September 20, 2017
We lost another great one.
Others knew him much longer and much better than I and yet I have so many memories.
When I knew him, John did the morning news for the WMJI-FM and WBBG-AM pair.
He stood in this tiny studio and did his cast for one after the other once each half hour. He'd do one then flip a switch and be ready to do it for the other.
He'd set up his sound bytes and then fire the cart and wait to deliver the perfect outro into the next story.
His carts had these weird squiggles on them instead of typed labels - but the squiggles told him which sound went with which reading of which story.
His writing was quick and good. He could summarize all you needed to now about the night before in just a couple of minutes.
That's not easy.
After his shift he'd voice commercials in production and share stories.
He was one of the main positioning voices of the station.
He'd talk to you one moment then crack the mic and give a perfect read.
Chuck or Tom would give him direction and he'd nod and do it again even better.
I knew early I'd never be that good on air - but I loved watching those who were work. There's something magical and effortless about it all.
My father-in-law had worked with him years before at another station.
John's stories. I don't know if they were true or not.
He told a story of waking up in a hotel somewhere without knowing where he was or how he got there - or what had happened for at least the night before.
He turned on the radio. Soon he heard an ad for J.B. Robinson jewelers. He said that that made him feel better - it narrowed it down to seven possible radio markets.
Turns out, he said, he was in St. Louis.
I don't know if it was true or not but it was punctuated with a smile and his distinctive laugh.
By the time I knew him he was pretty much vice free.
All he had left were the stories.
He lost a lot of weight, quit smoking, removed vice after vice with his 30 minute rule.
He drank his own special brew of coffee non-stop. It was before we drank good coffee. It was just strong.
He said that was the one thing he wasn't about to quit.
John's 30 minute rule was so powerful.
Suppose he was trying to quit smoking.
At some point during the day he would want a cigarette.
He'd look at his watch.
If he still wanted the cigarette in 30 minutes, he'd smoke it.
If, in the mean time, the feeling had gone away, when he wanted a cigarette again the clock would start again - even if it was within the first 30 minute window.
It got rid of the impulse cigarette - the unconscious cigarette.
It also wasn't punitive. If he still wanted it, he could have it.
I always felt that that rule captured so much of John.
Now that he's passed, I wanted you to have it.