Sunday, April 23, 2006

In Memoriam

A friend and co-worker from WFIU died in a plane crash on Friday. Robert Samels was hired at the station as an announcer just a few weeks after I started there. We spent a lot of early mornings together during the years that followed. He’s received a lot of recognition for being a prolific composer and musician. Memorial messages are celebrating his talent, his creative fire, and his bottomless well of energy. While that’s all true, I got to know him first as an ally at the station, and then as a friend. He was a blast to work with, even at 4:30 in the morning. He’s actually the one who suggested I do a Pig Latin newscast years ago. We’d goof around and roll our eyes about some of the NPR stories, but when it was time to turn on the mike, Robert was an unshakable professional. He’s the guy you wanted to have at the helm when things got crazy. He could handle school closings during a snowstorm, a satellite failure, and correct my news copy spelling errors all at once. Recently, I felt like we really got to get to know each other. I didn’t have a sense of his musical gifts until I saw the production of his opera Pilatus, based of the life of Pontius Pilate. It was theater magic. I’m glad I was able to get to know all of those Roberts. My heart is with the WFIU community and Robert’s family as we mourn. Robert, thanks.