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Craig Allen’s Radio Thanksgiving Stories [PHOTOS]

turkey 2012
Turkey Dinner in the New Jersey 101.5 studio! (Craig Allen photo)

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) ummmm….difficult.

Last year, I wrote about Thanksgiving, the early years…jumping in the “family truckster” and driving halfway across the universe, to have Thanksgiving with my aunt and uncle in Philadelphia (click here).

News Guy in the college years. (Craig Allen archives)

In my college years, I would jump on the bus, and ride from Madison (the University of Wisconsin) to Milwaukee or Kenosha to spend the day with one set of grandparents or the other. And then, in a turkey coma, get back on the bus, so that I could be on the radio back in Madison early Friday morning. Fun huh? Sure…anything for radio!

In-studio, mid-days, in 1988. (Craig Allen archives)

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 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-studio, wearing a former competitor’s t-shirt…Philly 1995. (Craig Allen archives)

In 1996, I was doing overnights in Philly…enjoyed the turkey…and then the “turkey coma” kicked in to help me to take the short nap I would need before working all night. Nice!

While I was napping, it started to rain lightly. An hour or two later, when my alarm clock woke me, 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 3-day weekend! Double-nice!!

It’s 1998, and I’m doing 3-7pm on Thanksgiving. There’s no way I can be back in Jersey to have a meal with the family.  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 (“rinse and repeat”).

My first Thanksgiving at “the big radio ranch,” (2002) was (unexpectedly) joyous. I went on at 11pm on Wednesday night (my second show, ever)…and when Alan Kasper came in at around 3am on Thanksgiving morning, he rushed into the studio (we had never met) and gave me such a kind, warm welcome! And, I saw Bob Williams, and Jill Myra for the first time in years! I felt totally at home, surrounded by friends!

Flash forward, last year, working from 7 til midnight on Thanksgiving…I looked up at about 7:30…to see Eric Scott walk into the studio with a big smile on his face, and a plate of turkey and all the fixings…for me!

I hope you 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…

Happy Thanksgiving!

“Gobble…Gobble!”–Mr. Turkey.


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