7 / T-Minus Three

The Final Days Before Departure

Three days before departure I entered WLRN Radio’s building, climbed the stairs and walked the length of the long corridor, past the length of windows into the broadcasting studios.

Bonnie Berman, co-host of Topical Currents, greeted me half way down the corridor. It was wonderful to see Bonnie. I had volunteered at the radio station for seventeen years, reading and broadcasting printed material to those unable to read for themselves due to some sort of disability. I felt a certain affinity with Bonnie because she had begun her professional radio-broadcasting career by volunteering in the same capacity. Bonnie had, in a way, graduated from the minor leagues to the pros. I’ve always wanted to be a broadcaster– sharing and influencing music tastes. Bonnie carried the flame of hope for myself, who dreams of sitting behind a microphone talking at people.

Beyond Bonnie I could see Hallie sitting on the sole “green room” couch. (In Public Radio the “green room” would appear to be an old leather couch pushed up against one wall in a corridor decorated with cheap 15 year-old carpet.) Hallie sat dressed in a minister’s all black dress and white dog collar. I’d never seen her so formal. It suited her, as everything does. I never thought a minister could look so styling in all black and a dog collar.

Hallie stood as Bonnie and I approached. Richard Ives, Senior Producer of Topical Currents and longtime friend stood at Hallie’s side. We greeted each other. Hallie looked understandably nervous. Richard made an effort to soothe mine and Hallie’s nerves. We were about to go on tr-county radio with several thousands of listeners.

Having been on air for the past seventeen years (even though it was limited to an audience of a few thousand) the prospect of going on air was most likely easier for me to face than it was for Hallie. I admired Hallie’s courage. She would have preferred not to be on the program in front of thousands, even though she does a fine job in front of a couple of hundred each week at church.

Joseph Cooper, who would be co-hosting the program with Bonnie, came out of the studio to greet us and gave us a rundown of the proceedings– a half hour segment in which we’d be asked interview questions. Neither Hallie nor I knew what the questions would be.

We stepped into the big, brand new, official broadcasting studio with its big desk and microphones, and sat in our respective chairs. I leaned over towards Hallie, smiled a big smile, and gave her a high five. It was an attempt to calm both our nerves and communicate silently, “Isn’t this great!”

Hallie, myself and the Arctic Ride For Dreams were about to go public to a mass audience. Hopefully neither of us had a coughing fit on air. Jospeh showed us a bright red “cough button” in front of each of us, “Use that if you’re going to cough.”

I was ecstatic that Miami Shores Presbyterian Church would be getting airtime and exposure. I hoped that many would hear the program and consider MSPC a cool church with a cool pastor, a church that gets real and does exciting and adventurous things. I hoped that the program would bring people to MSPC.

The interview went without hitch.

Joseph and Bonnie asked us questions about the send-off event at the church, questions about where I would be traveling, where I would be staying, how Hallie came to be in Miami, they asked us questions about MSPC, Shackleton and UrbanPromise. Joseph and Bonnie did a fine job of succinctly focus on the many details of the Arctic Ride For Dreams. Much credit goes to Richard Ives, Joseph and Bonnie for good preparation– the mark of good interviewers and programming.

It was an enjoyable half hour. After the program friends sent us text messages– we sounded great and they had been listening to us. In Monmouth, Illinois, Hallie’s family had listened via the Internet. 

The WRLN radio program was the only public announcement before the send-off event at Miami Shores Presbyterian Church, which was to be held after the Sunday service, three days later. There would be a band, food trucks and a start line that I’d be blowing through.

By this time Evie had completely shut down. Evie was hurting. I was leaving her behind. 

Evie was refusing to attend the send-off or say goodbye to me at all. 


By Andrew Hayward Smith © 2015 All Rights Reserved. Copyright Andrew Hayward Smith. No part of this manuscript may be reproduced without the author’s written consent.