WHEN I started appearing with Brian Byers on WSOY’s Byers & Co. at 7:00 every Thursday morning nearly 20 years ago, the studio was located on East Pershing Road where it had been for many years. There were no windows in the studio but that’s the way radio studios were constructed many years ago.
Every Thursday morning, I would leave downtown and drive to the studio on Pershing Road — adding some extra time in case I had to stop for a train blocking my way on North Water St.
WHEN I arrived I would usually chat with the station’s general manager Joel Fletcher in his office near the entrance to the station until it was time for me to join Brian in the studio. Although I didn’t mind the drive each Thursday because that week’s Tribune had already been printed and mailed on Wednesday, I thought that it would be nice if the studio was downtown — which was where the station started decades ago.
A DECISION was made to move the studio and the rest of the operation into the first floor of the Barnes Office Building (better known as the Citizens Office Building) in space that had been occupied by the Citizens National Bank and its successors. Many of you reading this column also remember years earlier when that location at Water and William was home to Walgreen’s. This newspaper’s offices were located on North Park Street when the station made the move back to downtown and so, I could go out the front door of the Tribune on Thursday mornings and walk a half block to the studio. It was very convenient. I figured the trip to the station couldn’t be any shorter, or quicker, than that.
ELEVEN years ago this newspaper moved to the fourth floor of the Millikin Court Building at 132 South Water Street, so it took me a little longer to walk to the studio — but it was still a short trip. Then, the studio moved again. This past Monday the studio became operational on the sixth floor of the Millikin Court Building — two floors above me on the same west side as the Tribune offices.
Tomorrow, (Thursday) I will walk to the elevator and take it two floors up and my trip to the studio will be completed. I don’t plan on the studio ever being any closer to my office than it is now!
BEST wishes to Brian and Nick and the other members of the broadcasting operation. I love having them so close in the Millikin Court Building. The view from the windows in our offices is one of the best in Decatur as we can see the trees in the west end, and the changing leaves in the fall, Lincoln Square, church steeples, and several other places in the downtown area and miles beyond.
WHEN I was at the old studio last Thursday, as I was walking in towards the front from the back door, I couldn’t help but remember all of the times I was in Walgreen’s and I would have a toasted cheese and coke at the cafeteria on the balcony and watch all of the people below, coming and going. I would sometimes meet my brother, Sam, on the balcony and we would have lunch together.
I ALSO remembered when it was part of Citizens National Bank and Ron James was my loan officer. He always listened to my story and he never turned me down for a loan — and I paid every penny back with interest. After his retirement as president of the bank, Ron operated the master control at WSOY and later, he would always be in one of the chairs in the waiting area when I came out of the studio each week and we would chat about “old times” in downtown Decatur.
COACH Ron James passed away in March of last year. Orv Graham, who was “the Voice” on WSOY in another era on Pershing Road, also passed away last year. Ron and Orv were friends of mine for well over a half century. It seems the past few years I’ve lost a number of lifelong friends who made a big impact on our community and I miss seeing and talking with them.
I DOUBT that I will ever again be in that Walgreens/Citizens National Bank/ Neuhoff Studios first floor at the corner of William and Water. However, what I experienced in that building over many decades, including meeting my brother, Sam, who passed away several years ago, on the balcony for lunch will always be with me as new memories are created.