October 9, 1999…you are there!
"The grandest moment of my distinguished two-month radio career was no doubt that Tuesday afternoon in early August when the voice of my radio partner, Brooks Melchior, suddenly disappeared," Posnanski wrote. "He was in River Falls, Wis., at the time and his microphone had, in technical terms, gone dead or something. Those were the audacious, early days of 1250 AM, a time when it seemed that millions of dollars of sophisticated and delicate radio equipment had been installed by forest animals.
Anyway, Brooks’ voice cut off suddenly, and everything was quiet. I mean everything. The whole world was quiet. And I was left with the age-old adventure of filling time that has faced every great radio voice from Walter Winchell to Orson Welles to Mike and the Mad Dog.
Like those men, I rose to face the challenge.
"Uh, you’ve got to say something," producer Nate Bukaty said through my earphones.
"Say what?" I said into the microphone.
"People can hear you."
"Hear me?" I said into the microphone.
"Yes. Fill time."
"Fill time?" I said into the microphone.
"Go to a commercial."
"Commercial?" I asked into the microphone." "
Jolting Joe at his finest, I thought. I was never really much of a fan or his overly smarmy, if well-intentioned efforts. But every once in a while he’d break through.
"Oh yeah. Also I was really, really lousy at radio," Posnanki continued before explaining, "I’ve never liked my voice. That’s natural, of course. Most people hear their own voices, and they cringe. But, by coincidence, I’ve found that nobody likes my voice. Dogs run howling."
Despite all of that, "I got a radio show," Posnanski marveled. "That’s the way it goes in the business. You write two newspaper stories in a row, and inevitably someone offers you a radio show. It’s a complete mystery to me.
"People have offered me radio shows in three different cities, and, preposterously, they have usually offered cartoon bags of money to go along. One woman offered me a weekly television show. I don’t say any of this to brag. I say this because, well, look at me. Would you offer me a show? Is there some television or radio void for balding, chubby guys with screechy voices? Does anyone believe this trend is coming in vogue soon? Who is scouting talent for these people anyway?
"I kept saying no, partly because I didn’t have the time, mostly because I didn’t have any talent whatsoever. Then, something strange and unexpected happened: We bought a beautiful, creaky, sweet, 61-year old house with wallpaper from the Mesozoic Age and ghosts in the attic that used to howl through the night: "This house will cost you a bundle! Whoo! The foundation is cracking! Whoo! Your heating unit will go out tomorrow! Whoo!"
"Suddenly, I could make the time. The lack of talent was their problem."
But as Joe soon learned, it was downhill from there.
"Ah, yes. Friends. See, the trouble with radio is that it doesn’t stop," he wrote You might think this column is stupid – that would be very perceptive of you, by the way – but it ends soon. Radio just keeps going and going, nonstop, forever. There is always more time to fill, more opinions to toss out, more callers, and what happens is that someone like me just keeps talking and talking until something stupid comes out."
The broadcasting bottom line for Joe:
"There are people in this town who are good at this stuff. Brooks is good at this stuff. Brooks can, with a straight face, say something like "This show is brought to you by Kansas City’s hottest showclub," while I’m in a corner giggling incessantly, like Beavis.
"Kevin Kietzman can listen to caller after caller tear apart Elvis Grbac in exactly the same way, like a recurring nightmare, and still remain cheery and enthusiastic. Soren Petro can keep ripping Don Fortune for hours, every day, sometimes without breathing, and Don, bless his soul, can keep taking it and periodically throw in a nice plug for "Mister Goodcents." And, of course, my man Jason somehow keeps waking up at, like, 4:15 a.m. to do his morning show. You can’t imagine how much I admire that.
"Me, well, I’m out of the business. It was fun, but I just did not belong. Radio won’t be poorer for it, but I will. Those ghosts are still howling up in the attic about busted pipes and cracking paint. They also want to know whether Miles Prentice will ever own the Royals. Maybe, every so often, I will even talk a little sports with them, you know, for old times’ sake."