Here for Hank

It probably wouldn’t have made a smidgeon of difference to the decision makers who pulled the plug on Hank Stolz’s morning drive-time talk show on WCRN 830 AM that he still commands an audience—witness the turnout that was generated for an afternoon in Hank’s honor held at Quinn’s Irish Pub on West Boylston St. in Worcester on February 18th. One knucklehead even blocked my friend Joe Cutroni Jr.’s exit from the event by leaving a big old black pickup truck with the hazards flashing in Joe’s path in the parking lot, which was full to the max. Such is the affection in which Hank is held by those who have followed his career on local radio and TV, or who just appreciate his willingness to serve as an emcee—anywhere, anytime. This was the case when I asked Hank if he was interested in being master of ceremonies for a neighborhood block party the Webster Square Business Association was hosting in the Webster Square Plaza on a Saturday last year. Hank readily agreed. When the sound system took longer than expected to be set up for the band that would perform, Hank waited, voicing no complaints. When it came time to offer greetings, he enthusiastically boomed out his usual cheery welcome—and with an attention to detail for which he is renowned he went out of his way to recognize dignitaries who were in attendance. Ignoring the suggestion that he could leave after being gracious enough to “open the show for us” and have the rest of the day to himself, he stayed a while after the fact. This is the Hank so many of us know and love, who has been the go-to guy to drive proceedings at CanalFest, for Clarence Plant’s Arthritis Charity Ball, for a roundtable discussion of candidates and issues on Election Night and countless other activities and functions. Where management ever got the idea that uprooting WCRN from the corner of Franklin and Salem streets in Worcester where Hank had a window to the world outside his door (and within a block of City Hall) and plopping him in Westborough was sound thinking is unfathomable. That was management’s first mistake and one dictated strictly by the need for the advertising dollars that would be more easily accessed in the MetroWest market. Then they went and bagged him in favor of a Fox25 simulcast. So instead of Hank chatting with Mayor Petty about the previous evening’s City Council meeting every Wednesday morning in the seven o’clock hour, or fielding calls from near and far—engaging his listeners in a lively back and forth—830 AM now provides a boatload of commercials (for Julio’s Liquors, for Good as Gold Coffee, etc.) and such throwaway information as “the Post Office is introducing a new Forever stamp” or “the Hingham ferry service will be temporarily suspended.” Oh, and an extended weather report. Rah Rah Rah. Will Hank bounce back? Of course he will. “I’ve been doing some work for the Chamber, Veterans Inc.,” he said, effusive as ever, as well-wishers stopped by Quinn’s to offer best wishes. Those who came out between 1:00 and 2:00—Rep. Dan Donahue (sporting a recently grown full beard), Sen. Mike Moore, Brad Wyatt, Steve Quist (“The Q,” a Trump-basher and favorite caller to Hank’s show), District 1 City Councilor Tony Economou (dressed casually for a change, in a sweatshirt), Hank’s former longtime airwaves crony Sherman Whitman—were there not for the buffet that was put out, not for the pints that were raised (although these contributed to an unflinching festive atmosphere), but as a demonstration of support for a good guy. The question is not whether Hank will survive, but whether WCRN will—without him. Another blow for Worcester, a vital talk show erased from the landscape, leaving Jim Polito in the morning and Jordan Levy in the afternoon. Heaven help us.

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