End of one Career; start of another

It was January 31 of ‘92.

I was unpacking what little I had at the $36 per night motel in Green Bay.

I was prepping for the upcoming WKDI broadcast of the NIU-UWGB women’s b-ball game when my travel cohorts Mike, Jim and Dave decided to turn on the tube.

They ended up finding a Packers’ “Where Are They Now” special.

Of the handful featured in the show, I knew only one.

Then, as Mike wisely put it, “Where are they now? … Who were they then?!”

That has stuck with me. Not only the laugh but the reality.

We can all remember the sights set out during our high school graduation ceremony. ‘Your future is what you make of it.’

I didn’t make a pseudo-solid career decision until late in my second year at NIU.

A good friend, Jesse Rogers (now with The Score), took me by the hand and gave me an opportunity. My first NIU athletics job was engineering a home women’s hoops affair. My first on-air work didn’t surface until Valentine’s Day ‘91 when the Lady Zips from Akron (you remember, Leigh Burdette, Diane Greenwood, etc.) lost to the Huskies by 17. Fifty people showed for that Thursday night game when we got something like 473 inches of snow.

Since then, I’ve worked for all three student media outlets, traveled eleven states (most more than once) and two countries for stories and loved just about every minute of it—all as a student.

This, all around my fourth job—the Bottle Store (‘Once You Go Once, Once Won’t Be Enough’). A lot of you saw and can still see me there. A lot of you had good things to say. A lot of you wish I never saw you there—you had to say nice things.

While on radio, I had the opportunity to enjoy conversations with DePaul coach Joey Meyer, sportswriter of the world Bill Jauss, Bulls’ executive scout Clarence Gaines and numerous players, coaches and Mid-Continent suits.

One time, Shawn Gayle showed up late for the SportChannel Game of the Week—the Homecoming rout of Southern Miss. Before he arrived, Mike Lieberman wanted to grab Brian Wiencek or myself to fill in. Great chance for us, desperate move for the network. Similar to Mike Korcek’s cameo on WKDI—great chance for the SID …

I’ve never met a more honest man than Tom Dore. Never a bigger man than Dan Jiggets. A more condescending man than former (and typical) Piston John Long. The more gracious man than Celtic great Dennis Johnson. The venerable former Knick-Cav Phil Hubbard.

No better partner than Jeff Cummings. No better storyteller than Tim Brando. The precocious Mike Goldberg. The overachieving Sue Bodilly (must have tutored under NIU’s S.I.) of Green Bay’s Sports Info.

My short reign as Sports Director of TV-8 reserved rights for me to interview future Charger or Saint LeShon Johnson. The one-hit wonder Andy Thomas—16 treys in one game—what great videotape. The big thrill came when former Bulls’ great Bob Love agreed to an interview. It never aired but it’s a fine memory. Between Johnson and Love, they could open up their own speech clinic.

Tony Bennett rang through the ‘KDI air waves before Charlotte had the chance. WKDI Football ’92 reserved space for three recently drafted NFL boys. The TV-8 film captured four more.

And the sporting event wasn’t even the most fun. As part of the self-titled ‘Three Musketeers,’ I enjoyed America with Randy Quaid (that McMahon character on the back page who says just about everything I don’t have space to say) and Charles Barkley (Gregory Clark a.k.a. Amnesia d.j.). From Dayton to Ames to Kalamazoo-zoo-zoo, we did it all. Or at least tried.

When I graduated from Lyons Township H.S., no one figured I was going to do what I’ve now done. I am a ‘Who Was He Then.’ But, I’ve even run into a couple of fellow Lions’ alumni in my travels.

UIC star Kenny Williams. One of my boys. I was there to pull his last baby tooth. Well, at least there to watch him make the varsity team as a sophomore.

Recently, Idaho State brought a familiar name into DeKalb—Chris Simich. The tall, goofy freshman was typical L.T. material, so was his cheering section at Chick Evans.

In Champaign, found out that the previous Chief Illiniwek was Tom Cunningham, not only a former Lion but a fellow Falcon alum from St. Francis Xavier grade school.

After a little digging, I discovered that on the day I was born, LTHS grad Ray Gibson was named as the new Northern Star editor for Fall ‘70.

Though I didn’t cross paths with unhappy 76er Jeff Hornacek and former Knight Rider/Baywatch lifegaurd David Hasselhoff—both LT has-beens—they need no afternoon special to explain their current status.

Whereas, these guys know that they have achieved star status, I can barely plan ahead for my next job, next apartment or figure out how I’m going to propose to my Anita.

After all I have had the extremely fortunate opportunity to do, I see no future in it for me.

It requires a lot of travel and/or lot of time away from the ones you most cherish.

I loved what I did. I hoped you loved what you read, heard and saw. I know I wasn’t perfect, but I was here for you. I was here to do my best to justify what deserved recognition.

Thanks to Bobbie Cesarek and her team for putting up with my daily ignorance. Thanks to Charlie Sadler for wanting to coach here. Same to Brian Hammel.

In this business, it’s impossible to live a day engaging in a conversation and someone not being suspicious of my questions, concluding that I was looking for the ‘unprintable.’ That’s not the way it should be.