Craig Allen’s Radio Thanksgiving Stories
On this day, we pause and give "thanks." And then we eat as if it is going out of style (read: "Turkey Coma").
I give thanks for family and friends...and I'm thankful that I'm still in the business that I love...even though, sometimes, it makes holidays (like today)....difficult.
In previous years, I have written about Thanksgiving, the early years...jumping in the station wagon and driving halfway across the universe, to have Thanksgiving with my aunt and uncle in Philadelphia.
In my college years, I would hop on the bus, and ride from Madison (the University of Wisconsin) to Milwaukee, or to Kenosha (yes, "That 70's Show" fans...its a REAL town), to spend the day with one set of grandparents, or the other.
Then, in a turkey coma, I'd get back on the bus, so that I could be on the radio back in Madison early on Friday morning. Say, 6am. Fun right? Hey...anything for radio!
From the mid 1980's (in news) to the early 1990's (doing music shows), Thanksgiving was at least a working "half day." Often, I'd have a show for an hour or two, and then I would engineer a local high school football rivalry, from back in my studio. With my sports knowledge, you wouldn't want me "calling" the game...trust me!
Starting in 1992, I was jumping in my car and "commuting" to do radio in the city where I had spent "Turkey Day" in my youth: Philadelphia.
Usually, I was done by 3pm, and could rush back to Jersey for a family dinner, with all the trimmings.
But, not always.
In 1996, I was doing overnights in Philly. I had enjoyed Thanksgiving dinner here in Jersey! Then the "turkey coma" kicks in, which helps me take the short nap I need before working all night. All according to plan. So far.
While I was napping, it had started to rain lightly. An hour or two later, when my alarm clock woke me with a jolt, I found the roads to be a sheet of ice! I called my boss...and he told me to be safe...not to drive the 70 miles to the station. Just by luck, this shift (technically Friday morning) lined up with the one weekend a month when I had Saturday off. Wow...a three-day weekend!
And...I was thankful.
It's 1998, and I'm doing the 3-7pm shift on Thanksgiving. There's no way I can be back in Jersey to have a meal with the family.
At 6:45, my relief walks in...saying: "Damn...I'm sorry Craig." Seeing the confused look on my face, he says: "I had a BIG plate of turkey dinner for you...but I left it on the kitchen table."
I thanked him for thinking of me...all the while thinking to myself that I would have been happier not knowing.
I went back to my dark, empty suburban Philly apartment, and gave thanks for my frozen Thanksgiving pizza.
In my early years here at New Jersey 101.5, I would host the all-night show(s) Wednesday night, right through the holiday weekend...work, sleep, eat, sleep, work. Again, "anything for radio."
My first Thanksgiving at "the big radio ranch," (2002) was (unexpectedly) joyous.
I went on at 11pm on Wednesday night (my second NJ101.5 show, ever)...and when the sun came up on Thanksgiving morning, I saw Bob Williams and Jill Myra for the first time in years! Now, I felt totally at home...surrounded by friends!
Flash forward. Four or 5 years ago, I'm working from 7 til midnight on Thanksgiving. Alone again, naturally...
At around 7:30, the studio door bursts open!
Eric Scott walks in, a big smile on his face, carrying a plate of turkey and all the trimmings...for me! YAY!!!!
This evening, when the show ends at 7:00, I'll rush home...grab a snack (non-turkey), and try to sleep. I have an early morning commitment to honor.
Turkey day dinner? Not this year. Maybe I can grab some leftovers, and a little family time...tomorrow night.
2016 Turkey Day...delay.
I hope that you can take a few moments to give thanks today for what you have.
And, remember the people, the places, and the good times that have come in years gone by...