I have tried and failed to avoid thinking about this grim anniversary. It was six years ago tonight that I did my last on air shift at 90.5 WDUQ. In this moment, I find it hard to believe it has been six years since it happened.
It was not my last air shift by choice. The station, owned by Duquesne University, had been sold in January of 2011. The sale was finalized, and the new owner (WYEP) set to take over on 30-June. The new ownership had decided to do away with the DUQ format, consisting of news and jazz, which had the effect of making a large junk of the staff unnecessary. I was one of those people losing their job, being a board op and part time on air host.
There are many other side lights to the whole sale of the station affair. I am going to spare all of you from them. I am still bitter about a good bit of it, to the point that I still will not set foot on Duquesne's campus. Instead, with the help of Facebook and my own memory, I am going to just relate a few things from that night.
It is tough remembering that night. I was a wreck and then some going in. The drive to the station that night (I worked from 11pm to 2am on Monday and Tuesday nights for a number of years.) was one I never wanted to make. I remember several things from that night still:
Taking a few phone calls from listeners thanking me for being there, and DUQ for being there to bring them jazz and news.
One call in particular I made a note of: From a gentleman who thanked me for being there for him all the nights he lived in the backwoods of Beaver County and helping him get through the night.
Drinking a 24 ounce regular coffee the first hour on air.
Drinking a 720ml bottle of Lindemann's Lambic during the second hour on air.
Learning that combining those two drinks in the same two hour stretch was rough.
Ending the air shift to the sounds of 'Amazing Grace' as I signed off for the last time.
Somehow managing not to cry until I was totally done at 2:06:30am
Even sitting here now, I can still feel the emotions of it all, which is probably why I find it hard to fathom it has been six years. It was the end of an era, which I sadly got to see first hand. It was also very frightening to me, as I was certain it was going to be the end of me being a DJ, or even in radio. I worked with fantastic and talented people, and all of that was being uprooted.
The list could go on forever, but I will spare you all from that too. I miss those days, and I miss being in radio would be a fair summary.
I am pasting a post I made back on 22-July-2011, 'Letter from a Listener'. It too sums up a great many things:
(I had wanted to share this before now, but between running away for the 4th and coming back all depressed, I had just not had the heart. Since coming back on July 4th, Life has been very surreal for me, as this is the first time I have not been in radio for 14 years...nor at DUQ for 13..)
As many of you know, I worked at what was 90.5 WDUQ, Pittsburgh's News...Jazz...NPR station for 13 years. I started there when I was in college, thanks to the help of another friend who was working at DUQ and going to Duquesne. I have so many fond memories, and that includes the time I got stuck in the elevator at the Des Places building we used to be in.
Back on June 30th, Bob Studebaker, who I worked with, forwarded me the following message. I wanted to share it with everyone, as it made me cry when I read it. It is a touching tribute not to me, but to what DUQ brought to this city, region, and the lives of so many.
Could you do me a favor, and tell John Lasanich that I think he's one of the "unsung heros" on the staff?
He's so unsung, he's not even listed. And he must not be allowed to answer the phone,'cause I can never get him at the studio.
If Tony's "the Voice," and you're "the Professor,"then John has got to be "the DJ." With his simple, direct style,he must spin more music/hour than anyone else, and on his shift - jazz's natural "magic hours" -
it's just the time when it's the music we want to hear.
He's been much appreciated at our house. We'll miss him. Wish him all the best from us. Hope we have the pleasure of finding him "on the air," again soon.