a blog about Mike Lareau. I thought I would repost it today as a tribute to Mike who passed away on Friday, April 26th.

When Gary Allen called me Saturday morning and said “I don’t know if you’ve heard but….” He didn’t have to say anymore. I knew what was coming. It hit me with a jolt. I can’t articulate well enough what this man meant to me. I’ve thought about the many memories of Mike that are permanently etched in my brain.

Mike was the only person that ever called me Edward. I’ll miss his phone calls and hearing his voice call out my name “Edward!” The Mike-isms… Nothings Easy…I’ve seen million dollar mistakes made from supposedly good research...Mike was a common sense guy. Damn!! I am going to miss him.

From 2017 here is part of that post:

Yesterday, as I was having lunch with a bunch of old guys, I got a phone call from Michael O Lareau.  Mike is my mentor.  He, along with Jim White, hired me to program WSPD in Toledo.  Speedy – as it was called, was Toledo’s big news and information station and it was owned by WOOD Broadcasting out of Grand Rapids.  I’ll get into the Toledo years a little later down the road. Mike and I had a nice 30 minute chat on the phone.  He still sounds the same and he’s still very much interested in what I’m up to.  After the call, I decided I would take a little blog detour and write about the man most of us refer to as MOL.

One day, as I was sitting at my desk overlooking South Superior Street in Toledo, Mike called me and asked me if I would move up to Grand Rapids to take over programming of WOOD AM/FM.  Eureka!!!!  I love Grand Rapids to this day.  I had spent nearly 10 years in GR at WGRD Radio (and, I’ve got a lot of great stuff coming about the 70’s in Grand Rapids in later blogs).  So going back “home” was a dream come true.  And, wow, WOOD Radio – the crown jewel of Grand Rapids Radio would be the canvas for my so called radio artistry.  There was one problem.  Mortgage rates in the early 1980’s were hovering around 18%.  I had no idea how I would afford a home.  The home in Toledo was at an 8% VA assumable mortgage.  Mike solved the problem by adjusting my salary to cover the difference between what the house payment in Toledo was to what it would be in Grand Rapids.

Working with Mike day by day was quite a bit different than working for him from 150 miles away.  Lareau was Mr. WOOD Radio – period.  He had made the station what it was with great on air talent like Bruce Grant, Tom Quain, Bill Struyk, Gary Allen, and Mark Roberts.  Plus a news team second to none.  Make no mistake, Mike had his critics.  A lot of people thought he was ruthless.  He was stern to be sure.  But you always knew where you stood with Mike.  No bullshit.

I’m not sure why Mike took a liking to me but he took me under his wing and showed me the ropes.  He had some sayings that have now become a part of my lexicon..like “there isn’t one problem this station has that can’t be solved by increased revenue” or “nothing is easy”.

I always knew I had Mike’s back.  I never worried that he would throw me under the bus.  For instance,  I got into a little riff with one of the owners about programming.  I was “encouraged” to develop a Broadway Musical Feature .  I told Mike I wouldn’t do it and they’d have to fire me first.  Mike defended me and backed me up..and I stayed on at WOOD..but the powers that be wouldn’t let Mike give me a Christmas Bonus.  It would have come in handy because the transmission went out on my car.   Mike suggested I use his mechanic..and, when I went to pick the car up, the bill had been paid.  By the way, Mike never told me he paid the bill.  But that’s the kind of guy he is.

Many years later, when I returned for a 3rd stint in Grand Rapids as the Regional Market Manager for Clear Channel,  one of the stations in the cluster was WOOD.  And it was Mike who helped me navigate through all of the intricacies of being a General Manager.  I’m in his debt.

When Mike is laid to rest on Monday, Paul Boscarino, Greg Moceri, and Jim White will no doubt make the most eloquent of eulogies. Oh, how I wish I could be there for this final sign off. Broadcasting is better because of “the boss”. I know I am. Rest In Peace my friend. Say hi to Bruce for me.

#45 Mind your p’s and q’s..or else.

Most people that make a living speaking on the radio understand that fine line you dare not cross. It’s the line between opening your big mouth, pissing off a client, and costing the radio station an account. It’s that very delicate, fine line between freedom of speech, and being stupid.

I’ve been witness to countless episodes of the radio personality upsetting a client, putting advertising revenue in peril.  Happens all the time.  Client hears something they don’t like on the radio, (it could even be a song) they call the station manager and threaten to pull their advertising money.  The ploy generally works.  I’ve sat on both sides of the desk..as a program director and as a general manager.  I always considered myself a product guy..I’m certainly not a sales guy.  But when you’re getting pressure from corporate suits to drive top line revenue…well, you know where this is going.

Anyhow, I have always had a huge distaste for advertiser threats.  “You get that off the air or I’ll cancel my advertising and put it all on your competitor”.   Nervous nelly sales people run to the managers office in panic..“Oh my God!!!! you’ve got to pull so and so off the air or I’ll lose this $2000 a year annual” 

To be fair, I have an equal distaste for moronic, irresponsible on air behavior that would lead to such a showdown. 

Lately I’ve experienced my own “situations” that sort of fall in this realm.  As many of you might know, I freelance news casts in my semi retirement.  The stations I do this for are clients that I have a very high regard for.  With a news background, I have always subscribed to factual reporting.   Somebody, years ago (I forgot who,  but I never forgot the message) told me “Newsmen don’t make news.  Newsmen report the news.”  I never forgot that message.  In reporting factual news, as it recently has related to politics, I’ve received word that it’s off limits.  Seems that some listeners don’t want to hear anything that could be construed as negative as it relates to their political leanings.

There have been two of these incidents recently regarding national politics and a certain investigation.  In one instance, a listener actually contacted their local representative and this touched off a inquiry from the congresspersons office to the radio station manager, who then called me.  Of course the manager supported me as I explained that this was a legitimate news story and, in fact, was not the least bit negative.   But, this is where we are today, in the year 2019.  You better mind your P’s and Q’s buster..or else!!

Final word on this.  News people at your local TV and Radio stations work their butts off to gather legitimate news stories.  Fair and unbiased.  Don’t confuse talk shows with news casts.  There is a big big difference.

#44 Talk Radio in the age of Trump

Donald Trump was re-elected to a 2nd term as President this past Friday after the Mueller Report said there will be no more indictments coming down.

I know that writing this will generate some negative comments. But that is what you will hear across the radio dial tomorrow from conservative talk radio stations. The glee will be nauseating if you’re not a Trump fan. But make no mistake about it, there shall be gloating.

I was involved with Talk Radio for the better part of my career and I understand the beast which I helped unleash. Conservative Talk Radio is a clubhouse for like minded people. The demographics run across all spectrums – poor, affluent, uneducated, educated, etc with one thing in common: fear that their way of life is threatened by the left. Conservative Talk Radio hosts understand this fear and they do a fabulous job feeding the appetites of their constituency.

So tomorrow, if you want to free yourself of hours worth of listening to Rush, Sean, etc, here’s what you’ll miss.

🎶Nah nah nah nah nah nah… we were right, they were wrong, nah nah nah nah nah nah🎶

And in other news….

#43 – The Best Seat in the House

Radio and TV folks always get the best seat in the house.  If there’s an event coming to town, or if you’re fortunate enough to take the show on the road, there’s always a special “seat” just waiting for your royal rear end.  I’ve given a lot of thought about this and in no particular order, here is my list.

Watching the Kentucky Derby perched on the roof of Churchill Downs next to the Twin Spires.  WHAS originated it’s Derby Day Coverage from a rather crude but efficient structure nestled on the roof between the newer grandstand building and the original grandstand sprouting the Twin Spires.  We called it The Plywood Palace..and what a view!

Flying first class anywhere.  Often, broadcasters get bumped to first class to cover events abroad.  Such was the case when going to Ireland for the St. Patrick’s Day Parade.  Working with Bord Failte (The Irish Tourist Board) our group was given the royal treatment with First Class or Business Class seats to the Emerald Isle.  That was years ago.   They don’t do that anymore.

Sitting behind Ernie Harwell doing play by play at Tiger Stadium.  I suspect there are people that would pay big money for that privilege.  During my stint at WJR, I went to a Tiger game and sat in the booth with Ernie and Frank Beckman.  What a thrill!!!  Harwell had been brought back in an emeritus play by play role to work with Beckman who was the regular play by play announcer in 1996.

The Best Seats in the house at any concert, play, or sporting event that your station is co-sponsoring. As part of a sponsorship package, stations get top shelf seats for the event which are normally given to clients.  Some are held back and distributed to staff.  Sharon and I sure enjoyed sitting in the KMJ suite at Bulldog stadium during Fresno State Football games.

Disney Trips.  There was a time that Disney would host press events at Walt Disney World.  Broadcasters from around the world would be invited to broadcast their shows from various locations throughout Walt Disney World depending on what they wanted to promote.  It might be a new hotel or a new attraction at the Magic Kingdom or Epcot Center.  Having nearly carte blanche access to just about everything was a very rare treat.

News Events.  One really stands out.  Shortly after Bill Clinton was inaugurated, radio and TV stations across the country were invited to a press event on the front lawn of the White House.  WHAS’ Wayne Perkey and I traveled to Washington for what was a roll out of an ill fated national health care plan.  The White House rolled out the red carpet including lots of people for us to interview like the First Lady, Al Gore, Donna Shalala, and Dee Dee Myers.  I also handled producing duties for our sister station, WOAI in San Antonio.

The squeaky chair behind the mic.  I guess the best seat in the house is the one behind the mic.  I remember very clearly a detailed memo Ron White gave me when I started at WGRD.  It stated “you have chosen broadcasting as your profession.  Therefore, you owe it to broadcasting, to be a professional”.   I always considered that the most important professional piece of advice I every received.   It truly is a privilege crack open that mic and do the things we do.

#42 – Uncle Lou

The man who inspired me to get into the radio biz signed off last week at the age of 98. My dad’s brother, Lou Essick had been in the biz for over 50 years, starting his career right after World War 2. His adventures in radio took him from be a young announcer at a fledgling Michigan radio network, to the Carolinas and Georgia, where he became a star when personalities mattered to both the public and station owners. We’re talking about the 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s.

When I was a kid, Uncle Lou would come to Toledo for an annual visit with the rest of the Essick clan. I used to think of him as a real star. After all, he talked on the radio! For a youngster, that was a big deal.

Lou was a hell of a storyteller. As recently as this past Spring, I’d listen to him tell stories of growing up during the depression. Running numbers for the syndicate in Toledo to make a buck. Lou would choke up and fight back tears when telling how, during WW2, he went to visit his brother Pip in France right after the D Day invasion, only to find out he was killed.

I asked Lou’s wife Carol to help me fill in some blanks. She writes:

Lou was sent to Fort Fisher, North Carolina for training where he met Kathleen “Kay” Taylor, who, he said, was being pursued by every GI on the base. They married and he went overseas. While he was in Europe, Sandra, his first child was born. He was injured and eventually returned to the states to rehab at the Wakeman Convalescent Center in Indiana where he was discharged September 1945. He did spend time with Dave and his mother before heading South. (I believe this is the time period when Dave’s baby boy was so sick and died.) I remember him saying he was concerned about what he was going to do for a career being disabled and having a wife and child to support. I don’t remember the details about who suggested he try radio, but he did join WGNI when it went on the air Christmas Eve 1945.

About 4 years ago, during one of our annual Jekyll Island visits. Lou told a story I had never heard before. After the war, Lou went to Grand Rapids to visit his oldest brother, my uncle Dave. Dave was selling furniture at Herpolshimers Department store. While in Grand Rapids, Lou had heard about an upstart national radio network operating out of WLAV. The owner, Leonard A Versluis gave Lou a job as an announcer. Apparently, an affiliate didn’t like the way Lou sounded and complained to Versluis who subsequently fired him. During this time, Dave and his estranged wife had a very sick infant. The baby had to be sent to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota for treatment but didn’t survive. Lou tells the story of both he and Dave waiting at the train station for a very small casket containing the body of the child to arrive. It was Christmas time, 1945. After the burial, Lou turned to Dave and said “let’s get out of here.” They both left Grand Rapids for good.

I spent most of my career in Grand Rapids and I never knew I had a cousin buried there. So I located the Jewish section of a cemetery, and with my daughter Cara, grandkids Olivia and Brooklyn, son in law Jose, and my wife Sharon, we fanned out checking gravestones. And there, in the very back corner, in the last row, was the marker of Maurice Ross Essick.

The way Lou told the story was mesmerizing. I could feel the cold of that winter night and the loneliness that had to be experienced by my two uncles as they both stood, waiting for a train and a little casket. My writing doesn’t do the story justice.

Lou moved on to the Carolinas landing at WGNI in Wilmington, NC where he soon became a big hit doing crazy antics on the radio like playing The Witch Doctor or the Purple People Eater. His jokes were corny, but clean and funny. His talent for being an on air “salesman” made him a precious commodity for the station. Lou knew how to sell.. both on air and off.

The guy had a style that jumped right out of the radio. I recall hearing him on a Waycross, GA station in the early 80’s. Here was Lou playing Freeze Frame by the J Geils Band and sounding as if he was having the time of his life. He must have been in his 60s.

We used to visit with Lou and his wife Carol every year on Jekyll Island. I just saw him this past May and spoke with him on the phone the week before he died. He sounded great on the phone. I kidded him that he was shooting for 100 and he said “heck, I’m going for 110”.

The good lord apparently needed an announcer for Christmas services in heaven. At least that’s the way I like to think of it.

I’m going to really miss him. Lou Essick, signing off.

#41 – WANTED: Storytellers

I got a promotional e-mail the other day from a broadcast vendor offering vintage programs from radio’s “Golden Age”. Shows that my father grew up listening to, like The Shadow, The Lone Ranger, Jack Benny, and so forth. A part of the pitch:

Join the hundreds of AM and FM stations around the country who are delivering top-flight entertainment to their listeners and devoted audiences to their advertisers.

Program Directors Love WHEN RADIO WAS!

I’m a great believer in “the theatre of the mind”. That’s what we used to call it. When I was program director of Toledo’s WSPD, we carried the CBS Mystery Theatre. It was a radio drama series, very reminiscent of radio shows from the 40’s, created by Himan Brown that ran from 1974 to 1982. The show aired late nights and it was a ratings winner.

When I think about that era, and even when I think about the great radio personalities many of us grew up with, I have to ask the question. Where are the storytellers? Orson Wells was an amazing storyteller. So amazing, he convinced a nation that we were being attacked by aliens from Mars! Bruce Grant, the legendary morning man on WOOD Radio used theatre of the mind almost every instant his mic was on. I’ll never forget one of my first days as program director at WOOD. I heard Bruce announce he was giving away a prize and the”random selector” would choose the winning phone caller. I figured it must be some piece of equipment the station installed. I asked one of the engineers what The Random Selector was. He laughed and said it was just Bruce randomly selecting a caller. Grant was great at theatre of the mind. He had thousands of audio clips from movies and TV shows that he used as comebacks to his banter. You talk about a storyteller! No wonder the guy pulled 40 shares.

Even the great legendary Drake boss jocks had the unique ability to create energizing, exciting theatre of the mind – and they only had seconds to do it. I know a person here in my “fun side of the wall” hideaway who does national commercials. You can hear his fabulous voice on radio and TV spots throughout North America. He bills himself as a voice actor, not an announcer. He has a talent for taking a script and telling a story.

Announcers are a dime a dozen. Storytellers are the exception. If you’re new to the business, good for you! Now, learn to tell a story. Your future may very well begin with radio’s past.

Who knows what talent lurks in the hearts of the aspiring broadcaster? The Shadow knows. (Sorry, couldn’t resist)

Essick signing off