Tuesday, December 17, 2002

History in the moment ...

There are times in life when you take inventory of the people around you and realize that you're in the middle of something important.

If you're out and you see David Stockton and his camera, you might be in the midst of one of those moments.

I run into Dave now and then. He's one of the tree-huggers — and I say that with the utmost respect for tree-huggers — who refused to let certain elements turn one of the city's prized assets, Richmond Avenue, into a convenience store.

You see, Dave has respect for history.

So much so that as a photographer, he turns up at monumental moments to record them for future generations to see.

I first met him at the Corson's auction a couple of years ago. He was taking pictures for posterity's sake. He knew the meaning of the moment and didn't want it to pass by unnoticed.

I've run into him at a couple of other events or happenings since then.

And then Friday.

On Friday, Dave was taking pictures of J.R. Reid's final "Let's Talk" on WLVL.

J.R. has decided to move to the warmer climate of Cape Coral, Fla., where, he says, it has only snowed once in all of history.

I've found that most people know J.R. from some place or another, whether it be from that call-in show or from his time with the sheriff's department or as a city alderman.

So when I heard a few months ago that J.R. was leaving the area, I knew that I had to do a story on him.

This paper and WLVL — J.R.'s employer — haven't always had a good relationship.

In fact, about a year or so ago, certain employees from the radio station and the newspaper had a meeting to get things out in the open.

Boy, did they.

The relationship didn't really improve.

But now and then, I'd run into J.R. — who I had concluded was a class act — and we'd talk about a variety of issues, mainly local rumors (the kind of stuff we can never prove, and as such, can't print).

Anyway, I had also become a fan of J.R.'s show, "Let's Talk," which frequently included people airing those rumors that I can't print.

It was a good show, and would be a difficult act to follow.

But that's exactly what I must do.

I've inherited that hour and began my own show (which I've dubbed "Dialog") on Monday.

I've got big shoes to fill and I hope to live up to it.

My inaugural show included a surprise guest, Lockport Police Chief Neil Merritt, and it went OK.

I flubbed a button here or there, and I ended up bunching all my commercials in at the end, but overall, I was pleased.

Still, it didn't live up to the J.R. Reid level of quality — that which you must achieve to have David Stockton photograph your last day of work.

Maybe someday, I will.