Hey, wait a minute. I’m a radio guy! When I first received an invitation to join The Daily Star as a columnist, I had to stop and think about it.
I mean, for two decades now, I have started my mornings off by putting on a pair of headphones and cueing up an old country music song. And now comes the bimonthly ritual of putting on a green visor and some sleeve garters and licking the end of an old No. 2 pencil to start scratching down my thoughts for readers instead of listeners at an old oaken desk in a dark warren somewhere at The Daily Star.
I read The Daily Star, sure. Doesn’t everybody? But to work there? Well, I am definitely not giving up my regular WDOS radio gig, but you will start seeing my column frequently within these pages. And that will be a challenging mid-to-late-life adventure that I am certainly looking forward to.
In 1959, our teacher took my whole class of youngsters on a field trip to our local paper, The Sidney (N.Y.) Record- Enterprise (now the Tri-Town News).
It was dark, musty, kind of scary and smelly. Ol’ John McLaughlin (publisher) remained crisp as a dollar bill throughout the tour of the work stations and printing rooms of the old paper. He reminded us to always “check the facts … and then check them again,” as he orated to us about the miracle of American journalism.
The little Tri-Town News was the only newspaper that I had ever been inside of, and that was 50 years ago. But still, I do have vivid images of what the inside of a paper should look like.
From the 1940 film “His Girl Friday” comes the image of the old roll-top desks lining crowded corridors. Reporters darted in and out of their offices hollering at each other with great urgency.
All of the women in the movie were secretaries, until, that is, Rosalind Russell whipsawed through the place shouting down every man she came in contact with, including Cary Grant. I haven’t seen a roll top desk yet at The Daily Star.
Badger-like reporters with hair over their collars shook the newspaper world to its foundation in the 1976 classic film “All the President’s Men.” This Watergate epic modernized the popular image of newspaper writers and editors. Gee, I wonder if I will ever be called upon to meet up with a local “Deep Throat” in a dimly lit alley somewhere along High Street behind The Daily Star building to trade confidential news tidbits some dark night?
On TV, I watched with great interest as blustery Lou Grant (Ed Asner) battled royally with his polished patrician publisher Margaret Pynchon (Nancy Marchand) week after week at the fictitious Los Angeles Tribune. I wonder what the walls hear when The Daily Star editor (Sam Pollak) closes the door for a meeting with his paper’s publisher (Tanya Shalor). Fascinating.
I have worked in radio long enough to know that the transition to writing will not be without its travails. On my radio show, I just turn on the microphone and start talking, and I have been talking since 1989 on WDOS. I’ve written several books, all of them about our upstate New York region and its people and history.
And yet, a regular column?
My loyal legion of listeners know that I am a storyteller, and that I love a good anecdote or factoid. You can rest assured that those familiar traits will surface with great regularity in my column.
I’m an observer by nature and a chronicler by trade. I look for the story that makes you question your sanity, the story that tickles your fancy, the story that puts a lump in your throat and the story that will make you say, “What the heck is he talking about?” We’ll take this new adventure together.
Oh, and one more thing. I’ll be keeping my eye out every time I drop by The Daily Star to pick up something or to meet with someone. And I’ll be looking for shades of, say, The Daily Planet from one of my great black-and-white TV memories of the 1950s, “The Adventures of Superman.”
Will Sam Pollak morph into a Perry White? Are there modern-day Clark Kents and Lois Lanes out there hunting down stories? Is there a cub reporter like Jimmy Olsen feverishly at work in the back room at the Star? I’ll let you know if they really are here or only in my mind.
After all, like I said, I am a radio guy, and I have surely worked with enough characters like Johnny Fever, Venus Flytrap, Les Nessman and Herb Tarlek to know that television and reality do indeed blend together once in a while, whether it is in Cincinnati or Oneonta.
‘BIG CHUCK’ D’IMPERIO can be heard on weekdays beginning at 6 a.m. on WDOS-AM 730 in Oneonta, and also on Thursday nights from 7 to 9 p.m. on WSRK-FM 103.9 for his “Oldies Jukebox Show.” He invites you to contact him at wdosbigchuck@aol. com. His columns can be found at www.thedailystar. com/bigchuck.
- Big Chuck
My pal Brucie, savior of Sidney's hospital
Ask any hospital administrators if they've ever heard of a closed hospital in New York state that has ever been re-opened. They will say, "Impossible." In a half century of going through records you can't find any.
Catching a whiff of 'Vermont Vapor'
We just came back from a weekend in Manchester, Vt., and my wife insists that something "magical" happens when you pass the state sign. "I think they spray 'Vermont Vapor' out of the sign or something," she opined, "something that actually changes us."
Selections from the virtual mailbag
Well, it's time to open up the email bag, and it's really full!
Recalling days of 'Doughnut King'
In 1969, I was "The Doughnut King" in Sidney.
Opera great's visit still a thrilling memory
Opera singer Marian Anderson (1897-1993) has been called the "most distinctive American voice of the 20th century."
- Monday, February 25, 2013
Film clip a window into Oneonta's past
One of my radio listeners sent me an astonishing piece of video recently. I posted it on my Facebook page (go to Facebook, search "BIG CHUCK") and it has been viewed by well over 1,000 people in just a week.
- Monday, February 11, 2013
Many made stop at upstate naval base
My father was in the U.S. Navy. Not for long, but he did enlist out of high school in 1944. He did his naval training at Sampson Naval Training Base in Romulus. Shortly after Dad's basic training, he was honorably discharged because of a health issue. So, although his service was brief, I needed to find out as much about it as I possibly could.
- Monday, January 28, 2013
Local foods worthy of national spotlight
Well, President Obamaâ€™s second inauguration is over and we can all breathe a sigh of relief and satisfaction.
- Monday, January 14, 2013
Remembering lives of the not-so-famous
I write about 25 columns a year for this paper. And I must admit, this annual one is always my favorite. A lot of famous people left this world last year, including General Norman Schwarzkopf, Senator Daniel Inouye of Hawaii, jazz pianist Dave Brubeck, singer Andy Williams and TV's George Jefferson actor -- Sherman Hemsley.
- Monday, December 31, 2012
Canines create unforgettable moments
Last year, I used my holiday column to pay tribute to my dog, Stella. The darn dog actually received fan mail after that, and has insisted that I do a shout-out to her canine colleagues each year around this time. So, to keep Stella happy, here goes.
- Monday, December 17, 2012
Nothing like an old-fashioned movie theater
What is it about a movie theater?
- Monday, December 3, 2012
Chuck's daughter returns to a town full of memories
My daughter Frances, OHS Class of 2000, came home for Thanksgiving last week after not having been in her hometown for nearly five years. I asked her to be my "guest columnist" to share her thoughts about coming home for the holidays. I hope you enjoy her story.
- Monday, November 19, 2012
Time to move on after grueling campaign season
Nobody likes a presidential election campaign better than I do. But this one darn near took a piece out of me.
- Monday, November 5, 2012
One nasty hurricane more than enough for one lifetime
Hey, Sandy! Don't let the door hit you on the way out.
- Monday, October 22, 2012
Latter-day stunt men still knew how to thrill
What is it with all these crazy stuntmen all of a sudden?
- Monday, October 8, 2012
Andy Williams, last of the great crooners
When singer Andy Williams died a week ago, it truly was an end of an era.
- Monday, September 24, 2012
Senator's farm was all I imagined
Many years ago, when I first arrived in Oneonta, Daniel Patrick Moynihan was the senior senator from New York state. His top aide, Ross Frommer, used to come into the radio station for interviews and to tell my audience about the various legislative efforts involving "their senator."
- Monday, September 10, 2012
Family's history includes ancestor who knew Lincoln
- Monday, August 27, 2012
Making up for lost time on Facebook
If there ever was a true-blue phenomenon, it is Facebook.
- Monday, August 13, 2012
Father's Day gift prompted my first fish story
My family has given me a lot of interesting Father's Day gifts over the years. This year the wisenheimer 15-year-old in the house decided to bestow a special present to me on "my day."
- My pal Brucie, savior of Sidney's hospital