Observations and Ramblings of a Cranky Old Guy
Written by Jeff Spaulding on November 27, 2020
Welcome back my friends to the column that never ends.
(Sorry, been listening to some ELP lately)
I don’t know about you, but I am SO ready for 2021!
2020 has been such a s**t show, at times you think you had enough, then WHAM, bend over and take so more.
At times, when I sit down to write this atrocity, I go in not wondering what the topic (s) of the day will be.
Do I end the year on politics (even though we aim to stay away), COVID (God please no), the year I had or hope to have?
Then it struck me about two hours ago.
In doing so, it will give you more of a clue as to who Jeff Spaulding is, if you read between the lines.
Odds are, if you have lived in this area for some time, and are familiar with people in the broadcast world, you may have heard the name Chuck Custer.
A few days ago, Chuck announced that he was retiring, leaving his current job as Co Host of the WGY Morning Show with Kelly Lynch over the last decade.
More than the last decade, Chuck has been with WGY (and its multitude of owners, currently iHeartMedia) for over 36 years!
Let that number settle in your brain a moment.
36 plus years.
How many of you have worked at a job for 36 months?
Hell, I’ve been fired at jobs after less than 36 days!
I will, on occasion, laughingly refer to my time in professional broadcasting (43 years and still counting as of this writing) as a career.
Yet never at one joint.
In those 43 plus years I have worked in Ohio, Indiana, Vermont, Massachusetts, and my home state of New York.
As it is, I am coming up on 10 years at my current radio position (and my personal longest time at one business too.)
Each day, at sunrise and sunset, I say a silent prayer while facing San Antonio, Texas, just in case.
Back to Custer, prior to working with Kelly, Chuck did over 20 years as “News Guy/Co Host/General Flunky” to the legendary Don Weeks, another (and one of the greatest) Capital Region Broadcast icons.
Quick story about Uncle Don, in 1997, I was working for a different radio station in town, and met him at a local parade.
Ten years later, I am working for WGY as a Sales Guy (we all lower our standards on occasion), I saw Don and reintroduced myself, saying something like “You may not remember this but,”
He did, he remembered my air name from back then, my station from back then, my wife’s name (and in broadcasting, having the same spouse for that long is award winning), and the fact that I had lost some weight in 10 years (but was still a fat bastard).
Anyway, Chuck and Don made a great team, and it was to the benefit of the listening audience that he (with Kelly) was awarded the Morning Show upon Don’s retirement.
Chuck’s retirement leaves a mighty big hole in local radio, there will be another who will take over the job, but never replace him.
And for those of us in that AARP member age group, it gives one thought (myself included) as to what the next stage of our lives will be.
I still see myself as a workaholic, with some goals that may seem unobtainable.
Working another 2 years to make it to the 100th Anniversary of WGY? If they let me, I can do that.
Working another 5 years to get better Social Security at 70? I hope.
Working another 6 years to mark 50 years as a broadcaster? I would love it, though even I admit the odds may be against me.
Then again, part of me is mulling retirement sooner than later, and spending the rest of my life with my wife and family.
To quote Preet Bharara, stay tuned.
Before I leave, my favorite Chuck Custer story, he’s heard it, odds are you haven’t.
In 2011, I had left my radio job in Glens Falls after a real bad crash on the Northway, I was out of commission for over 6 months and didn’t want to go back to a 2 hour ride 5 days a week.
Radio jobs are few and far between, and I heard of an opening in the News Room at WGY.
My broadcast career consisted entirely of being a so called “Air Personality,” or “DJ,” though I did have a big personal interest in News.
Despite all that, Chuck took a chance on me, I was the last of a group of 4 new hires, the other 3 with (much) more news experience than me.
Since that time, I think my writing skills have improved, my announcing skills have improved, my respectability among my broadcast brethren and listening community has certainly improved.
I’m still a proud and admitted a**hole, however, which may be the main reason I got the gig.
If it weren’t for Chuck Custer, Mike Patrick might not have existed anymore.
(Oops…did I just say that?)
As always, thank you Charles.
Be hearing you