Way, way back in 2001, then returning NFL hero--Greg Skrepenak--appeared on WILK’s Fred Williams Show.
In short, I was appalled by what I heard that day.
Fred Williams, the tireless and gregarious and cantankerous anti-courthouse patriot was virtually spellbound by the then-young local philanthropist-in-the-making. And while I had no problem with the unchecked adulation Fred gushed all over Skrepenak, my tattered red flag went straight up when Fred started encouraging, almost demanding that Skrep get involved in local politics by running for an elected office.
As we (?) say in the trade (?), RUTRO!
Fred was usually spot-on whereas the local scene was polluted by corruption that always seemed to float just under the surface and just out of our flailing grasp. And his prescribed solution to that? Put a storied football player in charge?
To that, I reacted like a mother bear would likely react to a German Shepherd loudly menacing her trailing cubs. Stated good intentions aside, I was having none of it.
But the callers, the callers gushed with excitement. The callers to that long-ago show practically begged Skrep to seek political office and therein (as the illogic of the day went), help to change the political culture in these backwards parts. They loved him. They encouraged him. Some even begged him. They said, as if it was a prerequisite to future greatness, “What a nice young man.”
Aghast, I was.
And there were subsequent call-in appearances by Skrep. And the on-air staff and the following of WILK glowingly encouraged his political ascendancy at every turn. They, WILK, wrote the blank check that was an in-kind political contribution, and he cashed it in spades. A star was born on WILK and he was off and running.
When the Makowskis and the Pizanos and the Crossins of the political oligarchy were eventually replaced by the former offensive lineman and others, I figured we couldn’t do worse than what we previously had. Right?
Ironically, while Fred’s stated enemies at the courthouse were eventually dispensed with, and while Fred’s shining star of a political neophyte eventually became the majority commissioner, public corruption as we knew it or as we had suspected it would be taken to dizzying new heights in what now seems like a horribly foreshortened fortnight.
Going in, I’m supremely confident that there was not a corrupt bone in Skrepenak’s hulking body. But his exit interview suggests that something went horribly wrong, not only for us, but for him as well. I'll not speculate.
I paint him as anything other than a victim. But I still remember that, perhaps, fateful day when Fred’s usually shrewd political instincts failed him, and through the short course of time, failed all of NEPA.
And now WILK proudly covers Skrep’s tragic political demise wall-to-wall. Excellent coverage, by the way.
But many, many moons ago, weirdly enough, Skrep’s political star was born on none other than WILK.
And what should we take from that?
Having a microphone at your disposal makes you an expert at nothing. Having a microphone at your disposal makes you a much higher profile and much sexier version of a well-read poliblogger. And having a microphone at your disposal does not preclude that abject brilliance will be entwined with your every utterance.
The on-air folks at WILK fancy themselves as kingmakers all too often. And as our disgraced former king is now considering what life in the hoosegow might mean for him for the next two years, going forward, perhaps some searing soul-searching on the part of the would-be makers of kings would benefit us all.
I’m just saying.
As far as that courthouse scene was concerned, I do have to congratulate WILK’s Steve Corbett on his obvious restraint, as well as his decision to voluntarily extricate himself from an emotionally volatile situation.
There are those times when avoiding a fight does make you the bigger man. (Ask me about my grandson’s recent birthday party and the Outlaws.) And this was one of those times.
While I can and do take issue with most of what Corbett typically espouses, his obvious restraint commands some measure of new found respect.
If that was me, well…