Saturday, November 19, 2011

free beer and hot wings... thank you

I'm not talking about the feast of hops and fat. I'm talking about the men I wake up with every weekday morning - my radio guys, the Free Beer and Hot Wings morning show.

This syndicated, morning talk show has been my daily happy pill since Howard Stern left our local radio station for satellite. I remember tuning in that first morning they took over, and as soon as I heard the name I was turned off. I'm glad I gave them a chance, because after enduring their stupidity for about two weeks, they really grew on me. I know it sounds ridiculous, but I feel like these guys are a part of my family. I've been with them through their ups and downs, the births of their children, their personal accomplishments off the air, etc... and they've been with me through mine. Right.

They stop in Albany for live remotes about once a year and you can guarantee that regardless of what watering hole they show up in, I'm there. I've met them countless times and they are always kind, considerate and willing to take the time to chat with all their fans. I. Love. Them.

And I'm sure they love me. Like me? Maybe. I tune them in as soon as I hit my car in the a.m. for my dreaded trip to hell the office. I wait in the parking lot until the commercial break, then run into the office, pop open the laptop and continue to stream them until the show ends at 10am. Then I pout.

I'm particularly attracted to their show because of the wide range of current events they cover. They are all bright and humorous men, but their commentary is always fair, honest and very real. They have this ability to speak their minds without creating a partisan fog attached to their brand. I don't always agree with their social and political views, but they have a brilliant way of speaking their minds without pissing off the natives. Stay with me because I do have a point here. I'm just being selfish because these guys mean so much to me, I feel the need to brag about them.

Eric Zane, of (FBHW) and I
Summer 2010, Ravenswood Pub

This Wednesday morning, they updated the audience on the story of Marine Cpl. Kelsey De Santis' date with Justin Timberlake. I won't bore you with the details, but the premise of the story led them to the topic of emotional blackmail, and how these type of requests from us 'little' people to celebrities could easily get out of hand, and where do you draw the line? Agreed. 

It was then that the guys read an email from a listener whose mother was in need of a kidney transplant. This woman asked Eric Zane if she would go on a date with her mother, to raise awareness of her mother's need for a kidney. And he jumped all over that and said, "Of course... not." In a few short minutes, the conversation quickly transitioned into kidney donation, and that's when I got a little bit excited.

I have their call-in number on my phone, for that one time in my life that I think I'm actually going to have the balls to call in and spew my opinion to the national audience about flatulence, pornography, animal abuse, or any number of the intelligent topics they cover. I took a deep breath, hit the call button and prayed they wouldn't pick up. They picked up, and then I peed my pants. 

Within 15 seconds I was on the air. Honestly, I don't even remember too much of what I said, and I'm thankful that I will never have the opportunity to hear myself. I do remember expressing my thoughts on being a living kidney donor and sharing with them the opportunity that I was blessed with and how easy this is for the healthy segment of this population to consider being a part of.  I explained that I was a non-directed donor, that I recently met my recipient (btw, that blog post is around the corner), and how terrific and healthy I still feel.

Producer Joe, Free Beer, Eric Zane, Hot Wings and Steve

And so, within a minute I was on and off the radio. This made my day. For two reasons: I got to talk to my radio guys, and, they let me share my story and bring this very important issue to the airways. You can't imagine how much this meant to me. Best part of all is that they were nice to me. I expected them to deliver sarcasm at their best. Nope. See, they do like me. 

The conversation continued for a short bit, and they took several more calls on this. I was so happy that this was being discussed on national radio. But, I was even happier to see the positive feedback offered by their listening audience. They were as surprised as I was, getting a slew of emails from listeners expressing genuine interest in being a candidate to donate their kidney to Kelley's mom. Success!

Much to my surprise, Thursday brought even more interest in the topic, and again, my guys delivered. More listeners called in to express interest in the show then added Kelley's blog link to their site, for those that were requesting more information on the recipient's story. I quickly shot an email to the show and added that they need to explain to the listeners the seriousness of this process and that's it not to be taken lightly. Free Beer read my email on the show and pointed the listeners to the National Kidney Registry, should they want to learn more about how to become a donor. Once again, I peed my pants. Success, part deux!

I think I'm still riding on the high of this experience. Never in a million years did I imagine that two of my favorite things in the world would come together as one. I have since emailed Kelley, and shared with her my own personal journey, and promised her I would contact her again soon to give her some contacts. Kelley's story is just one of 80,000+ right now. 

What I found to be surprising about this conversation on the air, was the overwhelming and sincere response of listeners that were actually interested in pursuing this. I still think that if we could have more opportunities to spread the word and bring awareness of living kidney donation, the misconceptions of surgery could be dramatically reduced. I'm also convinced that the media outlet to share this information needs to be re-thought. Why do we need to limit our conversation and exposure to health fairs and expos only? Why can't our voices be heard more on the radio and TV? The general public needs to be informed more often, from us donors. We've been on this journey to save a life. We continue our adventure, with only one kidney, as living proof that it can be done.

Until next time... please tune in to hear my radio guys. I guarantee you will be insulted, shocked, humored and even impressed.