I have many “claims to fame”. I was on the air on a radio station in Central Illinois for four years. According to the ratings system, something like five thousand people listened to me at any given point. I used to make videos for the local access station in Champaign-Urbana. I don’t know how many people watched, but I’ve put some of them on YouTube since and several thousand people have tuned in there. My blog has more than ten thousand hits and that equals the number of newspaper readers I had every week when I was covering high school sports in Belvidere. I can’t say that I was actually “famous”. Every so often I would get an odd look at my name. Once in a blue moon someone would ask, “Aren’t you that guy?” Sometimes I actually was that guy… other times I wasn’t.
The most famous I ever got was due to a TV show called Active Seniors Options. Despite the name, the show had very little activity. I was one of two crewmembers running the technical aspects. We’d switch off every episode. One week I’d run the switcher and the audio board, the next I would run both cameras. It was a typical local access show: the set consisted of two chairs and a plant. The host was a man who headed up a local newspaper by the same name. He tried to tie the two together (this was 1989; long before convergence became prevalent), so we’d do shows – on Medicare or Meals on Wheels – in the same weeks he’d cover them in the newspaper. We did one on Funeral Planning one time (I thought of that one as Inactive Seniors Options).
After one taping, Dr. Gingold said he was doing a story in the newspaper on the making of the cable show. He asked my friend Misty and me some questions and took a picture of us. I didn’t think about it until later in the week when the Active Seniors Options paper hit the newsstands. Suddenly, little old ladies were coming up to me to tell me what a nice job they thought we were doing. They thought Misty and I were “just darling”. I was stopped on the street, I was accosted in stores. Even one of the ladies at the currency exchange had to pat me on the arm and give me a smile. I was used to bureaucratic surliness; I didn’t know how to respond.
It turned out Active Seniors Options was a local hit. I just happened to not be in its target demographic. Both Misty and I were a bit shaken by our new found fame. The nice thing about radio and writing is no one ever sees you. Even most of the video I did placed me somewhere behind the scenes or underneath a brown paper bag. Like most fame, ours was fleeting. It lasted until the next issue of Active Seniors Options was published and then we were – literally – yesterday’s news. I was thinking about that the other day when I saw rare autographs going for hundreds of dollars. That might be good news to “Marge”. If you’re still around (or if your heirs still have my autograph somewhere) you should look into it. It might be worth something as it was the only one I was ever asked to sign.