No matter where you work, you're likely to run into all kinds of people. In all my years of radio, I've known many good ones, only a few terrible ones, and lots of interesting characters.
–There was the newscaster who was afraid to go on the air live. As long as she could record her newscasts, she was fine, but a live microphone reduced her to a puddle of nerves. One day there was a big fire in our town, so she gathered all of her courage and came into my studio to read the bulletin live on the air. But then I made a mistake. By instinct, I asked her a question, as any DJ in the same situation would have done: "How are they rerouting the traffic around the scene?" The horrified look on her face reminded me of what I'd forgotten in that moment of instinct. The next thing I saw was her right hand, with a single upraised finger.
–There was the DJ who could not say "Paul McCartney." It always came out "Paul McCarthy," no matter how hard we coached him. After a while, we simply gave up. If he wanted to play Paul McCarthy and Wings, we couldn't stop him. (I think he later went into management.)
–There was the talented man of many voices who did a trivia-based talk show every day, and who one day found himself with a green young co-host he hadn't asked for: me. But he was extremely gracious, he taught me a lot, and we're still friends all these years later.
–There's Bob Bonner, who pretty much defies description.
–And there's Katie Austin, too. I hope you saw the Q&A she did with a Capital Times reporter this week. She talked about how she got interested in reporting on traffic, how she does her reports each morning and afternoon, and about the likely impact of that big Verona Road project that's getting underway. I can tell you from personal experience that Katie is just as cool and funny off the air as she is on the air, on her Madison Traffic Twitter feed, and on her new website, Madtown Traffic.
I can promise on her behalf that no matter how bad the traffic is, she'll never flip you off. At least I don't think she will.