Radio's Power to Open Hearts
December 2, 2005
Frederick's Clear Channel radio outlet has wrapped up another year of Christmas Cash for Kids.
WFMD's very talented and even funnier morning man, Bob Miller, has once again proven that he needs every inch of his considerable girth to accommodate an oversized heart.
No Grinch this guy. In fact we might even call him Frederick's Anti-Grinch! It's no wonder he is consistently voted Frederick's most popular radio personality.
Bob is the ringleader of WFMD's Morning News Express, filling the early morning hours with jokes, trivia, birthday wishes, news and commentary. Interspersed throughout are Dave Conrad's traffic updates and Renee Dutton-O'Hara's frequent and informative news reports.
This past week the normal programming was set aside. Mr. Miller and crew focus their energy and considerable talents on raising tens of thousands of dollars to create Christmas memories for Frederick County children whose families are struggling with financial difficulties.
Clear Channel management, especially the local station leadership, deserves credit for allowing and encouraging this important Frederick tradition to continue. Sales Executive Blaine Young and his team possess the talent to easily make up any revenue impacts of the extended talk features during Christmas Cash for Kids week.
Bob, Dave, and Renee are joined in the studio by a cast of local volunteers and celebrities for the week-long radiothon. Prolific fundraiser and beloved community benefactor Debbie Williams' lovely voice is a blessing to anyone starting a hectic work day. When Debbie offers God's blessings on the folks who make donations, you get the feeling she has direct access to the heavenly hotline.
Financial wizard Chris Murray, who doubles as host of "Your Financial Editor" on WFMD in addition to running one of the most successful financial services firms in the region, works the phones like a pro and helps Bob tap into a clientele that always comes through in a big way.
"Frederick's Forum" host Blaine Young, Frederick's youngest Good Ol’ Boy, urges listeners to "get off your keisters and crack open those wallets."
Blaine is more than just a slogan, though. Like most of our Good Ol’ Boys, Blaine and his family help this tradition survive through their philanthropy. Blaine is a good friend, so one might question my independence to assess him. He has matured in both politics and personality since his days as alderman and political personality. He adores his wife and kids, and that growing family has added to his maturity.
Walter Mills is a barber, but it seems funny to define him that way. Walter is a lot of things other than a guy who cuts hair (mine included). He is a philosopher, an entertainer, a horseman, a mentor, a family man, a developer, a landlord, and a prolific charitable giver. He quietly donates huge sums to causes that he believes in; and he coordinates the donations from other influential community members. Walter and his friends closed out Christmas Cash for Kids with a huge donation, proving once again that Good Ol’ Boys use their significant personal resources for the greater community good.
Frederick's favorite “love-him-or-hate-him” (and count me in the former) columnist, Roy Meachum, brings his literate sense of humor and insightful observations to Christmas Cash for Kids. Part grandfather, part seasoned world traveler, Roy has the intellect to make even a mundane conversation a learning experience. We're lucky to have access to Roy's opinions three times a week, twice here on The Tentacle and on Sunday in Frederick’s News Post.
One of my favorite aspects to the week is appearance of Kemosabe Joe, the legendary "jock" from Z104. Kemosabe was a Frederick fixture in the 80's and 90's. He now plies his considerable skills and made-for FM radio voice in Salisbury/Ocean City. Joe usually shows up towards the end of the week to help Bob pump up the numbers.
This year was no different, with Kemosabe was joined by Clear Channel overnight superstar Jim Bohannon. Hearing Joe's baritone on the air takes me back to my days commuting down I-270, and stopping in at his beverage store/deli in the Jefferson Street shopping center.
Whenever calls slow down, Bob Miller pulls the "story" out for broadcast. To get the full affect, you really need to hear it in Bob's mellifluous voice. Since we're denied the audio aspect of Bob Miller's golden tongue, here's the "story" in words.
Many years ago, a friend of an on-air personality at Z-104 mentioned a Thurmont family that had fallen on hard times. This family had several small children, and the parents were simply not able to afford Christmas presents.
The DJ went to the station management and asked for permission to use station resources to help this family. After some contemplation, the ownership authorized the use of the airwaves to raise money to help create a memorable Christmas for that one family.
The DJ was able to raise $1,200 toward the purchase of presents for the family. Once the gifts were bought and wrapped, the station personnel acquired a Santa suit, bagged up the gifts, and headed for Thurmont.
Arriving at the address, the radio team came upon what they described as a shack. After a knock on the door, the resident of the humble home came out. When asked if this was the home of the family, the radio crew was instructed to go behind the shack, since the family they sought lived out back.
Arriving at the back of the shack, the crew was faced with an even more humble abode. They described this structure as a shanty, and repeated the greeting procedure. The door to the shanty opened, and a little girl stood wide-eyed in the doorway.
The radio team's eyes filled with tears when the little girl smiled up at them and said: "Mom said you weren't coming this year, but I knew you'd come."
From that humble beginning, Christmas Cash for Kids has grown into a huge week-long operation. It involves hundreds in the fundraising, toy purchases and distribution through the Salvation Army. People like the Ross family invest hundreds of hours to insure that every penny of the money donated is used to purchase toys and gifts, unlike some charities where a significant percentage raised is used for charity administration.
The money matters, and over $111,000 was donated this year. What matters more than the money is that once again, Frederick residents and business owners participated in this important community event in an historic manner. Most impressive was the last minute push by the Good Ole Boys, often cast as villains by some community members because a number of them are either realtors or developers.
At the end of the day, the largesse of Fredericktonians means that families in need can celebrate in their homes. It means that little children will not be aware that Mom and Dad are suffering from financial difficulties. It means that God's blessings will be shared by each and every donor, whether the donation is $10 or $1000.
Best of all, Bob Miller and the staff and management of WFMD will no doubt be there again next year, pouring out their energy and talents to assist families in creating Christmas magic for thousands of little children. The only unanswered question is whether or not you'll be there with them. Here's hoping you will!