Friday, August 9, 2013

more phone call stuff...

Now...jumping around a guy on the phone...

        Cardinal Cushing in Boston.

        November 22, 1963 and my afternoon news shift at WMEX...Boston’s number one rated radio station, had just begun when President Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas.
This was a rock and roll radio station with enormous success and after I broke in to read the bulletin about JFK being shot in Dallas...we played only one more rock record...and then we became a news-talk station for about a week.
The owner, Mac Richmond, came in to see if he could help. Staffers were showing up all over the place and our main talk guy...already one of the top personalities in radio, Jerry Williams, drove in from the suburbs to take command.
About a hour after the President had died...I turned to another newsman and said lets get Cardinal Cushing on the phone.  
He scoffed...saying no one had ever gotten Cushing to the telephone and I’d have an easier job reaching the Pope!  
That, of course, made it a challenge.
I dialed information and asked for the number for the Boston Archdiocese.  When they answered I explained who I was and what I wanted...just a short statement from the Cardinal.  The Kennedy's and Cardinal Cushing had a very close relationship...that could work both for and against this proposal...but  I was not convinced he would come on the line.
However, I was told to wait.
After about ten minutes...his Eminence Cardinal Cushing came on the phone and gave us a very brief but emotional statement  concerning the death of his friend President John F. Kennedy.
We, of course, fed it to UPI Audio in New York and they fed it to everyone in the world.  and everyone used it....even on the big tv networks.
Another lesson of being positive, not the world of news.
On the phone again....

I remember one story I got while at that Chicago news station.
The mighty Mississippi River was flooding as always but this time a bunch of folks got stranded on an island and the Illinois National Guard had to rescue them.  
It was late a night an we weren’t getting much information as to the status of the stranded people and I dialed the long distance operator asking her to connect me with an operator in that area of Illinois along the river.  
She did so...and I ask that operator to connect me with the rescue units trying to get to the people.  She did...and we fell into quite a story because of it.  I had tapes rolling (as always) and talked with the officer in charge of the guard detail waiting to reach the island.  Then the operator came back on the line and asked if I wanted to talk to the people on the island?
Ha!  Of course I said and I heard a ring and though I never found out how they had a phone (this was long before Cellular or mobile phones were invented) there I was talking to person after person stranded on the small island with water lapping nearer and nearer by the minute.
I probably could not do that again..because the high tech telephone systems today would be somewhat restrictive for hot shot reporters like me!

...and then there's my historic phone call to former President Richard Nixon.
That comes later.

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