For nearly 10 years I worked in New York City radio and got to meet and actually work alongside dozens of legendary broadcasting types. I remember the first time New York Mets broadcaster Bob Murphy said “studio operations by Mike Hayes” in the closing credits. It wasn’t that big a deal but one of my heroes just said my name and my heart felt 2 sizes bigger.
One of the legends that I worked alongside was Don Imus. Nobody gets to know Mr. Imus all that well, but the cast of characters that surround him, well, they were a lot easier to get to know. Lou Rufino, Imus’ engineer, in fact rents my old apartment in Queens now that I’ve gone west to Buffalo. When Imus got in trouble with Rutgers, I defended him because I’ve seen the softer side of Don. The one who cries when children die and who grabbed my shoulder while he gasped for air when recovering from a collapsed lung to steady himself.
But I’d often have the pleasure of bringing in weather updates to Charles McCord, the perennial newshound who would tell Don what was going on in the world. Sue Guzman would write his copy and I would assist her and sportscaster Mike Breen with editing audio actualities for them to use in their “shows.” Charles would always greet me with a “Hey Bro!” or “Thanks Bro” when I’d have the opportunity to interact with him. He was the consummate professional and today it’s hard to believe that his last broadcast with the I-Man is finally here.
My friend and best man, Crash, an engineer at Charles’ current radio home WABC reflects on the last go-round this morning.
Sometime around 9:54 am on Friday, May 6th, Charles McCord will turn off the microphone, put the headphones down on the console, and ride off into the sunset. (Note: May 6th is also, coincidentally, the birthday of Willie Mays, another genius who made his craft look effortless.) Radio news- and your listening habits- will never be the same. But for me, Charles wasn’t a legend, or a friend I welcomed into my car during the rush hour. For almost a year, Charles did the McCord News Hour as an Imus lead-in from the WABC studio. I engineered that show, and after that experince, I’ll take away an image of Charles as a funny and dedicated newsman, a writer who always had a synonym and a laugh at the ready.
I am reminded of a Pete Townshend quote about the rock and roll legends he played with, something along the lines of, “They’re your idols, but they’re my friends”. To paraphrase, Charles was, however briefly, one of my co-workers, and that softens the way you look at a living legend. Ask Frank D’Elia, for instance about the Music Radio days, and I’ll bet you get a similar response about Ron Lundy or Dan Ingram. Eventually, they’re just another face in the office. I may not have worked with Charles anywhere near as long as the I-Man, Bernie or Lou, but for the year he did the McCord News hour, it was still a treat to work with a consummate professional.
Indeed, Crash’s words also speak for me. Blessings on retirement, Chuck. May the bass be biting and the memories of the laughter be not that far from you.