Uncle Don

by POPSIE 1956

I’m really not the right guy to write about Radio Legend Don Weeks.

I didn’t really “work” with him.

I didn’t really “know” him.

As a co worker, that is,

As a listener, and a long time resident of the Capital District of Upstate New York, I knew Don Weeks.

That puts me in the same category of hundreds of thousands of fans over the years.

Upon the announcement of his death today, there’s been, and will continue to be tributes to his legacy.

But I’m just one guy, and this is my side of the story.

My first memories of Don Weeks was as a child, and if Don were here reading this he’d probably slap me silly making him sound like the oldest man in the world.

In the 1960’s, I remember seeing this rather odd man doing the weather on a local TV station in Albany.

As I’ve mentioned in previous blogs, there was, at that time, no former training to be the TV Weather Guy, as they would say, you have five to seven minutes to fill…GO!

What made Don stand out to me were these quirky little drawings of someone named Wally Weather.

Every night, Don made a drawing of Wally describing what the weather for the next day would be.

Funny how a memory from 50 years ago sticks with you like that.

When Don began his thirty year stretch at WGY in 1980, I had moved out of the area, and into the start of my own broadcast career.

Frankly, however, WGY, at the time, was “your parents radio station, and I was (or so I told myself) too “hip” for that lame channel.

Little did I know where my path would eventually lead to.

All that said, I truly appreciated Don, his tremendous talent, and the love he had for not only the business but for the community that he shared with everyone.

I didn’t know it then, but I was watching the pinnacle of a pro.

After time in Ohio, I returned to the Albany area in the mid 80’s, and I made it a point to learn about EVERY station in town, EVERY personality in town, and what made them tick.

THAT’S when I really grew to love AND appreciate what made Don Weeks special.

In 1998, I’m working for a competing radio station in town, and, as is tradition, end up in an area Memorial Day parade.

We had time before the parade started, and while I’m sitting in my van, I see Don Weeks!

I missed some chances in the past to thank those who came before me and inspired me, even a little (Shout out to ya Boomer), but I wasn’t going to make that same mistake again.

I get out and walk up to Don, introduce myself and shake his hand. He acted like I was the long lost son he hadn’t seen in 20 years.

Made me feel very special.

Now, I’m no fool, I know how to play the game; for all of his niceness, he could just be giving me a line, Hell, I would do it.

But he did it so well.

Nine years later, I find that sincerity was entirely real.

I’m working for the same company as Don, this time, as a short time Sales Person (never did it before but had to get back to the area for family matters, you do what you gotta do).

Don is walking down the hall, I walk up, introduce myself (this time in a suit, and using my real last name, not the radio name).

I remind him of meeting him in the parade, and from things he said to me that day, I just KNEW he remembered!

And THAT impressed me even more.

Like I said, the Sales gig was short term; I wasn’t there when he did his last broadcast.

But you can bet I listened, and I teared up a little too.

Today, when I work for WGY on weekends doing News, and interact with Weekend Host Joe Gallagher, I feel like I’m a part of what I call “Classic WGY.”

I’d like to think Don would hear me from time to time, maybe even chuckle when Gallagher and I go off on a rant, and revert a bit to “Old School Radio.”

Trust me, I couldn’t even attempt to do it if Don didn’t teach me how.

Thank you Mister Weeks.

It’s in part because of people like you that people like me keep on pushing.

Finally, on the day of WGY’s very first broadcast in 1922, the call letters were explained.

W-the first letter in the word Wireless (that’s radio to the kiddies)

G-the first letter of the word General Electric (the company that owned the radio station)

Y-the last letter in the word Schenectady (the base of operations).

As of today, March 11, 2015, I suggest the W be changed to reflect the first letter in the word Weeks.

Rather fitting if I do say so myself.

 

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