WILSON AND GAFFNEY TAKE FLORIDA BY STORM.
ORLANDO, FLORIDA: It all seemed like an out-of body experience.
Earlier that day I had been pounding potato chips on my route for Frito Lay while my friend Rick Wilson improved young minds as a history teacher at Thomaston High School.
Now I was landing in Orlando with a live radio show to do in about 13 hours on one of the biggest stages one could imagine.
Wilson and I had been invited to come down to the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex next store to Disney World by a long time supporter of the media outlet that is Litchfield County Sports.
Michael Colangelo, who I often say has forgotten more than I will ever know about creating and utilizing technology, was the voice behind the offer.
Every few months I would talk to Colangelo and each time he would ask the same question.
“When are you coming down to do your radio program from here?”
At first I thought it might just be a friend being funny until the offer gained ground when Wilson heard the same question when he called to do a story on one of the biggest heads of state ESPN has.
So we booked the trip for the weekend of October 12, 13 and 14 after originally looking at the Columbus Day weekend the week before.
That weekend was out because of a previous commitment to broadcast a large international Cricket series.
My first reaction was, “Really, we’re being bounced a week for Cricket?” but my friend Michael assured me that if I spent enough time watching Cricket, I too would love it.
I watched about 15 minutes of the broadcast and while I still didn’t get the game (someone is bowling the ball to a batter with a mixing stick or something to that nature), I was grateful to be given the time the following weekend.
Think about it.
A media company that started after a conversation outside WAPJ on Water Street in Torrington had grown to the point that they were being granted the opportunity to showcase their skills at the World Wide Leader, south.
Many asked, don’t you know ESPN is in Bristol?
Why are you going to Florida?
First off, why not?
It’s ESPN Wide World of Sports in Florida!
Not just anybody gets to go to such a prestigious place, we had earned our keep by bringing local sports stories to the airwaves at WAPJ for the better part of four years.
We have a great program because of the varied and knowledgeable parts of this LCS team.
At no point have we ever wanted to be part of the national sports scene, our focus has been and always will be on the local level.
So when the trip date had been decided upon, the show was going to be the easy part.
Getting ourselves to that day was the challenging part but we both pulled it off.
Sports writers are used to working on deadline and we simply figure out how to get things done on time.
My partner Mr. Wilson tells a great hour-by-hour tale of how things went over the 48-hour whirlwind that followed so I won’t go into the play by play because Wilson nailed it.
What I will talk about is how great it felt to be on that big stage on Saturday.
Neither of us were nervous going in (yeah the TV part took a bit of getting used to), this was our element.
Talking local sports.
We feed off each other well, Wilson is better than he gives himself credit for and we know our topics and how to get our quests involved.
In short, we care about putting on a good show but don’t over think it to the point that it becomes too complicated.
We are story tellers at heart and get the opportunity to tell those tales in two mediums, print and on air.
Still, I have to admit it was pretty cool working with the pro’s in studio.
I also wish to thank the folks who came in to help us put on the show and for taking what we were doing seriously.
ESPN Wide World of Sports is one seriously competitive place.
They don’t do anything in a half-hearted way.
I loved Colangelo trying to rattle us with his remark right before air time with his, “Okay guys, this would be a bad time to suck” remark that was classic.
We though, knew we wouldn’t suck.
This was our day. Game on. Rocky music flowing in my head.
We had worked for it, earned it and were not going to blow it.
Can’t wait to see the video of Wilson and Gaffney on the tube, from here the sky continues to be the limit.
A return trip or two to WWOS is in the 2013 plan.
In the meantime, a big LCS thanks to our friend Michael Colangelo and his crew for making it one for the books for two guys looking to create the next great media empire.
Look for more stories on this great adventure as they pop back into our heads!