Snow Days and Charlie from 7-Eleven
Paraphrasing (I think that’s correct) a quote from a former governor of New Jersey: ”Snow and radio…perfect together.”
It was not all that long ago on a day like today that the only way you could find out if you had school was to listen to the radio and in Ocean County that meant WOBM. As the former morning show co-host I can tell you that major snow days in the 70s, 80s and 90s were like Super Bowl Sunday to us.
Long before there was the internet, social media, smart phones and apps it was local radio that told you what was closed, delayed, postponed and re-scheduled. We took that responsibility very seriously and would prepare for every possible situation. Transportation was arranged to make sure there were always two people at the radio station whose sole job was to answer phones and write down (yes that’s correct) the cancellation announcements.
Schools and organizations were given private code numbers to use when they called in and some of our funniest stories dealt with those trying to get bogus closings on the air. During this time schools rarely postponed well in advance and usually the phones would start ringing around 5 a.m. and the next few hours would be total chaos.
We would fine-tune the system to create lists that made it easier to take down the information so those like me could read them on the air during the morning and sometimes later in the day as well. Until 2012 our studios were located in Bayville and fortunately we made a lasting friendship with a guy who owned and operated the 7-11 on Route 9 in Lanoka Harbor.
No matter how bad the snowstorm was “Charlie” would find a way to get to us with pots of hot coffee and breakfast items which served as fuel for the morning rush.
Today it’s quite a bit different. Schools get the word out often well in advance via their website, social media, robocalls and more and of course we have our own web and app based program. Parents and kids don’t have to get up early in the morning and listen to an endless list of closings before we get to theirs. If your school started with a “B” and when you tuned it we were on “C” it was torture and you might have to wait 15 minutes or more to find out if you could go back to sleep.
Technology has made this much better for everyone but I miss those mornings when kids and parents hung on to our every word. I also miss the coffee deliveries from Charlie.