Just seems like it was just yesterday that I was informed that the station I was working for was being sold. At the time, I had so much more on my mind than my job. Something that anyone who knows my work ethic, would find find a bit odd. I’ve always been someone who puts his all into his job. And that particular job was no different, I treated that station as if it were my own. Went above and beyond to do whatever I could to make that station go on a daily basis, from doing 2 shows a day (3 hr. morning show & a 2 hr mid-day show), making sales calls, doing color or play by play for a game of the week, promotional events, etc…. In the end, it wasn’t enough. But, losing my job wasn’t the worst thing that happened to me that week, nor was it the my main concern.
At the time all of this commotion was going on at the station, my grandfather and role model was hospitalized in Jonesboro due to complications of his diagnosed multiple myeloma. That was on the Sunday before I found out the fate of the station. Got the call from a family member who said, “oh he just isn’t eating, it’s not a big deal”. By the time I got the call, it was pretty late on Sunday night. I said I’ll be right there and they urged me that it wasn’t a pressing matter to just get some sleep and come to the hospital after my shows on Monday. So considering I had to do a 3 hour show at 7am on Monday and the fact that I was being told he was all good, I went ahead and stayed home. Little did I know, he wasn’t good.
Monday morning came, I went and knocked out the morning show with my great friend R.B. (Rob Butler). Had an hour in between the morning show and my midday show, so I just did some prep work for the show like any other day. Showtime came, breezed right on through that one as well with my compadre Uncle Walls. Had a few things to get done after the show, so I could go ahead and go to the hospital to get updated on the status of my grandfather. As I headed to the hospital, many things were going through my mind. Of course everything that was going on with the station was weighing on me but I just had a feeling my arrival to the hospital wasn’t going to be a good one. Normally, when you have that feeling in your gut, 9 times out of 10, it’s on the money. This time would prove to be no different.
As I arrived, I met with my family members in the waiting room to get a gauge of how everyone was doing before going back to see my grandfather. I’m generally pretty good at reading people’s emotions and thoughts. The more I spoke with my family the more I began to realize that they were all in DENIAL. My confirmation came as soon as I walked into the hospital room with him. There he was, very thin, and barely able to communicate with me. My heart sunk at that moment. This the rock of our family, my #1 role model in life, relegated to a hospital bed, relying on everyone now to take care of him. It was almost too much to take in. It took everything in my power to stay strong and not let him see what I was truly feeling at the moment. Not to mention, I knew my family was gonna rely on me to be the “rock” during this situation. If only I had known that being the “rock” in this situation would entail being stronger than I had ever been previously in my life.
As I began to have conversations with the nurses and doctors responsible for the care of my grandfather, the dire status of his situation became more and more real to me. The problem was, it wasn’t becoming clear to the rest of my family. That would now become the first major task of being the “rock” of my family. Along with the newly appointed position within my family, professionally I things I had to deal with as well.
Tuesday morning comes, I go home from the hospital and take a shower and get ready for what I knew was going to be a busy and not so fun day. You see, this was the day that I was scheduled to meet with the owner of the station, along with several other co-workers. But, before that meeting would take place, I had 2 shows to get knocked out. Sad part is, I couldn’t tell you what we talked about on either show. My mind wasn’t there at all. I had spent the night sleeping in a hospital recliner, one that will never be mistaken for being comfortable. Shows done, meeting is now underway. Of course at this point we all know why we are there, just waiting to hear the reasoning from the owner. During this time we all find out what would be our last days of employment and what tasks we were expected to complete until then. As it is in any business, you are expected to not discuss it with anyone for the remainder of your employment. The difference of course is, we are employed by a radio station. Meaning, I now have to do 2 daily shows and act like everything is “business as usual”. The biggest challenge for me was, I am a person who is known as being very blunt and not one for “beating around the bush”. This time would be different though.
All of the fight and energy that I had in me was directed towards doing whatever I could for my grandfather and my family. Sure, I now knew I was essentially unemployed with zero clue as to what I was gonna do next. Still yet, I couldn’t think about that or what the ramifications would be. My only concern was the man I grew up going fishing with, looking up to, who never had to raise his voice to have the respect of everyone in the room he was in. Once again, he was in a room not having to raise his voice or even say a word for that matter, yet he had our full attention! As days went on, reality was in our face, and a decision had to be made. The doctor had made it clear at this point, he would not recover this time, and would never walk of that hospital. The end was here. It was just going to be a matter of how that ending would come. As the “rock”, I was going to make sure it was on his terms and there wasn’t going to be anyone who would tell me otherwise.
Fortunately for everyone, my grandfather had a living will that stated as long as he was of sound mind and body, he would be able to decide his last wishes. I took it upon myself to convince my family that now is the time before he was completely unable to decide. My biggest concern was, I didn’t want it to be left for everyone to decide and be something that everyone had to live with for the rest of their lives. So after a lengthy family conversation, it was decided to ask the question of my grandfather. All that was left to decide was who would do it? As I looked in the eyes of my family I knew there was only one person who could do it, me. Not something I thought I ever would or could do. Again, I had to dig deep and find an extra level of strength I didn’t know I had. After the decision was made, I notified the nurses of our decision and they told me they would get everything prepared and ready, as well as, notify the acting physician. Still to this day, a period of time that felt like hours upon hours. When in reality, it was only a short period of time and that time was upon us.
As we all walked into the hospital room, I was running through my head what I was going to say to a man who meant the world to me. How do you ask someone you love if they are ready to go? How do you ask someone if they are prepared to die? All things I am asking myself, all the while trying not to breakdown. Everyone packed into this small hospital room, family, friends, and nurses. Now, the spotlight is on me, someone who has never shied away from it in his life. This was a spotlight that was more of a lowlight in my life. I looked my grandfather in the eyes and had to start with a couple of questions to prove to the medical staff that he was of sound mind and body. I asked 2 questions that he answered correctly and the nurse then repeated them for confirmation. Now, comes the hard part, I looked my grandfather in the eyes and said, “Grandpa, you are very sick and you are not getting better and they want to know if you want to stay on life support”? He shook his head no. As my eyes began to fill with tears, I then said “Grandpa are you ready to go”? He then shook his head yes. I said “Are you ready to go see grandma”? He again shook his head yes. I couldn’t fight the tears back anymore, I had stayed strong for as long as I could. The nurse then confirmed everything I had asked him. While I thought the hard part was over, I couldn’t of been more wrong. That was yet to come.
Everyone was asked to leave the hospital room and head back to the waiting room so that they could get everything settled and prepared to remove him from life support. Again, a period of time that felt like forever. At this point everyone was just trying to console each other and prepare for the inevitable. Not much time had passed and the nurse came to the waiting room to notify the family that it was time to go back to his room for what would be the last time. Everyone made their way back into the room and got situated, as much as they could with such tight surroundings. The time was here, they began to remove him from life support and once again reality hit like a swift kick to the gut. As soon as he was removed, his breathing became more and more of a struggle. His heart rate began to drop, along with every other stat and rate. As I watched him take every breath, not sure which one would be his last, I tried to convince myself that everything that had just happened was in his best interest. I wanted to know that we had done the right thing by him. More importantly I wanted him to be at rest. As time went on, his breathing became less and less until he finally took his last one. Right before that happened, he gave me the peace I was looking for. As he was struggling to breath, he lifted both arms out, as if he were reaching for someone, and then both arms rested at his side and he took his last breath. The journey on this Earth had came to an end that day for my grandfather, Gordon D Pierce, the greatest man I ever knew! While his journey came to an end in the physical form, he has never left my side. I feel him around me from time to time. Even though he left that Friday, he didn’t do so without leaving me with one last idea.
Now that my grandfather was no longer hurting and was finally at peace, we only had to lay him to rest in the physical form. As soon as he passed I got on the phone to notify the funeral home so that the arrangements could be made to get him back to Forrest City where he would be placed next to my grandma and great grandma. All the family headed home for some much needed rest and to prepare for his memorial service that was scheduled for Sunday. Well Sunday morning came but it wasn’t going to be just any other Sunday. I hopped in the shower with a million things running through my head and this is where it got strange. I know your thinking, why is talking about it “getting strange” while in the shower ha! Stay with me folks! I began to wash my hair and briefly looked up towards the recessed lighting that was above my shower and yes, was hit with a “light bulb moment”! One that would prove to be the single best idea that has ever hit me!
You know every business has a unique story behind it and the Red Wolf Roll Call Radio Network is no different. That shower on that Sunday has now proven to be the most productive I ever had ha! It was at that moment that everything you know and hear about RWRCRN was born. It was like a was hit with a ton of bricks! I literally said out loud, “I KNOW WHAT I’M GONNA DO”! Now, an idea can only be a good one if you put it in motion. So with a new sense of excitement I made the drive to Forrest City, Ar. to lay my grandfather to rest. Yes I said excitement because I know where this great idea came from. Yes it was my grandfather’s way of steering me in the right direction as he had so may times in my life before. All I could do was smile when I mentioned it to a handful of people that day. Of course I’m sure most of them were like “yeah ok, sounds good”. But the one besides myself knew that I would make it happen was the man who I know always believed in me, my grandpa!
With my grandpa now laid to rest, it was time for me to get myself together and take this idea and run with it. I immediately began planning everything and figuring out what it was going to take to make this thing happen. Keep in mind, I am about to be unemployed and it’s almost impossible to start a business without the money to do so. So I knew I was going to have to put together a plan and do a lot of research to make this thing happen. I had an idea of how much it would take for me to at least get it off the ground and started. Next would be figuring out how to make that happen. I had a couple meetings with a couple people who believed in my vision and idea, enough to help me get it started. I appreciate them and know I wouldn’t be where I am today without them and they know who they are. Next, I knew I had to share the idea with a couple people that I would want to be apart of it. I spoke with good ole Uncle Walls about my “idea” and he was sold and ready to roll. I also spoke with RB about the idea and knew he was gonna be apart of it behind the scenes and of course he was and still is to this day. I am sure a lot of people may doubt this next part of the story but it is in fact all true.
After the direction of RWRCRN was decided, the plan was laid out. We would start as an online radio station with a live show Mon-Fri. We would also have website where we would have every show and interview conducted on the live show for every listener to play on-demand. We would also eventually have an interactive app for every listener to download as well. Well that was only the short term plan for RWRCRN. Our long term plan was for us to begin to add radio affiliates that would be interested in picking up our content and adding it to their programming for their listening audience to hear. As of September of last year we began running Red Wolf Roll Call Recaps (2:30 minutes of AState Athletic Content) across radio affiliates throughout Arkansas and Missouri. The other part of our long term plan was to eventually find radio affiliates interested in picking up our live show as part of their daily programming as well. We as of Monday, August 3rd, that part of the plan will be achieved as well. Our daily radio show Red Wolf Roll Call Radio with J.C. & Uncle Walls
can now be heard on ESPN Jonesboro 92.7 Monday-Friday 11am-1pm. While we have reached a number of our short-term and long-term goals, this is only the beginning for the Red Wolf Roll Call Radio Network! I could list everybody who has helped make this possible but this blog would go on forever ha! I just want to say thank you to everyone who has played a part in and will play a part in where we are headed! Uncle Walls and myself have about 70 years between us around Arkansas State University. We have the privilege to continue to do so everyday and we wouldn’t change it for anything. Last but not least, to you grandpa, I hope you can still see me everyday, working hard, and I hope I make you proud. Now that I have wrote a book, I will end this with a #HOWLYEAH and #WolvesUp! No place I’d rather be than right here in Northeast Arkansas!