The Life Changing Radio Assignment
When I was 19 years old I worked as a DJ at a Winnipeg radio station, while finishing my computer science degree (doing both full-time — sleep was optional). When you work at a local radio station, you await the opportunities for your “big break”. I waited and waited… and waited. And then one day I received “the call.” Our station manager gave me the “big assignment.” The Lioness Club, a women’s organization, was holding their annual “Bowl A Miracle” event at Empress Lanes. Prior to my regular on-air shift this Saturday, I was to go to Empress Lanes and broadcast live from the event, encouraging people to come out and support a worthy cause. Little did I know how this assignment would change my life.
I arrived a whole ten minutes ahead of time, to get the story from the volunteer team. I was to take over the mike at the stroke of noon. At 11:55, Susan Seligmann, a Lioness volunteer, came to the announcer’s table to brief me on the event… I needed to talk intelligently about it on the air in just a few minutes. As she started to speak I realized I was only half concentrating on Bowl A Miracle. Susan had the voice and face of an Angel. I waited, patiently, for her to finish.
“Any questions,” Susan asked.
“Yes. Do you have a boyfriend?”
“Yes, I am sorry, I do,” she responded.
All I could hear was the phrase “I am sorry” in the middle of that sentence. Shakespeare could not have painted a clearer picture for me. What I heard was “I am sorry… for if I did not, surely we could get to know each other better.” Most anyone would have accepted Susan’s response as a door closing; all I saw was light, pouring through an opening door, inviting me to the relationship that waited on the other side.
I talked with Susan throughout the afternoon, timing my breaks to coincide with hers. On one I decided to open the door a little wider…
“Can we be friends?” I asked, trying not to make the question sound too important, lest I give myself away.
“I guess so,” came Susan’s equally measured reply.
“Great! Then can I have your phone number?”
“I’m not so sure.”.She sounded reluctant. I had to think fast.
“How can we be friends if I don’t have your phone number?” I was going for the debate championship. Everything rested on the logic of that question. Would she agree?
I called back to the bowling alley throughout my 6:00pm – midnight air shift, checking in on my new friend.
“Will you be there when I get off tonight?”
“Yes,” she said. (WooHoo!!! I almost burst.)
I raced back to the bowling alley, and we talked for a while longer. And then the music played in my head.
“Susan, would you like to hear a song I wrote and recorded with my band? I have a cassette in my car. Your girlfriend (Briggitta was also a Lioness), can come and listen too if you like.”
And she and “Gitta” agreed! Out to my gleaming green VW Rabbit we went. Desert Skies lasted 3:42. That gave me three minutes and forty-one seconds to think of the next question.
“Would you like a ride home?” I asked.
Gitta jumped out of the car, saying “See ya!” to Susan.
I drove Susan home. As we approached her house I let her know my Dad built homes. “Would you like to see them?” I asked rhetorically, pulling a U-turn and heading in the direction we’d just come. I ‘forgot’ to mention that he built them on the other side of town.
We arrived back at her home (the second time) over an hour later. We talked about our dreams. We talked about everything and anything. I felt that I had known Susan all my life… like she was my best friend.
Knowing Susan for a whole fourteen hours I asked, “How do you like the last name ‘Jaworski’?”
Five weeks later I asked her again, and she said, “Yes.”
Maybe it was that incredible guitar solo in Desert Skies that caught her imagination. 25 years later, the song is still playing strong…