My Worthington neighbor, Maura, and I once had a very good idea. We wanted to start a radio station just for the hilltowns of western Massachusetts.
We had it all planned except for the money. Maura, who worked in television news, said we needed about a million dollars. Too bad.
What would we broadcast? We’d ask the road bosses to call in reports on road conditions during winter storms. They’d tell us when the sand trucks were heading down Mason or West Chesterfield hills, and whether they were keeping up with the ice on the roads. They could warn which roads were impassable during mud season and save people a lot of trouble.
The maple sugarers could talk about how strong the sap is running. The man in town who kept track of the weather could keep us in the know.
We’d cover school events, ball games, and town meetings, where everything in the hilltowns is settled. We would record local concerts and “man on the road” interviews about local politics and other hot issues.
We’d inform anyone who listened about which residents had died and which ones were just born. We’d brag about the kids who were graduating from high school.
If there were a Fourth of July Parade, a truck pull, or a pig roast at the Rod and Gun Club, we’d be there as well.
And every day we’d have a show called “Fifteen Minutes with Lester.”
When my family moved to Worthington, Lester Champion had lived there for over 40 years. He had a kind, round face and an old-fashioned way of putting things. He and his wife, Mary, lived in a humble home of stone on the edge of a potato field.
When I was a reporter, I did a story about his truck farm. He told me the earth was so hard he could bend a crowbar beating on it.
And Lester, who was in his 70s, could talk, talk, and talk about most everything — gardening, the weather, nature, Cape Cod where he grew up, or being a glider pilot in World War II — in his slow, deliberate way. If I ran into him, usually outside the town’s general store, I counted on losing at least 15 minutes that day but he always had something worth listening to. Others were not so patient and went out of their way to avoid him.
So here was our idea. Maura and I would give Lester free choice on any topic. He’d get 15 minutes to say it. Only 15 minutes. And, we’d all get to listen on the radio.